RSS

Category Archives: Media

Media representations of lone motherhood, teenage pregnancy and female sexuality.

Padraig MacLochlainn makes political decision based on tweets, bullies public, and doesn’t deny pimp with 5 aliases gave evidence to Irish prostitution hearing

On 25/02/13, elected Irish politician Padraig MacLochlainn started hurling insults at the sex workers he is claiming to help. Padraig is the TD for Donegal North East and Sinn Féin’s 26 County Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence. After insulting various members of the public including sex workers, bloggers, an Irish Law student and a parody account and ‘blocking’ most of them, MacLochlainn frther demonstrated his contempt for political debate and evidence-based policy by tweeting that he will now advise Sinn Fein to support Turn Off the Red Light – not because of evidence, but because he was feeling annoyed with the people he’d just mocked and blocked.

Turn Off the Red Light is an anti-prostitution organisation.

padraigtorlfull

Padraig openly claimed that in “24 hours” he had made his decision (if not actually immediately due to tweets). This doesn’t sound like the thoghtful, evidence based conduct we would expect from politicians.

When tweeted a link to an article exposing the fact that one of anti-prostitution organisation Ruhama Agency’s witnesses, a prostitution “survivor”, is actually a convicted pimp with several aliases, Padraig did not deny this. He only said that other witnesses had used aliases – which entirely misses the point. Using aliases is normal within the sex worker community, because our sex-negative society forces sex workers to remain pseudonymous. But using multiple alias on different TV shows, at hearings and other public forums is creating a false impression to the electorate that many more “survivors” support the Swedish/Nordic model than is in fact the case. And if a sex worker is also a pimp, they need to admit this at the Irish prostituution hearing, because there could be a conflict of interest. There isn’t necessarily a conflict of interest, but there might be, because the fewer rights sex workers have, the more money pimps could make, just like any other labour relationship.

padraigdoesntdenyaliases

There’s no denial. Does Padraig MacLochlainn not care about the integrity of the Irish prostitution hearing? Or did he already know? I guess we’ll never know. Article here: http://sexwork.ie/2013/02/24/false-witness/

Padraig MacLochlainn also showed incredible disdain for sex workers (and everyone else who attempted to engage him in debate). He blocked people for sending him a single, polite, reasonable tweet. He replied to tweets with “zzz” a few tiimes, then called people  “arrogant” and “very sinister” simply for engaging in political debate. Padraig MacLoclainn also appeares to take issue with the fact that “many” of the random people who happened to tweet at him at that particular time were “from overseas” (i.e. Scotland – where the same attempt to force the Swedish model is being made right now -and England). Despite his public image of helping women in the sex industry, MacLochlainn insisted on calling sex workers “prostitutes”. Padraig MacLoclainn also called someone “pathetic” for “hiding behind a false name” despite his earlier  fierce defence of  using 5 aliases in public debate and hearings. The person in question was actually a parody account rather than a “fake persona” or “false name” as MacLochlainn alleged.

But don’t take my word for it:

padraigbbwmelody

Stand-up comic @BBWMelody’s plea for MacLochlainn not to keep blocking people and replying with “zzz” is seen by MacLochlainn as another opportunity to insult the general public.

MacLochlainn's Twitter timeline becomes a catalogue of his derision for anyone disagreeing with the Swedish model

MacLochlainn’s Twitter timeline becomes a catalogue of his derision for anyone disagreeing with the Swedish model

padraigmaggie

padraigturnoffrl

What a shining example of the Irish political process – if Sinn Fein really dies endorse Turn Off the Red Light, we’ll all know it was because one Padraig MacLochlainn decided to bully members of the public – including an Irish Law student and an Irish sex worker – then got in a bit of a huff after his blockfest.

Update: Sinn Fein has endorsed Turn Off The Red Light.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Feminism, Media, Sex work

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kat: You are not my leader

We have a problem. Being feminist in Britain now means you’re anti-sex work and anti-porn. The sex-negative feminists (heirs of the 1970’s radical feminists) have hijacked these debates and the word “feminism” itself. Women (and men) are afraid to call themselves feminists if they don’t share these ideas. They may feel, as I did, that because they are okay with sex work or pornography that they are not feminists.

