American Culture

Patriarchy in the news – January 25, 2015

(warning: graphic content)

patriarchal principle: Men are entitled to take up space

“Manspreading” refers to men sitting in public spaces with their legs spread wide apart. Anyone – and especially a woman – who has sat in a movie theater, airplane, or any sort of public transportation is all too familiar with the phenomenon. All too many men seem willing to rudely spread out beyond their little designated spaces in places like those I’ve mentioned. I’d really like to have a dollar for every time I’ve been squeezed out of my space in a movie theater by a man manspreading next to me – I could buy most of the books on my wish list at Amazon. Some speculate that this behavior is an act of dominance or is about male privilege. Personally, I have always thought the message is, “Hey,everybody look at me – my balls are so big that I can not even close my legs!”  The problem is widespread – if you will – enough that now, the New York City subway authority is mounting a campaign against the practice, using the slogan “Dude, stop the spread please. It’s a space issue.”

patriarchal principle: Women are not entitled to take up space

As many feminist theorists including Elizabeth Wurtzel have noted, as women have gained relatively more power in American society, there has been a cultural push to make us physically smaller and smaller, as if to shrink us away. From the link:

I strongly believe that women’s preoccupation with weight goes far beyond fulfilling an impossible standard of beauty. Our obsession with thinness is largely intertwined with the amount of space women are expected and “allowed” to take up in society, both physically and mentally….

The message of “the thinner the better” is an extremely pervasive attempt for women to become as thin and small as possible and thus take up as little space in the world as they can….

The whole offensive culture of dieting seems invented as yet another way to make women small and weaker—-to make us become less, quite literally. The starving self symbolizes a diminishing person, and really we ought to to strive to be more

Marilyn Monroe, sex goddess of her day, actually wore a size fourteen (see photo of her, lumpy tummy and all, at the link and then check out a photo of today’s Kate Moss – astonishing difference in beauty standards). Models today wear a size zero or at most a one. The highest the fashion industry will now accept for a “plus-sized” model is a size twelve, which is a bit more in the range of the size of the average American woman (like Marilyn, still size fourteen), making the average woman “plus-sized” and even making the wonderfully curvaceous Marilyn Monroe more than “plus-sized” by today’s standards.

Recruiters for modeling agencies have been caught stalking the grounds of hospitals for anorexics looking to find models there. Even an anorexic so sick and weak that she had to be in a wheelchair was approached about modeling. As the linked Slate article points out, one-fifth of women and girls diagnosed with anorexia die prematurely from it. Sixty to seventy percent never get better. An astonishing 11.3% of college women are bulimic – how can they possibly think and function academically when their bodies are starving? There have been cases of sorority houses and ballet dormitories requiring repeated plumbing repairs because so many inhabitants are routinely vomiting their stomach acid into the toilet and that huge amount of stomach acid is actually eating the plumbing  – imagine! Eighty percent of ten year old girls are on diets, damaging themselves at the very time when their bodies and bones are developing. Just twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, the average model weighs 23% less than the average woman. Just 5% of American women are born with the body type of today’s models – that means that 95% of us are feeling pressured to try to be something that just 5% of us naturally are.

A woman can never be too thin, right? So, what prize do you offer a beauty pageant winner? Why, liposuction, of course, because even a gorgeous beauty pageant winner could still stand to be even thinner. A young medical student in Ecuador won a beauty pageant and one of the prizes was liposuction. Her brother says she did not want liposuction but rather hoped to lose (still) more weight through diet and exercise. A doctor, however, pressured her into having the procedure. It ended up killing her. Two doctors have been arrested.

patriarchal principle: Women are responsible for men’s sexual desire

A female Christian fundamentalist blogger, Veronica Patridge, wife of motivational speaker Dale Partridge, has written that the important decision of whether or not to continue wearing her comfy leggings in public has weighed “heavy on my heart.” So she did what any good Christian fundamentalist woman would do – asked her husband what he thought. Dale Partridge admitted to his wife that he finds it a struggle not to ogle the rear ends of women wearing leggings in public (although he says he never actually looks, of course, just kind of notices without actually looking). And with that, Veronica Patridge wants us all to know, she has made the important decision not to wear leggings in public anymore as a way of better honoring her God and her husband. As the linked article points out:

As ridiculous as this whole thing might sound to most rational people, it really is just a product of the misogyny in our Christianity-soaked society. If you have to police what you wear in order to “honor God and husband,” there’s something seriously wrong. Is anyone telling men what they can and cannot wear, lest they dishonor their wives? No, of course not. Something like that would never be acceptable in our society. What is also troubling is that this woman, with one sentence from her husband regarding his own personal struggles with “lust,” decided to alter her wardrobe completely. That is misogyny, folks.

