change the record

Shitting on society’s “losers” is such a great national sport.

Posted in change the record, doin' it wrong, New Zealand on November 28th, 2011 by steph – 1 Comment

(Note: This post was actually written a week or so ago, before the election, and was motivated by the general nastiness towards people in “undesirable” jobs that seems to be picking up speed – or, perhaps, it may be the case I am just noticing it more. Anyway, given the election results, I don’t really imagine that this sniping at society’s “losers” – i.e. anyone who is perceived to be lower in status than the person who is doing the criticising- will ease up.)

 

Maybe I’ve just been naïve  not to notice it before, or maybe it really is getting much more prevalent, but the attitude towards people who are “unmotivated”, “lazy”, “moochers”, or have the “crap jobs” has made me extremely angry and upset lately. So many people seem to feel entitled to shit on people who are obviously less awesome then they are, and are exercising what they seem to think is their right to aggressively and nastily criticise anyone they think is in a bad situation, because apparently all it takes is hard work and enough desire for anyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become a lawyer/doctor/millionaire entrepreneur/the Prime Minister. And usually this attitude also includes some obligatory criticism of the types of jobs that these non-awesome bottom feeders are doing (with apparently no motivation to ever better themselves, because if they had that then they would’ve swiftly risen through the ranks to become the manager/boss/own a whole damn franchise chain). Apparently these jobs – in fast food, cleaning, care work, factory work, etc – are piss easy jobs that are handed out to any warm body on the street, and why should someone in a job like that be paid more than five bucks an hour to mindlessly put things into boxes or mop the floors?

Well, I’m fed up with these arrogant, nasty, heartless jerks talking smack about how monkeys deserve their peanuts. These jobs are so easy and effortless, are they? Barely even count as real jobs? As someone who has worked in a few different “drone jobs”, I feel very strongly about this topic. As someone who worked as a supermarket checkout chick, I want to know this: if that kind of job is so easy and inconsequential, then I guess it wouldn’t matter if I had sat back and read a magazine and left my work to the manager of the store. No biggie- it’s not like my job was any real effort or work, right? And seeing as we had rows and rows of monkeys sticking things in bags- a job that a two year old could apparently do, by the way-, maybe we should just scrap all those jobs and the manager can do all of them- after all, people doing those jobs are really just being kept busy as box openers and being paid as little as the bosses can get away with. Oh, except that if you only think that the “important” jobs (switch important with prestigious, enjoyable, high-paying, desirable – they appear to be interchangeable) are worth decent compensation for doing, and that other jobs barely even count as jobs, then the people doing the “big” stuff wont be able to do their work because they’re be swamped with the work of a hundred other “monkeys”. And everything will be great when you walk into a supermarket where there’s no food on the shelves because none of the monkeys are there to stack it anymore, and no monkey working the register to ring up your groceries (although I guess you could just saunter behind the till and immediately know what to do because it’s such a low-level skill, like breathing). And who’s going to pack your groceries into bags- you? Come on, we all know that job is beneath you. And who are you going to subtly belittle for working such a low-paying , unskilled job if nobody’s doing those jobs anymore? (Yes, when I worked in a supermarket I had customers behave very condescendingly towards me). Some people are just rude and don’t know when to keep their stupid little stereotype-based opinions to themselves). It kind of takes the fun out of things when you can’t patronize the loser working the cash register as your checkout line treat.

 

So, we’re working with the idea that people should be smarter than to stick with crappy, low paying jobs, right? People who do those jobs lack ambition and don’t contribute anything of value to society. So from now on, there will be nobody to flip your burgers, nobody to pick those yummy cherries you want to eat with Christmas dinner, nobody to make sure that the bathroom at your office is clean when you arrive at work every morning. If these jobs are for barely functional losers and require no skills or effort, then why not just tack these jobs onto the jobs of other people? If they’re barely jobs at all, it won’t make a difference, right? I can see it now: you’re finally packing up after a stressful day at work, and as you make a move for the door your boss hands you a toilet brush. Have fun scrubbing your workmates’ shit stains every day on top of your actual work. Any loser could be an office cleaner, so who cares if you have to do a little industrial vacuuming before you head home to cook dinner? Any numbskull could pick fruit all day, so why don’t you go get that heavy ladder, lug it from tree to tree, and pick those delicious cherries in the burning sun. People who work at burger joints are just box-openers, and surely someone as smart and successful as you knows how to open a box, so it won’t be a big deal for you to take on that job too. Maybe that McDonalds manager should do the job of all of their monkey staff members if those jobs are so easy and worthless- one person staffing is probably all a place like that needs, anyway.