This creates a vicious circle: when only anti-sex work, anti-pornography women call themselves ‘feminists’, they create a sex-negative public image of feminism. And so when the media portrays feminists and feminism, it is forced to portray sex-negative anti-porn women, because that’s the pool it has to choose from. So now Kat Banyard, founder of UK Feminista and ally of Object (an anti-sex work, anti-porn NGO aiming to make sex work a crime) is “Britain’s leading young feminist” according to The Guardian. This title implies that all feminists share her beliefs. But as we know, many feminists do not agree. Some feminists are sex workers or work in the sex industry. Some do not want to ban pornography or sex work. Yet others feel that different issues are more important and more to blame for gender inequality.

Yet, can we blame the Guardian? With only antis labelling themselves feminist, who else could they choose? If it wasn’t Banyard, it would be another with exactly the same views. Sex-positive public figures such as Dr Brooke Magnanti could never be labelled as our leading young feminist, because they reject the label of ‘feminist’.

Many sex-positive bloggers and sex activists already call themselves feminists or gender-equalists ‘in their heads’ but not publically.

So, this is a call to all sex-positive people – female, male, trans, genderqueer, whatever: CALL YOURSELF A FEMINIST! Then strippers, models, women who watch porn and sex workers can no longer be stigmatised or subjected to laws that harm them in the name of ‘feminism’, because it’ll be obvious that many feminists are against these measures. Showing publically that you are a feminist could be as simple as putting the word “feminist” in your Twitter, Facebook or blog/site profiles, or creating social media groups about sex-positive feminism, or social media groups to encourage others to adopt the label. As my lecturer said,” if you believe women should be equal to men then you are a feminist” – so millions of people are feminists but don’t accept the label because they associate feminism with people like Banyard.

Eventually, prominent feminists won’t only be sex-negative, we will have sex-positive prominent feminists! More famous people will adopt the label of feminist, and stigmatising all models/lapdancers/sexworkers as ‘slaves’, and women who like porn as ‘brainwashed’, -or even trying to criminalise prostitution in Scotland -will no longer be done in the name of feminism.

IIf all sex-positives call ourselves feminists, we remind everyone that Object, SCASE and the ever-lingering voice of 1970’s radfem Andrea Dworkin do not speak for us. And Banyard is not our leader.

Please RT, reblog etc or spread the word in your own words 🙂

Thanks, ‘Lika

 
8 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Feminism, Media

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leniency to female sex offenders harms feminism

WHAT HAPPENED

A couple of days ago, Claire Roundhill, a woman who knowingly had sex with a 15 year old and his overage brother – and supplied them with cannabis as well as sending them explicit images of herself – was spared jail: http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/10/10/mum-of-three-had-affairs-with-brothers-aged-15-and-17-and-became-pregnant/

She was given a 9-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and will be on the Sex Offender’s Register for 10 years.

For a man in this situation, the defence that he didn’t know the girl was under 16 is not valid; he must have good reason to believe she was over 16. And this woman admitted to knowing the boy was underage the second time she had sex with him.

The astonishingly lenient sentence may or may not set a precedent for Forrest, though in my estimation his crime was worse as he was in a position of trust and he took Stammers abroad without her parents’ consent. But at least he loves her, instead of using the child for sex like Roundhill did.

WHY IT IS HARMFUL TO BOYS

Sentences like this hurt boys. All children deserve protection – EQUAL protection. We cannot discriminate on gender any more than we can discriminate on race or religion. Yet some commenters on the story seem to think that boys are so slutty that they cannot be abused as they’d go with anyone, or that a boy would enjoy being sexually abused. This issue is quite obvious, and I won’t dissect it here, except to quote the article on the effect Roundhill’s predating had on the boy:

The 15-year-old boy said Roundill bombarded him with hundreds of text messages and photographs every day. He said: “She would be in sexy outfits or topless. I now know she took advantage of me. I just want to put it behind me.” …there has been a victim personal statement from the boy which says he wants to put all this behind him and he is relieved that he does not have to give evidence in this case.”

The father of the two teenage boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has said Roundhill’s sentence was too lenient.

He said: “If it had been the other way around and this was a man having sex with a 15-year-old girl, he would have been locked up, without a shadow of a doubt. But, because she is a woman, she has walked free. She took advantage of both my sons. When my elder son dumped her, she targeted the younger. She planned it. I hope she now realises exactly what she has done. If she had gone to prison, I would have been happy but she has just got a slap on the wrist. We are disappointed. This doesn’t send out a message. Before this, he was a lovely boy and now it has changed him. He has gone off the rails. He has been in trouble with the police and this has never happened before. It was disgusting what she did. She has taken advantage of my family. If we had known what was going on, we would have put a stop to it straight away.”

