Reading The Punch so you don’t have to

One of my favourite things is to take the piss out of The Punch. Unfortunately that means I sometimes have to read it, but usually I can just see what they’ve published and roll my eyes.

Some days I like to call The Punch “I Don’t Know Why People Care About This Issue But I Will Publish Something Anyway And Demonstrate That I Simply Don’t Get It”. Other days I just marvel at how News Ltd gets away with not paying contributors. Sure, there are some good writers who contribute every now and then, but on the whole, it’s pretty blah.

And today we have a piece by GQ Australia‘s chief sub, Nigel Bowen, who demonstrates that making all the required cultural references doesn’t mean you actually understand why they were important: It’s the Return of the Battle of the Sexes.

Don’t let the headline fool you. It’s really just a piece about how women either think all men are rapists, or spend all their time sexting their friends with benefits.

For those of certain age (that is, old enough to have spent any time on a university campus between the early 80s and mid 90s), the controversies of the last few months – the Penny Wong meow-slur, Slutwalk, the Brocial Network, the Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society Facebook page, ADF sex Skyping, Julian Assange’s alleged sexual misconduct – are like déjà vu all over again… Gen X women sure knew how to put on a feminist protest.

Huh? Since when is sexual assault a feminist issue and not a criminal one?

Back then, when what Helen Garner memorably termed “feminism’s grimmer tribes” still wielded considerable cultural and political influence, every female arts student had a copy of The Beauty Myth on her bedside table, all sex was rape, all men were rapists and women wore sensible shoes and expressions of grim determination to marches protesting sexual assault.

Oh dear, where to start with this one? I was at university in the 90s (and the 00s, and the 10s – I’m a sucker for letters after my name) and “all sex was rape”, “all men are rapists” was not a part of the feminism I knew. Perhaps in a small part of radical feminism, but you can’t suggest that they “wielded considerable cultural and political influence”. And would he rather women smiled and giggled when they marched against being raped and sexually assaulted. Would he mock the “expressions of grim determination” of a group of men marching against being raped? (As an aside, it smacks of “honey, smile”, that incredible sense of entitlement that some men show when they tell a woman, a complete stranger, to smile for them.)

Then an Ariel Levy reference, and a reference to Boomer and Gen X feminists (they think “their Gen Y daughters are ungrateful little sluts”) without understanding that women of different age groups have different concerns.

And then this:

Now, much to the surprise of everyone, the girls gone wild of Gen Y have taken a break from sexting their friends-with-benefits and debating which Sex and the City character they most resemble to march in the streets for, erm, no-one’s exactly sure but it definitely seems to be something that would have once been called “a feminist issue”.

No one is sure what SlutWalk is about? Well, fellow Punch writer Tory Shepherd didn’t know but that didn’t stop her publishing something on the topic, but all of the other opinion pieces in the MSM have been pretty clear. Perhaps, Nigel, you should have read at least one of them before demonstrating that you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. It’s a little embarrassing for you.

Oh, and SATC reference, check. Don’t let the fact that it’s a Gen X show, not a Gen Y show, get in the way of making your, um, argument.

Slutwalk is just the latest indication that the battle of the sexes is heating up again over, well, sex.

NO NO NO NO NO. SlutWalk is about demanding an end to our clothing being used to justify someone else’s crime. SlutWalk is about demanding an end to police perpetuating rape myths which stops them responding to crime. SlutWalk is about demanding an end to victims of crime being blamed for what happened to them. SlutWalk is about demanding an end to society shaming women for real or perceived sexual activity (I was called a slut when I was still a virgin).

So, as a veteran of the last war, my advice for the young men of today is this — if you’re dating an arts student, be prepared for her to announce she’s decided to become a radical lesbian-feminist separatist at least once before she graduates.

That was supposed to be witty, wasn’t it?

71 responses to “Reading The Punch so you don’t have to

  1. Facepalm.

    I should probably forward this to my (feminist) boyfriend to let him know that his arts student girlfriend (who owns a copy of The Beauty Myth!) is going to become a radical lesbian feminist separatist at some stage. Or am I one already? I forget.

    • Don’t worry about forgetting. Our puny lady brains do that.

      • I was too busy thinking about lipstick or sample sales or something.

        • Ooh, which reminds me. I need to sext my friend-with-benefits.

