Misogynistic literature

(46 Posts)
ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 18:36:22

Inspired by a thread in Relationships, I wonder if anyone else has issues with their male partners choosing to read fiction that is graphically misogynistic in its language and imagery.

I do, and I don't really know why. Any thoughts?

NotDead Sat 12-Oct-13 18:37:46

its empowering. cf Alanis Morissette.

BasilBabyEater Sat 12-Oct-13 19:35:00

I would feel uncomfortable about it because not seeing anything wrong with it is a problem isn't it?

When I was with XP he used to listen to dreadful music with misogynist lyrics and I was always slightly uncomfortable about it but didn't know why exactly. I suppose the fact that he was so comfortable with the lyrics and didn't see anything wrong with them, was all the time sending me a signal that he didn't really have a problem with misogyny.

Which is a little like living with a black person and not having much of a problem with racism, really. Awkward.

Suelford Sat 12-Oct-13 20:27:58

Just because you read it doesn't mean you can't see a problem with it. Often the author is deliberately using it to make some point about a character or situation.

If the misogyny (I guess you could open this up to all the usual -isms too) is presented unthinkingly, not to make any point but just as casual, unchallenged content, then there could be a problem.

But I tend to put more trust into book readers than in magazine readers, quite irrationally I'm sure, so if there was some misogyny in, e.g. Jim Davidson's autobiography then I still wouldn't have a problem with it in the house because I would think that the reader could detect it, and analyse its use to determine that the narrator is a misogynist. However, I wouldn't place the same trust in a misogynist magazine, e.g. Nuts, even if it was the same reader, DH. Hmm.

DH does read misogynistic stuff, but he's not a misogynist. I can't really police what he reads. If I thought it impacted on how he behaves towards women then I'd probably not be with him, rather than be checking up on his reading list.

ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 21:09:16

Yes, I think it is that he doesn't have an obviously negative reaction to it that I can see.

Whereas when I read woman-hating stuff I have a strong reaction; I am visibly upset. It upsets me that he is not upset by stuff that upsets me.

Or something.

ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 21:14:32

For me, there's a difference between woman-hating and other kinds of violence. I can handle most violence. Maybe it's because woman-hating is pervasive in society in very subtle ways, and the graphic representation of it resembles a hidden reality that other violence doesn't?

(Reposted own post from Rel.)

duchesse Sat 12-Oct-13 21:22:25

The book that turned me into a feminist was a set text at school. "Une vie" by Guy de Maupassant. This woman has the most unimaginably appalling life, and I just couldn't work out why she'd stay (oh the callowness of youth). The front cover featured a lovely impressionist painting of a woman in long flowing dress in a meadow with a parasol. The story was awful.

Other contributory works included Anna Karenina, Wuthering Heights, and Vipère au Poing (now that one is seriously mysogynistic!). I was lucky in growing up bilingual that I had a vast array of anti-feminist literature to draw on.

duchesse Sat 12-Oct-13 21:24:05

Also studying Freud biggest pile of mysogynistic crap ever peddled in upper 6th philosophy.

ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 21:26:45

That's interesting duchesse. Kate Millett's Sexual Politics started by using literature as the basis of her analysis.

Perhaps I get uneasy when DP reads a misogynistic text and doesn't immediately start a feminist discourse smile

ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 21:28:15

Have you read Gloria Steinhem's 'What if Freud were Phyllis'?

It's hilariousl

DebrisSlide Sat 12-Oct-13 21:36:40

Does he say he's a feminist, Army? Does he notice that there's a problem with them?

Can you give an example of the books?

I can't really answer your original question. I think I just feel a pervading sense of disappointment when folks take their entertainment from privilege differentials. It's not like there's not a whole world out there to explore through reading that's not just enforcing the white male perspective.

ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 21:42:24

He says he's pro-feminist.

The last book we had a 'talk' about was The Dice Man. He lent it to me and I couldn't get past the sexism. I couldn't finish it. I was sort of annoyed that he could and was unphased.

It's difficult to explain.

DebrisSlide Sat 12-Oct-13 21:55:19

Of course he could. It's academic to him. Or, rather, he is removed from the effects.It's why those who are not affected by discrimination will empathise (to an extent) and follow laws that outlaw it, but will not necessarily fight for them.

In a sense, he is only doing what everyone does. Never going to be more than an ally.

If a guy confronts another on their sexism, it seems that he's in the top 10% of allies. Can't expect them to do more than that of their own back.