Indeed, the court accepted the excuse that she was having a troubling time and a bad marriage – as if that somehow excuses child abuse!

The reporting of this case is full of the sexism that used to – and still does – categorise tabloid reports of women being raped. The headline uses the word “affair” instead of “child abuse” and the facts that the abuser is married, is a parent and that the victim had an older sibling who lawfully had sex with the abuser is totally irrelevant.

 

IT HARMS WOMEN AND FEMINISM

So far, so obvious – especially to parents of young boys. But let’s go on to the less obvious stuff, about how leniency towards female sex offenders, far from granting women superiority, actually harms feminism and women in general.

Firstly, women are harmed because female relatives, friends and carers of boys are harmed. How would a mother of 15 year old twins feel, knowing the female twin was protected but that the male twin was not protected? How does the mother of the boy in the article feel now that she has to live with the knowledge that her son was abused and violated, perhaps running all the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys’ daily through her mind? Constantly wishing she’d realised what was going on, or talked to her son more about women and sex so he wouldn’t fall for her lies and promises, or had been there to protect her son. Similar thoughts might be racing through the minds of the boy’s older sister (if he has one) or his aunts.

Secondly, and here is the more complex bit: When female sex offending is not taken seriously and male minors can’t get justice, it perpetuates the view that only women can be hurt by sex while men – even boys – always enjoy sex or are at least immune to emotional pain from sex. So we start to see women as vulnerable and in need of protecting. We monitor daughters’ sex lives more than sons’, ‘for their own good’. Males are seen as sexually aggressive and females as sexually passive – great conditions for the sexual double standard, paternalism and male control of female sexuality to flourish. If sex is seen as dangerous to women then confusion or derision will be directed against women who do enjoy and seek sex. If sex as seen as harmful to teenage girls and young women then it justifies parental control over daughters’ sexuality.

The message of this case is that only teenage girls’ innocence (or virginity) is valued enough to be protected. Boys’ innocence is worthless (or nonexistent)? This might actually harm girls even more than boys, as this sort of thinking is full of that antifeminist social conservatism which buoys up slutshaming and the sexual double standard.

Thirdly, and this is the controversial bit: In a way, it is a good thing for women to be seen as sex predators. (To be SEEN AS, not to actually DO child abuse. I AM NOT ADVOCATING THAT WOMEN MOLEST CHILDREN IN THE NAME OF FEMINISM. And I’m talking about women who are guilty of being sex predators being seen for what they are, not innocent women being seen as sex predators.) It is a good thing because when we accept that women are sexx predators, we can offer support and counselling to their victims. Men will be more confident about reporting sexual assaults by women and recieving support from rape centres. It will no longer be acceptable to joke about men being raped, as if somehow they’re incapable of feeling as bad as women, as if somehow they can’t be violated because they’re sluts anyway, so who cares? It’s not as if dignity and bodily integrity could actually mean something to anyone with a penis, right?

Also, when we accept that women can and do commit sex crimes, the double standard will crumble to dust. The double standard is based on a conservative view of female passivity, chastity and asexuality – women want love, marriage and children while men want sex. The acceptance of the existence of female sex offending will prove that this is nonsense – anyone can be sexually aggressive, romantic, or chaste and it’s got nothing to do with either gender or biological sex.

With the fall of the double standard, stigma against lone mothers, “sluts” and (female) sex workers would also start to lift.

The culture of telling women how not to get raped, holding women responsible for rape (victim blaming) and paternalism would also fall once men realise they could become the victim of rape by a woman. And if men fear rape by women, they might be happier to accept that rape is real (step forward Todd Akin) and not oppose abortion in such cases – after all, would men really want to pay child support towards a child concieved by rape? (Claire Roundhill got pregnant, by the way. She had an abortion. But if she hadn’t and it was the 15 year old’s baby, he would be paying child support as soon as he turns 16 or gets a full-time job.)