Even worse, this also re-enforces rape culture, by telling women that it is their fault if they wear something that makes a man look at them in a so-called “lustful” manner, that it is our responsibility as women to make sure we’re covered up in just the right way so that we don’t test the self control of men….

It’s that old, “What were you wearing?” line that rape victims have been asked since the beginning of time. This blog post is nothing more than an extension of the deep misogyny that is present in some forms of Christianity, and of the rape culture in which we still live.

I would add that this is of course not just an issue with Christianity. It’s all of patriarchy.

In other male sexual entitlement news, a seventeen year old male in England stabbed three random women because he couldn’t get laid – and because, of course, as a man, he is after all entitled to women’s bodies so he came to hate and want to hurt all women since he could not lose his virginity. Following are some telling quotes:

The letter, left on a police van, stated: “All women need to die and hopefully next time I can gouge their eyes out….”

It said: “When women won’t talk to you it’s heartbreaking, why are they fussy with men nowadays.”

It continued: “As I roam these streets, hungry for blood and pain, I am greeted with attack, attack, attack, attack. Dead. Jolly Good….”

In a video found on his laptop, Moynihan had filmed himself saying: “I think every girl is a type of slut, they are fussy with men nowadays, they do not give boys like us a chance.”

“I am still a virgin, everyone is losing it before me, that’s why you are my chosen target.”

“I just can’t live in this flat, I have no future here.”

“So women, tell me how we should do this.”

Ms Maylin said he waved a knife at the camera as he continued saying: “Shall I stab you in the neck or in the heart, shall I slash your throat or should I just cigarette lighter you or just fire you.”

“I do not know where I could get petrol from but how hard can it be to come by.”

“So I hope you learn a lesson not to bully guys like us, we deserve dignity, for your own generations, remember.”

Yes, please note that denying him sex – geez, the sheer nerve of some women thinking they can say no – is an outright assault on his very dignity. It is outright bullying to deny him his rightful sexual access!. After all, he is a male and thus perfectly entitled to insert part of his body into a woman’s body, beyond the outer edges of her very being.

There is still more:

In another document, Moynihan had written: “I was planning to murder, mainly women, as an act of revenge because the life they gave me.”

“I am still a virgin at 17 and why do women have to be fussy with choosing a boyfriend or cheating on men with others?”

“I attack women because I grew up to believe them a more weaker part of the human breed.”

So he also targeted women because they are weaker than men. Oh sorry, we’re “more weaker” than men.

Last May, we had a very similar case right here is the U.S. Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree after posting a seven minute video (transcript at the link) in which he raged at all women because he was 22 and still a virgin.

patriarchal principle: White men are the only ones doing anything award-worthy

So apparently the Oscars just happened. Care to play some Oscars Bingo? This exciting Bingo card has “white guy” in every space except for the middle square, which is marked “Meryl Streep – free space.” Print it out, save it for next year, and play along while watching the Oscars – fun for the whole family!

patriarchal principle: Porn!

Two new cases of AIDS in the porn industry, which still refuses to have its performers practice safer sex even though 66% of porn performers have herpes. Porn industry capital California passed a law last year requiring that the pornography industry have its performers practice safer sex. Result? Safer sex? No! The adult film industry has just moved to Nevada, which is where the two cases of AIDS infection have happened.

Shelley Lubben, at the link, reminds us of the following:

What if this was your child? With every single click on a porn site you are feeding this demon. SHE is someone’s daughter HE is someone’s son. STOP viewing porn.

There is this great article at xojane about how being against pornography is actually the sex-positive position to take: It’s so good that I am including a rather long bit of it for your consideration:

I am anti-porn, and I reject the idea that I am “anti-sex” because of that. Before you accuse me of “slut-shaming,” let me assure you that I am not sitting around and worrying about your sex life or your sexual preferences. I have neither the time nor the desire to personally shame every person who has participated in or who has consumed pornography.

