drgrainnemcmahon

researcher, feiminist

April 3, 2016
by grainnemcmahon
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SPIN: more getting women on tv very, very wrong

On feimineach: SPIN: more getting women on TV very, very wrong

I mainlined Spin series 2 on Walter Presents.

*Do not read this if you haven’t watched it.*

It’s a cut and thrust, wheel and deal, dog eat dog, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, French, political drama. There are few things that I like more than that but I had to suspend all of my feminist sensibilities to be able to watch it at all. I promised myself that I wouldn’t “do feminism” on it but here I am regardless. (Feminist analyses are just like the hiccups, really: uncomfortable, concerning, infuriating, and like the divil himself to stop.)

There were several criticisms about the representation of women in Spin series 1. For starters, all of the women there were in some way dependent on their menfolk (Valentine on Pierre*, Appoline on Simon, yer woman who was the candidate on just about everyone, really) and much too capitulating. It was a valid enough criticism but I could get over it for the odd glimmer of fight and rebellion. Juliette, the daughter, was irredeemable but she was young and selfish and we were all that once.

Series 2 took the biscuit, though.

The journalist, Appoline (different actor), was still knocking about and still capitulating to her ex-husband, Simon. She had, finally, kicked him and their “every other Tuesday night visits” to the kerb but she still relied on him as her source and green light. I get that terrorist incidents are delicate and that journalists are confined by the boundaries set down by the establishment but it was always personal for Appoline. Because she’s a woman, see. For Simon, it was always business. Appoline was even told by her (male) editor that she always had to get personal. It’s probably her hormones.

The common law wife, Rose, was vain and silly, and then used and discarded. Just like she deserved, amirite?

(Rest.)

April 3, 2016
by grainnemcmahon
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These discussions have framed Clinton as just a woman who deserves certain votes

On A Room of Our Own and feimineach: These discussions have framed Clinton as just a woman who deserves certain votes

We reached the stage where this discussion about Hillary and the women vote has become “this old chestnut” already. That’s how much it’s done the rounds.

There’s an assumption that women (and particularly young women, for reasons unexplained) should vote for Clinton in the November elections, unquestioningly, and, if they don’t, there’s something wrong with her, them, or both (but probably them). Commentators consistently fall back on Madeline Albright’s claim that there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”. Unequivocal support for other women might be what people think is central to feminist practice but it’s not (well, it might be if your brand of feminism is the one which claims that women doing anything is ok). I don’t have any particular feelings about Clinton, I should add, but expecting women – and particularly those who call themselves feminists, how very dare they – to support her just because she’s a woman (for that is the call here) is reductionist and tokenistic and is undermining her whole campaign. These discussions have framed Clinton as just a woman who deserves certain votes, rather than what she is – a politician with viable platform.

(Rest.)

April 3, 2016
by grainnemcmahon
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Game of Thrones, rape, and violence against women and girls

On A Room of Our Own and feimineach: Game of Thrones, rape, and violence against women and girls

I’m THIS CLOSE to giving up on Frones completely because of its plot-point, titilation rape scenes (and I haven’t even got to all of *that* scene in the latest series). In the linked piece below, Sarah Ditum on the newstatesman talks rape, gender disparity, and misogyny. If I’m honest, I think that she’s watched some of the rape scenes closer than I have for there is only so much I can bear. She points out, for example, that in *that* rape scene with Sansa (which I gather lasts for most of the episode), a lot of the focus is on Theon’s reaction, because the programme makers believe that a man’s reaction to rape is more important than a woman’s brutal experience of it.

The rape scene that closed out this week’s episode of Game of Thrones is probably only the third worst act of sexual violence against a major female character we’ve seen in the series. The wave of revulsion it’s kicked off is at least in part because Game of Thrones has now unambiguously become the kind of show for which it’s necessary to maintain a critical ranking of acts of sexual violence against major female characters. But it’s not as though we weren’t warned – and by “we”, I mean viewers like me who’ve fastidiously hoarded the benefit of the doubt while the programme recklessly mixed grisly violations with the tits-out titillation that is the USP of cable television.

[…] But the programme makers had the choice of whether to make us watch or not, and they put us right there in the room, camera focused lasciviously on her suffering face. Even worse though is that they put Sansa’s stepbrother Theon in the room as a witness, and made his anguish at watching her rape the closing note of the programme. Apparently violence against a woman counts for more if it distresses a man.

And this is where I’m at with my concerns about violence against women and girls on television. I wrote here, ages ago, about what I consider responsible and irresponsible depictions of rape on television. Love/ Hate got it sort of right; True Detective got it very, very wrong. But Game of Thrones is in a league of its very own. Not only does it, as Ditum argues, ask the viewer to suspend a lot of disbelief when “decent” characters rape, suggesting that it’s shoe-horned in for other reasons (titillation), but it’s reached the stage where it’s now possible or even likely that there will be a rape or other act of sexual violence in every episode. It’s that common. (I wonder if anyone has ever done the math. Perhaps one in four women will be raped in her lifetime in Game of Thrones like they are in, you know, real life.) And, further, we seem to be asked to wade past the perfectly toned and no doubt titillating bodies of the victims in such scenes (scenes which are often positioned alongside other scenes in which other perfectly toned and titilating bodies are enjoying themselves) to see the brutality of the act. You’ll forgive me for questioning how many viewers do the wading. That’s not just irresponsible television; it’s misogynistic and dangerous.