In conclusion, this sentence was very unjust, unfair and insulting to the 15 year old victim and his family. It may set a worrying precedent about how male children are protected from exploitation and abuse. The comments below it seem to mean that male victims of female sex offenders can expect to be ridiculed and shamed as “wimps” for showing distress, or at best have their abuse dismissed as “a great experience”. Angry parents seeking justice can expect to be ridiculed as overprotective and restricting their child’s sex life. And female sex offenders will be propositioned, praised, or shamed as “slut” instead of “sex offender” – (the second one is the WORSE title, people!). The victims and their families suffer with little of the sympathy, understanding or support given to female victims – all because the kid is the wrong gender. And feminism suffers alongside them, as the message given is “Only females’ innocence is important enough for the law to protect”.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 13, 2012 in Feminism, Media

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kristen Stewart: the double standard in the media

I’m glad to see that Kristen Stewart has finally emerged from hiding and is facing the world. Hopefully the media will wander off to find some other non-story of pointless celeb gossip to spin into international headlines, and we can all stop tutting and pretending we are saints, criticizing some 22 year old cheating on her boyfriend like it doesn’t happen every day in our towns – even to our friends. Actually, how many people criticizing Kristen have slept with someone they shouldn’t have? (assuming Rupert and Kristen even did go all the way, which they may have since both their partners left them, but there isn’t any evidence of this).

It is very odd that Kristen, who is not married and young, is being blamed more than Rupert who is a married 41-year-old with two kids. This is obviously just the double standard rearing its ugly head again.

Before we go into that, there are of course other possible reasons than the double standard:

Kristen is more famous than Sanders, therefore the stories will revolve around her more. This point is supported by the fact that the stories seem to revolve around her (ex?soon to be ex?) Robert Pattinson more than Rupert Sanders.

Kristen being dumped from the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman could be explained by necessity; obviously, having her, Rupert and Rupert’s (now ex?) wife Liberty Ross working together on set wouldn’t be good for the film; actors must have good chemistry and work together well. However, Kristen is playing Snow White, so it would make more sense to drop Sanders or Ross.

These two points aren’t enough to convince anyone or to explain away all of the hatred directed towards Kristen – being called a ‘trampire’ by the New York City Times, Will Ferrell, and now people wearing t-shirts saying it. ‘Tramp’ – an American shame-word equivalent to our “slut” or “whore” is not being used against Rupert Sanders – even though he’s the one who is married! So, it is obvious that once again, it’s one rule for men – even if they’re married – and another for women – even if they’re young and single.

…And since when does having two men make you a whore? I know girls younger than Kristen who have slept with over 20 guys, they are not called whores. Or is everyone who cheats a whore? That would make Sanders (and a lot of the general public) a whore.

Twihards

As for the Twilight fans (“Twihards”), how can they hate their heroine – the woman who’s played Bella for four years and given her adolescence to the films they love – because of something she did in private, in the bedroom? Whatever she – or anyone – does behind that bedroom door is nobody’s business but her and Rupert’s own. This whole “scandal” thing is just a family problem between four – that’s right, FOUR – people: Rupert, Liberty, Kristen and Robert. Not everyone in the entire world.

And if Kristen hadn’t done Twilight she wouldn’t have met Rupert and kissed/slept with him (?) anyway. If she’d had a normal entry into adulthood she might even be a totally different person – for better or for worse.

And I’m betting some of her haters cheated on their boyfriends…probably with a lot more than kissing!

I haven’t read or seen any of the Twilight franchise, I don’t even know what character Rob Pattinson plays. Actually, before the so-called “scandal” I had heard of Kristen, but I didn’t know she played Bella; I just knew she was a famous young up-and-coming actress. So, I don’t understand at all how Twilight fans can be “shocked” or “heartbroken” that she kissed Rupert; I mean, so what? Maybe Rob played Edward and they were imagining Bella and Edward existed in real life? They need to grow up. How many of them cheated? That being said, a lot of Twilight fans support Kristen, too.

Why this sucks more than the Twilight franchise

This has been an everlasting, hyped-up bullying of one young actress that has gone on for exactly a month today and forced a talented girl to go into hiding for having a kiss. In this day and age, this is ridiculous. Especially in Hollywood, where marriages never last, cheating happens all the time and even the older people are jumping into each others’ beds – or cheating on their wives with much younger actresses. Even in America and the west more generally, this stuff happens all the time. But god forbid it happens when you played the lead in a major franchise, because obviously that makes you the spawn of Satan. If I’d done this, I wouldn’t be on the news, would I? The media only hounds you when you’re famous.

