Just FYI, this is what trivialising rape looks like

The rape apologist brigade often decry feminists for “trivialising rape”, perhaps by making distinctions between “serious rape” and “date rape”, or perhaps by suggesting that labelling non-consensual sexual experiences as rape is infantilising women.

What we do, though, is not trivialising rape at all. We argue that the legal definition is insufficient. We point out that the figures for rape are far larger than most people would like to imagine. We point out that people do not have to simply suck up the fact that they have been raped and that it is all right to feel horrible about it. We acknowledge rape as incredibly serious; we do not trivialise it at all.

On the other hand, some do trivialise rape. Take this chap, who thinks that building wind farms are just like rape, because he thinks windfarms are a bit ugly and they are subsidised by public money and he’s an unpleasant fuckwipe. Or this chap, who thinks paying taxes is just like rape, because he’s an unpleasant fuckwipe. Or this chap, who inexplicably managed to get himself elected as Mayor of London, who thinks giving money to charity is just like rape, because he’s an unpleasant fuckwipe.

It’s clear that these people have never been raped, and it’s telling that all three come from such a privileged position that they consider minor, trifling little issues which are actually beneficial for society to be akin to personal violation.

It is these unpleasant fuckwipes, not feminists, who trivialise rape.

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Props to @thatsoph for finding the windfarm-rape article and @bc_tmh for the Boris piece.

It’s OK to wank over Foxy Knoxy now

Amanda Knox has won her appeal, and her conviction for the murder of her flatmate has been overturned.While I am no legal expert, it had seemed to me like much of the evidence against Knox had been circumstantial, and, considering further scrutiny found her innocent, it would appear that Amanda Knox is not a murderer.

Whether Knox was a murderer or not always seemed to me to be the important thing about the story: who killed Meredith Kercher? Was her flatmate somehow involved in the crime? Unfortunately, for many, this was not particularly relevant. Aside from the typical tabloid recounting of grisly scenes of murder, what was more salient was that Amanda Knox was an attractive young woman. The tabloids lapped it up. “Foxy Knoxy”, they called her.

It is immediately apparent that the interest had never really been in whether Knox killed anyone: after all, we never hear of Horny Hindley or Chesty Westy, as both Hindley and West were not deemed attractive or young enough to provide the fascination.

Amanda Knox, on the other hand, was reported on at times in a way that only omega-list celebrities going to the shops are reported. Take for example, the 2010 Mail article about Knox’s slander hearing: the headline read “AMANDA KNOX CHOPS OFF HAIR AND SUFFERS “DEPRESSION” BEFORE SLANDER COURT HEARING”. Here, the hearing–the actual, newsworthy part of the story–is added almost as an afterthought, behind the story of a young woman getting a haircut and suffering from mental health problems, which, with typical Mail sympathy, are hygienically sealed off with quotation marks as though they do not exist at all. The first line is even more telling: “The cool-headed composure and piercing blue eyes remain familiar from her murder trial.” Knox’s looks, to the Daily Mail, are far more important than the news.

The tabloids appeared to have quite the crush on Amanda Knox, and therefore desperately tried to crowbar in as many photographs of her as possible around slight allusions to the actual story. Never is this more apparent than in tabloid discussion of Knox’s sex life: gushingly lurid descriptions, followed by a slight tut-tutting, just so they don’t look too much like they’re cracking one out over someone who might be a murderer–except for those, like this tweeter, who actively preferred the idea that Knox was a murderer.

It must be an utter delight, then, for the crass media types to finally be free from the guilt of a crafty wank over a killer, following Knox’s appeal result. No-one was more open about this fact than Channel 5 televisual torture The Wright Stuff, who proposed as their phone-in question:

Parts 2 & 3: Foxy Knoxy: Would Ya?
So Amanda Knox has been cleared of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. She’s entirely innocent. She’s also undeniably fit and loves wild sex. Or did. So if you were a guy who’d met her in a bar and she invited you back to hers, would you go? I’m being quite serious. Or would something in your brain make you think twice?

There are interesting, relevant things to be discussed around the story of Amanda Knox’s appeal. For example, what might be the impact of being imprisoned almost four years? How does this reflect on the Italian justice system? What about Raffaele Sollecito, who was also cleared on appeal?

Instead, though, there is the same old tired focus on Amanda Knox as a sex object rather than a human being, except now one can spunk on her photograph without having to fold the Daily Mail article over where it alludes to her crimes.

Our misogynistic media is thoroughly obsessed with two things: attractive young women and lurid crimes They must be utterly delighted that finally some legitimate wanking material has emerged from the story of a murder.

 

Man-flu: is it a real thing?

As I write this, I have tonsillitis. So does a male friend of mine. It came on at around the same time two nights ago, and we’ve both been taking the same medication. As I write this, he is curled up in a little ball, unable to swallow. Me, I’m full of soft food and blogging. So what is the difference here? Does my friend have man-flu? Is man-flu even a real thing?

Man-flu is the term used to refer to how men always seem to be iller than women. With a cold, men are more likely to label it flu than women. Apparently.

Note the distinct lack of hyperlinks in the above paragraph. This is because the idea of man-flu is based on anecdotal evidence, and a web-survey from readers of Nuts magazine. Nuts magazine has a certain target demographic, which is distinctly male, and asked some rather leading questions. From self-report, then, it would appear that man-flu does not really exist at all.

But then there’s the science–the actual, sciency-evidence-stuff that means man-flu must exist, and that men do get sicker than women. A study came out showing that men have weaker immune systems than women, because female hormones improve the immune system. It seems so clean-cut when viewed like that. Man-flu exists.

Except it doesn’t. That study was conducted on mice who were given a gene that generally doesn’t exist in humans. I don’t think any more needs to be said about how thoroughly unapplicable that finding is to real human beings.

Then there’s the evolutionary explanation, which sets my teeth right on edge as anything attempting to explain differences between men and women by the medium of “we were made this way” does. This explanation goes back to the hormones again: testosterone makes men more vulnerable, apparently. It all comes down to sex, apparently, and men have swapped the ability not to get knocked out by a little sniffle for greater reproductive success. There’s also another study which suggests women go down to “male” standards of infection after the menopause. Once again, the evidence to support these claims are shaky at best: it comes from single studies.

In terms of single studies, there are also some which suggest that women are worse off. For example, women tend to take more sick days, and tend to perceive more pain. Of course, these studies do not prove the existence of “woman-flu”; they are of roughly the same level of evidence as that “proving” man-flu.

In short, then, man-flu probably doesn’t exist, at least not in any way which has been scientifically detected. Perhaps, then, the effect is down to socialisation: perhaps men do tend to milk their illness more than women as they have been taught to do so by the pervasive man-flu myth. Or, perhaps it is down to stress: in one study of man-flu, the results were found to be explicable entirely by stress, and it is entirely possible that this effect is down to how men are taught to cope with stress (suck it up!) which impacts badly on their immune systems and makes them more ill.

At any rate, as a scientific phenomenon, men do not seem to be sicker than women as a function entirely of gender. If man-flu exists, it is a social phenomenon.

So my friend, the poorly friend, is not more ill because he is a man. I am not feeling better because I’m a woman. It’s likely to be down to individual differences: I am the sort of person who takes illness with a lot of stoicism. Once, while pissing blood from my head and in a post-seizure daze, I tried to send an ambulance away as I had decided I was completely fine and I could handle it myself. Apparently, my grandmother was much the same, and once tried to hide the fact she was having a heart attack as she didn’t fancy being ill at that time.

Individual differences. Socialisation. These are what make certain people sicker than others. Our gender is probably thoroughly irrelevant.