Sunday, 5 February 2012

This is rape culture: Unilad, lad's mags and the Daily Mail

*Trigger warning* this post includes very upsetting quotes from Unilad, lad's mags and rapists regarding rape of women and children.

When I was interviewed on BBC Bristol the morning of Reclaim the Night 2011, the presenter accused me of being 'alarmist' when I said that we lived in a rape culture. I responded that I wasn't being alarmist, but that the situation is alarming. I explained that in a society where 1 in 4 women are survivors of rape (http://cwasu.org/page_display.asp?pageid=STATS&pagekey=35&itemkey=37) and the conviction rate from incident to conviction is 6%, whilst sentencing remains low, and rape is a trope used across the media, advertising and pornography as something 'ok' (http://loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org/offensiveads.html), then yes, we do live in a rape culture. 

This week reminded me of the extent of the rape culture we live in. I'm sure you are all aware of the Unilad magazine furore, which started on Twitter and has been picked up by plenty of the mainstream media. It began with anger over an article called 'Sexual Mathematics', where the "journalist" wrote that if a girl doesn't want to have sex with you, then you just have to do the maths. He states that 85% of rapes go unrecorded, and those are pretty good odds. In short, you might as well rape her, because chances are you'll get away with it.

This isn't banter. This isn't lads together, jauntily joking at women's expense. This is pure and undiluted hatred of women. I don't think that's too extreme to say. These men must hate women. Because if they didn't hate women, then they wouldn't see women as objects that are there for their pleasure and their use. They wouldn't see women as non-human, who are just there to be at the other end of their dicks and their orgasm. They would see women as people in their own right, with feelings and bodies and a sexuality and a voice.

Let alone the fact that of course he's right. Most rapists do get away with it. Because we live in a rape culture.

The Sexual Mathematics article was the one that got reported. But amazing and horrifying research by tweeps Lori Hearts and Renireni revealed that threatening women with rape was par the course for the lads of Unilad. Articles and comments about how if your girl doesn't want sex, then that's still fun for one (advocating rape), as well as 'jokes' ('every hole is a goal', that '9 out of 10 people enjoy gang rape'), and sexualised insults ('take the sand out of your vagina'). A post on their Facebook page featuring a screen grab of a 10 year old girl's question to a problem page received over 18,000 likes and some horribly hateful comments. They call the girl a 'slut in the making', suggest that maybe her 'da rapes her in her sleep'...you get the picture. My final example comes courtesy of Lorrie Hearts twitter feed (I can't bear to look at the facebook page anymore), where Unilads Facebook fans joke that 'if it's old enough to bleed it's old enough to breed' - advocating and joking about child abuse (some girls start their periods age 10 or even earlier) (https://twitter.com/#!/LorrieHearts/status/165098360573923328/photo/1). They exchange rhymes that 'if they wipe their own pee it's old enough for me', 'if there's grass on the pitch let's play ball', and, the one that made me retch the most 'if it's old enough to bleed, it's old enough to butcher'.

And that's before you even get on to the rampant homophobia, the hideous trivialising of rape of men and the ableism. I only have energy for one blogpost on this subject but would refer you to my blogpost on the intersection of sexism and homophobia about how in this environment men assert their heterosexuality by being misogynistic because of their homophobia (http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2011/02/sexism-and-homophobia.html).

To these lads, women are simply holes. We aren't even called women, we are 'it' or sluts or whores. But mostly, we are three holes. Sex is violence, a conquest to defeat a woman. Sex is 'butchering' and the goal is the 'hole'. Consent is meaningless, because to recognise the need for consent would be to recognise that women are women, are humans, with our own voices and desires and bodily autonomy. When they say that the odds are good if you rape a woman, it's not actually startling. Because in the minds of these lads, sex is something that is 'done' to a woman. They don't get a say in it - positive or negative. In the Unilad world, women can't win. If she wants to have sex, or engages in consensual sex, she's a slut. And if she doesn't, then she's a hole to be 'conquested'.

Anyway, Unilad offered a useless apology (we're sorry you were offended) and the story has got a smattering of press attention and widespread condemnation. The site was closed down but the Facebook page is thriving, with lads and ladies calling their critics dykes who are attacking their freedom of speech (I can't decide what the most tragic element of this whole debacle is, but the support the site has from women is definitely one of them).