Oh, and before you go to work in the morning you’ll also have to deal with your garbage. I mean, rubbish collectors just hang off the back of a truck all day and intermittently throw rubbish bags into the truck- that doesn’t involve any actual skills, so why the hell are we paying those mooching losers?! Nobody should be rewarded TOO well for such a low-level job or you’re basically rewarding them for doing nothing. And if it’s a job that barely even qualifies as a job, maybe you can just do that yourself, too. I’m sure you can’t wait to get up close and personal with big piles of stinking rubbish, because I know you love that so much. And it’s no big deal, right? Any chump could do that job, so you should manage just fine because you have mad skills, and it’s obviously within your capabilities.

 

I’ve worked on the checkout at a supermarket (and for more than minimum wage, which I was very grateful for when I was a struggling student making JUST enough to get by each week). I’ve also done a few summers of various orchard work- picking, packing, grading, and there’s no feeling like the back-breaking physical effort of lugging huge crates of fruit to be exported and sold at astronomical prices for the grand reward of very little money and pain in your whole body. Without people doing these jobs, all the people with their big important jobs who love to complain about the deadbeats working at McDonalds would probably fail to function. Sorry to insult any of you who have big important jobs and actually understand this – you aren’t the people I mean when I say this. It’s the horrible, nasty jerks who don’t even think about who makes their coffee, cleans their office, pumps their petrol, picks up their recycling, rings up their purchases, picks their fruit, babysits their kids, or fries their fish and chips. You jerks: if those jobs are for stupid, hopeless losers with no skills, then why don’t you go out and just do all that stuff for yourself, given that you are so skilled and awesome at life. If a monkey could do those jobs, then why pay a person; lets get some actually monkeys in here and see how long it takes one of them to learn how to bag up the new clothes you’ve just purchased. I feel that if we test this by using actual monkeys, your perspective that any monkey could do such a job might be disproven, and my perspective that these jobs involve actual WORK might be validated. And hey, if I’m wrong and a monkey really could collect your garbage and take it to the dump for you, then it’s a huge win because we’ll be able to scrap the minimum wage altogether and just pay monkeys for doing those shitty jobs in food. Think of all the money we’ll save!

 

Oh, you were just using monkey as a perjorative term! Silly me. (Does that make me some sort of stupid sub-human for failing to grasp your oh-so-intelligent derogatory point? Probably). Well, if some half-asleep 8 year old could do those jobs, then we should just give them those jobs. Kids will be occupied outside of school hours (and thus unable to sneak around getting stoned in their school playground at 9pm at night, which will alleviate Peter Dunne’s fears), and they’ll also learn the value of hard work from a young age! Or, as I said earlier, if these jobs are so piss-easy, then maybe we should just add them on to the jobs of everyone else, and eliminate the low-status jobs by amalgamating them into the jobs of the awesome regular people with awesome jobs that require awesome skills. After all, if they require so little effort –no special skills, no energy, no time- then this should have absolutely no effect on the work of people who now have to do them. So, there’s no downside to this at all: minimum wage monkey jobs are taken care of by other people, and the regular work of those people is obviously not affected in any way by having to do one or two tasks that require no more effort than scratching one’s arse. Perfectly realistic, and problems with those pesky losers and their scabby little excuses for ‘jobs’ are all solved – no lazy bum will be getting paid for a job that basically amounts to just standing around doing nothing all day!

 

People who do these jobs – the kind that sneering idiots like to look down on as being jobs for thick people – are important. These jobs are important. Not everyone can be a doctor or a lawyer or the Prime Minister, and not everyone wants to. And unless we can get hold of some robots to do all of those “little” jobs for us, we will still need people to do them. People who act like chucking a 10 cent coin at someone doing one of those jobs would be more than enough compensation for that work should probably think about whether they would be happy to take on that work or not, and how they would feel doing a job and being told that it doesn’t count as work and how they, as an employee,  are essentially expendable. And they should think about who would do those jobs if the people doing them now didn’t, and imagine how much it would affect them. But, naturally, people who are smug, entitled jerks probably don’t care about any of this, because really their perspective boils down to “I have a good job, and I am a good person with good skills and lots of ambition, therefore people who do the jobs I consider to be bad must therefore be bad people with no skills and no ambition”. Either that or they are just egocentric assholes who don’t see these people as actual human beings that even belong in the same category as them, and thus are fair game for criticism and derision.

 

 

 

Short skirts and sluttiness

Posted in change the record, New Zealand, sluts on November 12th, 2010 by steph – 22 Comments

Like Brian Edwards, I hadn’t planned to write about the “you look like a slut” story; mostly because some kick-ass bloggers I adore have already tackled it. But then I read Brian’s post, and just about lost my shit. Unsurprisingly, I don’t agree with Brian. Specifically, this is what I take issue with

My own view is that no apology of any sort was necessary. I know about teenage daughters. I know that they can dress and behave inappropriately, often provocatively. I’ve had calls from the headmaster. And if one of my daughters had come home and said to me that a woman teacher had told her to pull down her skirt because she ‘looked like a slut’, I would have said, ‘Well, she was perfectly right, wasn’t she? Don’t expect me to stick up for you.’