(Rest.)

April 3, 2016
by grainnemcmahon
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On that reproducibility in psychology study

On feimineach: On that reproducibility in psychology study

The feministphilosophers take on the recent claim from a study published in Science (Reproducibility in Psychology – Nosek et al, 2015) that some research in psychology is not replicable (i.e. the same findings are not found over repeated, similar investigations) and, therefore, invalid. At least that’s the way it’s being reported in articles such as this on Slate which states that,

If it feels like you can find a study to back up any harebrained idea these days, you actually might be right, a new study says. On Thursday we, as humans, arrived at the zenith of irony when a study of studies was published and found—you guessed it—many studies were totally full of it, and overstated their findings. To be fair, the Reproducibility Project investigation, led by a University of Virginia psychologist did not set out to debunk every study in every discipline and only dealt with psychological-based studies published in three leading journals. The critique focused on social science research, so this does not necessarily disprove either of the studies you just read saying seven cups of coffee a day will, and will not, make you live longer.

It’s a bit harsh, I know.

There are two related points to be made here. For me, the Science study’s claims that many psychology research studies are not as valid as first reported is worrying for the research community. Well, no, it’s rather the damning coverage from Slate and the like that is most damaging because most readers will not (and why should they, I suppose) wade through the sensationalist headline and claims. Also, most people will not consider what we need or want research to do.

(Rest.)

June 26, 2015
by grainnemcmahon
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Young people in care and offending: a broken system

On View from the North: Offending rates among children in care investigated

On the 23rd of June, 2015, the Prison Reform Trust launched a review to examine why children aged 10 to 17 who are in care are more likely to offend than children who are not in care. [1] The Trust acknowledges that the majority of young people in care do not offend or come into contact with the youth justice system; however, “children and young people who are, or have been, in care are over five times more likely than other children to get involved in the criminal justice system.” The Trust continues: “In a 2013 survey of 15-18 year olds in young offender institutions, a third of boys and 61% of girls said they had spent time in care. This is despite fewer than 1% of all children in England being in care.”  The review aims to identify why young people in care are disproportionately represented in the youth justice system and, importantly, how to respond to this problem.

The Trust’s claims are alarming but they are not new. Looked after children and care leavers have long been over-represented in Britain’s prisons. For example, research published by the Social Exclusion Unit in 2002 suggested that 27% of the adult prison population had once been in care [2] while surveys of 15-18 year olds in prison suggest that anywhere between one-quarter and one-half of young people have been in care. [3] Previous research has frequently tried to quantify and categorise the links between being in care, offending behaviour and contact with the youth justice system. These ‘risk factors’ for offending are complex and numerous [4] while many of the risk factors associated with crime are also associated with becoming looked after. [5] They include: coming from a household with low income and a large family; experiencing parental neglect, family conflict and disruption; becoming disengaged from school and performing poorly at school; and exhibiting a high likelihood of aggression and conduct disorder. [6]

(Rest.)

February 13, 2015
by grainnemcmahon
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Harriet: pink or magenta, it’s still patronising and sexist

On View from the North: Harriet: pink or magenta, it’s still patronising and sexist

I was asked on a comment elsewhere today: “I wonder what Elizabeth Cady Stanton would think of it all?” Good question, I thought.

Though the question related to another issue, it could easily be asked also about Labour’s Harriet Harman’s new initiative to engage women voters: a pink campaign bus. Harman claims:

The message she wanted to get across to women was: “Use your vote, use your voice because politics is too important to be left to only men voting.”

She’s right that women must use their voice by voting for what’s important to them but she’s misguided if she thinks that touring in a pink bus will help make a difference. Worse, she’s amplifying a culture that infantilises women and girls.

Pink is for girls; blue is for boys

Harman told Sky News that, “It’s not about a colour; it’s about something, it’s about our democracy. It’s a small bus but big issues” (emphasis added). Harman came in for such criticism on her launch that it’s not surprising that she tried to backtrack but, regardless, the reaction to the campaign is very much about colour.

(Rest.)

January 21, 2015
by grainnemcmahon
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Feminists doing feminism all wrong (or so we’re told)

On feimineach.com: Feminists doing feminism all wrong (or so we’re told)

ETA: despite the several hateful and humiliating machinations by The Sun this week, this is all still very relevant.

Small victories, right? There’s nothing so controversial as a small victory for feminism. They’re good, sort of, but then why did feminists bother doing this and not that? In fact, why didn’t the lazy fuckers do both? And why didn’t they sort out ALL social justice gripes while they were at it? glosswatch.

