Archive for May, 2015

It’s been a month to the day since I last talked about coercion. Before that I don’t think I’d written a single blog on the topic. I don’t know why, I think in all the discussions and debates about rape it had never seemed that relevant. Of course, it’s possibly one of the most relevant conversations you can have when it comes to rape, especially as ‘consent’ is the very concept that we must be aware of before being able to differentiate between rape and sex.

But the problem is that, much like the definition of rape has become diluted and almost meaningless, the concept of consent, the definition and application has become muddled, dirtied, lacking in clarity.

It’s a very easy concept in theory – if someone says ‘yes’ when you ask them if they want to have sex then they have consented. Exceptionally easy, yes? The problem lies, as ever, in the modern, intricate applications and definitions. That’s where coercion comes in and the debates on what does and doesn’t constitute coercion are almost impossible to navigate.

As with all things rape at the moment the foremost drive to help redefine and repurpose the concept of consent is coming from feminists. They’ve already done a stellar job of redefining rape itself, good enough to omit male victims of female rapists completely, so now they’re setting their sights on other aspects of rape they haven’t yet trivialised.

It might sound harsh for me to say feminists have trivialised rape but it’s not something I’m going to shy away from. They have trivialised it, possibly more so than anything or anyone else. They’ve redefined and refocused rape so much that it’s pretty much nigh on impossible to talk to them about it, even to simply disagree, without them throwing out their latest buzzwords: misogynist, rape-apologist, rape denier, general all-round piece of shit scumbag.

I mean, they’ll even settle for attacking fellow feminists, as Christina Hoff Sommers has found out recently. Apparently, even wanting to set the record straight on decades of false reporting and misleading statistics makes you a rape denier. Feminism doesn’t want the truth on rape statistics, it doesn’t want to know that rates of rape have been dropping steadily for the last 30 years, it wants to maintain its iron grip on the victimhood that they so fully enshroud themselves in.

But, having said all that – are they wrong? To a large degree, yes. Their constant shifting of the goalposts is only muddying an already murky issue. It’s taking something that should be fairly simple – if you don’t want sex then saying ‘no’ is enough – and diluting it far too much. The result is that rape has now become almost impossible to talk about for fear of being labelled unjustly. When simply disagreeing with an ideological standpoint gets you labelled as some sort of monolithic scumbag then you know you’re doing something wrong.

However, when it comes to consent I can see why they are so keen to push their biased, victim-driven agenda. Yeah, they’ve completely fucked it up to the point that modern day feminism has become a laughing stock, but I can see their point. Do I think feminism is inherently flawed? No, the concept itself – that of advocating for equality – is pretty simple and pretty spot on. Unfortunately, the people who have destroyed that concept and turned feminism into a whinging, self-entitled mess of a movement are feminists themselves. It’s become poisonous, not just to men but to women as well. I’ve said it before so it’s not like it’s a surprise but I truly think there is very little positive about modern day feminism. For every decent thing they do, for every piece of pop culture they highlight that’s actually related to a salient point there are 10 points that make them out to be professional victims, whiny women who don’t get what they want and have to ruin everyone else’s fun. They’re hypocritical, desperate, lacking in humour, stuck-up, arrogant, self-entitled, narcissistic fuckwits. Not all, but a large portion of them. It’s that that leads me to dismiss the ‘not all feminists are like that’ defence. Feminists spend too much time trying to claim they are not ‘like that’ whilst allowing those who are ‘like that’ to continue spouting their divisionary bile.

So yeah, 1 step forward, 156 steps backwards.

But in amongst all that bile and poison there are points that deserve merit, that actually deserve to be discussed. I don’t discredit feminist ideas totally, I just don’t think they’re safe in the hands of feminists. They need to be discussed on a wider platform, especially when it comes to discussions of male victims. Feminism has totally fucked up the treatment of male victims, despite their claims otherwise.

It’s a daily battle I have to fight. There are times when I’m willing to just let the wave of anti-feminism consume me and decry every single facet of feminism as pathetic and unnecessary. Luckily, being a teacher means I can often snap myself out of the self-destructive pattern of thought. Whilst I think feminism as an ideology is poison, its base motives as a ‘movement for equality’ still serve some merit

Anyway, back to the point of this blog; consent. The last blog I wrote on consent was pretty exclusively focused on consent and rape, but a news article popped up on my timeline last week that really made me think:

http://cmcforum.com/opinion/04302015-why-yes-can-mean-no

It still applies the concept of consent to sex, but it also applies it to everyday occurrences in life, ones that we wouldn’t necessarily think to associate with a concept as abstract as consent. Of course, it still applies the terms of consent through a heavy feminist lens but we can dispense with that and just approach the concept from a more neutral standpoint.

I really wish I could remember where these links appear. Most of the time they are posted on pages I like and I favourite them ready to write about them later. Often, by the time I’ve actually got round to writing about them I’ve completely forgotten where the damn thing first appeared. Seen as a lot of pages I like share admins they all end up posting about the same stuff so it’s hard to pinpoint where specific articles appear.

I’ve spoken about the ‘grey area’ of rape before and how it infantilises women. I still think that and this article doesn’t do much to change my mind completely, but I do like the idea of at least exploring the issue of consent as it pertains to things other than sex. I think we get so tied up on the issue of consent as framed in discussions on rape that we forget the idea of consent is actually a lot more applicable than that narrow focus.

A quick google search (https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=define:+consent) shows the definition of consent to be exceedingly simple:

permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.

Simple, yes? Applicable to more than sex, yes? Yet we don’t seem to apply it in that way. We limit our focus to a single moment. ‘In that specific moment, before you had sex, did you consent?’ If the answer is yes then we don’t have a problem. But what happens if that ‘yes’ comes not out of coercion in that specific situation, but from a lifetime of coercion? A lifetime of not being able to say no? It’s a strange concept and, feminist-tinted spectacles aside, is something I’d never thought of before.

What a thought, a concept as simple as consent applied to an entirely new train of thought. I’m fairly wary of the feminist victim slant that the above article will likely have, but if there’s a salient point in there somewhere then we’ll be able to draw it out.

Of course, I’m not planning on doing a paragraph by paragraph breakdown and I certainly don’t want to take this personal blog and simply start bitching about her experiences or trying to diminish what she’s been through. All I’m trying to do is see if we can broaden the appeal of the concept of consent, see if we can take it away from what it ultimately be a rather one-eyed, feminist version of how even saying yes can simply be another string to the victim’s bow.

It starts off in fairly predictable fashion, referencing the feminist ‘victories’ in how consent has developed in the last few decades:

‘It started with “consent is sexy.” But, of course, there was no point in that—it was like saying rape is just bad sex, instead of a felony. Then there was “consent is mandatory.” It was much better, reminding us that sex is consensual, and everything else is rape.’

The development hasn’t stopped there. Now we have a newer, more updated version of consent and, goddamit, I can’t remember what it’s called. Affirmative consent? Something about consent needing to be enthusiastic, ongoing and other such absolutist phrases that pretty much reduce ‘caught in the heat of the moment’ to a serious crime. Not that I’m trying to say consent is bad, just that the new ‘yes means yes’ law that was trumpeted by feminists has, already, been declared unfit for purpose. By another feminist no less.

This is where we get to the focal point of the article:

‘But then there was me, after a party, in a man’s dorm room. And there was “is this ok?” If we are being legal about this, I said ‘yes’—no coercion, no imminent threat of violence, no inebriation (well, not a lot, anyway). But what I want to talk about is what happened before I said yes, who taught me to say yes, why I thought it was better to say yes, and why I really meant ‘no.’’

And this is where my struggle with feminism really begins to tear me apart inside. I absolutely don’t want to try and dismiss this woman’s experiences, absolutely not. If I sound like I’m coming across that way then just appreciate that I’m trying to blow this concept wide open, not because I think this woman wasn’t raped but simply because I think the concept of consent, even within this article, is still loaded with the whiff of feminist hypocrisy and victimhood.