I also don’t want to tell you that you’re any less of a feminist if you enjoy porn. My issues with pornography and other types of sex-work exist on a societal and cultural level, and I’m tired of having my legitimate concerns about porn being shut down because “some people like it.” The individual feelings of certain participants do not negate the social consequences of porn.

I have never acted in a porn film, but I don’t think that automatically renders my point of view irrelevant. As a woman, I never gave my consent to be represented as nothing but a plaything, object, fuckdoll, slut, cumdumster, whore, cunt, and anything else the porn industry can come up with. Feminists who are anti-porn are often categorized as “sex-negative.” I can’t think of a more ridiculous concept. My opposition to pornography is exactly what makes me sex-positive, and if you’re willing stay with me, you might see why.

Let’s take a look at a description from the popular porn site, Facial Abuse:

There is nothing hotter than seeing a girl get humiliated by having a huge load of cum on her face. Here you will find a whole variety of whores getting facially abused and face fucked by cocks. They all get their throat destroyed until they gag and puke. Then, at the end of their torment, they get their slutty faces covered in hot jizz.

What is being sexualized in this scene? Is it super hot when a girl pukes everywhere during sex? Does ejaculation automatically feel better when it goes onto someone’s face? Does “throat destroying” violence make sex hotter? I’m going to go with no.

What we’re supposed to find sexy is the degradation and humiliation of the female performers. There is no point in denying it, because the pornographers are saying it themselves. The message from porn is that sex is a degrading experience that should be as brutal and violent as possible — only to women, of course. In the world of pornography, woman’s pleasure and basic humanity mean absolutely nothing. Where is the sex-positivity and sexual agency in that scenario?…

To make matters worse, porn desensitizes its users to even the most extreme violence. It’s not enough to degrade someone for being a woman. Pornography is also a shameless celebration of racism and white supremacy. If you still believe that the misogyny in porn is up for debate, then what about racism? If the porn industry is a challenge to patriarchy, then why does it reinforce white supremacy so proudly? Take a look at this description from Ghetto Gaggers, a site that specifically features the abuse of black women:

When pimps attack!!! Sophia was fucked over from jump street and it nearly got us killed. Tyrone picked up this hood rat and promised her an awesome porn shoot. Next thing she knows, she’s getting slapped around like the cheap hooker she is…

I’m going to guess that most people don’t think that being reduced to racist stereotypes is empowering. So where is the feminist explanation of racism in porn? If it’s so empowering to be belittled and degraded for being a woman, is it also just a matter of “preference” to be reduced to a skin color and a set of damaging stereotypes? Hopefully you said no. But then why is violent misogyny all of a sudden up for interpretation?

As the fabulous activist Gail Dines has said many times, “Being anti-porn doesn’t make me anti-sex any more than refusing to eat at McDonald’s makes me anti-food.” So porn is to sex as McDonald’s is to food. Yes, definitely fits – empty calories to give you a quick fix, junk, a poor, packaged substitute for the wonderful, tasty variety of the real stuff.

Meanwhile, Morality in Media has taken issue with the R rating assigned to the movie version of the horrible and misogynist yet incredibly popular with women book “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I love their comment:

We’d like to change the MPAA rating for Fifty Shades of Grey to read: ‘Promotes torture as sexually gratifying, graphic nudity, encourages stalking and abuse of power, promotes female inequality, glamorizes and legitimizes violence against women.’

patriarchal principle: When it comes to the lady bits, white (Republican) men know best

The Republicans of the new House session set to work right away on creating jobs by of course  introducing as their first order of business an anti-abortion bill. Think Progress reports the following:

However, the National Journal reports that a group of GOP women led by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) have started pushing back against the legislation, expressing concerns during a closed-door meeting of House Republicans. Ellmers reportedly said she is worried that voting on the 20-week ban will alienate young female voters, urging her colleagues “to be smart about how we’re moving forward.”

As Politico reports, Ellmers is also concerned that the proposed abortion ban has a particularly narrow exception for rape victims. As the bill is currently written, in order to qualify for the exemption, women who became pregnant from rape must have reported their assault to law enforcement officials.