<jaded>

To be fair, I'm not busting my arse actively campaigning for men to be accepted as childminders or primary teachers.

duchesse Sat 12-Oct-13 22:01:22

Honestly I don't believe in censorship in any way shape or form. I don't think people should avoid certain books because of their content or ideas. Ideas and principles don't just plop full-formed from book to reader's brain. The books contribute to the principles. So a person (I use "person" advisedly) can read a book breath-taking in its outdatedness of sexism or racism and come to a completely different opinion on it from someone else.

If a sexist pig reads mysogynistic literature or output, it may well comport them in their opinions. If a feminist reads them, they may well come to a very different view. I don't think anyone should stop anyone else from reading what they want- it's the person and their ideas that matter, not what went into those ideas (although that can be interesting to debate).

ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 22:04:02

I know what you're saying.

The other aspect of the other thread though (am I allowed to do this - thread about thread?) was that it was weird that the partner wanted to have sex as normal having just read about a very unpleasant sexual act.

I find it difficult too, that if DP has just read about or seen, for eg, a disturbing rape scene, he would find it easy to have sex a short time after.

I can't have sex after disturbing rape scenes.

DebrisSlide Sat 12-Oct-13 22:07:35

I think perhaps I'm missing the context here. Army, do you mean that he seeks these books out for pleasure, with no critical appraisal and a kind of glossing over of the parts that you would see as problematic? Like Bond books, for example?

Like lots of things feministy that lead to accusations of censorship, it's not that you want to stop him reading them, it's that you'd like it if he didn't want to in the first place?

DebrisSlide Sat 12-Oct-13 22:09:55

Oh, I didn't see the other thread.

Like I say, it would be easier if you're one step removed. Or maybe the taboo/abuse adds a frisson? Is that what worries you?

ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 22:15:09

"Or maybe the taboo/abuse adds a frisson? Is that what worries you?"

It certainly did until we talked about it. But I'm thinking that might be the case for the OP in the Rel. thread and she hasn't got much support. Shouldn't speak for her though.

In my case it probably stems from a mistrust of men. I've been with an awful lot of shits.

duchesse Sat 12-Oct-13 22:16:15

I can see why you'd be more than slightly disturbed about him apparently being turned on after reading about sexual violence. I DO actually think that's a conversation worth having with him. It's not censorship to tell him you won't shag him after he's been reading that stuff.

ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 22:19:32

Until you start reading something you don't know what's in it, so it's not that I'm upset he starts reading something. More that he can finish it with no reaction to the misogyny.

Although he does react these days, if I'm about. smile

ArmyOfPenguins Sat 12-Oct-13 22:21:18

It's been a while, but I have talked to him about that and he said it wasn't on his mind after he'd put down the book.

It's not that sexual violence turned him on - just that it didn't seem to turn him off.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Sat 12-Oct-13 22:24:05

I find it really hard to read modern literature by men nowadays (historical texts I can bear because they are in context).

My mum and me have often shared books (i.e. we each pass them on to one another) since i was a young teen but since I have become a more confident feminist I find it harder to enjoy the same books as she does. She passes me a book saying 'this is absolutely brilliant'! and all I can read is 'sexism, sadism, misogyny, female torture-porn'.

We both love crime thrillers but most stuff written by men (and a lot written by women, unfortunately e.g. Marina Cole) has female victims murdered/kidnapped/hurt in very detailed sexually motivated crimes.

I don't object to these crimes being used for fiction or to authors using their artistic licence but sexually explicit descriptions of torture/murder and the constant normalisation of women as either "slutty" victims or hardfaced, sexually frustrated cops (i.e. 'good' girls, or 'bad' girls, but either way up-for-it) is relentless in crime-fiction.

Yawn!

DebrisSlide Sat 12-Oct-13 22:26:52

I don't know whether this has anything to do with your thread, but I'll write it anyway.

I was out last night with some friends and the topic of erotic literature came up. They were all going on about it being so female-friendly and so much better than the free porn sites (yawn) and whatnot and I said I bet it's not. I don't even know why I said it, but like I said earlier, I'm going through a jaded phase. So, I brought up literotica on my phone and clicked on the "New Stories" link. That is a site that is often mentioned on here as an alternative to visual porn for women. The vast majority of the new stories on there are about incest, non-consent, gay men, transwomen or men watching their (slutty) wives fucking other men, all mostly written from the perspective of men.

Like I said, jaded.

I think you have to accept that most men are not going to be feminists in the way that you might want them to be. We are sold the partner as best friend/soul mate myth and feel let down when they deviate from this. Most people are shit at empathising and even if you tell them from your heart why you feel x or that y happened and so you react like that to z, they are never going to get it, unless they've been there.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Sat 12-Oct-13 22:27:28

Oh, sorry, thread moved on while I was typing.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now