See, the problem I have with this situation (and I’m talking about the situation, not the woman in particular) is that it’s a symptom of never ending feminist victimhood. She states that she said yes, no coercion, no threats of violence, only a little bit of inebriation (not ‘intoxicated’) and yet, despite willingly going through with the act of sex in that specific moment there’s still an attempt to elicit sympathy as some sort of victim. This time, because victimhood cannot be garnered through the act itself, the time frame must be widened. No longer is it the scumbag man’s fault for being coercive and rapey, it’s now society’s fault for teaching women (or at least this woman in particular) that ‘no’ isn’t a word she should be using.

A constant fight, that’s what it is. A constant fight inside me. One side says ‘this woman went through a horrible experience and even attempting to write a deconstruction of this article in a blog entry is bordering on horrible rape denial.’ But, and it’s a big but (fnar fnar), the other part of me says ‘she said yes. Can we really open the parameters of consent that much to the point that we could, conceivably, paint any and all instances of sex as rape?’ Is that what this road leads us to? If we delve into the idea of consent as a lifelong concept rather than just an ‘in this moment’ cursory evaluation do we open up the possibility of rape claims being made with the reasoning simply being ‘I was never taught to say no’? I must be sounding like a right cunt about now.

The thing about this article is that, much like any other article that’s published on a feminist website, what starts out as a rather insightful, truly eye-opening discussion on a certain topic soon devolves into a typically feminist cavalcade of buzzwords and ridiculously one-eyed, dismissive rhetoric. I appreciate that was a stupidly long sentence but it’s so annoying when these types of discussions; good, open, frank discussions that everyone should be having, that should be out in the open and accessible to all, are suddenly shut off because, apparently, it’s only certain groups (read: anyone who isn’t a white male) that should be allowed to participate in this circle-jerk of victimhood.

Dammit, I really don’t want this to turn into a scathing, incomprehensible rant about one woman’s experiences. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do, but I’m not going to sit here as a man and just accept that consent is a concept that, as a white male, does not apply to me. That’s where the victimhood comes in. It implies that feminism, or maybe it’s just this one author, believes men either always consent or never find themselves in a situation where coercion has played its part. It implies that men don’t go through the same socialisation as women, albeit in different ways, implies that men somehow just wander the way through life without ever getting into trouble. That’s a ridiculously exclusionary way of thinking and, contrary to her earlier protestations, is typically feminist.

I’m not going to look at every paragraph, but there are salient points made that are worth looking at. Bear in mind this is coming from a pro-male perspective so I’m talking about consent as it applies to situations in general, not the one specifically written about in this article.

There is one part that I think does have ramifications for everyone:

‘Honestly, there’s a lot more to it than that for me. At five, relatives used to kiss my cheeks even as I winced and turned away. At the tender age of twelve, I was taught that my bra straps and thighs deserved detention because they distracted boys at school. At sixteen, my boyfriend assured me that most girls liked this—I just needed to relax. So at 20, in someone’s room after a party, ‘no’ was scary and unfamiliar to me.’

And that’s why I think consent is massively important and something we should talk about. The problem is that we only ever seem to hear about consent from a woman’s perspective, that it is somehow only women who need to learn how to say no.

Most people who read this blog know I’m a teacher. One of the many amazing things about my job is that I get to see this kind of stuff in action. In the 6 years I’ve been teaching I’ve probably taught 1000 kids, there or thereabouts, that’s lot of power I wield to shape and influence people as they develop from pre-teens into teenagers and young adults. Being a blogger on the internet is one thing, but ultimately nothing really changes, all I do is put forward views and theories. My job allows me to actually connect with young people in person, allows me to educate them in more ways than they even realise.

Yes, my relatives used to kiss me on the cheek when I was younger when I didn’t want to, yes I’m sure some people have been through hell with members of the opposite sex as they grow up. That’s why my job is important, it allows me to feed this information to the younger generations. For all my narcissism on here, what I’m doing in the real world is far, far more important than empty words on a website.

The point I’m making is simple – what is feminism doing? The author here is saying that ‘no’ was an alien concept to her, something that I don’t doubt at all, we all have moments when we want to say no but feel like we can’t. However, how is feminism tackling this problem? It isn’t, it’s campaigning and screaming for new laws, but it’s not actually doing anything to help empower the women those laws are supposedly going to benefit. For all the hot air they blow, they actually let the problem fester. Being able to say ‘no’ extends to much more than sex but, as has been demonstrated by feminist actions in the past, they really don’t care about anything other than sex. As long as the laws are in place they couldn’t give a fuck about any other context.

Paragraphs like that make me think there is a way to save feminism, that there are at least some people within the movement that actually do stick to the dictionary definition.

Then, there are paragraphs like this:

‘For me, and many others like me, consent isn’t easy. Yes doesn’t always mean yes, and we misplaced ‘no’ several years ago. This experience isn’t random, but disproportionately affects oppressed communities. Consent is a privilege, and it was built for wealthy, heterosexual, cis, white, western, able-bodied masculinity. When society has taught some of us to take up as little space as possible, to take all attention as flattery, and to be truly grateful that anyone at all could want our bodies or love, it isn’t always our choice to say yes.’

Fucking buzzwords! Just when I thought this article was actually making sense it dives right into the pool of victimhood. The concept of consent ‘disproportionately affects oppressed communities’? This is typical feminism, not only does it infantilise women but now has its sights set on other ‘oppressed’ communities, which I’m assuming means blacks and LGBT. Whilst I’m sure they all have their problems, to suggest that consent is a ‘privilege’ is stupid. Everybody knows how consent works, it’s such a simple concept. To suggest that, basically, anyone who isn’t a white heterosexual male is somehow denied this simple thing is bordering on insanity. Correction, it is insanity. Consent is not a ‘privelige’, it is something that every person is capable of expressing, whether that’s for sex or something as simple as buying food. To even suggest that that it is something only afforded to one group of people is flat out one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard, for two simple reasons:

  1. It implies inherent victimisation of everyone who isn’t a white cis-het male.
  2. It implies that men always consent.

Like, if you aren’t a white man then consent is something that is ripped away from you, something that you cannot ever fully come to utilise. Well done on dousing everyone with your victimhood spray! Such an absurd statement, there are people, particularly from those ‘oppressed’ groups, I know who would laugh in your face if you tried to tell them that consent was not something that ‘came easy’ to them. Don’t be fooled by the use of the word ‘masculinity’, she means ‘men’.

Quite apart from that, it also suggests that men either always give consent or never find themselves in coerced situations, have never said yes when they really meant no. It takes a universal concept and, again, tries to make a victim out of anyone who isn’t a man. That’s feminism.

Again, society is a bad place, there are lots of shitty things that women face and I don’t deny that some people just don’t have the ability to stand up for themselves, but this article is taking the experiences of one woman (and a select few of her friends) and blanketing the entire population with these thoughts. I don’t just mean one half of the population either, I’m talking about every single person who isn’t a white cis-het male.

She tries to do some damage control here by suggesting that fulfilling relationships an be achieved in these ‘oppressed groups’, but she ends up shooting herself in the foot:

‘Consent as a privilege doesn’t just happen in sex. It happens for those of us who give too much in friendships without knowing how to ask for reciprocation, who let doctors touch us in ways that are triggering because we don’t want to make trouble, who dance with handsy strangers because our friends already left the party, who stick around in toxic relationships because we don’t know if we’re allowed to expect better. When you’re poor, disabled, queer, non-white, trans, or feminine, ‘no’ isn’t for you. I don’t mean to insist that every person oppressed in these systems of power can’t have empowering consensual experiences, and I know many who do. What I do mean to say is that for me, finding ‘no’ is a process, consent is elusive, and sometimes, even when people don’t mean to—they hurt me.’