In fact, since Congress returned to session just one week ago, six different anti-abortion bills have already been introduced in the House and Senate. Yep – first order of business for the nation is MUST GET ALLLLL UP  in those lady bits! Meanwhile, the states have passed 231 laws curbing abortion rights in just the past four years.

Also in Republican-controlled states are ever more laws criminalizing miscarriages. Yes, you read that right – in more and more states, miscarriages must actually be registered with the state and investigated. So far, eight hundred women have been imprisoned for their miscarriages. From the article linked:

Republicans across the country have openly called for outlawing all forms of abortion, including miscarriages. In Kansas,conservatives attached an amendment to House Bill 2613 last Spring that would create “mandatory reporting requirements for miscarriages that occur at medical facilities or for the physician who sees a woman immediately following a miscarriage. In short, women would have their names entered into a database if they have a miscarriage….

But Kansas is hardly the only red state to seek such measures.

In 2011, Georgia Republicans sought a law requiring law enforcement to investigate miscarriages….

Tennessee Republicans tried to do the exact same thing in 2012 with a bill that would have required the persecution of women who have miscarriages and would have criminalized them, natural or not. And then Tennessee Republicans actually made criminalizing miscarriages a horrific reality.

Mississippi is also poised to prosecute women who have miscarriages and stillbirths. And many red states have actually done this. Louisiana, Utah, and Florida have all punished women just for having a miscarriage. And there are 800 such cases like this that have happened in America, which has had legal abortion since 1973, when the Supreme Court made its ruling in the landmark Roe v. Wade.

See Alternet for specific, hard to even believe examples, including pregnant women being held hostage in hospitals with the police present and and women being successfully prosecuted for delaying C-sections or even for falling down stairs with no evidence whatsoever that the fall was anything but a tragic accident.

patriarchal principle: Right to workplace accommodations for pregnant women still not clear – in the year 2015

As NARAL explains:

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide a case that’s going to have a major impact on working women and their families. Peggy Young was a driver with UPS when she got pregnant. When she told UPS that her doctor wanted her to avoid lifting more than 20 pounds, UPS forced Peggy into unpaid leave.

UPS’s treatment of Young was flat out wrong. Employers should support a woman’s choice to have a child. They shouldn’t be able to deny pregnant women the same kind of reasonable workplace accommodations offered to others.

No woman should ever have to choose between her job and her pregnancy. Working women across America shouldn’t have to worry about being forced off the job if they get pregnant, and lose their paycheck and health care at the very moment their children and families need them most.

patriarchal principle: Abused women bear some of the responsibility

Tondalo Hall, a thirty year old mother from Oklahoma, was married to a man who abused her and her children. Her abuser ended up being sentenced to just two years in prison. Tondalo, however, was prosecuted for “failure to protect” her children from her abuser. Her prison sentence is thirty years – yes, a stunning fifteen times longer than that of the abuser! She is currently applying to the parole board for commutation of her sentence. At the link, you can sign a petition asking the parole board in Oklahoma for commutation. I signed and I hope you will too.