So if Amethyst did indeed ‘look like a slut’ when her skirt was riding up around her thighs, the proper thing, the responsible thing, the thing that was in her best interests, was to tell her so. To be upset by the word, she had to know its meaning. Is she such a sensitive plant that her ears would be offended by hearing it spoken?

(Bolding is my own).

I’m not going to tackle the rule breaking, and whether the skirt length rule is good or bad (QoT does this better than me); what I can’t believe is that a sensible and intelligent man would actually agree, and say to his daughter “Yeah, teacher said you look like a slut? Well, in that short skirt you do”. I genuinely cannot believe that a parent would agree, and say that his child looked like a slut. If you really don’t like the short skirt, could you not at least say “I don’t think that’s appropriate”? (I am not going to tell parents what they should allow/disallow as parents…) But the issue of words and phrasing aside; more importantly, what message are you reinforcing if you agreed and told your daughter that she does look like a slut? You’re saying a short skirt=looking slutty. Does it? I wear short skirts frequently; do I look like a slut most days of the week? Is that what people – my parents included – are thinking? Maybe I’m at an age where I can wear a short skirt and not look like a slut; I don’t really know how it works because none of it makes any sense to me, really.

So what you’re saying is wearing a short skirt means looking slutty. You are reinforcing the idea that certain items of clothing or certain outfits make one look like a slut; the term for someone who has a lot of sex. Having a lot of sex is a problem because lots of people still think it’s some sort of indicator of character. Society hates sluts; it hates women who have sex a lot, or with lots of different people, or casually, or outside of marriage, or some other arbitrary standard that varies form person to person. We call someone a slut when their sex life differs from what we personally consider acceptable or when it differs from ours. So we don’t want people we know to be sluts, or even look like sluts; and we especially don’t want our daughters to look like sluts. Because then what would people think of them? People would see them at school, or on the street, and think to themselves “that girl looks like a big ol’ slut, like a girl who fucks a lot”. And that would make them think your child is a bad person.

But the real problem with agreeing with a teacher and saying yes, you do look like a slut, becomes apparent if you even give rape culture a cursory thought. Maybe Brian didn’t do this because as a man he has more privilege than many women do to ignore or be unaware of rape culture. But it brings up the big problem with saying a girl in a short skirt looks like a slut. See, short skirt=looks like a slut. And a lot of people wouldn’t say “looks like a slut”, they would say “wearing a short skirt is slutty”; we hear message reinforced often: sluts are depicted as wearing short and/or revealing clothes, and women who are raped are judged if their outfit is “provocative” or “revealing”, or “slutty”. And there are people out there who believe this; people who would say “look at that chick in that outfit…damn…. I bet she’s up for it”. Because sluts love sex, and if you look like our idea of what a slut looks like….amirite? And there are people who would then be angry if that woman turned them down, or refused to fuck them. And not all of those people will be decent enough human beings to accept a no and move in. This is why it’s still ok to ask what a rape victim was wearing: short skirt? Slut. She was asking for it. Stilettos? Skimpy dress? We have lots of “slut identifiers”, and as a woman it is terrifying to know that I (a frequent short skirt wearer)  could be blamed for being victimized because of an outfit choice. When a woman is raped, there are still people out there (maybe only a few, or maybe they know better than to voice this opinion out loud) who think that her outfit somehow makes her to blame (even if the rapist is blamed too). This is why telling a girl in a short skirt that she looks like a slut is awful in a way that maybe Brian Edwards has not considered. Because if we reinforce that certain clothing choices make women look like sluts, we are reinforcing the idea of certain things being slutty, and these things are then associated with sluts; women who fuck a lot and in ways we don’t like. And if this kind of clothing looks like something a slut would wear, then maybe that woman is a slut; why else would she wear it, because surely nobody would intentionally want to look like a a big dirty slut except someone who actually is one? And if something look likes a duck, maybe it is a duck. So maybe this women who looks like a slut actually is a slut, and behaves like one. Maybe she loves sex, and would do it with anyone, so you think you must be a sure thing with someone who would do it with any and everybody. And why would someone who would do that say no to you? Surely she means yes (because women are meant to be coy, and act hard to get), or maybe you just think her appearance is making a promise she should follow through with or it would be false advertising. And so you rape her. And then say “well in that outfit she was asking for it”.

Maybe Brian has never thought about these things; possibly because he probably isn’t ever going to be that person who gets blamed for inciting their own victimization because of something they wore.