I’m sick of seeing public apologies for what two people do in bed. Both Kristen and Rupert apologised publically, and though their apologies were aimed at their respective partners, they were phrased as if apologising to the nation, and were posted online instead of told to the people that they hurt. Come on, seriously? Year 2012, we all have the right to have sex, everybody (especially in Hollywood) is fucking everybody else, and they’re apologising to the public? For the “embarrassment” she caused? To who? Who would possibly have the right to be embarrassed over what anyone else does?

Perhaps the saddest thing of all was that this wasn’t done deliberately; the media corporations didn’t sit down between 17 August and 24 August to decide how big they were going to make this thing on a scale of 1 to 10. They didn’t script in Will Ferrell or plot to make T-shirts, or decide to leave Sanders in peace. This month-long shaming of a talented girl was done – not accidentally, but in a non-planned way. And it couldn’t have been pulled off with more success, vitriol and emotional damage to Kristen (and her friends and family) if it had been a planned operation by her worst enemy. This shows just how much the double standard still rules us and how constrained female sexual behaviour still is – even in Hollywood.

Hopefully, the media will get bored now that she’s come out of hiding. It has been confirmed that in a week she’ll be promoting her film On the Road, so things will probably go back to normal soon. Reportedly, she and Rob have been speaking again. But things aren’t all rosy; while Liberty isn’t speaking to Rupert, Kristen’s name has been smeared a lot more than his has (if at all). According to TMZ, she “fears that her career has been irreparably damaged” (source below) and doesn’t think she deserves that for a one-off mistake. She also knows that she is being blamed much more than Rupert, instead of taking a half share of the blame like what normally would happen – actually, in a case like this, usually Rupert, the older married man, would’ve been given more of the blame.) Kristen is reportedly very angry and upset about this.

Kristen is being punished (several promotional appearances and a role in the SWATH sequel cancelled) while Rupert is not. She’s being punished for kissing a man. And here I was thinking these were “freer times” compared with the old Victorian double standard and restrictive morality…

:Links:

Articles defending her:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kristen-stewart-cheating-robert-pattinson-rupert-sanders-364538

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2181116/Kristen-Stewart-did-type-sex-Rupert-Sanders.html

The emotional damage caused to Kristen by the media’s hounding and invasion of her private life:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/08/20/kristen-stewart-refusing-to-eat-robert-pattinson_n_1809763.html

Kristen knows that she is being unfairly targeted by the public and media while Rupert isn’t criticized much:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/22/kristen-stewart-emotional-break-down-depressed-angry_n_1822451.html

The “trampire” shirts that Kristen’s “fans” are wearing:

http://www.stylelist.com/2012/08/19/kristen-stewart-trampire-shirt-skreened-robert-pattinson_n_1808339.html

 
3 Comments

Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Feminism, Media

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saudi Arabia’s first female Olympian risks ostracism to compete

A Saudi woman competes at the Olympics for the first time ever. She did this in the face of controversy over showing her body (not wearing a burkha) in front of men. She didn’t have a black belt and had never done judo in public – ever – but lasted over a minute against one of the world’s top judokas. Shahrkhani challenged the expectations of Muslim conservatives and westerners alike by competing and also covering her hair while she fought. Because of the stress of the controversy, her first ever competition and only having a blue belt (possibly due to lack of facilities for women in Saudi Arabia), Shahrkhani was disadvantaged but she didn’t let these obstacles get in the way. I just am totally amazed by all of this – I’ve seen people get really nervous competing against other schools/universities or even in competitions within their own sports club – imagine your first competition being the Olympics and you’re on TV to the entire world without your face covered! And knowing you will be hated when you go back home and people thinking you’re going to hell and are a complete disgrace. I guess women don’t have any excuses for being intimidated to do martial arts anymore…

LadyRomp

By AYA BATRAWY

CAIRO — There was no way Alaa al-Mizyen, a 22-year-old Saudi investmentconsultant, was missing this Olympic match. While her family slept in late Friday morning, she alone was awake and glued to the TV.

It was, after all, her first ever opportunity to cheer a Saudi woman in the world’s biggest sporting event.

