Monday, May 7, 2007

Scare Tactics

Oh, yeah. I'm mad. Really mad. I just saw the most incredibly misogynist public service announcement, courtesy of Pandagon. Check it out. It really, really has to be seen to be believed.

Done watching? Good. Now I'll start ranting.
Please, please, patriarchal killjoys, get the message: the Genie is out of the bottle. Young women are on the internet, and they WILL, in fact, post things, including pictures of themselves, to websites. These women are not all naive bubbleheads. As a matter of fact, a good number of these young women know a lot more than you patriarchal overlords do about the internet. They know exactly what they are doing, and exactly how to do it. And that is what really whips your polyester-blend boxers into an uproar.

The young women aren't playing your game by your rules any more, are they?

They are operating in cyberspace- free of physical threat to their physical bodies, which has been the dominator's stock-in-trade since times unrecorded. As long as men could actively threaten women with physical force, it was easy to keep them under control. Of course, the second-best thing to use was community-wide condemnation, keeping women in check through fear of harassment and ostracization.

But that doesn't work as well on the Net either, does it?

So, you're stuck. You want to control, commodity, and keep for your own private use the bodies of women, but the internet makes that so much harder to do.

Little morality tales like the ad above are all you have left to fall back on. Scare women into believing they are at imminent risk of harassment, stalking, or worse, in an effort to bring them back in line. Tell them to "think before you post", inferring they are not very bright, and aren't really qualified to make choices like what to put on Facebook or Myspace without "oversight". Shame them with stories of "bad girls" with all sorts of shorthand for promiscuity- tattoos, people knowing what color of underwear they have- so that they don't ever doubt that "good girls" wouldn't DO this internet posting thing. And finally, emphasize the fact that society will not interfere in any way with those who would harm imprudent posters- it is the posters who must protect themselves if they want to be in society's good graces.

Yes, pat yourselves on the back for your little masterstroke. Score one for the patriarchy while ostensibly looking out for the public's well being. But your victory is a hollow one. Because, like it or not, the invigorating freedom of the internet will not be so easily thwarted. Young women want to be able to walk in the open air, with the sun on their faces, unapologetically, for all to see.

Until that time comes, Myspace, Facebook, and the internet at large will have to do.

Sorry, fellas. Maybe you should move on to the "Think Before You Listen To Your I-Pod" ad.