Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Understanding what reclaiming the word 'slut' and 'victim-blaming' means


From Io9: 

“Honey, your skirt is a little short.”To be fair, it was a little short. It was short intentionally. I was dressed in a science officer costume from Star Trek: The Original Series. Not the sleek little work-appropriate but still sexy jewel tone tunics from the new movie, but the flared, strangely-constructed, unapologetically teal and chartreuse polyester cheerleader dresses that fit perfectly with the (now) retrofuturistic vibe of the original show. It’s a screen accurate dress. And by “screen accurate” I mean “short”. And at the beginning of the day, I just assumed the lady who commented was pointing out that I needed to tug down the dress a bit. That was the first comment. After the next 30 or so, I had had enough.

  ........ 

I do need to point out here, that none of this came from people involved with the con. In fact, everyone even slightly officially affiliated with Balticon was respectful, concerned and nerdily-excited about my outfit, my hair, the screen-accurate seams. The staff, the volunteers, the program participants, even the people working the tables for other events were all wonderful.

The people attending, on the other hand, were Not Comfortable With The Way I Chose to Present. I felt like they really, really wanted me to go back to my room and change into a long, historically accurate, shapeless Medieval dress. Or jeans and a geek t-shirt. Either would be acceptable: not too aggressively feminine, but not dressed nicely enough to make them nervous they were being invaded by mundanes.

We in the nerd community have a tendency to make fun of the “fashionable people” or the “cool kids”. The ones who dress alike and spend their lives being sheep to the newest styles. Part of the fascination on social media with watching Abercrombie and Fitch’s fall from grace seemed to be a form of schadenfreude, against the pretty people who had made our lives hell in high school/college/life and who so proudly wore that brand as a mark of tribal membership. 


....


There is no reason I should have to do this, but I came to realize something in reflecting on events at Balticon: I am, at all conventions, surrounded by people who accept me, who care for me and who are willing to hand me a gin and tonic or three when I look like I’m about ready to punch the next person who comments on my skirt. It’s not a position of power, but it is a position of safety. Every place I go will not be a safe space, but the people around me make it one for me.


So my solution? Not be invisible. Not anymore. Not let my legs and skirt short speak for my presence, but speak for myself. Challenge the male gaze both metaphorically and literally. Sitting in the bar and fuming at other convention attendees won’t help. Opening my mouth and answering them just might. Or it might make other people witnessing the exchange think about what happened. Point out that I can both wear a short skirt and have a brain under my beehive. Out loud. And probably snarkily.


Click on the above link to read full article.  It's really good.


Comments:


EridaniUEmily Finke – This View of Life

Hmm. I guess this is supposed to be striking a blow for feminism. You bust out some 3rd wave feminist terms here to make your case. However, I'm about to drop another layer of feminism on you.
And it is this:
Most of the geek costumes for women originated directly from the male gaze. For example, that tiny skirt was designed by, and for the enjoyment of, men. That it's now an iconic symbol of geekdom changes that not one bit. When you are wearing it, you are a walking billboard stating "this is how the mens want a geek girl to look" flashing over your head.
And here you are, ardently defending your right to comply.
That's the real rub here. You want to be free to wear things that were designed by men specifically to showcase women as sex objects, yet not be treated like a sex object. That's what I want you to be aware of. That's what I want you to understand when you're getting all feministy. If that's the tack you want to take, at least talk about how you're trying to own it or something. Taking it back from the patriarchy or whatevs. Because it's one hell of a mixed message you are sending, and the dudes who are receiving it aren't bastions of social awareness, generally.
So, wear that skirt. You look great. But understand that the issue is at least one layer deeper than you've made it out to be. Friday 7:47am

OssifrageUEridani
There's nothing complicated about victim blaming, and you aren't as insightful as you seem to think. Friday 7:55am
EridaniUOssifrage
Any intelligent rebuttal about anything I said would be very welcome. Where is anything I said not true? Specifically, mind.
I'm not saying it's cool for those people to treat her that way. I am saying that when you take a stand, it's a good idea to comprehend just what you're standing for. Friday 7:59am
PeregonUEridani
That's stupid, insulting, condescending, and ignorant of how society functions.
Problematic systems change hands by generation. Cultures internalize, own, and remix problematic ideas and make them "their own". Look at every genre of music, the pop cultures and subcultures we live in...hell, half of the socially-maladjusted things geeks do. It's all tied into owning once-shameful traits. Nerdy is cool. Redneck is cool. Gangsta is cool. And you know what? Sexuality can be reclaimed from patriarchy.
The true sign of success is when we are allowed to define our own terms, consciously, rather than just accept what's given to us. That includes from you. Friday 8:00am


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