The demise of Page 3 yesterday (praise the gods) didn’t please everyone. There were complaints from Page 3 fans whose every day from now until the end of time will never be the same, and there were accusations of censorship, and there were quite a lot of “clever” arguments about how the #NoMorePage3 campaign had put 100s of women out of work. (That’ll get ’em, lads!) All of those are obvious though. What was less predictable – and all the more insidious for it – was the criticism that in campaigning for #NoMorePage3, feminists (for it is they who did it) were neglecting all of the much more important and pressing social issues which need their attention. This is something we hear a lot. The “devil’s advocate” is always full of ideas for what we should be doing. (Rest.)

October 12, 2014
by grainnemcmahon
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Love/ Hate : more on TW’s violence against women (tw)

On feimineach.com: Love/ Hate : more on TW’s violence against women (tw)

Ages ago, I wrote about the very problematic portrayal of women’s bodies, and violence against women, in True Detective and TV in general. This post is on the same theme.

Love/ Hate is a crime/ gangland drama set in Dublin. It’s not often that an exportable (and/ or popular) drama is made in Ireland so I try to tune in if one crops up. I asked people in Ireland about Love/ Hate, however, and they all said the same thing to me: “No, it’s not for you. You’d hate it. It’s violent and its portrayal of women characters and experiences is often misogynistic.” That was enough to put me off. I read up about the series and agreed with my advisers. There was one scene – a rape scene – which has been written about more than others. Indeed, the series received most of its criticism because of that scene. But I was intrigued. I am not shy about violence on television (though I don’t enjoy it) and I wanted to see how it was portrayed by Irish writers, producers and directors, in Ireland.

Love/ Hate (needless to add, there are spoilers ahead) is a slick, fast-paced, beautifully-shot intense and affecting drama. I cannot speak to its accuracy in terms of gangland activity in Dublin (for I know little about it) but I would be surprised if it wasn’t a little farcical, convenient, and silly. Nonetheless, I don’t doubt that its portrayal of frequent, brutal, and indiscriminate violence is realistic, at least for the most part. (Pick up a copy of the Irish Times any day of the week to read all about it, as they say, media representations and bias notwithstanding.)

The series’ female characters are secondary, always, and are there only for titillation or to explicate the men’s stories. They seldom (three times, I can recall) have scenes without the male characters and, if they do, they are talking about men and their relationships with men. But I didn’t start this series expecting it to pass the Bechdel Test.

There is a lot of violence against women in Love/ Hate: inter-personal violence within a relationship, implied abuse of sex workers, stalking and intimidation, and, of course, that rape scene.(Rest.)

July 12, 2014
by grainnemcmahon
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Violence against women: TV’s shame. Enough is enough.

On A Room of Our Own: Violence against women: TV’s shame. Enough is enough.

I’ve just finished watching True Detective. I started watching it, twice, but left it both times because of the ways in which violence against women, and women characters, were being portrayed.* In terms of the violence, I could see (I think) that they were trying to offer a disturbing portrayal of the often extreme misogyny-based violence that women suffer. I got that. I could also see that they were, perhaps, offering a critical commentary on a gendered world order which allows that violence to happen. That’s a possibility.

This critique becomes less convincing, though, when we examine the dismissive treatment of the main female characters on the show. Maggie, Marty’s long-suffering wife, whose only agentic act during eight episodes (to sleep with Rust) was, first, explained away as a play to destroy her marriage and, second, reduced to a conversation between Rust and Marty about their friendship. In other words, Maggie’s actions was all about them.

Lisa, Marty’s once affair, was naked for the most part (Marty, on the other hand, was fully clothed) and reduced to a way to explore Marty’s moral compass and, then, some of the stresses on his relationship with Rust. Her last scene in the series – where she literally caused a scene by being a hysterical, screaming woman – was difficult to watch. The agency that she had showed earlier in leaving Marty was removed when she was portrayed as an out-of-control haranguer. Indeed, the violence that Marty had perpetrated on both her and her date was forgotten as it became all about Marty again and his inner struggle. (Rest.)

March 10, 2014
by grainnemcmahon
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Yes, we do still need International Women’s Day

On A Room of Our Own: Yes, we do still nee International Women’s Day

Over on the feimineaching earlier, I posted this link. It was to a piece in the Indy today, entitled, “To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you are the very reason it exists”. Well ain’t that the truth.

I did my usual quickhitting and tweeting on Saturday – International Women’s Day – but I didn’t bother with the day itself so much or with its coverage. It’s not that I don’t support International Women’s Day (there’s very little women’s anything that I don’t support) but this year, it weighed heavily on me that we still need it. There was the usual backlash on twitter from all the detractors. When is International Men’s Day, they asked. Richard Herring handled that much better than I ever could. I, of course, would have responded that every single day is International Men’s Day because this is a patriarchy and that is how it works.

Yesterday, also over on the quickhits, I posted the main findings from a report on violence against women in the EU. The report interviewed 42,000 women across the EU about “their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including incidents of intimate partner violence (‘domestic violence’)”. That’s a good sample size by anyone’s measure so there shouldn’t be any doubt about the findings. (Rest.)