But let's not allow the outrage over Unilad trick us into thinking this is a one off, or that the rape culture in Unilad is somehow unique to them. Because Unilad aren't the originators of this rape culture. The quality of their writing is enough to prove they're not clever enough to think of this shit on their own. They are reflecting our culture, our rape culture that refuses to see women as fully human, that sees them as objects and that views sex as a conquest of holes, that is done to women. Their language and 'jokes' or 'banter' is lifted from the pages of mainstream lad's mags and porn content.

A study that was published last year by Middlesex University and the University of Surrey (http://www.surrey.ac.uk/mediacentre/press/2011/69535_are_sex_offenders_and_lads_mags_using_the_same_language.htm?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twittercollected) provided quotes from lad's mags and convicted rapists, and asked participants if they could identify the two sources.  Here are a selection of the quotes:

    1. There's a certain way you can tell that a girl wants to have sex . . . The way they dress, they flaunt themselves.
    2. Some girls walk around in short-shorts . . . showing their body off . . . It just starts a man thinking that if he gets something like that, what can he do with it?
    3. A girl may like anal sex because it makes her feel incredibly naughty and she likes feeling like a dirty slut. If this is the case, you can try all sorts of humiliating acts to help live out her filthy fantasy.
    4. Mascara running down the cheeks means they've just been crying, and it was probably your fault . . . but you can cheer up the miserable beauty with a bit of the old in and out.
    5. What burns me up sometimes about girls is dick-teasers. They lead a man on and then shut him off right there.
    6. Filthy talk can be such a turn on for a girl . . . no one wants to be shagged by a mouse . . . A few compliments won't do any harm either . . . ‘I bet you want it from behind you dirty whore' . . .
    7. You know girls in general are all right. But some of them are bitches . . . The bitches are the type that . . . need to have it stuffed to them hard and heavy.
    8. Escorts . . . they know exactly how to turn a man on. I've given up on girlfriends. They don't know how to satisfy me, but escorts do.
    9. You'll find most girls will be reluctant about going to bed with somebody or crawling in the back seat of a car . . . But you can usually seduce them, and they'll do it willingly.
    10. There's nothing quite like a woman standing in the dock accused of murder in a sex game gone wrong . . . The possibility of murder does bring a certain frisson to the bedroom.
    11. Girls ask for it by wearing these mini-skirts and hotpants . . . they're just displaying their body . . . Whether they realise it or not they're saying, ‘Hey, I've got a beautiful body, and it's yours if you want it.'
    12. You do not want to be caught red-handed . . . go and smash her on a park bench. That used to be my trick.
    13. Some women are domineering, but I think it's more or less the man who should put his foot down. The man is supposed to be the man. If he acts the man, the woman won't be domineering.
    14. I think if a law is passed, there should be a dress code . . . When girls dress in those short skirts and things like that, they're just asking for it.
    15. Girls love being tied up . . . it gives them the chance to be the helpless victim.
    16. I think girls are like plasticine, if you warm them up you can do anything you want with them.*

I couldn't tell the difference. Can you? I bet you can't guess who said Number 12.

*Answers. 1. Rapist, 2. Rapist, 3. Lad mag, 4. Lad mag, 5. Rapist, 6. Lad mag, 7. Rapist, 8. Lad mag, 9. Rapist, 10. Lad mag, 11. Rapist, 12. Lad mag, 13. Rapist, 14. Rapist, 15. Lad mag, 16. Lad mag

Although there has been a lot of moves to restrict lad's mags, move them to the top shelf or have age restrictions; the fact remains that these mags are picked up by young boys when they buy their sweets or footie stickers at the newsagents. They grow up learning that if you don't want to get caught raping a girl, then you 'smash her on a park bench'. That women are just three holes. That consent doesn't matter, because women don't get a say or a voice. Combined with the prevalence and easy access of violent porn that portrays acted and real rape as something that women want or deserve, then the existence of Unilad is simply not that surprising. This is the language, the cultural landscape we live in.

I thought I would take a quick look at a couple of lad's mag sites to support what I've just said. It's literally a sea of disembodied body parts. A pair of tits here, a thong-encased bum there. Women are not seen as a whole, they are seen as parts. Nuts is a sea of breasts, with the 'assess my breasts' click through a headless pair of boobs. The jokes section of the site helpfully informs me that this section is not for girls (that would be 'soft'). I feel a bit dizzy in this boob smorgasbord, where women are defined and measured by their tits. All in all, that is half hour of my life I am never going to get back.