The participation of Saudi judo player Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani had raised the scorn of the kingdom’s ultraconservative Islamic clerics, who said she was dishonoring herself by fighting in front of men, including the male referee and judges. And the match Friday was a swift defeat for Shahrkhani: The teenager was thrown by her Puerto Rican opponent in just over a minute.

But for her supporters, it was an enduring, landmark victory.

Shahrkhani was taking a stand against culture and customs that have little to do with Islam but are used to…

View original post 784 more words

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 5, 2012 in Feminism, Media

 

Adult cartoons: conservative agenda?

South Park. Family Guy. The Simpsons. They’re ultra-liberal, filled with swear-words, innuendos and sometimes sexually explicit comments. A show like Family Guy, which has the word “penis” in half its episodes and utilises phrases like “your penis would shoot right off your body”, “my daughter’s womb is not a wildfire for you to douse with your adolescent seed” and show scenes of rape, sex addiction, kinky sex, and puppy-babies concieved by bestiality is not usually thought of as furthering the agenda of the religious right. But it does. Don’t get me wrong, Family Guy is my favourite thing on TV, IloveitIloveitIloveitIloveitIloveit. All these cartoons work against the right-wing agenda and mock it in many ways. But here is how it, and other adult cartoons, do further that agenda:

In The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad, the mothers are all housewives with no friends.

In all the above shows as well as the Cleveland Show, the focus is on a male character

The father is irresponsible, lazy and doesn’t do housework – especially Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin. The boys – especially Bart Simpson, Eric Cartman and Rallo Tubbs- cause chaos (which is not seen as deviant), while the girls are quiet (especially Lisa Simpson and Meg Griffin) or only cause ‘trouble’ to their parents by parental fear of their sexuality (Roberta Tubbs and Meg Griffin) or political views (Hayley Smith). In contrast, the mothers care for the kids and do not pull crazy stunts of their own – an exception is Family Guy’s Lois, but her stunts (kleptomania, revealing that she was in a porn film) pale in comparison to Peter’s.

In the first episode of The Cleveland Show, the mother is depicted as unable to control her children after becoming a lone mother. Only Cleveland, acting as a father figure, can restore discipline.

This ‘discipline’ includes controlling 15 year old Roberta’s sexuality by physically intimidating her boyfriend. This patriarchal control is juxtaposed with Cleveland’s freedom to have sex with Roberta’s mother at the very moment that Roberta’s sexuality is subject to his control

In contrast, Roberta’s 5 year old brother is encouraged by Cleveland to be sexual. Cleveland teaches him to invent a reason for having to peek up girls’ skirts, a behaviour which resulted in him being expelled in the first place.

Cleveland’s assertion that the kids “need some fathering” – mothering being inadequate

Robert’s absence supposedly caused the kids to misbehave; however, as a drunk who is disinterested in his children, how could he have disciplined them when he lacks discipline himself? The message is that even a drunk dad can parent better than a working, caring, sober mom.

Roberta is portrayed as accepting her boyfriend’s decision to take her home early/not have sex. Cleveland is controlling her through her boyfriend, and likewise her boyfriend is able to control her sexuality.

In one episode, Roberta is almost forced by peer pressure and a TV camera to flash her breasts, along with many other girls, but her stepbrother saves her by pretending to be a girl and flashing his chest. This implies that it is not good to flash your breasts for a TV show and that women are exploited in the adult entertainment industry. Roberta was portrayed as a victim with no agency who had to be saved by a younger male relative. The fate of flashing was portrayed as dire.

 

In Family Guy, Peter is pathologically possessive of his daughter Meg when she dates a trainee doctor – even stalking them in disguise- and attempts to shoot him when Meg is pregnant.

In the current season, both Peter and Lois stop Meg having sex with Glenn Quagmire even though she’s already 18. Meg is portrayed as accepting this.

