Joan Collins gives good advice based on a faulty assumption

12 04 2009

On April 8th, posted a news blurb in which Dynasty star Joan Collins warned pop star Rihanna against returning to her ex-boyfriend, celebrity Chris Brown, who is charged with assaulting and threatening her (Rihanna).

Rihanna and Brown are involved in one of the most high profile instances of teen dating violence in recent history, and the relationship abuse has sparked discussions among teachers and parents of how to explain the issue of intimate partner violence to their children.  The case has also revealed societal attitudes about relationship abuse.

For example, in this news blurb, Joan Collins, who has been married five times (eesh), says:

I made a few mistakes but one of the things that I would say to a girl like Rihanna is never go back to a man who hits you. Never, ever. Any man who hits you once will hit you again. No man has ever hit me. They know I wouldn’t tolerate it for one second.

The beginning of this quotation is very strong and clear: abusers don’t magically stop abusing.  I agree with Collins that Rihanna shouldn’t get back together with Brown.  But unlike Collins, I understand that it is very difficult to leave an abuser, and therefore, should Rihanna decide to go back to Brown, I will not think less of her, and I would encourage other people to remain supportive of her.

Why wouldn’t people be supportive of her?  Probably because of attitudes like the bolded portion of Collins’ quotation (emphasis mine).  There is this ridiculous attitude that abusers won’t abuse unless they’re given a chance, and if you, the victim, don’t give them a chance, then they won’t hurt you.  Joan Collins mistakenly believes that she was never physically abused because her partners “knew” she wouldn’t put up with it.  While this idea might sound empowering (“I’m just too strong to be abused!”), it’s incredibly damaging for victims of violence, and it’s also false security.

If you assume that you won’t be hurt or abused unless you “let” someone hurt you, you might miss warning signs of abuse or other dangerous behaviors.  And if you’re hurt or abused after “not letting” someone hurt you, then who might you blame for the abuse?  This attitude reinforces the idea that the victim is to blame for her own abuse or assault.

Joan Collins, it’s great that you recognize that abusers don’t change.  But you might want to brush up on the rest of Relationship Abuse 101.

Only the macho are fit to rule

12 04 2009

On Wednesday, April 8th, Kathleen Parker shared her wisdom in the Washington Post about “Obama’s Unmacho Diplomacy”.  And aren’t we lucky to be blessed with her insightful observations and remarks?  She writes:

Unfortunately, most of world history seems to have pivoted on the balance or imbalance of hormones, with testosterone presenting the greatest challenge. (I note this as a fan.)

Is she saying that she is a fan of testosterone?  Okay, good for her.  And boy, I didn’t know that world history and politics was so simple – it all comes down to “the balance or imbalance of hormones”.  Silly me for not knowing that.  Well, you learn something new everyday!

In what may prove to be an epochal development, Obama seems to have his under control. He doesn’t strut, swagger or flex. He doesn’t even notice the hydrant.

If George W. Bush was a cowboy, Obama is a group hug.

He says we should show leadership by listening. That we should work in partnership with others. That we should show humility. This is, of course, pure porn for women. But unfortunately, women don’t rule the world. Men still do. And we have to worry whether Obama will be viewed as weak and the U.S., therefore, vulnerable.

Oh, boo.  So having a president who has his testosterone under control is bad?  God forbid that we have a leader who has an open ear and is willing to listen, a leader who actually wants to collaborate with others, a leader who is humble.  What a terrible weakness for the U.S.!  Of course listening to and working with other people is the path to a great downfall.

Parker so insightfully suggests that having the willingness and the skills to be a good listener is a wholly feminine thing to do.  Having partnerships with others is wholly feminine too.  As is being humble instead of an arrogant prick.  Because only women want to listen and work together and are humble.  We women are emotional, caring and empathetic.  We rule with our hearts and not our heads.  Men, on the other hand, are tough enough to rough it out on their own.  And they don’t even bother to listen, unless its to themselves.

And saying that Obama is a group hug implies that he is too soft, thus emasculating him, and therefore unfit for leadership since he lacks the necessary toughness.   Because he isn’t controlled by his testosterone he is not manly enough to be president?  Because he is “unmacho” he isn’t an effective leader?  If Parker claims that only the macho are fit to rule, then she is also insinuating that women would not be good or effective leaders because we obviously lack testosterone and aren’t macho enough.

After going on and on about how Obama’s not macho enough, Parker ends with:

To answer the original question: When you’re the big dog, you can afford to smile. The saber is understood.

This seems to contradict what she’s been saying throughout her article.  And it’s clear that she still equates leadership and diplomacy with testosterone and machismo.  (Penis envy much?)  She reinforces the good old double standard: male hormones = powerful, efficient, desirable while female hormones = instable, ineffective and unworthy.Encouraging for women who want to enter politics and international relations right?

How’s this for a change Parker?  Try not thinking about politics and diplomacy as exclusively male-centric for a change.   Try not to reinforce and perpetuate the patriarchal status quo.

Sunday Stupidity

12 04 2009

It doesn’t end…the stupidity keeps coming, sadly enough.

“So, isn’t Sarah Palin a feminist because she’s a woman and she’s a powerful politician? If feminism is about ending all oppression then shouldn’t people stop oppressing her?”

For the last time, Sarah Palin is NOT a feminist! She may have claimed to be a feminist, but she isn’t. Woman does not equal feminist (I’ll never understand why though). There are many anti-feminists posing as feminists out there. Don’t let them fool you! And, how exactly is Sarah Palin oppressed? How exactly are people oppressing her?

And a straight white male said, in regard to a party at the Rainbow House last night:

“Hmm… I could have some fun with those lesbians or bis. They’re just confused. And they haven’t met me yet. Once they do, that’ll all change.”

Saying that queer people are “just confused” and “haven’t met me yet” reinforces compulsory heterosexuality. It assumes that everyone obviously is heterosexual and those who aren’t are just sadly misguided, but can be “corrected” if only they met the right person. It reflects misguided beliefs that pathologize homosexuality and/or bisexuality, essentially any “deviant” sexuality that is not heterosexual.

Furthermore, the eroticization of queer women by heterosexual men is unacceptable. It goes back to patriarchal policing of female sexuality – that women have to do femininity right, which includes being heterosexual. Anything other than that is dismissed as “impossible” (gee, there are women who aren’t into men? Shocker!) or wrong.

“Those people…you know…who have boy and girl parts…hermaphrodites…do they actually exist?”

This one’s just sad. And I think that there are a lot (no, a TON) of college students who really have no idea about intersexuality and the many different forms it can take. A lot of people seem to think that intersexuality is a myth, and even use it as an insult or a joke.  I just wish that these people would at least Wikipedia it and try to educate themselves so I don’t have to hear questions like this one.

“Men are naturally going to try to dominate women. All you have to do is learn to stand up for yourself and then nobody can abuse you.”

This came from the same woman who then asked me to blog for us because she “hates men” and “feminists hate men…right?” The statement is pretty rude to women, men, and victims of violence. Saying that men naturally try to dominate women implies that they have no control over their actions, and that all men are somehow naturally abusive. It ignores the fact that many men as well as women are abused, and women and men can both be the abuser. The statement also ignores the systematic socialization of violence in our society. Violence is not really a “natural” trait, but is something that is condoned and perpetuated by the media, culture, and other societal influences. And, unfortunately, standing up for ourselves does not prevent abuse. People who abuse others are often extremely manipulative and violent, and standing up for oneself really does little good in defense against an abuser. And, of course, feminists do not hate men! Needless to say, I did not let her blog for us.