"Why my body does not exist for your viewing pleasure"

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Michelle
"Why my body does not exist for your viewing pleasure"

Great blog post!

Michelle

Why my body doesn't exist for your viewing pleasure: An open letter to Ian Brown and friends

Hard to pick out just a couple of paragraphs to quote - the whole blog post is worth quoting!

Quote:

I'm gonna go ahead and make some assumptions about the series of events which led Brown to write such a thoughtless and offensive article in the first place:

1) Brown leaves house.

2) Brown stares at 20-year-old ass.

3) Brown sexualizes 20-year-old ass.

4) Because Brown is turned on and, as we've learned many times over, anything that provides erections is GOOD and TRUE and NATURAL and JUSTIFIED he is led to not only defend and justify his pervy behaviour but also find other men and women to argue that, in fact, he is doing women a favour by staring at and sexualizing 20-year-old ass.

5) The Globe and Mail is run by like-minded dudes and still believes that white men should have the space to write 1,500 words on why 58-year-old dudes have the right and obligation to stare at 20-year-old ass and, one would assume, have few to no feminist-minded women on their staff (or, at least, in any positions of power on their staff) to say: "Hey guys! This article is gross!" And it goes to print. Easy peasy.

And I love this:

Quote:

It's not that Brown wasn't able to find folks who agree with his thesis, which I summarize as such: "It is not only biologically natural for me to objectify much younger women, but they actually like it." He does find men and even women to help ease the little guilt, shame, and uncertainty he may have around his fetishization of the female body. His male friends are, unsurprisingly, just like him. They support his hopeful thesis that says: "this is not only right and natural, but good."

For example:

[Y] holds up his BlackBerry. "I don't see what's wrong with it. In a world where, thanks to this thing, I am only two clicks away from double penetration and other forms of pornographic nastiness, the act of merely looking at a girl who is naturally pretty -- I mean, we should celebrate that."

Another friend takes it further. Acting as though the objectification is a compliment:

"Beautiful women are like flowers," W interjects. "They turn to the sun. But if they don't receive a certain amount of attention, they wither."

Oh dude. You are so right. If you don't stare at my ass I will actually die.

Ha! :D

But you know what wiped the smile off my face?  The first two commenters under her article are total assholes.  The final two are relatively clueless.  Gawd, it's like reading the Toronto Star comments.

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

I alerted on those first two comments(does the alert feature work on that part of the website yet?  It didn't for a long time).

milo204

when i read this article in the globe this morning the first thing that came to mind was how creepy this guy was.  There's nothing wrong with briefly admiring someone who is physically attractive, but this guy seems to be the leering type. i mean, he wrote an article to try and justify it in a national paper...

it's like he's saying "hey young ladies, when you're like 50, you're going to be BEGGING for all that unwanted attention you get now, so stop complaining and get it while you can!..."

and what prompted this article?  did he just get reamed out by someone for staring at them or something?

a very strange article indeed...

Caissa

When I read the article, I kept wondering why a Globe editor didn't kill it before it was printed.

Slumberjack

A leering 50 year old man, and...say...an 18 year old female relative of his, perhaps his daughter.  Would the article have been written differently?  What might he say about his daughter's right to step out of her house without being visually dressed down by every greying middle aged male she might encounter on any given day?  Maybe it's a school teacher, someone in a position of authority, the next door neighbor, the bus driver, the repairman he's just hired to enter his house to perform work.

Fidel

Manipulative uncle-boyfriend and vulnerable, pubescent teenaged daughter. Pond life everywhere.

Slumberjack

The obvious qualifiers that anyone might put in place where it concerns someone close to themselves, only makes the entire rationale suitable for a toss out of the nearest window, along with everything else wrong with it.

Unionist

I agree with everything said above. The only part I don't get about Meghan Murphy's article is the focus on age difference. What does that add? Is there something more offensive about a 20-year-old being ogled by a 58-year-old than by a 28-year-old? As writer said, "a creep at any age".

 

writer writer's picture

I remember Brown spouting this horseshit on Morningside, with Peter Gzowski jollying it along. Not a huge surprise that a young ogler, enabled and supported by peers to the degree that it's been part of his professional reputation/mythology for decades, has evolved into an old ogler.

A creep at any age.

Life, the unive...

