The EYS Bullshit Detector has been going into overdrive this week as the Pope announces condoms make HIV worse, 1 in 6 counsellors in our own back yard think homosexuality should be ‘cured’, and Chris Moyles’ lame homophobic jeerings, and pisstakingly fat wage packet of £600,000 per year are exonerated by the BBC. I eagerly await the figures of exactly how many counsellors think we can be cured of Chris Moyles; however in the mean time, two news events have come to light this week which prima facie have little to do with each other, save for the fact that they both involve women, and it is these seemingly vaguely-related pieces I want to focus on today. For those in possession of attention spans the length of a Paris Hilton jail sentence, I provide a synopsis of my argument, which is as follows: dismissing women as a class as less able or less deserving of respect and attention is the more socially presentable end of the misogynist mindset that perfectly logically leads to the assumption that women can legitimately be killed or forced into suicide. Women don’t deserve this as they are human beings.
I came across this article in the sensationalist ragbag and once-decent paper The Independent by the right-wing commentator and patriarchy coddler Dominic Lawson. Again, for the attention-bereft who may be already thinking of logging back into Facebook to see if anyone’s invited them to do a ‘What Flavour Mini Milk Are You?’ quiz in the last 20 seconds, the summary of the article is this: entitled ‘Well done our women cricketers. Just don’t expect me to watch them’, the article argues that women essentially aren’t any good at cricket, and that “It’s no criticism of women to point out that they are physically incapable of propelling a cricket ball at 90 mph”. Shit as women are, sometimes if one does well on a national level we can overlook her inherent womanness-shitness for the sake of our own jingoistic pride, though of course it won’t match up to the thrilling experience of watching a man: “with the truly exceptional man..there is something extra, a kind of gasping astonishment on our part that such strength and power could be encompassed by a human being at all.” Lawson then goes on to consider for a nanosecond the idea of fair attention for people who represent half of the population, before insinuating that women shouldn’t get too big an idea of themselves. The whole thing is delivered with a level of pomposity which would make Anne Widdecome look like Jim Royle, and ends on a baffling comparison of women to disabled people, apparently legitimatized by the fact that his own daughter has Down’s syndrome.
Two conclusions may be drawn from this sexist pile of ardent cock-worship: one is that, for spurious ‘reasons’ of biology, the commentator, for the purposes of his piece, does not believe women are as valid as men. The second conclusion which one might draw, and which I arrived at after a bout of inner vituperation, is that while the first conclusion may be true, the fact is that it is a belief held by one overprivileged, underenlightened newspaper columnist, and for various expletives’ sake, is only about cricket anyway.
This belief had a diazepamic effect on my addled brain for a time, until I opened the same newspaper a few days later and was greeted with this odious little instalment of cultural misogyny, a news article about the plight of womankind in Turkey. Over there, a recent attempt to crack down on the patriarchal phenomenon of “honour” killings has meant that men, instead of killing their female relations in cold blood for the crime of wanting their autonomy, are now pressurizing them instead to kill themselves. The repugnance of this situation should be obvious to anybody with a braincell or a beating heart. What may be less obvious to some is how entirely propped up this appalling situation is by patriarchal institutions: a father owns his daughter; wishes to trade her off to a new owner via the property-exchanging mechanism of marriage; when she dares to respond with contrary actions or wishes, he destroys his soiled property as it is no longer fit for consumption. The whole system is founded on the idea of woman as commodity, and in the newly-emerging twist, the woman is forced to take patriarchy-sanctioned autonomy and end her own life in tacit acceptance of her worthlessness as damaged goods.
Judging from the comments left on the website at the time of writing this, most people seem to think that, whilst unquestionably barbaric, this phenomenon is really a problem of the Middle East, and nothing of the sort would ever be capable of happening on these fair enlightened post-medieval shores. And it is unquestionably true that the Islamic religion, like any of the main religions, is anathema to women’s status as full human beings. But the difference between a commentator like Dominic Lawson opining that women are less valid and deserving of respect than men and the Turkish patriarchs killing their daughters or forcing them into suicide is merely one of degree, certainly not one of ideology. Once one introduces the notion that women are somehow less fully human than men, one rationalizes that they may then be objectified, commodified, subjugated, and ultimately disposed of when no longer required. The dehumanization of women operates on a spectrum of the barely perceptible (archaic conservative newspaper writer who has clearly had a bit too much cognac with his afternoon pheasant thinks women aren’t as good as men) to the severely critical (man in Turkey thinks killing his daughter is no worse than throwing out an old TV), but let there be no doubt of the continuum. Hence any opinion, medium, or vehicle which attempts to convey women as anything less than human ought to be blasted out of existence with the same aggression you would a malignant tumour.
Now can anyone guess my views on porn?