        • Rhiannon Saxon

          Speaking of lipstick, (shrilly, probably) am I completely off the planet here but did this bit not make any sense?
          “every female arts student had a copy of The Beauty Myth on her bedside table, all sex was rape, all men were rapists and women wore sensible shoes and expressions of grim determination ”
          i haven’t actually read the Beauty Myth, (but my sister did) but isn’t part of it to do with not having to wear sensible shoes, and that you can be a feminist and still wear make-up etc etc?
          Has whatsisname got his feminist authors (I suppose he has read so many they just blend into one these days) mixed up?

          • No, it’s about how, as women gain more power in other areas of life (ie, the workplace, the law), impossible standards of beauty are used to keep them in line. Mind you, I haven’t read the whole thing…

  2. Rhiannon Saxon

    Holy toot, that was nauseating.
    Soooo much sickeningly matey patronising denigrating CRAP. I prescribe a little lie-down and a nice big drink to take the taste away.
    Great post, thank you!

  3. I’m still trying to shut my gaping mouth and I mean that literally and figuratively.

    • Better be careful Jane, someone might stick a penis in your mouth and it will be your own fault for leaving it open.

      Welcome to the News with Nipples.

      • Ha! Spot on. I just loathe that people get a platform to publish such drivel. Are there no standards at all for research, truthfulness or even coherence?

        • I think The Punch is more interested in hits – pure numbers – than what those hits might mean. Someone posts a link on twitter saying “this is complete rubbish”, others click on it, agree, and go away. That doesn’t do much for your reputation, but if you only want to know about numbers, then it looks like you’re doing well.

  4. I’m glad you read that and not me. And indeed, Andrea Dworkin all-penetration-is-rape feminism was more 70s than 90s, and certainly not in vogue during Gen X university years.

    Mostly it is just the demeaning generalisations about women that make you want to smack him in the head.

    • He reminds me of a guy I went to high school with, who said “the trick to getting hot girls to go out with you is to make them think you’re doing them a favour to be seen with them”.

    • Melissa

      ‘Andrea Dworkin all-penetration-is-rape feminism was more 70s than 90s’

      It was NEITHER 70s NOR 90s, because this kind of feminism never existed. This is what I call a ‘bra-burner’ – i.e. lies told about feminism that have been retold so often that, not only the general population, but even feminists believe them to be true. (And, for the record, feminists never burned their bras.)

      As for Andrea Dworkin, she never said that all penetration is rape, neither did she ever write it, and from all I’ve read by and about her, I can find no evidence whatsoever that she believed it.

      If you don’t like ‘demeaning generalisations about women’, don’t buy into the demeaning lies told about feminisms past and present.

    • Actually in my feminism course at uni in the mid 90s I studies Andrea dworkin and Katherine McKinnon. Mind you I was excited to be able to genuinely write cunt in an essay. On and my German lecturerer had a v ‘Dietrich’ quality to her. She used to pause and start a sentence with ‘so…..pause….’Kant says’ (as in the philosopher) and of course we all giggled cos it sounded like cunt.

  5. I think Nigel Bowen needs to realise most women on Earth don’t have equal rights yet. When I think of Slutwalk I think of all the women who do get raped/beaten/arrested in developing countries because of the way they dress. If more people thought about that, would they be so quick to condemn Slutwalk?

    • I think people like Nigel Bowen need to stop writing about feminism when they clearly don’t know what they’re writing about. After all, I don’t write about economics.

  6. I read that article first thing in the morning – started my day in a very foul mood. But gee, you have a slutwalk and a female politician not taking sexist crap, and watch how quickly they swing into action to try and put us back in our places.

  7. “…my advice for the young men of today is this — if you’re dating an arts student, be prepared for her to announce she’s…”

    Don’t forget: only women study the arts.

    • Rhiannon Saxon

      Shit, you mean all those men in my class were actually women? Hmmm.

    • Also don’t forget: young men only date arts students if the art student is female.

      The homophobia is strong with this one. He used “radical lesbian-feminist” as if all three words were insults.

      The “watch out boys, you might lose your possession girlfriend” attitude turned my stomach.

  8. Thanks for the post (and for reading the Punch for me).
    Spot on. What a useless article.

  9. Awesome. You said it for all of us!

  10. *stabs self in eye with fork*

    Twitter warned me not to read it….thanks for taking one for the team.
    I must be doing modern feminism wrong, I don’t think my teenaged daughter is an ungrateful little slut and I don’t watch SATC.