This, to me, is feminism in a nutshell – ‘this thing happened to me so I’m going to assume it happens to everyone.’ It takes a specific situation, blankets it to the entire population and then creates an article that treats that blanket as cast-iron fact. She does try to clarify by saying that this is a personal journey she’s on, but it’s too little, too late. By this point, she’s already labelled most of the planet as victims simply by saying that consent is a ‘privilege’ not afforded to them. Then, she removes the very idea of being a victim from the remaining population and makes the, frankly absurd, insinuation that hat ability to consent, to say either yes or no with confidence, is something that men never even have to think about.

I’m not going to quote any more of the article but feel free to read it. Consent is such a massive topic and I do think there is a validity to its inclusion in discussions around sex and relationships. I also think it’s imperative we widen the scope of how we look at and define consent as it’s a concept that, by definition, is not solely applicable to sex.

However, a feminist lens is not the best thing through which to view it. As with discussions about sex and rape, feminist theory is poisoning open and frank discourse on a huge topic. When consent is brought up in discussions on rape it must follow the feminist doctrine of how to be utilised, anything else is simply rape apology, rape denial and good ol’ fashioned misogyny.

Men get raped, men get abused, men get assaulted. What is feminism doing about this? Fuck all. Women get raped, women get abused, women get assaulted. What is feminism doing about that? Very little, unless you count infantilisation and incessant victimhood as ‘empowerment’.

Consent is not something we can allow to be co-opted by feminism or any other social justice movement that seeks to exclude an entire section of victims. All that does is prove, again, that feminism doesn’t care about men’s issues, in fact it barely cares about ‘women’ at all, it cares about ‘those women’, ‘those women’ who buy into the feminist doctrine, who buy into feminist theory. If you do that then they are your best friends, turn away from that and they are your worst enemies.

I’m not, for one second, trying to suggest the author of this article wasn’t raped, I’m not that much of a cunt. However, I do think her reasoning behind this article is flawed and dangerous. Yes, she claims that her brand of feminism will not be liked by the harpies at Jezebel but she goes on to spout feminist buzzwords anyway, so is there really a difference? Absolutely, let’s talk about consent, let’s talk about the socialisation of people, let’s help the author get through whatever tragic event happened in her life, let’s help her to move forward, but let’s not turn a discussion on a vital concept of life’s experiences into a one-upmanship game of oppressed and oppressor, victim and victimiser, let’s not allow a tragic event to influence a discussion on concept that everyone should be educated about.

Suggesting men don’t need to be taught about consent because it’s a ‘privilege’ that they automatically receive due to being male and suggesting that pretty much every other group of people is denied that ‘privilege’ is as short sighted as it comes. Continue to teach women and minorities that they are and always will be victims and ‘empowerment’ becomes an impossible achievement; continue to teach men that they can never be victims and you doom them to continued silence.

Consent is something we must be able to discuss freely and openly. If we don’t, if we let social justice groups to co-opt it and present their opinions as truth then we may as well all become celibate and let the human race die out.

Did I just say genocide was more desirable than feminist theory? Such narcissism!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 7 years you probably know what the MCU is. The MCU (or Marvel Cinematic Universe) is one of the biggest franchises ever to exist in cinema, raking in billions of dollars over the course of 11 films.

The thing with the MCU is that, owing to its success at the box office, it’s now under almost impossible amounts of pressure to be ‘progressive’ and ‘forward thinking’, especially with Joss Whedon helming what is essentially the ‘poster-boy’ of the series, The Avengers.

When it comes to comics and superheroes, the representations of female characters has always been something of a sore spot. From the ‘women in refrigerator’ trope (coined during The Killing Joke I believe) to the costumes worn to the fact that Hank Pym, noted hero and original Avenger, once hit his wife (a storyline that resulted in his being ejected from the Avengers and his career being tarnished, something that seems to get glossed over) females in comics have been under a lot of scrutiny in the last 20 or so years.

It’s the same with the films, the lack of ‘strong, female heroes’ seems to be a constant point of whinging from certain sectors of society. Now that superhero films have hit the big time it’s imperative, apparently, that there be a level of parity between male and female superheroes. This despite the fact that when I was a kid some of the worst comments I got for being a comic nerd came from girls who just couldn’t understand why I liked them. Now, those same girls are commenting on Facebook saying how much they loved the new Iron Man film. Not that I’m bitter, more money means more films, it’s just sometimes it gets a bit galling when I get told I’m somehow furthering sexism and the marginalisation of girls by buying ‘testosterone-filled’ adventures that feature solely male heroes when, 15 years ago, I was being called a loser for buying ‘testosterone-filled’ adventures that featured solely male heroes. You’ll forgive me if my sympathy-o-meter is running on empty.

Anyway, enough hypocritical bitching from me. The newest film in the Marvel juggernaut has just been released and, having seen it at the weekend, I can say I absolutely loved it. It had a decent story, good effects, some nice character development, some brilliant acting, new characters, comedy and a decent villain.

Guess who didn’t like it? Yeah, feminists.

Last summer the film Guardians of the Galaxy was released and immediately was declared ‘not a feminist film’ for 3 (count them, 3) reasons. I can’t even remember what they were, but I did write a blog about how pathetic it was:

https://johnsalmonsworld.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/guardians-of-the-galaxy-is-not-a-feminist-film-yippee-spoiler-alert/

There are any number of films that I could write a blog about and talk about the misandry that runs through them (I did do a mini look at misandry in television at Christmas), there are so many Hallmark-type romantic films that I’ve watched over the last 2 years that contain blatant anti-male, generalised statements that, if went the other way, would lead to a film being decried as ‘not a feminist film’. There are numerous films that fail the reverse Bechdel test (if such a thing existed) but we don’t see multiple articles dedicated to tearing them apart. Why? I dunno, maybe because men aren’t constantly told to see themselves as victims.

So if Guardians wasn’t a feminist film, is Age of Ultron? In short, no, apparently. Aside from the incessant whinging about the lack of female characters it seems that the existing female characters don’t catch a break either. Or, at least, one in particular doesn’t.

Black Widow is polarising people for her depiction in Age of Ultron. There are two articles in particular I want to look at. One reason is because they are simply wrong about some things they put forward, secondly because it points to a wider problem when it comes to superhero films – that these articles are so focused on the poor portrayal of female characters that they completely fail to focus on the actual positives of those female characters and similarly poor portrayals of male characters. Why? Because there are already numerous male characters in the franchise so some of them being one-dimensional or badly written is of no consequence. Or something, I don’t actually know.

Anyway, the first article:

http://nypost.com/2015/05/04/why-everyone-hates-the-new-domesticated-black-widow/

Domesticated? That’s a rather large claim, and there are two sections in particular that over-exaggerate this claim in order to fit a pre-determined narrative? I should probably make it clear, if I haven’t already, that this will contain spoilers.

As an aside we get this, which just goes to show the power of interpretation and why interpretation alone is not enough to definitely label something as sexist:

‘Yet in “Age of Ultron,” her character is given some unfortunate archetypal female character traits. For one, at the Avengers mission “wrap party” early in the film, Widow looks to be the only Avenger working the bash, pouring drinks from behind a bar while she bats her eyes in flirtation. Later, she grabs Captain America’s shield off the street and quips, “I’m always picking up after you boys.” (Add on top of that these unfortunate sexist comments made by two of the film’s male stars during a press interview.)’

I’m pretty sure Widow herself makes a comment that explains why she appears to be working (I can’t remember what it is, I’ve only seen it once) but it seems she’s choosing to be behind the bar, not being forced to ‘work’. As for the ‘always picking up after you boys’ comment, to me that always seemed a bit sexist towards men, as in ‘men are such dirty, irresponsible man-babies who can’t take care of anything’. That interpretation came from the fact Widow says that line as she picks up Cap’s shield from the street after he loses it, reinforcing the idea that men are pretty useless without a woman. Quite apart from Black Widow being domesticated, it suggests that Captain America himself can’t function without a woman by his side. Yet, of course, that line is only interpreted as sexist towards women, implying that they always do the tidying.

