“Her tits don’t sag” – on Ali Campoverdi and supposed progressives judging a woman’s “respectability”

The comments on Ali Campoverdi’s lingerie photos have swung me back around to my favourite topic – the policing of women’s looks and attire by so-called feminists and feminist allies.

Now, for reference’s sake, Ali Campoverdi has recently landed a job in the Obama White House. She has also posed for Maxim.

So far, from what I’ve read, some of the… choicest reactions to Ms. Campoverdi have come from the anti-Obama, pro-Clinton camp. This immediately reminded me of the sexist comments and outrage that erupted on the day that Hillary Clinton dared to show a bit of cleavage. Now, frankly, I think Hillary Clinton is a fine-looking woman (not that it matters – but I would just like to say that any “Hillary is ugly, lol” comments here are not going to be tolerated, because they’re both sexist and dumb) and detest the attempts to utterly un-sex her – no matter where they originate. People might agree or disagree with this, but the insanely intense focus on Hillary’s appearance and outfits are honestly no different from much of the talk on Campoverdi, I’ve decided.

What’s being discussed here, once again, is a certain standard – what’s appropriate and what isn’t, what’s OK to criticize and what’s not, and, most importantly, who’s “respectable” and who is “not respectable.”

People forget that standards are fluid. A few weeks ago, I was, predictably, being followed and harassed by a man in a residential neighbourhood of Amman, Jordan. As I flipped him off, I heard laughter. Two women on the sidewalk where observing the scene as it unfolded, and clearly found it amusing. They were dressed very conservatively, even for a Muslim country like Jordan, and even though they could clearly see the discomfort and pain on my face, they chose to laugh. Not to admonish this man, but to give him support.

Why? Well, I can only guess, but considering the treatment I regularly get here in Jordan – it just might have something to do with me being blond, obviously Slavic, and hijabless – while in public.

See, I just didn’t fit these women’s standard of respectability. A man treating me like trash? Fine by them.

I honestly don’t see any difference between this incident and the treatment of Campoverdi. Continue reading ““Her tits don’t sag” – on Ali Campoverdi and supposed progressives judging a woman’s “respectability””

Alcohol, Harassment, and Crisis in Kiev

Last week, in Kiev, my cousin was in the residential neighbourhood of Obolon’ with a friend when it happened again – some drunk guy decided to go in for the kill, screaming obscenities and trying to cop a feel. His friend attempted to restrain him, telling him to “leave the girls alone.”

“Girls?” He screamed back. “Can’t you see they’re not girls? They’re whores!”

My cousin is a gentle soul, so when these things happen, it’s especially hard for her to deal with. She says that with the economic crisis, things are getting worse. Acting out is suddenly becoming more tolerable again. People don’t check themselves, and she said she was even surprised that this particular guy’s friend was attempting to check him. A younger woman is an especially convenient target, as when you attack an older woman, bystanders might actually think you’re doing something wrong. A younger woman, however, is attractive in one way or another, so obviously, you can write it off on her “asking for it.”

A male cousin of mine has lived in Obolon’ his entire life, and he also thinks that it’s becoming more dangerous for both men and women. In many cases, alcohol is the catalyst, or else a convenient excuse – “what can you expect from someone who’s wasted?” people mutter. The crisis also makes for a great cover – “well, he was fired, he got drunk, he can’t be held accountable.” Continue reading “Alcohol, Harassment, and Crisis in Kiev”

Sexual Harassment in Amman SUCKS

Just thought I’d get it out there. In case you were wondering.

I got dropped off near a store after work yesterday, at around 7 p.m. I bought some groceries and, laden with bags and my work satchel, clickedy-clacked in my favourite pumps up to the house. I love the sound those things make when they strike pavement. I loved the stars overhead and I loved the sound of someone playing “Jeshana” on their car stereo.

Of course, my mood was to good. Some dude came along to fix that for me. He started following me, trying to talk to me and get me to go somewhere with him, from what I could understand. I stoically ignored him.

I shook him after a few minutes, my pulse already quickened, fighting the urge to start running (I would have looked rather silly, anyway).

Then I passed one of the nicest houses on our street, a place where even in the winter it smells a little bit like jasmine. I noticed an older men and two kids that looked like his teenage sons, waiting by the door. The trio stared at me as if I had two heads.

Well, whatever, I thought.

Then, when I had already passed him, I heard one of the kids go – “5 dinar, baby.”