    OT, I was talking about slutwalk with my kids today. (We miss tomorrows slut walk in Canberra due to kids/man sporting commitments, but I sure as shit wasn’t about to let the opportunity to talk about it slide) I asked my 8 year old what he thought slutwalk was for (this is before getting into lengthy explanations, I was curious as to what he had picked up in the media) he asked me “Is it so people will stop blaming sluts for getting raped?” Now, as crude as his initial assessment was (we have since gone on to explain language choices and what victim blaming actually means), even my 8 year old son gets that slut walk is about putting an end to blaming the victim. (He was actually pissed off that the idea that if his sister, or me- his mother, or Perri his friend, were to wear a short skirt or get drunk that a man could rape us and it would be our fault for wearing the skirt and/or getting drunk.) So if my 8 year old can get it, why can’t the adult journo’s reporting on the issue get it?

    • Rhiannon Saxon

      I am actually getting a little pissed off at the continued thought-bubble that Slutwalk is entirely about ‘reclaiming the word Slut’. Like the whole victim-blaming thing has entirely passed the journalism world by.

      Fantastically well done in having those sorts of conversations with your son, such a refreshing change from the commenters on the Rip ‘n’ Roll news story saying, ‘How can I explain to my nine-year-old daughter what rip ‘n’ roll means?!! It’s pre-sexualising the cheeeeeeeeeldren!”

      My (personal) take on things is – if kids are old enough to ask the questions, they are old enough to hear the answers. One does not have to portray sex as something that is appropriate for children to engage in, to explain reproduction. My kids don’t really know yet how babies are made, but they know they grew in my tummy. (Oldest is five, not interested yet. Although he does know what tampons are for.)
      And certainly issues of gender stereotyping, victim-blaming and casually-offensive language are totally subjects that one should be able to discuss with one’s children!

      • Exactly, talking about sex is not endorsing children having sex.

        You should see the raised eyebrows I get for allowing my daughter to read Scarlet teen. (I mean FFS I am the one who gave her the damn link!)

        Plus, it’s not like I force these issues on them. They are genuinely interested. My 8year olds goal is to improve his spelling so I will let him have a blog so he can talk online about political issues that are important to him as a kid. (Which was all his idea and one that I think is just pretty damn awesome, which I would still think even if he wasn’t my kid.) He knows his own boundaries. Q & A is one of the kids favourite shows..(i love watching them foam at the mouth at the TV when they get pissed off, which is well, regularly!) when Gail Dines was on the 8yo heard the word Porn, rolled his eyes and promptly left the room. Because he wasn’t interested. The two teens had a few OMG that’s so gross moments as Dines went on to elaborate about ATM action and the pitfalls…I could go on, but I am (once again) hijacking Nips’s blog!
        After a conversation like that one though, I think it’s pretty safe to say that my kids are comfortable asking their Dad and me just about anything.

    • Rhiannon Saxon

      Oh yes, I also don’t watch SATC, partly because I find the total inability of men and women to communicate effectively fairly unrealistic and also annoying, but also because…I have such a goddamn chip on my shoulder I cannot STAND watching tv about insanely spoiled overprivileged rich people. They really burn my bread.
      (yes yes, class envy, politics of hated, etc.)
      Actually I WOULD enjoy watching a sitcom based on a community environmental choir of my acquaintance full of interesting, engaged, witty middle-class people from all kinds of backgrounds, many of whom go dumpster-diving after choir practice because they have found a place that regularly throws out hundreds of dollars worth of still-completely-frozen, organic, still-in-use-by meat.
      I think that would be funny and well worth watching. They probably get up to all sorts of tv-worthy shenanigans at folk festivals and the like.
      Sorry I completely digress!

  11. What I always notice about these ‘battle of the sexes’ (or BOTSA) articles is that they are not about the ‘sexes’ at all, but about what women are supposed to really want or not want.

    BOTSAs follow the well-worn cultural tradition that women don’t know what they really want, and have to keep on being told generation after generation.

    BOTSAs love to pontificate on how the last few generations of women (boomer, X and Y) have been caught between what their particular generation’s feminist ‘bedside table’ bestseller told them they want, and what they really DO want (which is most likely marriage and really cool clothes).