The thing is, both interpretations have credence but only one is being used as evidence of the regression of a superhero’s character.

As for the ‘unfortunate comments’, I haven’t clicked the link but I bet it’s the video of Jeremy Renner calling Widow a slut. Got to admit it’s pretty accurate; first Hawkeye, then Captain America and now Hulk. Of course, Tony Stark’s womanising is sexist to women, Scarlet Widow’s maninising (is that even a word? OMG that’s so sexist) is sexist to women. See how that works?

So, to the two main complaints with this article. The first of which is simply an outright lie:

‘Over at Entertainment Weekly in a piece titled “The Black Widow Conundrum,” Darren Franich argues that Johansson embodies the “most popular female superhero of the decade,” but still Marvel doesn’t seem to know what to do with her. In fact, the revelations of her sterilization and that she longs for a stable life (with Bruce Banner aka the Hulk, who, like all the male characters, has no such domestic longings) make her downright boring.’

So, in the film it’s revealed that part of her ‘training’ to become a super spy included a sterilisation process that ensured none of the assassins could have children, thereby solidifying their effectiveness. Of course, this comes out during a tender moment with Bruce Banner as he reveals, fairly obviously, that he can’t have kids either.

This seems to be a point of contention, the fact that she feels upset, that she falls into ‘a whole descent of sadness’ after revealing she can’t have children.

Firstly, why is it such a bad thing that she longs to have children? Are female superheroes now suddenly not supposed to want to have children? Are female superheroes now supposed to be nothing more than emotionless killers? Sure, Black Widow is supposed to be an assassin but she has not been an emotionless killer up to this point. She has showed humanity, she’s showed compassion and kindness, particularly to Hawkeye in Avengers Assemble and Captain America in The Winter Soldier. She is human, she has emotions that have clearly been expressed before, so why is it now such a huge problem that those emotions are revealed as sadness at her inability to have children? She doesn’t pine after them, she doesn’t leave the team because she can’t have kids, and she doesn’t say ‘I WANT BABIES NOOOOOOOOOOW!’ No, not at all, she simply expresses sadness that, at some point in her future, she will not be able to create a family. Who does she tell this too? Bruce Banner, another hero who reveals he is unable to have children (presumably due to his Hulk sperm being as big as Widow herself).

I don’t understand why maternal feelings in female characters are such a no-no. I thought the scene was brilliant and, to be completely honest, made me like the character more, a character that, up to that point, I’d actually found a bit dull.

But let’s look at the outright lie told in this paragraph:

‘In fact, the revelations of her sterilization and that she longs for a stable life (with Bruce Banner aka the Hulk, who, like all the male characters, has no such domestic longings) make her downright boring.’

Quite the contrary for me, I found this scene to make her more interesting, to make her seem more human. But the real problem comes with the ridiculously untrue comment about the male characters. First of all, she’s talking to Bruce about wanting a stable life and he’s right there agreeing with her. Not only that, at the end of the film he remains alone on an Avengers Quinjet, turns off the comms system and allows himself to be isolated from the rest of the team. Why? Presumably because he knows he can’t have a life with Natasha due to who he is.

Then we have Hawkeye, a guy who quits the team to go home and be with his family! Seriously, is that not longing enough for a domestic life? Like, the fact is that he spends pretty much the entire film trying to decide if he wants to be part of the team or if he wants to be at home with his family. If that’s not longing for domestic bliss I don’t know what is.

Or how about Tony Stark, who destroys all his Iron Man suits at the end of Iron Man 3. For what reason? So he can lead a somewhat normal life with Pepper.

Or what about Drax, whose entire mission in Guardians of the Galaxy is to seek revenge for the man who killed his wife and daughter. Is that not enough?

This is why I pay little attention to these types of articles, sometimes they get so caught up in their desire to force their views on others, so desperate to paint certain characters as victims that they actually just make shit up or, at the very least, don’t really understand what’s happening to other characters. They do contain valid points, Black Widow is the only major female superhero on screen at the moment. But the constant attempts to show how badly she’s treated, how much she’s shown as a stereotype while not only ignoring similar traits in men but outright lying about them means that those genuine concerns get lost in a mire of mistruths and unnecessary victimhood.

So, moving on from that article to another, an open letter from a ‘disappointed’ feminist to Joss Whedon about the treatment of Black Widow during AOU:

http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/an-open-letter-to-joss-whedon-after-watching-age-of-ultron-from-a-disappointed-feminist-fan-20150430

Again, I’m not going to go through the whole thing, mostly because the first paragraph refers to previous Whedon works that I’ve never heard of (I’m not a huge Whedon fan, Buffy and Angel being about the only things I knew of him before Avengers. Aside from his feminist boot-licking, of course).

So, the author (Sara Stewart) in her attempts to chastise Whedon for his misogyny actually resorts to misandry:

‘So, um, we need to talk about “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” I had my doubts when I saw one bombastic, testosterone-soaked trailer after another make its way around the internet, but I tempered my reaction with a soothing refrain of, “But it’s Joss Whedon.’

Ha, the implication here being that trailers featuring lots of action, lots of male characters and, ultimately, lots of destruction somehow are a bad thing because they are ‘testosterone-soaked’. Quite apart from the fact she’s ignoring both Black Widow and Scarlet Witch’s appearances in those trailers, she’s also implying that these men saving the world somehow lessens the quality of the film or reduces their appeal. How sexist is that? I mean, not only does she make the sly implication that a film featuring men saving the world to be bad due to, presumably, its lack of women, she then suggests that Whedon, the ‘champion of women’, can somehow make it better. Presumably by introducing the women to put those nasty boys in their place.

Then she really gets ridiculous:

‘They’re just not showing the smart parts. That’s not what trailers are about.”

Again, the implication here being that there’s no way these action scenes could be smart, that there’s no planning gone into what actually happens during these scenes. No, men just turn up and wreck shit, all they do is wave their wangs about and destroy stuff while probably raping a few women and giving each other high-fives as they do it, that’s all men are good for. All those testosterone-soaked trailers featuring those nasty, brutish men aren’t showing us the real stars of the film – the smart women. Come on, Whedon, get your head out of your arse.

Of course, at this point you could be screaming at your computer screen telling me to stop being such a muppet. You’re probably right, but that’s the point. A ‘testosterone-soaked’ trailer for an action film should be shocking no-one. You can’t complain that the women are treated poorly when they are involved in the very trailers you’re decrying.

She then goes on to talk some more about the barrier-breaking character of Black Widow, which is cool. But then the objection to maternal instincts rears its ugly head again:

‘But I would like to add, did we really need Natasha to have a mini-breakdown over the fact that she can’t have children? Haven’t we gotten to a point where the one lonely female superhero in our current landscape can just pursue the business of avenging without having to bemoan not being a mother?’

Again, I get that you didn’t like the scene, I get that, to you, it was nothing more than a regressive step into 1950s stereotypes. But, listen to this, I loved that scene. It humanised both Romanov and Banner in ways we hadn’t seen before, ways not seen since the cave scene in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. I liked it simply because it showed a desire, for both characters, to have something to live for after being a superhero. The tragedy of the scene is that both characters, one male and one female, had that choice taken away from them. Widow was sterilised to make her an effective killing machine, Banner was, presumably sterilised, when he was battered with gamma radiation. I thought it was beautiful and poignant. Is the problem the fact she shows motherly desires or the fact she’s the only female superhero? Would you be complaining if Spider-woman or Captain Marvel or Wasp were part of this film?

When did women having maternal instincts become such a bad thing? Yeah, sure she’s the only major female superhero appearing on film, but did she say she wanted kids right there and then? Did she say she was going to quit the team to become a mother? No, she’s lamenting the fact that at some point in her life she has to face the very real reality that she can’t have children. Why is that such a monstrous thing?

