This post is something of a diversion from my usual topics, and also something of a rant.  The usual warnings for language and possible triggers apply.

It is also a topic that I have only been silent on because I could not find the words.  I’ve been trying for most of a year, and I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Transcendancing for reviewing a first draft that bears very little resemblance to this one.

Why Now?

For most of the last year I have been watching a seemingly endless tide of fucktardery directed at women on the internet and elsewhere. Examples that I’ve been watching include:

There are many more incidents that have come up over the last year; these are just the ones I’m rattling off the top of my head.

That scares me.

Why do I care? Why has this made me so angry?

The last incident I mentioned is the one that triggered me to finally write this post.

Many years ago when I was still in Perth I was a member of the community service group Apex Australia.  On one occasion we did some gardening work for a women’s refuge somewhere in Perth [1].

We never saw the residents.  They hid from us the entire time. These women were afraid of us, and the harsh truth that I had to face that day was that they had good reason to be afraid.

It didn’t matter that I was short, fat, and (in my opinion at least) mostly harmless.  They were afraid, and needed to be afraid for their own sake, and for the sake of the children they had with them.

Before I get back to how this changed my thinking let me clearly state this: it is a hard thing to leave a home, even (especially?) an abusive home. In the face of societal and personal pressures it takes a lot of courage to do this.

I believe that those women who seek these sorts of refuges are, in a bitter irony, deeply brave for doing so [2].

In terms of my own thinking this would have been the first time I had to confront the extent to which the world is a different, and darker, place for women as opposed to men.

This was the start of my awareness, and it is the source of my anger at the current series of events that seems to be everywhere on the internet this year.

What have I learnt since?

When I visited that women’s refuge didn’t have the words like rape culture to provide a framework, nor would I have been aware of the concept of privilege [3].

Since then I’ve been groping clumsily towards a better view.  It is a work in progress but best summed up by a bumper sticker I saw once:

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

Call me a bumper sticker feminist.

Women are people [4].

What can I do about this? What can’t I do?

In truth there really isn’t a lot I can do to change the wider attitudes.  To quote an early Anne McCaffrey [5] “A man convinced against his will, is of his own opinion still”.

If there isn’t a willingness to listen, to learn, to visit a women’s refuge and be humbled by the fear, then there isn’t really a lot I can do to convince anyone else to let go of misogyny and hate.

What I can do is control my actions, and maintain this blog as a reasonably safe space for all people to visit and comment in.

In real life I will try to listen to what all people have to say, to treat all people with the respect that their abilities and accomplishments deserve.

Here on Pirates of the Burley Griffin I will moderate comments to ensure an acceptable level of decency, respect and courtesy to all. Note that by “acceptable” I mean acceptable to me.

Last Words

I am a bumper sticker feminist, don’t bother showing up here unless you are too.

[1] Don’t ask for anymore precision than this. A) I don’t remember and B) Even if I did I wouldn’t say.

[2] As a side note I do worry how this incident will affect the perceived safety of these refuges.

[3] Both of those came later, much later, and even now I’m still a dilettante in this space.

[4] Although I haven’t clearly stated this previously this is has been the motivation behind the gender based elements of my anime reviews.

[5] I think that this quote comes from To Ride Pegasus.