rape culture

more on the teenaged girl raped at her homecoming dance.
this part in particular is the crux of the issue for me:

"I think that teens who get drunk do incur certain risks that we should let them suffer for. They should be allowed to bear all the natural risks that a person faces when that person drinks excessively and nobody commits a criminal violation of their most basic human rights. These risks include: that they may fall and twist an ankle or a knee, tear clothes... puke, wake up with a massive hangover, and get grounded by their parents. That’s what happens when you’re a fifteen year old who gets shitfaced outside the school dance. Those are the risks our sons run as well as our daughters.
Those risks should not include murder, waterboarding, or rape. Each of the latter is a criminal violation of human rights that we should not tolerate, regardless of who the victim is, nice or naughty, drunk or sober, man or woman. Because they are wrong in the big, non-situational sense. These things are not forces of nature. Tornadoes appear on their own due to climatological conditions, but rapes do not self-generate from masses of air. People commit rapes. With staggering frequency, male people commit rapes, and commit them against women."

also- a GREAT analysis of rape culture as a whole, here.
so much of this is just so blatant...and yet so commonplace. people are literally scared, or embarrassed, or WHATEVER, to speak up and say this kind of thing is NOT ok. and THAT is rape culture.

"Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women's daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you're alone, if you're with a stranger, if you're in a group, if you're in a group of strangers, if it's dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you're carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you're wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who's around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who's at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn't follow all the rules it's your fault."

"Rape culture is tasking victims with the burden of rape prevention. Rape culture is encouraging women to take self-defense as though that is the only solution required to preventing rape. Rape culture is admonishing women to "learn common sense" or "be more responsible" or "be aware of barroom risks" or "avoid these places" or "don't dress this way," and failing to admonish men to not rape."

"Rape culture is boys under 10 years old knowing how to rape."

"Rape culture is the objectification of women, which is part of a dehumanizing process that renders consent irrelevant. Rape culture is treating women's bodies like public property. Rape culture is street harassment and groping on public transportation and equating raped women's bodies to a man walking around with valuables hanging out of his pockets. Rape culture is most men being so far removed from the threat of rape that invoking property theft is evidently the closest thing many of them can imagine to being forcibly subjected to a sexual assault."

"Rape culture is using the word "rape" to describe something that has been done to you other than a forced or coerced sex act. Rape culture is saying things like "That ATM raped me with a huge fee" or "The IRS raped me on my taxes.""

"Rape culture is people objecting to the detritus of the rape culture being called oversensitive, rather than people who perpetuate the rape culture being regarded as not sensitive enough."

in other words. our culture is programmed to excuse rape. because we do it every day in so many ways we don't even realize we're doing it. women's bodies are property, therefore women are expected to take the responsibility for protecting their property, instead of making the degrading, defiling and theft of said property socially and morally unacceptable!

changing rape culture is a change of our CULTURE to afford each person equal value, worth, and rights. true equity is necessary to end rape culture.


safety in numbers

just imagine if you were this teenaged girl's parents. you send her off to her high school homecoming dance. take tons of pictures of her in her new dress, with her hair done, and standing nervously next to her date. before you know it, she's called for a ride home...uh-oh. wondering what kind of adolescent embarassment or BFF squabble might have precipitated the early call, you get in the car to go pick her up.

except that you can't find her at the school gym.

when you do find her, she's been raped, beaten and robbed. by several men. in front of numerous other people. who did nothing to help her.

what could have been going through those people's minds? she deserved it? she asked for it? she should have known better?

the only message this kind of horror gives us is that women are considered OBJECTS, worthless and expendable.

equality is not a reality for women. no matter how many of us like to think 'we've come a long way baby'. not until the rape and torture of women on a daily basis is erradicated. and if we can't even do that in our own neighborhoods, how can we hope to do anything for the women in the congo, or darfur, or afghanistan?