Then she introduces a quote from Caitlin Moran, a feminist who I’m no fan of, simply because her view of feminism is far too black and white. It’s not a bad quote, I suppose, but the utter ignorance that follows is cringe worthy:

Caitlin Moran, help me out here: 

“I have a rule of thumb that allows me to judge, when time is pressing and one needs to make a snap judgment, whether or not some sexist bullshit is afoot. Obviously, it’s not 100% infallible but by and large it definitely points you in the right direction and it’s asking this question; are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well? Is this taking up the men’s time?”

Male superheroes generally don’t have kids, which makes sense; it’d get in the way of their superheroing. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) does make reference to not being able to have kids, too, but it’s in more of a “well, obviously” way. Couldn’t it just be the same for women? For this rather busy woman, anyway?’

Ok, the main point here is that, according to Moran, men and women have to be exactly, 100%, unequivocally the same. There can’t be any differences between them, there can’t be anything that they disagree on, there can’t be any split focuses. Simply put, if men and women aren’t worrying about the exact same thing then it’s sexist towards women.That’s the kind of black-and-white feminism that Moran sees. If Widow is worrying about children then Hawkeye needs to be too, as does Stark and Rogers and Barton and Fury and Thor. See how daft that sounds?

But that’s one just one part, that’s a quote that, as Moran herself has to admit, is not 100% infallible (but the fact it’s even bought up here is quite ridiculous). The paragraph that follows is just so utterly redundant it’s laughable and suggests that Stewart actually doesn’t know comic books at all, rather being selective in her outrage and not letting her ignorance get in the way of her victimhood.

Male superheroes generally don’t have children? I’m going to assume she means in superhero fiction in general and not just the MCU films.

So, let’s take a look at male superheroes and their lack of children:

Cyclops – Nathan Summers (Cable).

Wolverine – Daken.

Spider-man – May Parker (only as part of the MC2 dimension but still counts). In fact, there’s been at least two instances of 616 Spider-man having kids – the end of the Clone Saga and a set of twins that, ultimately, ended up being the product of Gwen’s relationship with Norman Osbourne (despised as a storyline in the comics)

Magneto – Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (sound familiar? Yeah, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch).

Scott Lang – Cassie Lang (Hawkeye).

Azazel – Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler).

The Incredible Hulk – Skaar.

Reed Richards – Franklin and Valeria Richards.

Vision – William and Scarlet.

Charles Xavier – David Haller (Legion).

And that’s just the ones I can think of from Marvel, some of the most popular or well-known Marvel characters, too. Now, that was rather long-winded and probably a little irrelevant, but the idea that male comic book characters don’t have children because it gets in the way of their ‘superheroing’ is simply untrue. Now, if most of the characters above had been unknown second rate characters then I think there may have been a salient point but, apart from Scott Lang, whose popularity may be about to rise considering he is played by Paul Rudd in the upcoming film, they are all mainstream, A-list characters who are important to the Marvel Universe.

Fair point, ‘generally’ male superheroes don’t have children, but then, by the same token, ‘generally’ neither do female superheroes.

But that point aside, it’s not just Black Widow who’s raised the ire of our author, it’s all female characters in this film:

‘Black Widow, unfortunately, is only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s take a look at all the other female characters in “Age of Ultron.”

You got Linda Cardellini — Lindsay goddamn Weir! — in your movie, and you made her a housewife. As Hawkeye’s secret spouse (he’s kept his family in some sort of superhero protection program, apparently), she is literally pregnant and in the kitchen for most of her screen time. Sure, she dispenses some womanly words of wisdom and lets the Avengers crash in their Pottery Barn-tastic farmhouse, but seriously? That is some reductive gender shit right there. She is literally keeping the home fires burning. (How do I know this? Because there’s a lengthy scene in which two male Avengers show off their muscles chopping firewood.)’

So, she complains that the male characters don’t share the same domestic longings that appear to consume Black Widow, but then complains when she doesn’t agree with the type of domestic life that is waiting for Hawkeye? Damn, will she ever be happy?

First of all, who’s Lindsay Weir, and why should an actress’ past roles have any bearing on current or future roles? From the reaction, I’m guessing Linda Weir was some head-strong, ‘powerful’, don’t-take-shit-from-no-one type of woman in some TV show or film. That may be the case, but does that preclude Cardellini from doing an about turn and doing something different? Isn’t that what versatile actors do? Wait, is actor right, or should it be actress? I never know anymore, damn bloody feminists!

So it’s not just the lack of a possible future family that’s pissing off our author, it’s a current family about to grow by one that’ll do it as well. Reductive gender shit? Complains that male characters don’t show longing for domestic bliss, complains when male character is shown to have a loving family waiting for him, complains when said character’s wife dispenses ‘womanly words of wisdon’ that effectively allow him to go off and save the world one more time. Loving wife? No, how about oppressed victim of patriarchy or some stupid shit like that. Apparently, when male superheroes do display longing for domestic bliss it should involve a woman working like a factory horse in her own job while also taking care of the children because the man has fucked off to do something else. Wait, isn’t that kinda what feminism wants?

Oh yeah, two Avengers showing off their muscles while chopping firewood is the only thing she takes away from that little scene, not the actual conversation between the two of them. But then, she’s already pretty much admitted she has a problem with men being shown doing anything remotely ‘manly’, so that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Then:

‘And let’s talk about the support staff at the new state-of-the-art Avengers building. Cobie Smulders is on hand again as Maria Hill, a high-ranking officer in the establishment who seems to do nothing but walk around with a clipboard, wear tight black pantsuits and have the occasional chastising Skype session with our heroes (I’m not watching “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” so maybe she’s tearing it up there, but you can’t count on moviegoers to know these things). And Claudia Kim plays Dr. Helen Cho, who can apparently do brilliant things with genetics but mostly just gets mind-warped by the villainous Ultron and, later, beaten up by him.’

Did Maria Hill do anything other than walk around with a clipboard, wear tight black pantsuits and have the occasional chastising session in the first Avengers film? She’s a background character, she’s barely in this film and doesn’t really contribute to the script, much like Nick Fury, who seems to escape the ire of our author, simply because focusing on the lack of character development of more than the female characters is just not fair.

Dr Helen Cho is actually pretty damn important. Without her technology there’s no way we would have Vision in this film, so to cherry pick the instances where she’s mind controlled by Ultron (you mean, like Hawkeye was for pretty much the entire first half of the Avengers?) for about 5 minutes, and the bit where she gets beaten up by Ultron (you know, like every male hero in this film) is a little desperate.

We get some more of Stewart’s rather anti-male sentiment as well as she laments the omission of both Pepper Potts and Jane Foster. Both characters are mentioned, but neither appear. Instead, both are mentioned at the beginning party scene where Thor and Tony talk about which woman is better. She comes up with this line:

‘Seriously, you couldn’t get Gwyneth or Natalie for a couple days?’

Seriously, is that an actual question? What if the answer is simply no? Two actresses (or is it actors? Damn feminists) who are possibly busy and possibly have other projects are now somehow feeding into the misogyny of AOU by not being available for this film? Way to make a huge leap in logic there. Two female characters are missing so it must be because Whedon didn’t want them in his ‘sausage-fest’ of a movie (there she goes again implying movies featuring large male casts are somehow bad).

But she saves most of her ire for the Scarlet Witch:

‘Then there’s Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch character. Yes, she has a superpower, but it’s one that feels dreamed up by men who are terrified of women: She messes with people’s minds, dude! That’s not on you, Joss; the canon is already there, I know. No, my main beef with your treatment of Olsen is that this very talented actress gets zero quippy Whedony dialogue.’

