No place is safe.

May 21, 2009

So, I’m now working, like…three? Four? Four ridiculously flexible part-time jobs, which require, like, an hour of schedule-wrangling for every hour I work. So I’m busy. But the money’s flowing in, so that’s good.

I was buying myself some pick-me-up candy (Laffy Taffy!) at the gas station the other day, and when I drove up to the building I saw this in the window:


(I went inside to take the picture.)

Anyway, the transcripts:

Sign 1: BITCH PARKING (but that’s Ms. Bitch to you) – All other will be Nagged beyond belief


Who needs a madonna/whore dichotomy when you can have a bitch/princess dichotomy instead? With pepto-bismol pink for all!

Also, really, Ms. Bitch? It’s, um, not the 80s anymore. “Ms” isn’t some weird new crazy-bitchy-feminist thing. Almost all the women I know go either by “Ms” or by “Dr.” But I suppose a princess would never insist on being called Ms — no, she’s either Miss Princess or, even better!, Mrs. Prince Charming.

The invocation of Nagging would be annoying even if they didn’t use the Totally Random Capitalization to emphasize it. A woman, even a Ms. Bitch, can’t threaten anything serious; the most power she has is the power to Nag. Truly, to be a Bitch is a terrible thing.

But wait, what’s this?


Sign 3: Got Bitches? – PIMP (emblazoned on a shiny, shiny goblet)

But now it seems like men want Bitches! Or at least, the PIMPs do. Do Bitches turn into something nice when a PIMP acquires them? Actually, I’m not even sure about the part where the PIMPS have “got” their Bitches. Did they get them at the store, or something? Is that why we can compare them to milk? Do they go in the cups? The shiny, shiny cups. With rhinestones. And hot pink leopard print.

I’d make a joke, like, “Are we sure this isn’t the PRINCESS cup?” except that, by implying that these PIMPs are deserving of ridicule because they are feminine, I would be cheapening my main point, which is that they deserve ridicule for wishing to own Bitches, as if Bitches were something to purchase or consume, like milk. Also, it would make me a big ol’ hypocrite. So instead I’m going to ask, why would the sort of man who wants to declare his own PIMPitude and ownership of Bitches nevertheless choose to declare this aspect of his personality with something that is, well, pink? Is the femininity supposed to somehow neutralize the misogyny of the rest, to make the whole thing “satire” or “a joke” so that it can reasonably be displayed in public? Misogyny and femininity, going together like matter and antimatter to make nothing. (Except don’t those explode?)

Or is there some other subtext that I’m missing?

I’m not sure. I am, however, sure about this one:


Sign 4: NOTICE: Sexual harassment in this area will not be reported. However, it will be “graded.”

Yeah, this shit is 100% reprehensible. The idea of a “safe zone” for harassers is absolutely terrifying to me. Sexual harassment is almost never reported as is– propagating the idea that it shouldn’t be reported at all only makes people’s lives less safe. Also, making sexual harassment into a joke, like it’s no big deal and never scary or hurtful for its victim, is, uh, bad. When the joke is that sexual harassment shouldn’t be avoided, but rather, scored, and presumably practised for improvement? That’s… worse.

Words fail me.

But no worries, everyone, these signmakers are totally not sexist or anything! (Like, where did you get that idea?!) I mean, look: GURLZ RULE!


By… humorously decapitating a Generic Dude stick figure. By slapping him? Because the world is a zero-sum game, and for a “girl” to “rule” she has to violently attack men. While wearing a skirt, to mark her as the Other kind of person, you know, the sex class, whatchamacallits, girls.

….That’s almost like saying that women are human!

Also note that this sign is on the lowest rack of the stand, and was turned toward the wall until I rotated it for a picture. Whereas the first two were aimed out the window at incoming customers…

I think I’m going to stick to my current form of slightly-cheesy wall-adornment:


Yeeeah. That’s the ticket.

I’ve got one of these on my closet wall. Jealous? Damn right you are! I have a tin Rosie the Riveter lunchbox too, and I used it to bring my lunch to school through all of high school. I should bust it out again; my life should have more Rosie in it.

Because these days, it takes a Ms. Bitch like Rosie to convince me that We Can Do It, and to give me any hope at all. The rest of the world seems to hold a dissenting opinion.


Wooo, I hit terminal sexism capacity before I even made it out of my driveway!

April 3, 2009

I tuned into a local station on the radio today, because they usually play Led Zeppelin every morning at nine, and the hosts were celebrating National Cleavage Day by offering prizes to listeners if they sent in photos of their cleavage.

Well, I’m not a hundred percent certain that I’ve grasped the details of the contest, or which of my two favourite stations it was, or else they’d be getting some pretty damn angry letters. But here’s what my morning was like:

I tuned in, and they had a woman on the phone, and they were asking her about her appearance; they asked if she wore “mom jeans” and then berated her, “your jeans button isn’t supposed to be above your belly button, Soo-see!” (They were also mocking her for saying her name, Suzy, with an S sound instead of a Z). I was ready to change stations already; she was clearly uncomfortable, laughing but not speaking, and their tone was not friendly. Then they asked her what her cleavage was like, and when she laughed nervously and didn’t answer, they said, “oh, but you have body issues, don’t you, all women have body issues.” They heckled her a little more about her breasts and I changed stations in disgust.