While Glenn and Herbert are sex predators and Peter frequently uses very sexual language, the female characters are not permitted such expression. Even when Lois is revealed to have starred in a porn film, the revelation leads to her becoming a social pariah which is the main content of the episode. However, when male characters commit rape, cheat, repeatedly attempt child molestation, commit bestiality, abduct people for sex, etc, they suffer no consequences and their actions remain secret. These actions constitute very small portions of the episodes, in contrast to Lois’ porn movie, Lois’ sexy photo, Loretta’s affair, Meg’s boyfriend/subsequent pregnancy, Bonnie’s affair or Peter’s boss Angela sexually harassing him. The mens’ actions are not portrayed as problematic or deviant. They seem to happen as a result of the mens’ libido. However, the womens’ actions are problematized by the community and the family. Their actions seem to come from problems: lack of money (Lois making the porno), unhappy marriage (Loretta and Bonnie having affairs, Lois kissing Meg’s boyfriend) being naive and/or used (Jillian-Brian, Meg-Quagmire and Cheryl Teags-Brian) and being suicidal (Angela). The men suffer no consequences for their actions except Quagmire’s friends being annoyed with him when he is caught spying on Lois, and Lois being annoyed with him for trying to sleep with Meg. By contrast the women get publically shamed on TV (Lois’ porn film), lose public office (Lois’ photo), are discovered cheating (Loretta and Bonnie), have a pregnancy scare, a forced marriage, then lose their boyfriend (Meg) go to prison for harbouring a fugitive (Meg) accidentally make out with their brother (Meg) get dumped, get obssessed, perform a kidnap and get told to wait for the right man by Quagmire, a pervert – double standard much?(Meg), attempt suicide when attraction is unreciprocated (Angela).

When Lois briefly becomes a lone mother in the episode ‘Big man on the hippocampus’, the family’s income drops ridiculously low.

In South Park, being a slut is linked to being stupid and spoiled, and in a slut contest the male slut (Mr Slave) wins over the female slut (Paris Hilton). It is not suggested that Mr Slave is stupid or spoiled. The girls of South Park then immediately stop being sluts.

The only lone mother portrayed is Eric Cartman’s mother, and her son is completely out of control. She is also portrayed as promiscuos and as not knowing who Eric’s father is.

 

 

 

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Feminism, Film, Media

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Single mums: the government, the law and the media hate you. GET MARRIED!!

Stigmatisation of lone mothers can be broken down into three basic forms: political/governmental, media, and academic/professional. Since the early 1990s the media have been fuelling discrimination and stigmatization of lone mothers as promiscuous, irresponsible and in poverty (Lewis 1998:7; Roseneil and Mann 1996). In the UK, the lone mother discourse is often confused with the teenage pregnancy discourse with myths about increasing rates of teenage pregnancy and most lone mothers being teenagers disseminated by both the media and politicians[1]; in fact teenage pregnancy has been steadily declining since the 1970s (Rowlingson and Mackay 2002:9) and only 3% of lone mothers are teenagers[2].The problem of academic/professional stigmatisation is less widely known; an example is Murray (1993) who described lone mothers as creators of the ‘underclass’; such theories have been discredited (Ellwood and Bane 1985; Garfinkel and McLanahan 1986; Bane and Jargowsky 1988.) The right wing think-tank, the Institute for Economic Affairs, deliberately published several books demonising lone mothers[3]. Discourses around lone motherhood frequently define lone mothers in problematic terms (Duncan and Edwards 1999; Foucalt 1972; Mann and Roseneil 1994), such as a ‘social problem’, a theme which occurs in a range of professional literature  (Popay, Rimmer and Rossitter 1983:23).  So far, we have looked at media stigmatization which led to the political and governmental discrimination against lone mothers. But the attitudes of ‘the system’ affect lone mothers on a much more personal level than government or media attitudes.

Duncan and Edwards (1997) have documented the way in which the competing discourses around lone motherhood frequently define lone mothers in problematic terms, such as a ‘social problem’ or ‘social threat’. Social workers may be influenced by these discourses as well as by discriminatory governmental or local council policies into believing single mothers are a problem

Vicki Harman’s article on how social workers deal with white single mothers of mixed race children reveals that the social workers involved interfered in single mothers’ lives unnecessarily and did not stop when they were repeatedly asked to leave the family alone. Harman warns against negative views of white lone mothers and highlights a need for social services to be more aware of social disapproval directed at white lone mothers of mixed children; she advocates training on discrimination experienced by lone white mothers. In another article, Harman claims that the presence of a mixed race child is seen as a symbol of sexual promiscuity – an assumption directed at lone mothers even more keenly, and resulting in women seeing them as a threat that they may ‘steal’ their partner. This resulted in withdrawal by the lone mothers from social networks.