It's just so endlessly degrading! It's so depressing as a woman to know that you are being used, that your body parts, your sexuality are being used in this way - to degrade you, so that you are judged as nothing but the sum of a good pair of tits and a nice ass. That you are nothing but a potential conquest, that in the eyes of Unilad and their ilk you are nothing but three holes to be fucked. This constant dehumanisation, this slicing up of women for consumption - we're on the menu. When people ask me why I'm anti porn, why I get angry about Hooters, why I disagree with lad's mags or page 3 I can articulate my argument about the links between objectification, low self esteem and VAWG. And god knows the research by Middlesex and Surrey shows that. But sometimes it comes down to as basic a response as this. As a woman, I do not want to be treated this way anymore. I don't want men who read these mags or who absorb this culture to see me as nothing but a potential hole to be fucked. It sounds extreme. But we can't ignore this any more. We can't ignore that lad culture is raising a readership of men who see women as objects to be fucked, and women who then see themselves as objects to be fucked (http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-representation-of-women-is-form-of_25.html). When a guy walks up to me on the street and shouts in my face that I need to suck his cock, he hasn't been reading Wollstonecraft. He's been reading Unilad, or Zoo, or Nuts, and learning that women are his property, are objects that he can use as and how he wants. Even if that want at that point is to assert his own power in a public space.

I just can't believe we can achieve equality when women are on the menu.

We must remember that these men aren't monsters. The men who write 'old enough to breed old enough to butcher' are not oddballs or weirdos or 'evil'. This isn't a one off. This is part of a culture that allows violence against women and girls, that allows for women to be dehumanised. Unilad aren't creating this culture, they're reflecting something that already exists and has existed for a long time. Take a look at those quotes again from the research. These aren't from Unilad, but they are no different.

My final point on rape culture comes courtesey of a Daily Mail article published online on Friday (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2095990/PCSO-Michael-Yardley-affair-girl-12-jailed-rape.html). The piece was about the rape of a 12-year old girl by a 35-year old PCSO. The Mail reporter described it as an 'affair'.

I include this example because it shows how rape culture isn't just confined to the obviously misogynistic world of porn and lad's mags. It is everywhere, including the "respectable" media (yeah, I know, it's the Mail, but it doesn't get any more mainstream and they at least think they're respectable). Calling child rape an 'affair' taps into an idea that rape isn't really real unless it exists in a very specific setting (outdoors, with a stranger and weapon). We've said it to the Daily Mail before, but legally a 12-year old can't consent to sex. Therefore if an adult man has sex with a child, no matter if his marriage is unhappy, or she wanted to move in with him when she was 18, it is still rape. An adult has a responsibility not to rape a child. If a child has a crush on an adult, then he has a responsibility to recognise that doesn't give him permission to rape her. And the Daily Mail has a responsibility to report this responsibly. If they report child rape as an 'affair' then they are colluding with the rapist to present his crime as harmless, to present it in the way that he wants it to be seen. He wants the girl to be culpable and they are tacitly agreeing to that. So that girl, and the next girl, and the next - they are seen as co-operating in the violence committed against them. Not calling rape what it is is part of a rape culture that diminishes its seriousness, shifts the blame onto women and girls and ignores how different forms of violence against women and girls are inter-connected.

It's all part of the same pattern. If we see women as dehumanised objects, then it is impossible to rape them. If chatter in our cultural landscape is devoted to trivialising rape, to joking about rape, to blaming women for their rape, to saying that rape is 'good odds' or 'fun for one', then the end result is that in the mainstream, rape is trivialised too.

And as research published last week shows, in our rape culture jurors are less likely to convict rapists (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jan/30/rape-victims-acquittals-chief-prosecutor). Rape culture isn't alarmist. It's real, it's happening, sometimes it's caught out, most times it isn't. In the end, it's women who are suffering.

28 comments:

AllyFogg said...

Have a lot of sympathy with this Sian.

One thing that leaps out at me though is this:

"When a guy walks up to me on the street and shouts in my face that I need to suck his cock, he hasn't been reading Wollstonecraft. He's been reading Unilad, or Zoo, or Nuts"

I don't think that's necessarily true. Some men behaved like this to women long before those mags and t'internet came along. Some men behave like that to women in countries where there are no lads mags or mainstream porn.