All my other favourite stations were on commercial, so I tried switching back. “Just take a camera, point it towards your knees” — vicious laughter, and a moan from the female caller — “and take a picture of your cleavage, and we’ll send you–” and here I turned the radio off completely. I kind of wish I’d listen to the whole thing, so I’d know what they were offering in return for these vaguely-coerced cleave photos, but, well, I’d just woken up. I usually liked that station. I couldn’t take it. Whatever it was, it was probably the same as the assorted prizes they’ve been giving out all week to whoever called in seventh after a certain song. Only today, you are also supposed to send them pictures of your breasts.

I can’t wait until the NPR fundraising drive ends and they start playing classical music again; I need at least one radio station to listen to that won’t offend me.

Jo, Zane, Eureka, and dealing with sexist jerks.

August 25, 2008

So, I just finished watching “E=MC…?”, a mid-season-2 episode of Eureka, in which particle physicist and bad boy Zane Donovan comes to town to join Global Dynamics. Since he is a convicted felon (lots of hacking and stealing millions of dollars) Jack has to keep an eye on him until he feels he can be trusted. Zane is locked up in the jail cell, which is in the middle of the sheriff’s office.

This being Eureka, weird stuff starts going down, they really need a particle physicist, Zane saves the day, blah blah blah, hurray. What I really want to talk about is the subplot.

You see, Zane isn’t a nice guy. He hacks into the internet using the TV remote (it’s a special Eurekan TV remote) and uses Jack’s credit card to have all sorts of things delivered to the jail cell, where, aparently, none of the FedEx guys noticed that he was in jail, and not Jack. But Zane also sexually harasses Jo, like, a lot.

When he’s redecorating his cell, he orders twenty-seven boxes worth of lingerie, and leers, “I had to guess at the size. You should probably try them all on. I’ll make popcorn.” (The delivery guy is also a sexist ass about the situation, but he is quelled by Jo’s unamused glare.) Later, we get a sexy close-up of Jo’s ass, and a pan up her back, which is curved since she’s leaning in to use her computer (it’s a completely gratuitous shot– a normal person would sit in the chair, not stand next to it and lean at a 90-degree angle.) While the camera is doing its luxurious pan, Zane leers and asks, “You’re wearing one of my gifts right now, aren’t you? It’s okay, you can tell me.”

Now, Jo is a very self-assured, strong woman. She’s heavily armed and can probably kill people with her bare hands. She does not like Zane. The first thing he says to her is some kind of stupid come on about people who are obsessed with guns being sexually unsatisfied, and she promptly aims the gun she was cleaning right at him. Jack says no shooting the prisoners, not even winging him a bit, and Jo drops it.

But Zane doesn’t learn the lesson. Jo is angry with him when the lingerie arrives, and she uses their special Eurekan tracking bracelet to shock him quite painfully when he makes his lewd comment about wearing his gift.

Now, the harassment is pretty much harmless, since, as explained above, Jo is in a pretty solid position of authority over him. But it’s still harassment, and it still made me feel very uncomfortable, because the show was acting like it was the same as Zane generically insulting Jack. But I figured that stealing Jack’s credit card information (and essentially ruining his credit rating) is a pretty equal invasion compared to sexual harassment– both passive-aggressive ways of taking power from authority figures. So I decided, whatever, Zane’s an asshole, and specifically a sexist asshole. People like that exist.

But then, then!, during the cheerful we-saved-the-world ending scene, Jack sees Zane eyeing Jo, and he says, “Take her to the ballet.” He encourages Zane to ask her out, as opposed to condemning him for sexual harassment, which is, by the way, a crime!

I want to make this clear: Zane was not flirting with Jo. Their subplot was not a romantic subplot! Zane harassed Jo, and Jo couldn’t get him to stop so she put up with it. It was a problem. It was not romantic. And framing it was somehow romantic, or fighting-because-they-like-each-other, or anything but sexual harassment, does a real disservice to women in Jo’s situation everywhere who are told to take a compliment, don’t overreact, it just means he admires you.

Sexual harassment is not a compliment. It is about forcing a woman to realize that you have power over her. In this case, I’d say that Zane was reminding Jo that even though she was supposedly in power, he was in control of their situation, and he could say anything he liked about her body and she couldn’t make him respect her privacy.

I was actually thinking when the subplot first started that someone was going to punch him for all the inappropriate advances. I thought I’d be writing about a concept Girls Read Comics wrote about a while back– it’s like a corollary to Chekhov’s Gun: if you show a hero putting up with a sexist jerk in the first act, she must kick his ass in the third act. Usually in superhero comics, it seems, the problem is that the superhero’s boyfriend or father or a random guest hero do all the ass-kicking, which is unfair to the hero in question. I thought that Jack, or maybe Fargo (who has a sweet possibly-reciprocated crush on Jo) would be punching Zane after he crossed some kind of line.

I did not expect everyone to act like Zane was a normal boyfriend-prospect who’d merely been complimenting a girl he liked. Eew.