Please allow me to discuss domestic violence based on personal experience. This will not be my most coherent writing because it is extremely difficult and so very complicated to try to explain to people who have not experienced it, so I apologize for that. I was an abused woman – emotionally, physically, financially, and most often sexually – for basically my entire adult life so far, from when I was fifteen up until just four years ago at age forty-two. What I think others simply can not begin to comprehend is the brainwashing that an abuser uses to control the target and the total power he comes to have. Abuse puts you in a dungeon so dark and so deep that it becomes utterly impossible to envision any choices, to think that there might even exist ways out – in fact, it is so damn bad that you can’t actually think at all anymore, instead  making it from one day to the next in a fog. You exist in 100% survival mode. You also exist in a perpetual state of trauma, part of the fog. Most raped and abused women suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. While most people are familiar with PTSD as a trauma illness suffered by returning combat veterans, please be aware that while 35% of combat veterans have it, 70% of raped and abused women do, so it is actually twice as common for us (and I have it). How can someone who is so traumatized that she can no longer even think straight go about fully comprehending what is happening to her yet alone organizing an escape? All too often, she can’t. Abuse also causes depression, which is another way the victim becomes utterly paralyzed, part of the fog.Then there is Stockholm syndrome involved, the powerful, intense trauma bonding between the abuser and the abused – he becomes your god and your parent and your love all rolled into one, for he alone has the power to reward and punish (and the reward phase following instances of abuse involves such incredibly intense romance and sex, so it is like a drug that keeps you hooked despite the side effects, and you look to all-powerful him to hand out those romantic reward periods). There is cognitive dissonance, truckloads of it You believe that he really is a good man at heart and that you’re lucky to have him – probably everyone who knows him thinks he’s a really great guy. You  believe him when, during the intense romancing stages, he says, possibly even while crying, that the abuse will never happen again as he is likely showering you with cards and roses and jewelry and constant, pretty much obsessive loving affection. Believe it or not, when they are not abusing, abusers really put their targets on pedestals and make them feel like goddesses being worshipped. My ex actually used to refer to me as his “goddess” and his “queen.” Think of abusers when they are on their best behavior as the undisputed champions of the WWRF – World Wide Romance Federation. Thus, the mind of the abused suffers extreme cognitive dissonance (when something conflicts with everything you think you know, the mind becomes too overwhelmed and, as a coping mechanism, blocks out the conflicting information), for it is impossible to comprehend that this master romancer is also an abuser, so since that is impossible, the mind of the abused focuses on the good and rejects the bad. So the woman becomes hooked on these periods of intense good times, usually denies to herself that the bad times really happened or were quite so bad, and sticks around just living for the good times. The denial that the abuse is that bad is a survival technique called minimizing. For example, during my second year of marriage, my husband slapped me hard enough to break a blood vessel in my eyelid, turning my eyelid purple enough for people at work to inquire about it. The next day my husband, who stood a foot taller than I and weighed double my weight, told me, “I just slapped you, open hand. It’s not like I punched you or something. Believe me, baby, if I’d meant to hurt you, you would have woken up in the hospital or not at all.” So I made this bit of minimizing my own, rationalizing that it wasn’t really that bad since at least he hadn’t punched me. And so, given all that, there is a good chance that the abused is so controlled that she doesn’t even desire to leave. I know I didn’t – for 23 out of 25 years and even when I wanted to leave at year 23 it was not over abuse but over something else. I thought I had a wonderful, romantic marriage to my soulmate. Oh, and that’s another thing. On my abuse recovery forums, every woman at some point mentions the word soulmate. The trauma bond is that intense.

I would bet that Ms. Hall was either psychologically trapped as I described above or that if she even wanted to leave, she was utterly unable to see any way out for her and her children – that’s just how abuse works mentally and emotionally and I know that very intimately for I stuck around for 25 years of it and could see no way out  (hell, I was so controlled that I couldn’t even reckon with the fact that I WAS actually being abused for that matter, so I wasn’t even looking for a way out) until an old friend I hadn’t seen since high school, like a guardian angel sent to me from the spirit world, realized how bad my situation was before I ever did and offered to let my daughter and me live in his guest room for free permanently. It took many gentle conversations with him, a good man, each night until the morning sun arose for me to even come to understand that I was indeed a victim of abuse. Thus, it was actually a man who defined rape for me in such a way that I came to understand how much I’d been sexually abused – go figure. During my abusive marriage, starting around year twelve, I actually majored in Social Justice Issues and Women’s Studies, if you can believe it, magna cum laude  – now I have this secret thought of my academic license to practice feminism being somehow revoked since I was actually being abused the whole time I was writing my many A+ papers on feminist theory and such  I even volunteered in a battered women’s shelter and still did not see myself in those women’s eyes or hear my story in theirs. The abuse is just that complete, that blinding.

Sentencing Ms. Hall to thirty years in prison for having been a victim along with her children is absolutely unacceptable and shows complete ignorance about domestic abuse on the part of the Oklahoma (in)justice system. And this – imprisoning abused mothers for “failure to protect” – is an alarming yet ever-growing trend in the states.If you google “failure to protect abused women,” you will find many such disturbing stories including this one in which a man who was battering both his girlfriend and her child killed the child and the mother was sentenced to FORTY-FIVE years for “failure to protect” even though she had tried to escape many times but was always blocked by the abuser from doing so – once she escaped and he brought her home locked in the trunk of a car. In fact – and this is all too often the case – the courts used her very efforts to escape as proof that she was aware of the danger and therefore responsible for her son’s death  – twisted logic, especially since her abuser always stopped her from leaving. From the link:

Lindley’s case exposes what many battered women’s advocates say is a grotesque injustice. As is common in families terrorized by a violent man, there were two victims in the Lindley-Turner home: mother and child. Both Lindley and Titches had suffered beatings for months. But in all but a handful of states, laws allow for one of the victims — the battered mother — to be treated as a perpetrator, guilty not of committing abuse herself but of failing to protect her children from her violent partner.