I suspect that these types of misogynistic media are much more of a symptom than a cause. When I was 10, 12, 14 back in the 70s, I heard all those comments constantly from my peers, we repeated them (whether or not in front of girls) and the boys laughed. We didn't get it from Nuts or Unilad or even the Playboy mags we found in the bushes. We got it from each other, and before that from someone's older brother, dad, uncle etc.

I hold no torch for lads mags and websites, which are vile, degrading, tacky etc. But I don't think targeting them is any kind of solution to the real problems.

Similarly, the study on rapists' / lad mag's language doesn't really tell us much, other than that rapists cannot be distinguished from the general populatin by means of crude textual analysis. It's a bit of a silly study. You could take carefully selected examples of sentences uttered by rapists, and carefully selected examples of sentences from The Guardian or some feminism reader or any other publication, and people would be unable to tell the difference between them either.

I'm not a huge fan of the term 'rape culture' but that's a debate for another day. I agree sexism and misogyny are deeply ingrained in our culture (as are lots of other forms of degradation and hatred) but I'd be a wee bit wary of aiming your ire at the messengers rather than the messages.

johnpaul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matthew said...

If you want people to start taking you seriously, you need to stop the humourless-schtick you have going. Just a piece of advice. You cant equate making a joke about women with rape-advocacy

Phil said...

An excellent summary of recent news that proves the huge desensitisation towards rape and gender based violence. Thank you for presenting these arguments in a clear way, with evidence, to help all those delightful university students from www.unilad.com see what they are perpetuating. Is this the culture that I, as a male university student, should be buying into? I hope not.

rscotland said...

This is a great post; you've pretty clearly outlined everything that was wrong with Unilad.

sian and crooked rib said...

Hi Ally

I know what you mean, but I still think that the misogyny in the media can be both symptom and a cause. It is a symptom because it reflect gender inequality, and other prejudices (e.g. homophobia) in society. But I think the difference in how media is shared and produced from when we were young (because when i was younger it was different again) means that it is also a cause. In that I don't think we can ignore that as young people access this misogynistic media at a younger and younger age, and really degrading imagery and language is so easily accessible (it's not playboy found in a bush anymore!) and then young people often don't have comprehensive sex education alongside, then they are learning that this kind of language, this kind of misogynistic treatment isn't just a-ok, it's normal. And girls are growing up learning this too. So the media such as lad's mags and unilad not only reflects misogyny in society, but normalises it. Research from the APA found that this kind of sexist media encourages a higher tolerance of violence against women and girls for e.g. So although I absolutely would not say it is the 'sole' cause (that would be utterly daft and I don't think my post gives that impression) I think it is part of a pattern of normalisation that leads to a tolerance of sexism and violence.

Georgie said...

Great post, Sian. I see what Ally is saying about why it's hard to draw a direct line of causation between lad's mags and rape - I don't think that exposure to media is going to suddenly turn someone in to a rapist. But, the important point is that this media adds to a culture where jokes about rape are acceptable. It's a cumulative effect, making people more likely to disbelieve someone who reports a rape and excuse the attacker if the victim was drunk, or wearing revealing clothing. These mags add to this culture, and normalise violence against women.

And as for you, Matthew, perhaps Sian is "humourless" because rape is not something that's funny. Your callousness and insipid "advice" are not required.

sian and crooked rib said...

Georgie, exactly. Thank you!

Jem Bloomfield said...

Good post on an unpleasant subject. I take the points about causation - or lack of it - and general culture. I wonder whether there's a difference about the platforms being used to access material like this today? (Not my field, wonder if any specialists on social media have thoughts?)

It seems worth noticing, at least, that this material was being shared on Facebook, originally a university networking tool, and one which is used to share general information about uni activities. For example "UniLad" arranged a trip to the festival Beach Break (who have since disavowed them), with 200 people apparently not seeing their magazine as something to furtively enjoy, but as a brand they were happy to live part of their university life under.

This isn't a quiet person-to-person sharing of jokes, it's a public forum, and one which blurs the lines around who is being addressed and who is being discussed. If I was a female student living on a campus where (if stats are to be believed) one in four women might be sexually assaulted during their academic career, I don't think I'd be ok with seeing people linking to and sharing these articles in the electronic part of that campus. I'm not saying universities have a responsibility to police facebook, but that it's blinkered not to regard it as part of people's campus experience, and one in which we should bring some social pressure to bear. If only by speaking up to point out that we find things unacceptable.