On a day when I woke up hopeful I read trash like this and dispair.  Goddess will we ever learn?

Merowe

First a disclosure: i know Ian Brown slightly and generally hold his work in high regard. The article in The Globe and Mail is a piece of seasonal fluff that simply does not support the grim baggage it pleases Ms.Murphy to heap upon it.

But I'm a male and this is the feminism forum. After discussion with my 78 year old mother who had also read both pieces, SHE wrote the following, and I include it with her permission, since my own language was less subtle (the word 'horseshit' featured prominently): 

This blog is really rather sad. All over the world, including in Canada, children, women and , yes, men, are being subjected to extreme forms of sexual abuse. Many good people are aware of it and doing their best to prevent it, or to help the victims of it.
Meanwhile in this country a decent man writes a gentle, truthful, rueful article about the pleasure of looking at good-looking women, - and is immediately subjected to an hysterical torrent of outrage.

Could we have a sense of proportion here? If "a cat may look at a king" surely a man can glance approvingly at a woman, or vice versa? Looking in itself does no harm. We have a choice whether or not to be annoyed by it, to interpret it as we are inclined. That remains in our power. Why give that power away? Why choose to get our knickers in a twist about it?

As an elderly woman I've had my share of appreciative looks, and now have fewer than I used to. Neither the looks, nor the absence of them, ever seemed important. Sometimes they amused me, sometimes pleased me, mostly they were insignificant. Certainly I never felt that my essential sense of self was at their mercy, as this blogger seems to do. Why does she choose to cede her self-possession to something so trivial?

Men and women are likely to go on finding each other's appearance attractive. That's how the species continues, giving rise to a lot of perfectly harmless pleasure along the way. Let's celebrate that harmlessness - there are a lot worse things going on in our world, among which I'm inclined to include that sour puritanism which finds its satisfaction in displays of self-righteous rage.

 

Slumberjack

Merowe wrote:
If "a cat may look at a king" surely a man can glance approvingly at a woman, or vice versa?

The opposite of that would be, 'disapprovingly.'  A suitable candidate, or not, based on a leer.

writer writer's picture

Another fave: How Ian never noticed a terrorist show evidence of humour. The feature came along with a big image of a very particular kind of "terrorist". Shortly after the twin towers came down. Seasonal, perhaps?

And who can forget the interview (again, on CBC radio!) where Ian claimed women can't deal with risk and danger, which is why they don't like organized sports? Oh, how I enjoyed that gem. 

How this garbage is considered journalism or informed opinion, I will never begin to understand.

writer writer's picture

Gee, I've met Ian a couple of times, and he's still been spouting this crap (seasonally?) for years. And this crap is part of the toxic environment women's lives are poisoned with. During the aforementioned Morningside item a couple of decades ago, I have a vivid memory of Ian bullying a younger man who had the temerity to insist he did *not* sexualize every woman who walked by him, mentally calculating whether she was someone he'd want to screw. "Come on!" said Mr. Brown.

Yes, how adorable. Count me uptight, I guess. Let your mom know.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Yep, there's no room to cut Ian any slack. This is about male heterosexual erotic entitlement and this is merely one of its many forms. It's a rather nostalgic form, in which simply getting away with sexualizing every woman you see is not enough: no, Mr. Brown must turn erotic entitlement into a social good.

I think this also has to do with the fact that Mr. Brown really, really wishes he had a column in the Times, the Guardian or the Independent and not the damnable Globe & bloody Mail.

Lachine Scot

http://jezebel.com/5896523/the-top-29-reasons-why-its-okay-to-creepily-s...

The Top 29 Reasons Why It's Okay to Creepily Stare at Women's Butts

I've never held a particularly strident stance on the issue of men staring at women in public-sometimes it's fine, mostly it's creepy, and the difference hinges on a jillion subjective subtleties. Some women like it, plenty of women do it to men (irrelevant! Power differential!), and anyway, if we make having eyeballs a crime then only criminals will have eyeballs. SCIENCE FACT. So as long as women's voices are being heard and considered (you know, the women who don't feel comfortable being publicly roped into every stranger's sexual fantasy) and men at least try to keep it on the civilized side of creepy, then whatever. Have at it.