So, what’s the huge complaint here? Was Scarlet Witch denied screen time? Was she shown to be nothing but a damsel? Was she put in some unrealistic, skimpy outfit simply to appeal to the male gaze? No, she didn’t get enough one liners. Wow, I can’t believe it, Whedon you son of a bitch, how dare you not give her any quippy dialogue?! I mean, it’s not like Scarlet Witch single-handedly took out the Avengers during the first mission, it’s not like she caused the hulk to rampage around a poor market town, it’s not like she, you know, neutralised Ultron or anything. No, forget the fact she’s the one who actually stops the villain that has been pummeling the Avengers for most of the film, it’s the lack of quippy dialogue that’s the main problem. Man, I wish I could get myself so worked up over nothing.

Oh yeah, she also has a superpower that, supposedly, is dreamed up by men terrified of women: telekinesis. Man, how sexist is that, a character that can mess with people’s minds. That kind of superpower can only be dreamed up by a man who is terrified of women. It’s not like it’s a superpower held by, you know, Charles Goddamn Xavier, one of the most powerful mutants in the entire Marvel Universe. No, being able to get in people’s heads is totally the result of sexism.

I mean, it’s not like Wanda’s superpower is responsible for one of the biggest shifts in comic history, is it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_M

No, it’s totally just because some dude is such a sexist cunt that the thought of a woman messing with his head is enough to give a female comic character that power. Does that even make sense? Movie Jean Grey has been wielding telekinesis since 2000’s X-men, was Stewart complaining then? Someone in the comments states that, actually, Wanda’s power in the comics doesn’t involve messing with people’s minds. Her ‘hex powers’ have gone through numerous changes but, generally, she can mess with people’s minds.

The remainder of the article is some blah about Scarlet Witch possibly being a shining light in a film of oppressive male superheroes using their oppressive maleness to go around fighting anything that moves or something like that.

Her ending argument is basically ‘Whedon, how can you make Scarlet Witch and Black Widow such duds after championing strong female characters for the last 8 years?!’ I must have watched a different film, I actually enjoyed Black Widow more than I did in any of her previous outings.

The thing I find most confusing about this article is the idea that ‘longing for domestic bliss’ (I’m paraphrasing) is such a moveable ideal. Black Widow’s possible desire for children and a stable life is somehow sexist because it ‘places women firmly back in the 1950s’ (again, paraphrasing), yet Hawkeye having a family of his own who, it would appear, follow a traditional family lifestyle is also sexist against women, even though a complaint of the film was that no male characters show any desire for a domestic life. As said before, Hawkeye leaves the team in order to go back to his family. Never mind the fact that, in this lifestyle, Hawkeye is literally the protector of not only his family but the entire planet, it’s the fact a woman is in the home (pregnant might I add, just one more layer of femininity that we shouldn’t see in movies) that is the really sexist thing.

Sure, I get it, Black Widow didn’t embody everything you wanted her to, she showed weakness and emotion and vulnerability and a desire to have some kind of life outside of the Avengers. The thing that bugs me is that she is not the only one. As said before, Stark, Barton and Banner have all acted in ways that suggest they also want to leave the team. Is it worse when Widow does it because she’s the only woman? Well, at the end of the film, of the 6 main Avengers, who are the only 2 still standing? That’s right, Captain America and Black Widow. So, for all the complaints about domesticity and longing for a stable life, it’s actually Banner, Barton and Stark who leave the group, not Widow. Thor also leaves, but for a different reason.

Look, I have misgivings about the comic universe at times, Obadiah Stane being killed by Stark and not committing suicide with his own repulsor still pisses me off, as do numerous other little things about the whole shared Universe (don’t get me started on tie-in TV shows) but the constant barrage of focus on female characters being mistreated often misses the very good ways they are treated. Yes, there is still a dearth of female characters in superhero films, but you have to appreciate that this is a form of media that, for nearly 100 years, has had a viewer-and-readership that’s been comprised mainly of males. To suddenly expect to be able to throw an equal amount of female superheroes into the mix is short sighted, especially when we get complaints like this over things that are, in my mind, so inconsequential.

Constantly focusing on the negatives about female characters only lets people know about the negatives of female characters. Never mind the fact that Black Widow receives a substantial amount of screen time in this ensemble, never mind the fact that Scarlet Witch is the one to neutralise the main villain (after her brother has been killed, by the way. Introduce a male character and kill him off in the same film, disposable much?), never mind the fact that a female scientist is responsible for the technology that helps create a brand new type of techno-organic superhero. No, let’s focus on the fact that a female character who was sterilised as a child now laments the fact she can’t have children. Let’s focus on the fact that one new character doesn’t have the quippy dialogue of other characters who have had that side of their personality established over numerous films. Let’s focus on a couple of missing female characters and blame their lack of inclusion on a sly implication of sexism, rather than actually trying to find out the reason.

So what do these people want? Do they want female characters to be cold, brooding, emotionless death machines who do exactly what the men do and have the exact same worries? Wouldn’t that be incredibly boring? So, Stewart uses derogatory, male-centric terms like ‘testosterone-soaked’ and ‘sausage-fest’ to get across just how much the male-centric nature of the film displeases her, but then complains that the lone female superhero displays characteristics that set her apart from her testosterone-soaked co-stars? I don’t get it.

Not only that, but she blatantly ignores male characters who do actually do what she wishes they would. Man, if these people only ever complain about how victimised they feel because of the portrayal of a character in a film then that’s all they will ever come across as and people will, eventually, just stop caring what they think. I hardly think that’s their aim.

I’ve whinged on for far too long about this. If there’s one thing to take away from this film it’s this – there are numerous instances of misogyny and misandry if you go looking for them. There are numerous instances of misogyny and misandry in pretty much everything you watch if you look hard enough. That’s the overriding thought that runs through my mind when I see articles like this – the focus is so narrowly on the negatives that any focus on positives is completely lost. All the developments made to Black Widow’s character are now suffocating under a cloud of incessant whinging. ‘Yeah, looks like she becomes co-leader of the new Avengers team at the end but OMG SHE WAS SAD SHE COULDN’T HAVE CHILDREN!!! WHEDON YOU CUNT!’ It’s so incredibly lame.

I originally started this blog because I’d heard the news that Whedon had disappeared from twitter amidst all the criticism over Black Widow. I think Whedon’s a bit of a cunt anyway so my sympathy-o-meter doesn’t really have anything for him, but I do think the backlash over one character has been so overblown it’s taken away from the fact that Age of Ultron is a stellar film.

One of the biggest films ever made is sending feminists into a sexism-induced rage? Ha, where’s the goddamn popcorn!

Excelsior!

I wrote a blog a while ago on privilege, it was in fact (if I remember rightly) the first blog I wrote that I subsequently turned into a video and put on my, now dormant, Youtube channel. I’ve touched on it since then, mostly in a blog about thin privilege and fat shaming but mostly I’ve left it alone. Why? Well, I think the entire concept is daft. As I said in those blogs, we all have privilege in some ways, even if it isn’t immediately clear to us.

I generally don’t write about it because I don’t think it’s one of the concepts of social justice that warrants focus. There probably are instances where ‘white privilege’ or ‘thin privilege’ has a positive effect but I don’t see it as that black and white. Yes, my ‘male privilege’ has probably helped me along the way in some aspect of my life, but it’s also seen me accused of being a paedophile on more than one occasion by teenagers simply for being a male teacher. Gotta love that privilege! But I’d like to visit it again here today.

Previous blogs on privilege are here:

https://johnsalmonsworld.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/the-concept-of-privilege-who-has-it-who-doesnt-and-whats-this-got-to-do-with-feminism/

https://johnsalmonsworld.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/thin-privilege-fat-shaming-and-why-its-all-bullshit/

On my Facebook page (which if you’re unaware of, can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/johnsalmonsworld?fref=ts ) I posted an update the other day linking to an article from everydayfeminism.com. I’ve written blogs in the past from articles that have been published on that site so I do have some experience of what they’re about. Previous blogs were my look at 25 everyday examples of rape culture:

https://johnsalmonsworld.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/25-everyday-examples-of-rape-culture-an-exploration/

How fat men are, supposedly, a feminist issue:

https://johnsalmonsworld.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/fat-men-are-a-feminist-issue-because-we-all-hate-the-wimmenz/

and the unspeakable horror of internalised misogyny:

https://johnsalmonsworld.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/choice-feminism-internalised-misogyny-and-feminisms-perpetual-victimhood/

Much like other feminist articles that I write about on this blog I don’t actually visit the site myself, they often pop up in my timeline when friends or pages I follow share them. That’s probably not very progressive of me but, in all honesty, I can’t take a daily dose of websites like everydayfeminism.com.