And calling this post "humourless" begs the question of what kinds of jokes our culture recognizes as humorous. I think if a girl made a joke in a uni bar about raping a guy - not saying she'd like to have vigorous sex with him, but saying she'd get off on slapping him around a bit and then repeatedly sticking a foreign object in him against his will - I genuinely don't think people would find it funny. I'm not saying they'd be outraged and organize a march, but that they very possibly wouldn't recognize it as an attempt at humour: they'd ask what was wrong with her, if she'd been "damaged" by her past, whether a man had recently hurt her, etc. The fact that a discourse of sexual violence is considered humorous should probably give us pause for thought. The way our culture legitimates jokes - recognizes them as attempts to be funny, whether or not we as individuals approve of them or enjoy them - is pretty telling in itself.

tenderhooligan said...

I can't quite believe that your post has been reduced to the "no sense of humour, just lighten up will ya" mantra.

Matthew, I'm sure it's not the first time that someone has pointed out to you that rape jokes do not exist in a cultural vacuum, that they are an accurate measure of the views of the joke-tellers and joke-getters (see also, "I'm not sexist, but..."), and they, too, perpetuate hatred of, and violence towards, women. But don't worry, because it's just a joke, right? It's not like rape ever actually HAPPENS. Oh, wait...

Excellent post, Sian.

Matthew said...

If you would all kindly take the time to actually read what I had to say, that would be brilliant. In the article she equates simply making jokes about women with rape advocacy. Not a rape joke, but just any joke at a womans expense.

And please dont lecture me on the effects rape has on people, I have more experience with the aftermath than you ever will.

sian and crooked rib said...

Matt, no I don't. All the jokes I mention are jokes about rape, and the point is that the language and culture of sexism normalises and excuses violence against women and girls. I'm sorry that you have had direct experience of these issues and hope you are ok. However I would request that you don't make statements about who has had worse experiences than others as none of us know what each other have been through.

Thank you.

gherkingirl said...

Sorry Matthew but I've read the article now several times and your original comment and I cannot see Sian making the connection that any joke about women advocates rape. I'm just seeing a million and one examples of stuff that minimises rape, encourages criminality and isn't at all funny.

So unless you can explain things better than just huffing and trying to compete as to who knows the pain of rape best, don't be suprised if people take Sian's excellent article more to heart than your petulant comments.

Ursula said...

I'm sorry but I disagree that men and boys do not replicate what they see from the media. We should all be concerned about this.

I don't know if you do links but this blog post says it all:

http://radfemworldnews.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/boys-men-never-re-enact-what-they-see-onscreen-say-jedi-kittens/

Sian, this was an excellent post. Comprehensive and solid.

RedHead said...

Mate - Number 16. What the actual fuck. The language that all men, rapists, Danny Dyer or otherwise, use relating to sex is the thing that worries me the most.

I had a discussion about this with my boyfriend last night and it reassured me that there are normal, healthy, sensible men who respect women in the world. It's a shame that there are still these pricks in desperate need of an education.

I blogged about this too, but my post concludes on a sympathetic, balanced note that you may not appreciate. I tried to tackle the issue from a balanced viewpoint to increase the likelihood of it being read more widely. If you wish to read it's here http://www.redhead-fashionista.com/2012/02/pity-lad.html

Loving your blog - some really interesting thoughts. From a fellow Bristolian.

georgie said...

Excellent post. @ Jem yes exactly. Similarly, I actually find all this really scary, and it's surprising how few people are willing to admit that there is a causal link between what is socially acceptable to say/joke about/what constitutes accepted banter and what behaviour this promotes. It is also sad that if you have a problem with this way of speaking and normalisation of violence and objectification of women, you're a dyke or overreacting or just fucking boring. I clearly just need someone to stick it in me and ruin me so I lighten up. Right?

Paul Bowen said...

Scary? My daughter is 13 and I'm terrified.

jonnymomosan said...

I'm not sure I agree that we live in a rape culture. Whilst a little older than the current lad mag target audience, I grew up with Loaded and lad culture, and I and my friends find the very idea of rape abhorrent. That said, there is a problem with the way in which women are routinely objectified and that goes beyond the likes of Nuts and Zoo to the prevalence of internet porn, chat rooms and lap dancing clubs that are now socially acceptable.

