This is a page of links for people who want some background for the things I discuss here. It’s also going to be my go-to for points I really don’t feel like arguing with each and every person I interact with – if someone brings up a point I feel has been better argued elsewhere I’m just going to link. The links page will be expanded as I find more and better resources.
I’ve split this up into “Basics” and “Extended Analysis” because I know that people with a background in feminism and associated concepts would consider a lot of the stuff in “Basics” common sense… but people without that background will have a lot of trouble engaging with the material in “Extended Analysis” and I don’t want them dismissing the ideas out of hand because they don’t have the earlier perspective. I haven’t separated into male and female authors, but it goes without saying that women have a lot more personal experience at engaging with sexism and misogyny.
The Four Levels of Discrimination (and You) (and Me, Too) – John Scalzi. This article highlights that you don’t have to mean or intend to be racist/sexist/whatever-ist for it to happen – in fact, beyond a certain point you have to be conscious and aware of it to stop it happening.
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is – John Scalzi. This is a good primer for those new to thinking about advantage and privilege. (Part 2 and Part 3 for those interested in the follow-up, where John addresses some of the more common criticisms of Part 1)
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race – Jay Smooth. A lot to like here as Jay emphasises that unconscious prejudice doesn’t make you a bad person, and that getting defensive and denying it doesn’t actually fix it. I especially like the idea of moving from a “tonsil removal” model of fighting prejudice to a “dental hygeine” model. He talks mostly about racism here, but the principle applies to sexism, ableism, homophobia, etc.
I Am Not My Cock – Ross Lincoln. [Content note: discussion of sexual assault. Also a bunch of profanity if that’s likely to offend you, but I doubt it if you made it this far!] A perfect summary of the problems with the idea that men cannot control their sexual impulses, and that leads to rape. tl;dr & spoiler alert – not being a rapist is the default setting for men. If you can’t accept that premise, I don’t think you and I have anything to discuss.
Mythcommunication: It’s Not That They Don’t Understand, They Just Don’t Like The Answer – Thomas Millar from YesMeansYes breaks down and comperehensively tears apart the old tropes about “misunderstandings” being behind harassment, sexual assault, rape, etc. Short version: men and women alike are perfectly capable of understanding when somebody is trying to offer a “soft refusal” without being rude or using the word “no”, and know what it means … so pretending you don’t know you’re being turned down isn’t an acceptable excuse. In his words, “if a guy offers to buy you a drink and you say no, and he pesters you until you say okay, what he wants for his money is to find out if you can be talked out of no.”
Wanna Have Sex? (Consent 101) – The amazing Laci Green with a pretty thorough breakdown of the reasons positive consent is important, as well as the importance of checking in with your partner as you go and what makes consent invalid (hint: getting a girl totally wasted does not mean you have meaningful consent even if she says “yes”! Even if you are wasted too!). I beg you, please keep watching even if you disagree with the first 30 seconds, because her entire argument is still great even if your personal preferences don’t mesh with hers.
For the Good Men Who Don’t Yet Get It – The Inadvertent Feminist talking about how hard it can be for even the best, most empathetic men to hear about the harm women have suffered, and listen rather than getting defensive. This excerpt is highly selective, but the whole article’s cohesiveness makes it hard to just quote a slab:
It’s hard because he’s an intelligent person. Hell, he’s brilliant. His intelligence is actually kind of intimidating, sometimes. It’s hard because he’s an empathetic person. […] He is both of those things, and he still doesn’t get it. And it breaks my heart […] I end up in tears of frustration and helplessness, and he ends up feeling attacked, and equally frustrated.
It’s hard because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that he’s not ‘that guy,’ but when those topics come up, he says all the same things ‘that guy’ would say.
Putting these together because they address a common theme: namely, that kids get messages about boys and girls and acceptable behaviour between them pretty much from birth, despite the fact that there’s no major biological difference until puberty. If we want kids to treat each other with respect and acknowledge each other’s individuality, starting in high school is too late.
Another post about rape (#3) – Harriet Jay at Fugitivus. This one is really, really important to read and think about to understand just why all the second-guessing that happens to rape victims is bullshit. She perfectly details why women who are taught how to act “ladylike” aren’t suddenly going to turn into Buffy-meets-Wonder-Woman when a man tries to assault them. Choice quote: “If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways. And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes.”