    Most importantly, the underlying BOTSA message is that no one really wants to work out what women really want or don’t want. It’s all just a game played out by every generation, and one that the mainstream culture always wins.

  12. I take a look at the articles on the punch site most days. I don’t have to agree with what is written….that would be quite pointless really as it would just make me nod my head. Reading these articles is important because they give an opportunity to think beyond what is written.

    I find it very thought provoking when I read the Angry Cripple because it takes me beyond my own space and opens my eyes to the shortcomings and slights that people have to endure if they do not have bodies or minds that are ‘normal’.

    On topic, I have never read nor heard of the Beauty myth, perhaps now it has been mentioned in this article I may.

  13. Isn’t framing it as a “battle of the sexes” also insulting to men (again)? So, if women are marching against rape culture then men must be what,”for” rape culture I guess?

    • Yep. It’s just as insulting as suggesting that mini-skirts and cleavage cause rape – that it takes men all of their willpower to not root every female they see, but when a woman wears something that reveals her legs he simply can’t help himself.

  14. Thanks for reading that so we don’t have to. Articles like this make me so fucking angry 😡

    • They don’t make me angry – they just make me feel sorry for the people who write them. With these attitudes, they probably don’t have many friends, or a lot of respect.

  15. Slightly off the main stupidity of the Punch article, but….why does everyone think sensible shoes are a bad thing? I love my sensible shoes–they make my feet not hurt!

    • There’s nothing wrong with sensible shoes. Maz, welcome to the News with Nipples.

    • Rhiannon Saxon

      I am wearing Docs right now – yes it’s true – My Feet Are a Feminist Cliche.
      (That sounds like a good title for a blog…)

        • It’s a great blog name! Rhiannon, why don’t you have a blog?

          • Rhiannon Saxon

            Damn good question. I guess it’s because since I had kids I feel as though my brain has gone all small and boring and I need other people’s writing to tell me what to think. I do write long and tangential recipes out on FB (using the expression ‘half-arsed’ as often as possible), as well as regular updates about the Crazy Crap my kids say, but surely the market for recipes and Things Kids Say is saturated?
            I *intend* to start a blog but need a. more sleep and b. more motivation.
            Really I should because I need a portfolio for (eventually) applying for copywriting or proof-reading work. Right now anything beyond laundry and getting the kids to school on time seems like a horrible insurmountable obstacle, and 2 sessions of psych haven’t kicked in yet. Third session this week.

            • Go easy on yourself. You’ll get there.

              • Rhiannon Saxon

                Do you have recommendations for a blog ‘vehicle’? Also am going to need a 1001 course to learn how to post links in text and all that. And photos ‘n’ stuff. (And then I am going to have to TAKE photos ‘n’ stuff.)
                I did set myself a challenge with my recipe writing – I had to get a mention and/or skite about my ‘flame-orange Le Creuset’ that Craig bought me at the local auction house for…wait for it…$35…in there somewhere EVEN IF I DIDN’T USE IT.

                • I like wordpress but I imagine blogger/blogspot is just as easy to use. To add a link, if you don’t want to get into the html, you just highlight the bit you want as a link, and then click the link button and paste your URL. Whichever one you use will have a “getting started” section.

                  And I want a photo of the Le Creuset.

                  Oh, what will you call it? Your blog, that is, not the dish.

                  • Rhiannon Saxon

                    I seriously have ABSOLUTELY no idea. I could try and find a nice literary quote that will make me sound like a wanker. Or a line from a song. Or I could call it after myself. *aaarrrggghhhhh*

                  • Rhiannon Saxon

                    (Also – I have two other second-hand Le Creusets. *modest cough*)

                  • Rhiannon Saxon

                    Just had ‘Saxon Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll’ suggested by a friend…*groan*

                    • That’s pretty good. Want me to do a post on it, right now, asking people to suggest a name?

                    • Rhiannon Saxon

                      Hmm, that would be very kind. It is likely going to be about – cooking, kids, politics, bellydancing, living on the central coast, folk festivals, music, books and general rants.

            • Rhiannon, my appetite for reading other people’s adventures or not in parenting and life is prodigious. I would love to read your blog when you get around to writing it.

  16. male journalists with priviledge at it again.

  17. Pingback: The stupid, it burns | the news with nipples

  18. Pingback: Nigel Bowen and the Evil Feminism | the news with nipples

Go on, you know you have something to say...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s