I whipped my head around, and there he was, grinning at me like an idiot. I considered tossing one of my beer cans at his head, but it would have been a waste of a perfectly good beer. So I kept walking, the bags feeling just a little bit heavier in my hands.

Just another evening in Amman.

The Russian Judge, the Sexual Harassment Case, and Some Questions

By now, you may have heard about the Russian judge who said that sexual harassment is needed for the continuation of the human race.

Here is a Russian news source that a kind member of the Russian community “Feministki” dug up for me.

I noticed a couple of things: the judge is reportedly female. The name of the judge has not been published. The “100% of professional Russian women harassed by their bosses” statistic is not properly cited, nor was it properly translated into English.

The following is the translation from the Russian:

Up to 100% of Russiann women could be considered victims of harassment, if we use international standards in assessing the concept [of harassment].

How did this get twisted into the following?:

According to a recent survey, 100 per cent of female professionals said they had been subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses

Are the news sources citing separate (yet, in another way, oddly similar) statistics?

Please note that hardly any other Russian newspapers and websites picked up this story. We only found one other one so far.

However, this isn’t to say that the story is entirely bogus. I’m sorry to say, but it feels sadly familiar.

Especially if we consider the fact that the Russian government is busy fighting a demographics crisis. Then again, did the judge merely utter a few words that are in line with the government’s policy? Or are the judges’ words, whether true or untrue, an example of the implementation of said policy?

It’s an interesting question, and if you have any more information, or an opinion to share, please do so in the comments here. I’ll appreciate it.

P.S. The English-language media also mentions that this is only the third woman to bring a sexual harassment case in Russia. This simply isn’t true, based on the original articles. One case mentioned involved four women bringing charges against one man, for example. The Russian piece goes on to say that around three hundred people a year lodge complaints (not the same thing as a court case, obviously) regarding harassment with Internal Affairs each year.

P.P.S. Interestingly, the article mentions that one of the reasons why sexual harassment is a problem in Russia may be due to the fact that while the Criminal Codex talks about sexual harassment, the Job Codex does not, which makes cases harder to prosecute. Zoya Khotkina, author of the book Sexual Harassment at Work is quoted that it would be “easier to control harassment through the workplace, rather than through the courts.”

Ass-grabbing and Attraction, or Truly the Lord Works in Mysterious Ways

Most of my fellow pseudo-intellectuals think of “The Secret” as a big crock of steaming, unethical shit, but I found it interesting. I don’t know about this Infallible Law of Attraction & Universe As Agent Provocateur Catalogue stuff, but I do think that thoughts have an impact on our fates. I do not think that “The Secret” actively promoted chiding suffering people (SNL gave us the example of Darfur) for so-called negativity. While the movie was not clear on the subject, it seemed obvious that many of the people who had participated in it had horrible things happen to them in their lives, and the film did not make it look as though they were dumbasses who could have escaped plane crashes and abusive parents if they wanted to. If the filmmakers spent less energy on attractive packaging and promotion of personal wealth, and more on how we can overcome the many gruesome realities of our lives by refusing to let them rule our minds, it would have been better, but it wasn’t some terrible chimera either, and some of the pious wailing about it had irritated me way back.

Why exactly am I talking about this?

Well, check it out, while yours truly only graduated from college in 2006, in Ukrainian years, she’s practically a babushka. People are asking what is wrong with me: how come I still don’t have a ring on my finger? When am I planning on having kids? What do I mean by “career,” don’t I know that all career women are sexually unfulfilled evil witches with bad haircuts and secret underground freezers stocked with the phalluses of innocent men?

This kind of thinking I do not entirely subsribe to, but can’t help internalizing on some level nonetheless.

So earlier today I asked myself, “how come it’s been a while since I have been crudely sexually harassed in a public place in Kiev? Are people getting more polite? Or am I an evil witch with a bad haircut?”

Later in the day, I got my ass grabbed on the metro.

You can say what you want to say about coincidences, but come on. I spent three consecutive months in Kiev last year, and I was in a bad mood for a lot of it, and I think if anyone had even looked at me the wrong way, I would have beaten them to death with my handbag, eaten their heart, and hung them upside down from a tree as a warning to others. I’m a little less defensive this time around, and a little bit more concerned about holding on to my precious youth until it is washed away in a monstrous tide of hair dye and anti-cellulite cream.

So the universe, in its infinite wisdom, goes out of its way and says, “bitch, please. At the very least, you’re still hot enough for some near-sighted alcoholic from Krizhopol’ to risk getting punched in the crotch for.”

And that, my friends, is a life-affirming metaphysical experience right there.