Thursday, January 15, 2015

Musings on Memes

So I see my blogging rate is about one every 7 months or so...I'm not really going to change the world at that rate. The problem is that I'm often busy with doing other interesting stuff so doing writing in a focussed way has been rather pushed to the side.

But In recent days I've been reading some things that have stirred me up and then one particular tiny straw pushed me over the edge and I needed a place to howl.

I've been reading some blogs and other stuff about how one of the tools of systemic misogyny is to silence women. So women who are raped or otherwise sexually assaulted are not believed, their stories don't get told, perpetrators go unpunished, and women are blamed. Lots of people write about this kind of thing in all sorts of places. And example was much discussed in the British media today. A 44 year old male teacher received only a suspended sentence for abusing the trust of a 16 year old student by sleeping with her because apparently she groomed him! In other words, he is the victim and the young woman is to blame for the whole sorry mess. The Radio 4 Today programme (a very good source of news IMHO) invited a well respected Head Teacher, Dame Joan McVittie, to comment. She was absolutely adamant that this teacher has completely gone against his code of conduct and there was no excuse, so hurrah for Dame Joan. But it's interesting to note that the judge in her ruling (sadly female...) described the girl as "manipulative." So what if she was? The adult teacher should still have abided by the code of conduct. The underlying narrative here is the old one that men are merely weak victims of powerful female sexuality. The trouble with this kind of thinking is that it doesn't, in the end, do men any favours either.

Also, it isn't just a product of misogyny; people who are abused in many ways have these tactics used against them. There is a constant trickle of stories of spiritual and other types of abuse by church leaders, where powerful people are protected and supported by a group with a lot to lose in terms of reputation or revenue, if the structure is shown to be rotten. Again survivors of this kind of thing are often silenced through a variety of unpleasant tactics.

So I mentioned a tiny straw. I keep seeing a quote, often on Pinterest and various other social media places that goes as follows:

"She wears her pain like stilettos, no matter how much it hurts, all you see is the beauty of it.”

In light of what I said before you can probably see what a load of tripe this actually is. In other words, keep your mouth shut, sweetie, don't tell what has been done to you, and your reward will be that you will be beautiful to my gaze. And no, putting a sepia tinted picture of a pair of anonymous legs in unfeasibly high stilettos in the background doesn't help.

And the sad things is that I see this referenced by a lot of young women who have swallowed this insidious message hook, line and sinker. Young women who really believe that suffering in silence makes them strong and noble women.

And that makes me sad and a bit angry. Another internet meme that caught my eye this week is this one, and I think it might be applicable in this case.

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