The problem is how to address these when any form of censorship is deemed to be unacceptable - I can think of many examples of stand up comics using the freedom of speech argument to decline to tone their acts down. And I'm not talking about racist, women haters like Jim Davidson and Bernard Manning here, but Ricky Gervais and Frankie Boyle, mainstream comics generally lauded by the liberal media.

I guess what it comes down to is whether the media shapes our behaviours as a society, or vice versa, whether what we read, see and hear is merely a reflection of what's going on around us. And that's a question that's been up for debate for as long as we've had mass media.

em said...

"I suspect that these types of misogynistic media are much more of a symptom than a cause. When I was 10, 12, 14 back in the 70s, I heard all those comments constantly from my peers, we repeated them (whether or not in front of girls) and the boys laughed. We didn't get it from Nuts or Unilad or even the Playboy mags we found in the bushes. We got it from each other, and before that from someone's older brother, dad, uncle etc."

The social context has changed since the 1970s. AllyFogg's generation, to paraphrase one of the lads' mags, didn't necessarily know better. That excuse is no longer tenable. Indeed, one of the reasons this kind of hateful banter is now almost restricted to segregated, testosteroney spaces and comes laced with 'irony' is that men know it's wrong. Deep down they know it's offensive and hurtful — but they don't care. Or rather, they consider that respecting a woman's humanity is less important than getting a cheap laugh from their mates.

Rape culture in the 21st century is nostalgic. Like the lads' mags and the Daily Mail, it looks back with fondness and envy at a (mythical) era when men could say whatever they liked and pinch a woman's bum without consequence; when nothing serious or requiring thought was ever required of a man. In dating, there were no signs to read or practicalities to negotiate; folks just got on with it (ie, men did whatever they wanted to do, and women put up with it).

Young men are scared by what feminism has delivered: they are terrified by the prospect of having to perform emasculating tasks such as being introspective, communicating their feelings, admitting anything less than absolute sexual potency. It's far less effort to treat women as empty holes. Lads' mags and Unilad allow them to do so. They are among like-minded people in those spaces; they can release their inner Gene Hunt or James Bond.

It's impossible for women to infiltrate that world. Rape culture has to be dismantled by men brave enough to call out their buddies, committed enough to equality and justice that they will challenge every sexist and objectifying representation of women, whether it be in a changing-room or in the media. Where are these men? They seem to be busy advising feminists on what to get upset about.

loren wuzzo said...

I don't like the idea that having sex with someone underage is automatically rape. For example, if a girl has sex (consensual) with a boy a day before her 16th birthday, why would that be rape but the following day it wouldn't? where's the logic in that?

We have adopted the mindset of the Victorians in which we refuse to admit we're animals. We reject all things natural and decide to force ourselves to live unnaturally. Our life expectancy is unnaturally long, humans were never supposed to live beyond 50. During the middle ages the life expectancy of the average person was 40 thus making 20 middle aged. 13, 14, 15 year olds were not kids, they were developed, sexually mature adults biologically and naturally, and just like animals, the younger your are the more fertile and healthy you are. If your body can produce offspring then NATURALLY you are ready to have sex and NATURALLY you would.

Obviously now, with our long life expectancy even 25 seems young thus anything younger that 17 seems like a child.

I am not condoning any sort of sex with anyone underage though I do feel branding anyone who does a 'rapist' is unfair.

Barry Graham said...

A fine, nuanced piece. Thank you.

MariaS said...

I read this post first a few days ago and prior to doing so I hadn't realised that rape "jokes" and sexually abusive and predatory language were quite so prevalent and so extreme on the Unilad site and among its Facebook followers. It is absolutely horrific.

@ Sian - yes to this so much: "...sometimes it comes down to as basic a response as this. As a woman, I do not want to be treated this way anymore."

@ Ally: "Some men behaved like this to women long before those mags and t'internet came along. Some men behave like that to women in countries where there are no lads mags or mainstream porn. I suspect that these types of misogynistic media are much more of a symptom than a cause."

Well, of course lads mags didn't start all this and Sian said in her post that "Unilad aren't creating this culture, they're reflecting something that already exists and has existed for a long time."

Lads mags and sites like Unilad are just newer ways for men to share in and perpetuate that age-old misogynist culture. It's just more public, and more commercialised. Why is the fact that they aren't the sole cause of misogyny just its latest manifestation a reason not to criticise them and take action against them? Calling out misogyny however it manifests is important.