The post I put on my Facebook page was titled like ‘3 lies we should stop telling about negative people’. If you want to go and check it just follow the link above and search for it.

The reason I used that article for a Facebook status and not a full blog is simply because there wasn’t much I wanted to write about it. The point I do want to make is what I actually think of everydayfeminism.com and, to a lesser degree, most feminist websites.

I hate it. Like, really hate it. Just from the small number of articles I’ve read from that site I know it’s not somewhere I want to spend a lot of time. It’s a poisonous site. Every article I’ve read is so full of absolutes and victimhood that, if I were a woman, I don’t think I’d want to leave the house for fear of being choked by what is obviously a toxic patriarchal smog that must hang in the air and only target women. Rape culture, slut shaming, fat shaming, mental-illness shaming, misogyny in tech, misogyny in banking, misogyny in gaming, it’s a never ending cavalcade of extreme oppression. Seriously, if that’s what feminism is about then thank fuck I’m not a woman, I don’t think I could bear being preached at in such a way.

The worrying thing is that the site sells itself as ‘everyday’ feminism, which suggests this is the sort of thing they think we should be focusing on at all times. It’s just unbelievable some of the stuff that goes on that site. Not only the constant barrage of negativity that, themselves, throw at women but the absolute inability to see women as bad. Sure, I think I read something on that site a while ago saying something like ‘we mustn’t forget women can be paedophiles, too’ but that was a needle in the victim haystack.

Maybe my lack of everyday visits has been to my detriment, maybe they have become better, but I don’t know if I dare risk visiting to find out.

I get the point of feminism, it’s supposed to be empowering women, but this site goes about it the wrong way. Whilst they may make the occasional nod towards women being capable of fucked up shit they do not make it a part of their daily vernacular. At no point in the blogs I’ve written previously did the sites mention women as anything other than victims. That’s worrying, everydayfeminism.com doesn’t want to paint women as anything other than victims, which is what I want to talk about today.

I was talking to a friend on Facebook the other day, one of those ‘I class them as friends even though I’ve never seen them and will probably never meet them’ type people, about what it’s like to be John Salmon, what it’s like to have one of the biggest parts of your life be a complete secret from everyone you know. There are lots of things I would like to reveal under this identity but can’t, I have to be careful, I have quite a lot to lose. I don’t know why I worry so much, it’s not like this blog has any real power, it’s not upsetting governments or influencing laws or anything but still, in the wrong hands my identity can be used against me.

Point is, being John Salmon allows me to embody some of the traits I don’t necessarily have in my real life. I’ve mentioned in the past that I fall onto the introvert side of the social skill. A few years ago I did an MBTI test. While I can’t remember exactly what my result was it pretty much confirmed what I already know – that I like my own space and have a limited tolerance of large groups of people.

It’s rather strange because my job means I am stood in front of people all day. I’m perfectly fine with that but I can’t handle being stood up in front of a room of adults. I’ve been best man at mates’ weddings twice and both times I was terrified. I have a very strange social barrier where I struggle to talk to new people if I’m not introduced first. That’s not because I’m arrogant, it’s simply because I don’t feel like I’ve been ‘invited’ to join the discussion and therefore struggle to join in.

There have been times when I’ve really wanted to take part in a discussion but haven’t because I’ve not been able to find a way in. It all sounds strange but it’s part of my life and it’s what makes John Salmon so different. It makes me braver, makes me feel like I’m someone who actually has some knowledge to impart. In short, John Salmon is an extrovert. I think you have to be an extrovert to put yourself out there on the internet for scrutiny.

Have I ever felt like a victim whilst being in those situations? No, I’m well aware of who I am and what I’m like and I know full well that if there’s some change to be made then it has to come from me. It’s not a battle anyone else can fight for me, it’s not something I’ve ever thought of applying the concept of privilege to and I certainly don’t expect others to change simply because my fee-fees were hurt!

But that’s not what everydayfeminism thinks:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/04/examples-extrovert-privilege/

Interestingly enough this article was written by a man, not something that is the norm over at everydayfeminism.

So let’s get straight to the point – extroverts have bucket of social privilege that allows them to advance their lives in a manner they want to while us lowly introverts are left behind in their wake.

I already don’t like where I think this article is going to go. Now, I’m not one to dismiss ideas straight out of hand so I am going to read this article and analyse it but already this follows the formula that everydayfeminism struggles to break free of – that it speaks for everyone.

The site has a bad habit of picking a subject, internalised misogyny or thin privilege for example, and assuming it speaks for every single person who may be affected. So, in the interest of discussion I will approach this article from my own personal side – the introvert vs the introvert. Me vs him. Let’s see if he actually does speak for me, shall we?

This very first line:

‘I have this weird condition where I can’t shut up.’

Which then develops this way:

‘I do it because I like to talk to people. Sounds pretty cut-and-dry, right?

But the problem is people themselves also exhaust me, so I go into these seemingly odd bursts of energy where I can’t keep quiet – and then do. For the rest of the day, if not the rest of the week.’

Yeah, he’s already lost me. The good thing is at least he starts with I, which means that he, at the moment, isn’t trying to speak for everyone. Unfortunately for him, I actually don’t like speaking to people. I speak to my friends, my parents, my sister, my work-mates and my students but, generally, I tend to keep quiet. If it hasn’t become obvious by now then you can tell that me and John Salmon are very different people.

I can have bursts of energy, don’t get me wrong, but it’s often not in front of people. I will agree on one thing, though, people exhaust me as well. I can be around people, sure, and I will interact but, mostly, I get burnt out very quickly. That’s one good thing about being tee-total, I get to drive to places and can leave whenever I want, no need to rely on other people that way.

The rest of the introduction goes on to talk about the difficulty of growing up as an introvert is an essentially extrovert world. Been there, done that. It is difficult, but it’s entirely personal. There’s absolutely no way I can compare my adolescent experiences to other introverts just because we’re introverts. I know I struggle with social situations, but I also know that I don’t struggle to do my job, so there’s no way I can say every introvert shares my experience.

One thing I do despise though is when extroverts, and I’m talking clear extroverts, say shit like ‘well I’m really a shy person, this is just a front.’ Why does it piss me off? Well, because it’s a simple grab for attention. It works because extroverts are the type of people who have been noticed and will have people flock around them saying ‘oh wow, I never realised’. If I was to try that the first response I would get is ‘who the fuck is he?’

Wow, that makes me sounds super jealous. Maybe I am, maybe I am jealous of the attention extroverts get, what an interesting concept.

Anyway, the point is that James St. James (the author), aside from having parents who must have been partial to a sly bet on the side, suggests that introverts are made to suffer due to the ‘social privilege’ afforded to extroverts. Basically, his argument revolves around the thought process that ‘extroverts get more simply because they’re extroverts’ which, as you’ll see, I think is incredibly simplistic.

His first point:

‘1. You Don’t Forsake Your Basic Needs Just Because Company’s Over

Fellow introverts are already giving a sympathetic groan because every single one of them has been in this situation before.’

Actually, I’m giving a rather sarcastic role of my eyes to this one. Now is the point at which he claims to speak for everyone. Difference is, this time he’s probably right. I have indeed been in this situation but, this is where he loses me, I have never forsaken my basic needs because of other people. Earlier on I talked about how everydayfeminism likes to make victims of women, well here St James is making a victim of another entire group, this time it’s introverts.

He carries on:

‘You’re up in your room (or whatever other area of a living environment is hopefully considered your safe space) and somebody has company over.