THIS is what feminism is about. and this is why i can't understand when women and men shy away from that label. is the rape of one in every 4 women ok? does that sound like we've "achieved equality"?? rape culture is the reality. but i do not accept that this will always be the case. and the more of us who do not accept that reality, the sooner we can change it.



brain food

two totally unrelated, but thought-provoking pieces i read today:

Single in the City: perspective from a single woman in urban India.
"The idea that the single woman is entitled to the full range of freedoms that any other adult does and is entitled to live her life as she chooses is also one that is yet to gain full acceptance in our society."

(lest you think that women actually have equal rights.)

and Remember the Women? about the realities facing afghani women. it's long, but completely eye-opening. i recommend reading the whole thing, and putting yourself in the shoes of an afghan woman.
"The current reality is that...women are denied their most fundamental human rights and risk further violence in the course of seeking justice for crimes perpetrated against them." For women, "human rights are values, standards, and entitlements that exist only in theory and at times, not even on paper."

(lest you think we are accomplishing any lofty goals in our 'war of necessity')

fashion backward

a busy month and a bit of an inspiration-drought have made for a quiet blog this october...

but today my blood pressure went up a couple of dozen points when i read the following gem:

Not Over The Hill: Secretary Clinton Turns A Stylish 62
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turns 62 years young today, and we can't help but be sentimental about her style statements over the years. She started out as sassy Miss Rodham sporting striped pants and huge glasses in the '60s, donned sparkles and scarves in the '70s and '80s, and worked up to becoming the 1990s first lady who fancied a good plaid and headbands. And now, as the modern day pantsuit enthusiast, Hillary has certainly covered a lot of sartorial ground. Take a look back at the Queen of the Hill's memorable ensembles...

ok...let's just do a quick run-down:
sexism, check.
agism, check.
total non-sequitur??? CHECK.

what in the world does the Secretary of State's taste in "a good plaid" have to do with anything?

nothing. except that the Secretary of State happens to be a WOMAN. so of course, on her birthday, it makes total sense to publish a retrospective of her STYLE choices, rather than her political ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

bonus: there's also a slide show of michelle obama's "cheap chic" style choices on HuffPo today.
don't get me wrong- i love both of these stylish women. but why oh why aren't we being treated to a slideshow of any male dignitaries?

that's right. because they're men. but when it comes to women, their fashion is the most interesting aspect of their lives, and clearly the top priority in their busy schedules.

not to put too fine a point on this, but here's why this seriously gets under my skin: when we focus our national attention on a female politician/public figure's FASHION choices, rather than their social, political or humanitarian choices, we are implicitly MOVING and SECONDING the notion that this is the extent of said woman's worth. this is what matters to women: CLOTHES. we don't want to bother our pretty little heads with anything more significant than today's choice of printed j.crew cardigans.

and that implicit message leads to explicit sexist treatment of women from the board room to the stock room to the courtroom to the hospital room.

to sum up: if you're going to give me a retrospective slideshow of hillary clinton's wardrobe, either include her corresponding political milestones along with the designer's names, or show me bill's annual pantsuit choices on his birthday too. (yeah right)

better yet. stop wasting bandwidth with this kind of offensive and patriarchal crap. arguably the two most powerful women in the united states deserve to be regarded as more than mannequins. we all do.



this book is on my list: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

among the alarming findings: 1 maternal death every MINUTE worldwide.

this review (among others) reminds me why i gotta read this book.

check it out!


weapon du jour

in the west-african country of Guinea last week, an unarmed crowd of political protestors numbering about 50,000 was fired upon and violently disbanded by governmental military forces. depending on the source, between 50 and 150 people were killed.

