Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Misogynist Memes and History

(Trigger Warning for Misogyny, assault, and torture in text and image) (Image heavy post)

From the 1500s through the 1800s (yes, that charming Regency period that Jane Austen wrote so entertainingly about, with pretty ladies in pretty dresses and gentlemen with fancy hats and gloves and carriages) a punishment for women who talked or "gossiped" too much was known as the Scold's Bridle. While men were sometimes fitted with the device, it was overwhelmingly used to subjugate women.

"Scold's Bridle Or Brank"
It was an iron framework that fit snugly around the heat with a metal plate or loop that went into the mouth and pressed down on the tongue. Sometimes it had one or more spikes or barbs so that if the person wearing it tried to talk their tongues would be injured or outright pierced. It was not possible to eat or drink while wearing one.

Photo of metal scold's bridle, with a bell on top.
Once fitted with the device, the person would be lead about in public, often by a chain or rope around the neck. Sometimes a bell was attached to the top to call even more attention to the victim.

Drawing of two women wearing scold's bridles with animal-heads.
Sometimes the device was in the shape of an animal head, to further dehumanize the person as well as call greater attention to whatever fault or sin they were considered guilty of.

As you can see, there is already a long, established tradition of silencing women with force. But surely we in the 21st century are beyond that! Well, not so much. There are a LOT of men who think women shouldn't talk, ever, and that using force to shut them up is a totally awesome idea.

Demotivational poster featuring image of rolls of duct tape with the caption "DUCT TAPE: Turning No, No, No! Into MMM-MMM-MMM,"

Text image stating : "Duct tape turning "No! No!" into "Mmph! Mmph!" since 1943."

Demotivational Poster with an image of a roll of duct tape and the caption "SILENCE Silence is golden. Duct tape is silver."

Photo of a wide eyed scared-looking woman with white tape over her mouth and the caption "TAPE Shutting bitches up since 1926."

Demotivational poster featuring a middle aged man in a military uniform standing next to a young woman in civilian clothing and the caption "MASKING TAPE AND SOME ROPE we all know he's thinking it."

Demotivational poster featuring a close up photograph of a woman's face. Her mouth is open and there is a red ball gag in it. The caption reads "BALL GAGS for 'quiet time'"

A demotivational poster shows a woman in her under clothes tied to a chair with rope, duct tape across her mouth. the text says "ROPE for those time when she says no"

A close up photo of a woman's face, her eyes closed, a large quantity of duct tape over her mouth. The caption says "SILENCE IS GOLDEN but Duct Tape is SILVER."

A demotivational poster featuring a woman's wide eyed face with what appears to be a metal plate bolted over her mouth. The caption reads "SILENCE a viable solution for domestic violence."

Silence: A Viable Solution For Domestic Violence. No No into Mmph Mmph. We've All Been Thinking It. These images explicitly state that women should not talk, that a silent woman is preferable to a speaking woman. They imply or outright state that if a woman with holds consent, then a man is within his right to ignore that and gag, assault, and rape her. These images state that all men want to bind, assault, and rape women and that it's perfectly understandable that they do. These images normalize rape culture (we've ALL been thinking it!) and advocate silencing, dismissing, and even assaulting women. These images are all about putting women in their place, treating them not as human beings but as sexual objects to serve men and nothing more.

Women make up 50.8 % of the population and only 16-17% of our Congress/Representatives. These women are censured when they use the word "vagina" while discussing reproductive health in a professional setting and not allowed to speak. They are silenced.  State by state, the USA is experiencing a grotesque attack on women, with more and more laws being passed restricting their ability to get paid, get medical attention, get prescription medication, get educations, and vote.

No War On Women?  http://veracitystew.com/2012/05/11/no-war-on-women-our-big-a-chart-says-youre-wrong/
There is incredible pressure on women to sit down, shut up, and take it. To get back in the kitchen and make some sandwiches and birth some babies. And men are told, and tell themselves and each other, that this is  normal and desirable. There is pressure on women to stay out of "male" spheres (pretty much everything that isn't nursing, low level teaching, or their own kitchens) and quick social censure to kick them out of those spheres if they have the temerity to enter them. So you get HILARIOUS memes like this, you get male politicians issuing gag orders for female politicians while discussing laws and medical issues that only affect people who have a uterus, you get rape and death threats sent to women bloggers who write about video games, and more.

There are people eager to tell you that we live in a post-feminist society, that feminists are just a bunch of ranting uggos who can't get laid. Meanwhile, we have a lot of men willing and able to take down women and punish them for no other reason than because they can and they think they deserve it. We live in a world where MANY people think that women should not have a voice. In anything.

Where is your voice?

What will you do about this?

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