I realise that the original comment was “you look like a slut”, not “you are a slut”; and I realise that Brian said he would agree with “look like a slut” and did not say he would call his short-skirted daughter  slut. But not everyone thinks “looks like a slut” and “is a slut” are different, and for some it can be an easy path of rationalization from “looks like” to “is”. And this is where the danger lies, because society’s shitty and backward ideas about women and sex come into play. Ideas about sluts – who they are, what they do, the idea that sluts are something nobody should be – come into it, and ideas about sluts can be damaging and dangerous; not only because they control and shame women for their behaviour, but also because they can play a role in actual crimes.

So I don’t think it’s ok to tell your child that yes, she does look like a slut. Not because being a “slut” is bad (because what’s wrong with sex?) but because it is buying into societal conceptualizations of what women are meant to dress like and behave like, and how women are meant to have sex. Not only that, but it makes no sense: what does a slut (if we take this as women who self-identify as sluts) look like anyway? I’m sure that there is no uniform, or item of clothing they all wear. A self-confessed slut could wear absolutely anything. It’s like saying “you look like someone who likes cats” or something equally as silly. Unless the person has a t-shirt on that proclaims their identity or love of a certain thing, in which case it’s a fairly safe observation to make. Although given how often people wear t-shirts “ironically”, maybe not…

Sexy, sexy inequalities

Posted in change the record, controversy on October 22nd, 2010 by steph – 5 Comments

So, I’m going to add my two cents to the racy Glee photoshoot zomg1!!!1 chorus. (Among others: here, here, here, here and here.)

No, I’m not going to side with the holyshitpaedophilia furore; my opinion is this:

YAWN. Change the fucking record, why don’t they? Because all the defenders saying “oh but the saturated colour hues, and the strong theme!!”; nup. This is such a stale cliche; and I wasn’t shocked to find out that Terry Richardson, slimeball extraordinaire, was the photographer. It screams Terry Richardson.

My first reaction was pretty much this

Of course he didn’t dress all of them up like porn fantasies, just the girls. Guys don’t do sexy. Guys have sexy done for them. Guys stand or sit fully clothed while girls are meant to writhe and gyrate and spread their legs in their underwear. That’s the way of things. Great message there, morons.

and this

Richardson, as usual, was highly original in his concept: Mostly-naked chicks. Or, more specifically, have all the men fully clothed, but make sure the girls are in their underwear.

It was the first thing that jumped out at me; oh, here we go again, the fully clothed dude gets to have his hands on the asses of two much less clothed chicks. Oh, clothed dude gets to play the drums and lurch awkwardly forward with a baseball bat on his shoulders, and one of the women is sucking a lollipop in her underwear. Sigh. And the argument that “oh, it’s GQ, that’s a dudemag so of course the chicks would be in underwear and the guy clothed” doesn’t really fly with me, because as many commenters have pointed out, there are sure to be men reading GQ who would appreciate a shirtless dude. And more than that, I’m sure most men who saw a shirtless guy in a GQ shoot with scantily clad ladies wouldn’t freak the fuck out about it. Although there will always be that special kind of bigot who thinks that seeing another man partially undressed is some sort of freaky gay thing, and lashes out. So maybe GQ is just cowardly or thinks topless men will scare away their readers? To be honest, it seems like more of a case of “this is the dynamic, and this is how we do things here: man touches ladies/women get touched; man gets to be clothed/women’s bodies are there to be exposed and looked at; man gets to be active/women get to be sexualised”. That’s why I hate this photo spread: yes, it is tacky and boring and such a “sexy cliche” that it becomes unsexy; but moreso it reflects the roles that men and women get to fill, the things they get to do and the images they can portray. It reinforces ideas about who is sexualised and who is objectified, and it says hey, this is how things are, and this is normal.

I’m not a “prude”, I don’t care about “racy photos”, and I don’t think it is “borderline pedophilia”. I’m just seriously frustrated by the ideas about men and women that these photos reinforce.

Stop being such a girl

Posted in change the record, lady-hate on August 20th, 2010 by steph – 3 Comments

I’m getting very bored of  hearing things like “he cried like a little girl” and the like. Maybe I am just more aware of it, but it seems like I hear or read the ‘like a girl’ thing more and more lately. Such as in this column, where Colin Espiner talks about Tony Abbott ordering a shandy with light beer and 60% lemonade, then says “The girl.”

I know a lot of people will say oh, this is nothing, it’s so innocuous. But I want to grind my teeth every time I hear a movie character talking about how so-and-so (male) cried like a girl, or someone who is being a sore loser is told to not be such a girl, or someone who doesn’t want to do something scary is told to stop being a girl and do it. Change the record, please. I’m tired of girl being used as an insult. But I guess what else could I expect from a society that views being female as a bad thing? Of course ‘girl’ is an insult. That’s why it is used in an insulting way, and why it is such an effective and derogatory insult. I guess maybe I would just like to live in a world where being female isn’t considered to be weak and inferior and undesirable and something to distance oneself from, you know? That would be great, thanks.