Journal de Montréal Handles Ashley Madison Hack Coverage All Wrong

Tabloid prints century-old sexist views

  • Graphic Jennifer Aedy

This week, I got my jimmies reeeeallly rustled. As you probably know, the adulterous dating site called Ashley Madison was hacked this week, releasing millions upon millions, gigabytes upon gigabytes of information onto the wild, wild web. A hack that—or so goes the urban legend—was an attempt at revenge from a former employee of the website.

Whether or not it was an inside job wasn’t what got me all up in a knot. It was neither the sheer popularity of the website nor the number of official Canadian governmental emails—647—in the database (I mean, come on! Using your work email? Really?).

And it wasn’t the exposed hypocrisy and problems underlying traditional Christian marriage.

Nor was it the absurd though unsurprising reactions of many who accused technology of debasing human morals; because sacrosanct monogamy is considered the basis of civilization—hello colonialism, always so unassuming, I see. It was ironic—a great press debacle—when Josh Duggar, spearhead of the Family Research Council, some influential Christian pro-marriage association for our southern neighbours, got outted.

Let’s assume that many other unfaithfuls must have really enjoyed seeing another man lynched in the public square, while they remained in the shadows.

For sure, it was not all fun and games. We hear from the press that up to two suicides might have been related to the info spill.

Now, I wish death on no one, and in countries where infidelity can result in capital punishment, the hack is definitely dangerous to get behind in any way. It raises questions about privacy, the ethics of internet and hacking, among other things. But this is still not why I got all worked up.

Bringing forth a call to the authority of a sexologist, the Journal de Montréal dared say that what explains the propensity of male users on Ashley Madison—a proportion of five to six males for one female—was simply explained by biology—that men have a biological sexual need greater and more mechanical than women.

Being the angry feminist that I am, what really rustled my jimmies was the Journal de Montréal‘s coverage.

Bringing forth a call to the authority of a sexologist, they dared say that what explains the propensity of male users on Ashley Madison—a proportion of five to six males for one female—was simply explained by biology; that men have a biological sexual need greater and more mechanical than women.

I was steaming.

How can, in 2015, such bullshit still be sputtered in news media, and be held as true?

Not only does this affirmation conflate sex and gender, but it also contributes to percolate the ideology that men and women are fundamentally different, while sustaining absurd gendered pressure and expectations of correct and normal attitudes for people.

Moreover, it completely disregards the fact that biological discourse is in constant flux, not only across culture—from an anthropological standpoint—but also throughout history.

Not even 100 years ago, women were widely held to have the strongest libido. Men had to tame their beastly female counterparts, and framed them with illnesses like hysteria, that one could treat by what has now become the modern vibrator.

This sexist view that man has a greater libidinal impulse is downright false and has been debunked by many researchers, from Foucault to contemporary psychologists alike.

It enrages me that a newspaper would publish such garbage and contribute to gender inequality. Women are sexual beings! They are just nowadays taught to repress them, in fear of the shame that comes with fully assumed and possessed desires, with such terms as slut or whore.

Screw slut shaming! Sex is healthy and normal! And being asexual is healthy too! So screw social expectations of men’s infinite erections!

What about the fact that the website was marketed using the sultry lips of a young female, inviting for a secret night? These clearly targeted a male audience. So no wonder they answered the call by far greater numbers. These marketing tactics have got to be taken in account yet haven’t been, leading to absurd assertions and keeping the sexist ideology of the 50s alive and well.

So, as long as this bullshit keeps being published, I’ll have things to call out and get angry about. Thanks, Journal de Montréal, you feed my fire.

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