It could be your roommate’s friends, your mother’s sister, or even your own acquaintance stopping by for an impromptu hello. It doesn’t matter.

The fact is you’re hungry, but since you’d have to risk making polite conversation with people in order to fill your belly, you ain’t going nowhere.’ 

Sorry but this is where you lose me big time. I hate small talk as much as the next bloke but this borders on unnecessary victimhood. He does carry on and he does actually come out with this line that pretty much sums up my feeling towards this point:

It probably sounds like a silly situation to extroverts, as if we introverts are choosing to suffer unnecessarily.’ 

He’s exactly right, it is silly. Not only that, look at the wording – ‘we’. No, Mr St James, it’s just you. That’s not to say you don’t have people who will agree with you, but you’re doing exactly what I thought you would do, you’re assuming to speak for all introverts. Well, your theory is flawed because I find this first point utterly ridiculous.

There have been plenty of times when my parents have had people round and I have had to suffer small talk when going downstairs for a drink or something. This as an example of ‘social privilege’ that extroverts have makes me wonder if there’s a real desire to highlight the difficulties of being an introvert or whether this is just another feminist example of inventing victimhood because some people get treated differently.

I never felt like a victim when my parents had friends round, so why is St. James trying to tell me I am?

His second point:

  1. You Always Succeed in Your Daily Chores 

Well would you look at that, I actually have experienced this one as well. Let’s see how he can make me out to be a victim in this little scenario:

‘Confound it all, where do they keep the ketchup around here?

Looking for items at a store can be difficult at the best of the times, but most extroverts seem to have no problem successfully finding what they need in the long run.

Why? Because they’ll actually ask for help.’

Well blow me sideways, this resonates all too well with me. If I had a pound for every time I’ve gone to a supermarket and not asked for something I can’t find I’d be a very rich man. He is right on this one, I do find it difficult to ask for things in supermarkets.

But is it really a ‘social privilege’ that extroverts get in being able to ask for directions?

I was going to look at the other 4 points individually but, after reading them again, I really don’t need or want to. See, this isn’t outright victimhood that St James is claiming, not in as much detail as some other everydayfeminism articles anyway, but it is victimhood. Let’s look at the remaining 4 examples and explore:

  1. You Don’t Risk Bodily Harm with Those Hairpin Turns 

This one deals with the idea that introverts tend to stay closer to walls when walking down the street and will walk faster to get out of congested areas.

  1. You Can Find Work Fast(er) 

This one is about introverts finding it difficult to network because networking requires people to have reserves of energy and an ability to be memorable to potential new and future employers.

  1. Making Friends Is Easy

Introverts find it harder to make friends (especially women. Ha, so he did manage to squeeze in a ‘women are the bugger victims in this’ line in this article!) and, due to their propensity to not want to talk to people all the time, will often get labelled as sullen or moody.

  1. You Don’t Feel So Tired 

Introverts lose their energy when around people so will often need time to ‘recharge’. That means a repetitive cycle of work/west/work/rest is just so unfulfilling.

So those are the 6 ways that extroverts ‘benefit’ from their ‘social privilege’. The interesting thing is, all of the above scenarios have happened to me. I’m not denying they happen, and I’m not suggesting that introverts don’t suffer in some way from the examples listed above, all I’m saying is that, once again St. James seeks to speak for all introverts and place us on the victim pedestal.

Yes, it’s annoying when people get the impression I’m a bit up myself or grumpy or depressed simply because I don’t talk much or don’t involve myself in activities but not once have I ever thought that was because of some innate inability to control who I am. Actually, I quite like being an introvert, I think people are finally beginning to understand that about me. Yes, I can be quite sociable, but it will be on my terms. Sometimes that backfires and results in people not asking me to do things because they assume the answer will be no, but it also results in people only asking me to do things they know I will enjoy, which helps to avoid the awkward ‘why are you here if you don’t really want to be here’ type situation.

I spent so much of my life, particularly my late teens and early 20s, doing things I didn’t want to do because others did want to do them. That includes drinking alcohol. I’ve never liked alcohol but social pressures and all that meant that I did it for years before finally realising I didn’t have to do something if I didn’t want to. I gave up alcohol completely when I was 24 and I don’t regret it one bit.

I don’t disagree with St. James that extroverts perhaps find it easier to navigate their way through life, especially when it comes to jobs that require networking or require you to be around customers all day.

What I don’t like is the constant suggestion that, somehow, this makes me a victim of an inherent lack of ‘privilege’. Basing this argument around ‘privilege’ which, apparently, is not something earned or given but something that is simply is, implies that there is nothing that I can do to correct it. It implies that these qualities are simply a product of an unfair and are not fixable by me.

I like to think the opposite. Yes, asking for help in the supermarket might be daunting but being an introvert doesn’t mean that I’m unable to do these things, just that I find them difficult. To suggest that extroverts simply get things by virtue of being extroverts is short-sighted. I’ve actually seen people turn against extroverted people, at parties and even at work, simply because they suffocate others with their characteristics. Yes, extroverts may be able to network well, but they can also come off like arrogant, narcissistic, self-involved cunts.

This is my problem with privilege, and why I think it’s a concept that we can only apply to individual situations. Using privilege as a way of explaining every bad thing that happens to introverts without exploring the way individual introverts react to these situations is to lump all introverts together as a collective, it’s to lump all introverts together as unable to function properly in some respect. That’s simply untrue and, surprise surprise, acts like we are victims of a social system we are unable to navigate.

Introverts are not victims, I most certainly am not. I don’t particularly like social situations, but I know that no-one is going to give me a free ride in life, or change the way they live their lives just to make me feel more comfortable, in the same way I wouldn’t expect anyone to ask me to change the way I am. There are things I am terrified of but they are things I know I need to do in order to navigate my way through life. I know what characteristics I embody and I know how they make me come across but that doesn’t mean I have to just accept that they will hold me back.

It’s not some kind of disease, it’s not a virus that infects your entire body, it’s just the way your brain works. Saying ‘oh, I can’t do that because I’m an introvert’ and letting that way of thinking guide your life is to never remove yourself from the victim pedestal you’ve placed yourself on.

Do I think extroverts have ‘social privilege’? No. Do I think individual people who may just be extroverts have ‘social privilege’? Now that’s the kind of question I think we should be asking.

But what does this have to do with John Salmon? Well, John Salmon is an extrovert. It’s a weird thing to say seeing as he is nothing more than writing on a screen but the point is that the sort of things I write about, both here on this blog and on the internet in general, are things that I would never, could never, touch in my real life. John Salmon has that air of confidence, that air of not giving a fuck what anyone thinks, that air of walking into a room and not giving a damn if the room turns silent and everyone turns to look. I don’t have that, not at all.

St. James includes this line towards the end of the article:

‘In the end, dear introvert, don’t despair. You’re awesome just the way you are.’

It’s a sentiment I can only endorse with half-a-heart. Yes, people are just fine the way they are, but the sentence here implies that you should be able to remain a victim of your introversion and try not to break down the barriers that are in your way. It implies that it is up to other people to change the way they are, to change what they do, the way they behave, in order to accommodate you and your introverted nature. Whilst I don’t disagree that people need to be aware of people’s differing characteristics I don’t think they should change the way they behave simply because of it.

So there we have I, it’s not just women that feminism makes victims of, it’s other entire groups of people too. From a site that deals with ‘every day’ feminism it’s just another badge of the cap of victimhood. ‘Not getting further in life?’, ‘find it hard to make friends?’, don’t worry about changing yourself, it’s up to other people to change for you.

Have I missed the point? Am I being overly harsh on introverted people simply because I happen to disagree with large parts of this article? Am I myself guilty of trying to speak for all introverts with the content of this blog? I don’t know, that’s up to you to decide.

What I do know is that John Salmon is, somewhere deep inside, still part of me. I just need to find a way to practice the confidence he exudes. That, my friends, is easier said than done.