Political/governmental stigmatisation is fuelled by, and in turn perpetuates, media stigmatisation. An example of political stigmatisation is the fact that the then UK Home Secretary suggested that [lone] unmarried mothers should give up their children for adoption[4].Lone mother families are not always seen as families. The Irish Constitution Art 41.2 states: “The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.” This appears to be beneficial to lone mother families as family is highly valued. However Art 41.3.1 makes a clear political statement that lone mothers (and several other family forms) are non-families and it is the legal bond of marriage which separates the family that is to be protected from the family that is to be combatted: “The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which Family is founded and to protect it against attack [emphasis mine].”  Various forms of EU Member State governmental and local authority discrimination have been documented (Rowlingson and McKay 2002:92, Polakow, Halskov and Jorgensen 2001; Sinfeld 1994).

Some EU Member States openly favour the couple family and are trying to reduce the number of lone mother families, especially those headed by young lone mothers, which is a type of social engineering (Solinger 2000). The political, media and academic stigmatisation results in stigmatising social attitudes towards lone parents in the community and wider society (O’Higgins 1974, Darling 1984; Maraden 1973; May 2011). Furthermore, the stigma had devastating consequences in the case of Birmingham CC v H [1994], where a 16 year old lone mother was denied all future contact with her baby, a decision which according to Jackson[5] breached Art 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the UK became a party to in 1991. Jackson claims that the court were only able to reach such a decision because of the demonization of lone mothers in the media and political discourse.

A similar discrimination is found inthe Irish case of Flynn v Power[6] in which the fact that Ireland’s Employment Equality Act 1998 (S37) allows educational institutions to give more favourable treatment to an employee to protect the ethos of the institution meant that it was held that being an unmarried mother constituted a justified reason for immediate dismissal upon knowledge of the pregnancy.

Political Empowerment

In the run-up to the last UK General Election, the NGO Gingerbread launched a campaign, Let’s Lose the Labels, against stigmatisation of lone parents. 119 politicians including David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown signed Gingerbread’s pledge to “tackle prejudice against single parents”[7]. The German NGO, Association of Single Mothers and Fathers, initiated the campaign “Help! I am being helped” against all three types of stigmatisation which I identified above[8]. It also questions the presentation of all lone parents as a homogenous group (a point raised by Roll in the 1992 Report to the EU Commission.) Maybe it’d be a good idea for lone mothers, their children and their children’s fathers to take to the streets, similarly to SlutWalk and Take Back the Night, but with an emphasis on family as well as women. Because by stigmatising and causing prehudice against single mothers, the haters are destroying families and emotionally abusing children.

Even the words we use to describe lone mothers’ families are prejudicial:

Broken home. Broken family. Single-parent family (an assumption that parents should be partnered). “She’s on her own” (how ‘on your own’ can you be with a child?).

These families aren’t “broken”. Broken implies a need to be fixed, or a ‘partner-present’ norm that has been violated, or a loss.

I can’t conclude this. How do you conclude a blog post on a blog hardly anyone knows about, on an issue nobody cares about or even acknowledges exists? I look at the objectives of feminism and I don’t see a lot of hope, and I look at stigmatisation of lone mothers and I see very little hope. Even feminists haven’t picked up on this as an issue, because of the overwhelming number of issues that need to be dealt with. All I know is, stigma of lone mothers, sex activism, rape culture and the American abstinence/virginity culture are all linked and bound up together. This should mean that if we defeat one of these things, the rest will weaken. But, eventually, we will not only weaken them. We’ll get rid of them all.

 

 

 

[1] Lister, Ruth Back to the family: Family policies and politics under the Major government in Helen Jones and Jane Millar The Politics of the Family Avebury UK 1996 11-31

[1] Mary McIntosh social anxieties about lone motherhood and ideologies of the family: two sides of the same coin in Good Enough Mothering? Feminist perspectives on lone motherhood edited by Elizabeth Bortolaia Silva Routledge 2003 UK 148-156

[1] Jones, Helen and Millar, Jane Introduction in The Politics of the Family edited by Helen Jones and Jane Millar Avebury UK 1996 1-10

[1] Michael Howard, quoted in the Daily Express (7 October 1993)

[1] Jackson, Emily. 1997. The child mother. In Family law and family policy in the new Europe, ed. Jacek Kurczewski and Mavis Maclean, 43–56. Aldershot: Dartmouth

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[8] Information for Single-parent families (No. 3 2010).

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,