However! That was the old me, before I read this article in Toronto's Globe & Mail, which I cannot prove wasn't originally written on the flayed skin of a missing prostitute. Titled "Why men can't-and shouldn't-stop staring at women," the piece attempts to make a reasoned argument for why the male gaze isn't creepy (in fact, men are doing society hella favors!), but instead reads like an episode of Law & Order: SVU (one of the ones where Liv uses her sexuality as a weapon and it backfires and Elliot has to rescue her). If you need me, I will be joining one of those weird churches where they live in a corn field and dress like unyielding Victorian governesses. Has anyone seen my crinoline starch???

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

If anyone is still wondering what "rape culture" means, the piece by Brown, and the varying defences of it, are perfect examples.

Maysie Maysie's picture

And speaking of rape culture, consent is hot, assault is not. Perfect timing to share this amazing poster that came by my FB newsfeed the other day.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Maysie wrote:
If anyone is still wondering what "rape culture" means, the piece by Brown, and the varying defences of it, are perfect examples.

Indeed. I just made a comment on the blog itself prompted by this comment. The first two comments, now removed, were violently offensive and attacked Murphy personally. The other comments are less violent, but still seek to vindicate Brown in some way and variously accuse Murphy of some other sin: ageism, "bigger fish to fry," etc. See? We're conditioned to attack and criticize those who even expose rape culture, let alone question it.

Freedom 55

Catchfire wrote:

The first two comments, now removed

 

Good. Does that mean that flagging comments on rabble's main page works, or was this an extraordinary circumstance?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Yes, it "works" in that Rebecca and I can see the comments from stories and blogs flagged as offensive. Usually our practice is just to remove bad posts and ban the user but we won't intervene the way we do here. So it's likely that more borderline offensive posts will simply go unremarked.

West Coast Greeny

 

 

As a guy; looking, sidelong glancing,  etc., is all well and good and a natural part of flirting between the sexes, but this article creeps me the fuck out.

Quote:
“It's because you could be her father,” I finally manage to say.

“Yeah,” X replies. “But you're not.”

Oh thank God. I for a second he was going to start empathising with what SHE thought.

Quote:

“Beautiful women are like flowers,” W interjects. “They turn to the sun. But if they don't receive a certain amount of attention, they wither.” The simile has an 18th-century feel, like the conversation: It's about manners, after all, which are always most complicated in times of equality.

Yes. Treating women like equals is SO COMPLICATED.

 

 

Freedom 55

Catchfire wrote:

Yes, it "works" in that Rebecca and I can see the comments from stories and blogs flagged as offensive. Usually our practice is just to remove bad posts and ban the user but we won't intervene the way we do here. So it's likely that more borderline offensive posts will simply go unremarked.

 

Ok, thanks. I wasn't quite sure how that all worked.

/drift

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

And, Ian, if you're reading this thread, and you truly MUST have a 20-year-old ass to stare at...well, here you go, buddy:

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

I do wonder how Ian might react if, say, Scott Thompson or Rufus Wainwright were to write a similar piece about gay men defending their inability to stop staring at straight men's butts, and insisting that, someday, the straight men would miss the attention(obviously, neither Scott nor Rufus would write that, but go with me on this as a hypothetical).

(corrected to remove bizarre grammatical error I just discovered).

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

...

6079_Smith_W

Ken Burch wrote:

....neither Scott nor Rufus would write that.

An important point. Or if they did  it would at least be interesting and funny.

It's one thing for someone to not realize or not give a shit about what others might think of his writing. It's quite another for an editor to have the brilliant idea that it might be something everyone wants to read over tea and toast.

Ian Brown is into voyeurism? Well, I suppose that is a matter between him and people who have to deal with it. But if he had any intentions of getting some dark glasses and being subtle about it, this article was not the way to do it.  And if he thinks he is blowing the lid off a dirty little secret all men share he has a way over-inflated opinion of his own brilliance. 

Having to read him getting all sentimental about whatever it is that turns him on is nothing short of embarrasing. I don't need to know that about my family or my friends and I certainly don't need to know it about some geezer I don't even know who is being paid far too much for this self-indulgent crap.

As for the Grope and Flail, I just have to shake my head and wonder what they were thinking, and how they did not realize that it would get the furious reaction from some that it has.

Or maybe they 're trying to get nominated for the Literary Bad Sex award.