You say: "...the study on rapists' / lad mag's language doesn't really tell us much, other than that rapists cannot be distinguished from the general populatin by means of crude textual analysis. It's a bit of a silly study. You could take carefully selected examples of sentences uttered by rapists, and carefully selected examples of sentences from The Guardian or some feminism reader or any other publication, and people would be unable to tell the difference between them either"

That's utterly disingenuous. The study didn't show that rapists are indistinguishable from the general population, but that some statements about women sourced from lads mags were found to be hard to distinguish from some statements about women by rapists. Clearly attitudes to women evinced in statements from a feminist text would sound very different to either. The study shows a congruence between attitudes expressed in mainstream, widely available magazines that market themselves to straight men, and attitudes expressed by men convicted of rape, which tells us that there's something very very wrong with those magazines, and what they think about their readership's beliefs about women. That the kind of attitudes used to justify actual rapes aren't as different from male sexist attitudes in general is why it's important to spell out the continuities between the blatant misogyny of lad mags/Unilad and their ilk, the Daily Mail using language that minimises the abusive actions of a convicted rapist, and the prevalence of rape and other sexual assault, and the biases that work against rape victims in the criminal justice system. The concept of rape culture articulates these connections and suggests that to effectively address the problem of sexual violence will involve wider cultural change.

@ loren wuzzo - no one actually called for a skeevy argument in favour of sex with underage young people, not least in the context of a case of a 34 year old man convicted of raping a 12 year old girl. It's not difficult to find out that the justice system treats underage sex between young people close in age differently to such a case. It's rape because there is always an imbalance of power between an adult and a child, in any context, and it's the adult's responsibility to act with care towards the child, not to take advantage of them. The law reflects this.

MariaS said...

The other part of the study comparing quotes from lads mags and rapists was as follows (quoted from University of Surrey link in the post):

"Psychologists presented men between the ages of 18 and 46 with a range of statements taken from magazines and from convicted rapists in the study, and gave the men different information about the source of the quotes. Men identified more with the comments made by rapists more than the quotes made in lads’ mags, but men identified more with quotes said to have been drawn from lads’ mags more than those said to have been comments by convicted rapists."

So not only are the statements about women expressed in lads mags and those expressed by rapists hard to tell apart, the lads mags lend a great deal of legitimacy to those statements regardless of their content or actual source. (This bit is worth repeating: "Men identified more with the comments made by rapists more than the quotes made in lads’ mags" - I presume that's overall across the three conditions.)

Most of the statements involve dangerously self-serving justifications for coercing women into sex or treating them abusively, on the grounds that a man should confidently and conveniently surmise that really women want, need, deserve or are "asking" for it non-verbally. Such a mindset brooks no refusal, and says nothing about consent, or communication, or actually listening to women and respecting their boundaries. It's all about doing things to women and attributing complicity to women in whatever is done to them.

Interestingly, in the video clip at the link, the researcher observes that in the sorting exercise participants often tried to work out which quote came from which source by deciding that "ordinary sexism" would be more likely to be from lads mags, but that this did not prove to be correct. Again, returning to the idea of rape culture, it's important to understand how far "ordinary sexism" can underpin sexual violence.

johnpaul said...

Good article, Couple fo points regarding the lads mag and rapist comments, I would never read them myself,but the rapists comments were alot worse than he rapist ones (except no,12 ) which I beleive was supposed to pass as banter, Infact they could be regarded as explaining someones mutual consent in which what they enjoy,
Regarding the daily Mail, In America having sex with someone under age is called statutary rape, and although age 12 is alot differnt to age 14, I'm renonded of When Justin fashanau was arrested for rae of a 14 Year old boy in 1998, and he was told by the boy that the Boy was 16,was the Mail said they had An affair, would that have been o.K ,remember that fashanau accsued of rape was so stigmatised and hounded by society that he commited suicide, of all the rape allegations that have resulted in Aquittal, there as people who had their lives ruined and they may feel that comments by both men and Women about submission, dominance or humiliation are offensive too.

Hayashi said...

I guess you guys would like to read this:

http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/what-is-slut-shaming/

I were doing a research on the web about the double sexual standarts,and got realy pised off when i notice in many sites,even we get raped,we are the sluts,while men are always studs( even they are rapists).The sites were very disgusting,but this one do deserve to be read,beacuse it suggests a solution: to educate the youhth that we women do have sexual urges and we do deserve respect.

Weasel Tail said...
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