Said Stephanie Avalon, resource specialist for the federally funded Battered Women’s Justice Project, “It’s the ultimate blaming of the victim.”

Please also note the following point from Buzzfeed:

While these laws are designed to both hold mother and father responsible for protecting their children, the law isn’t applied equally. Buzzfeed found a total 73 cases against mothers, yet only four against fathers. Women commit 34 percent of serious or fatal cases of child abuse.

“Mothers are held to a very different standard,” law professor Kris McDaniel-Miccio said.

So if women commit about a third of known child abuse cases, why aren’t we seeing fathers prosecuted in about a third of “failure to protect” cases? I’m with the lawyer in this article – mothers are just held to a different standard within the legal system than are fathers.

And that concludes patriarchy in the news. I’m sure there will be more to report before long  – unfortunately.- at least until le revolucion.

Oh, and in the meantime, do enjoy this feminist re-imagining of the Harry Potter saga. In it, J.K. Rowling is Jeanne Rowling since, in a non-patriarchal world, she is not forced to use her initials because of any publisher concerns about boys not being willing to read books written by a lady. And it stars, of course, the extremely serious and studious, forever saving Harry and Ron’s asses Hermione Granger. Or, even better, this feminist re-imaging in which Hermione challenges institutional gender roles at Hogwarts and ultimately manages to smash the fucking patriarchy. It’s so good that I can’t resist putting some of it here:

Hermione: “And it’s not just Ron and Draco I have to worry about. It’s all wizards.”

Harry: “Not all wizards, right?”

Hermione: “Yes all wizards, Harry.”

Harry: “Not all witches feel that way, surely.”

Hermione: “Yes, all witches. All witches have had to put up with comments like that, and worse.”

Harry: “But that’s…that’s impossible. If what you’re saying is true, that every witch feels threatened by every wizard, then….I just can’t believe it.”

Fireworks were exploding in Hermione’s brain. Her heart was pounding. She was furious. If she couldn’t get Harry, her most reasonable, supportive friend, to understand, then she may as well give up….

Harry managed to escape, but his world was changed forever.

Harry: “It’s the Patriarchy, it’s real. It’s really real.”

Harry apologized to Hermione.

Harry: “You were right. I’m so sorry. Yes all witches.”

Hermione forgave Ron, realizing he too was a victim of the patriarchy.

Hermione: “When you grow up in a culture that allows wizards to speak to witches that way, how are you supposed to know that it’s wrong? But do it again and I’ll cut you….”

In retaliation, Draco joined the patriarchy.

Draco: “Why should witches get all the benefits, huh? Wizards are the ones who are really being persecuted. Misandry is what it is. Misandry!”…

Ron: “Sorry but I just don’t understand. Witches and wizards are equal already. It’s not like it’s the 1950s. It’s not like anyone is burning witches these days. You want to oppress wizards, is that it? You want all the power, don’t you?”

Hermione: “This isn’t about having more, Ron. It’s about being equal. Witches and wizards don’t have the same rights and opportunities. Why don’t you understand?”…

And then Ron came back.

Ron: “I finally understand. It’s not just some witches but all witches who are subject to broad and pervasive sexism everywhere they go, every day. Once you see it, you can’t help but see it. It’s like we’re living in a patriarchal dystopia. Surrounded by prejudice and oppression….”

Draco was still trying to make this all about him.

Draco: “Witches get a free ride, it’s wizards like me who suffer. Where’s my special treatment? Where’s my kiss? I deserve a kiss. It’s misandry I tell you.”

Hermione: “Misandry? It’s not even a word! Don’t misinterpret your feelings of inadequacy for the cultural, social, economic, and political oppression of an entire gender. Feeling personally maligned does not a wider prejudice make….”



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