(edit)

I have been thinking about what bugs me about this, because it doesn't anger me;  I think of it more as pathetic and ignorant. The fact that he's into voyeurism doesn't actually offend me..

But  there are people who are far more persecuted and who are ostracized even within ostracized groups, and who carry themselves with a lot more dignity and respect.

So to have some fool come along and make out like the most conventional, privileged, and often the most inconsiderate of indulgences - that of the voyeuristic man - is somehow persecuted and misunderstood, is just self-indulgent. Hell, they have a booming industry set up to indulge that fetish. 

What exactly is he complaining about? That some people are offended or don't get how important he thinks his hobby is? Well he can deal with it by not offending others, or if he can't manage that, growing a thick skin. But to expect to have it both ways is petulant.

 

 

 

 

milo204

or they knew exactly what kind of response this would generate and are watching their ad revenue soar to new heights.  more traffic more money...

writer writer's picture

Speaking of rape culture and guy culture, I can't recommend this highly enough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYhaodUPqSU

6079_Smith_W

milo204 wrote:

or they knew exactly what kind of response this would generate and are watching their ad revenue soar to new heights.  more traffic more money...

If it were a video by some new band perhaps, but I can't see anything marketable, or any advantage at all in running this fool's tired old ramblings. Like really, who would want to associate their advertising with that tired and jaded  BS? Someone clearly was thinking too much about not offending the columnist, and not enough about what was actually appropriate for the pages of a mainstream newspaper. 

(edit)

Something that takes Mr. Brown's obsession to an even more invasive level:

http://www.cultofmac.com/157641/this-creepy-app-isnt-just-stalking-women...

Didn't they outlaw an app in France because it targetted ethnicity? I suppose it is too much to expect similar consideration in this case.

Tommy_Paine

"And often, when I am attracted to a man, I will look at his face and talk to him as though he is human. I don't tend to see them as things which exist simply for me to look at."

And that's what is happening at an accelorated pace.   From a male perspective, sex is becoming a spectator sport.  Something to look at, not something to participate in.  Devoid of human interaction.

That's the curious thing, from a male perspective, on the objectification of women.  It actually leads to less actual real sex.  Masturbation I would guess, ever on the increase.  Kevin Spacey in the shower and the highlight of his day.

And, certainly within most lifetimes here, we are going to have robots, available for sale that are "anatomically correct" with programable personalities.

No joke.  Just like porn drove the internet, so will porn bots drive robotics. 

All because men, for the most part deep down fear women.  Fear the interaction.  Fear the fact that in spite of the special place a guy thought he occupied in the universe, that actual, real human interaction with women will shatter that illusion.

So, best just oggle. 

 

Slumberjack

Tommy_Paine wrote:
All because men, for the most part deep down fear women.  Fear the interaction.  Fear the fact that in spite of the special place a guy thought he occupied in the universe, that actual, real human interaction with women will shatter that illusion. 

There are certain interactions that can reinforce the thought that one occupies some special place in the universe, but from another point of view of course.  It's not only about the fear of shattered illusions.

MegB

Ken Burch wrote:

I do wonder how Ian might react if, say, Scott Thompson or Rufus Wainwright were to write a similar piece about gay men defending their inability to stop staring at straight men's butts, and insisting that, someday, the straight men would miss the attention(obviously, neither Scott nor Rufus would write that, but go with me on this as a hypothetical).

 

I understand your point, but there's really no comparison.  The point isn't about the action itself, it's about a power dynamic, patriarchy, socio-historic context of the subjugation of women by men and the sexual objectification of women, by heterosexual men within the same context.

A gay man sexually objectifying or simply appreciating a straight man's ass is a thought/desire process that has a societal "equal" as its object.  There is also the age factor.  Women are deemed less attractive as they age (a thoroughly pervasive societally reinforced idea) whereas men are not.  Examples of such too numerous to list.

What I feel is even more important than these concepts (elucidated by people far more articulate than I) is the fact that this misogynist article was written to be published/disseminated and was in fact published by a major national daily.  It perpetuates something deeply offensive and morally corrupt.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

I used that particular example because I was looking for something that might feel as uncomfortable to somebody like Ian. 

You're right that the piece is offensive and corrupt...it's pretty much about gender privelege.