"Cellphone snapshots, ugly and hard to refute, are circulating here and feeding rage: they show that women were the particular targets of the Guinean soldiers..."

particular attention was paid to dehumanizing and violating women during the clash. witnesses state that at least 6-10 women were beaten, gang-raped and/or brutally attacked (whipped, stabbed, clubbed).

this strategy, of course, is not new. secretary of state hillary clinton addressed the UN Security Council last week and the council passed a resolution condemning rape as a weapon of war.

but what is going to be done to halt the use of this weapon? will there be any funding to back up the UN's resolution? with more than 200,000 women raped in the congo alone, frankly, this weapon is proving to be more dangerous to the world's population than nuclear weapons have been to date. why isn't there a UN sanctioned and funded watchdog group like the IAEA going into wartorn countries and calling international attention to the atrocities being committed against women every day? putting pressure on world powers to bring economic and social powers to bear against countries that allow this weapon to be used freely? reducing the proliferation of this deadly weapon across the globe, just as nuclear arms proliferation is carefully controlled?

rape is epidemic, systemic and, as research clearly shows, completely destructive to the fabric of a community.

"Community leaders noted that the frequent and extreme brutality committed with impunity during wave after wave of armed occupation has resulted in the disintegration of the moral and social fabric in many localities. Social stigma has left large numbers of rape victims and children born of rape rejected by their families and communities. Many cases of HIV and other infections remain untested and untreated. Fear of going to fields and markets--sites where rapes often take place--has resulted in spiraling malnutrition and economic loss. Widespread criminal impunity and inadequate local and regional governance leave communities without the means to reduce the violence."

communities are wiped out by rape as weapon of war, just as surely as they would be by weapons of mass destruction. in fact, rape SHOULD be considered a WMD. it clearly creates mass casualties in its wake; but to date, rape has not been a priority on the worldwide security agenda.

(i'll give you one guess who's in the majority at the highest levels of world leadership/governance?)


Whip It: Ur doin' it right.

here's a post i wrote in response to a friend of mine's entry about the new Drew Barrymore movie, Whip It.

my friend Scott's blog is a really interesting perspective from a filmmaker/screenwriter based in iowa. i just happened to disagree with one point he made about the new roller derby film...that by having the main character completely turn away from/reject from the pageant dreams her mother has for her, the character/movie is somehow a little less three-dimensional. the rejection of the traditionally feminine (and more stereotypically desireable) role somehow automatically lessened the character's attractiveness, or real-ness, or value.

i begged to differ.

i think the movie can still be three-dimensional with NOBODY choosing that traditional beauty queen role. in fact, NOT including a character who wanted to pursue that role is a deliberate statement in-and-of itself, and one that is too infrequently made. how refreshing for a movie to allow its female characters to choose the non-traditional role, and be celebrated for it. in my opinion, saying that "they missed a huge opportunity to show some three dimensionality by at least giving a nod to the fact that the tribe some girls may want to be in is being in beauty pageants. What if Page’s best friend in the film would have really been gung-ho for doing the pageant thing?" implies that the pageant thing inherently has more value, is more interesting, or is a more comforting (more safe, less unnerving) option to portray, than the derby thing. which of course, is TRUE in our culture.

the "nod to the fact that the tribe some girls may want to be in is being in beauty pageants" is validated in our society every day, by every fashion magazine and make-up commercial.
that nod is UNDERSTOOD. girls know that being a beauty queen is much more socially acceptable than being a jock. but, from what i've read about it so far, Whip It challenges the audience to accept the fact that girls can be loud, crude, tough and STILL be good people, attractive women, and valuable human beings.

but i have to admit- i really should SEE the movie before i get TOO defensive. ;) too bad i have zero weekends open this month. Whip It is already on my netflix queue.

also- my opinion couldn't possibly have anything to do with my general feelings about beauty pageants. (scholarship program FAIL.) nah, that couldn't be it.

props to my friend Scott for his post- hope he doesn't regret telling me to follow his blog! :) check it out @ http://screenwritingfromiowa.wordpress.com/


*cough* *sputter*

we'd "probably" be a better country if women no longer had the right to vote!?!?!?!?!

i suppose we'd probably be a better country if rape was decriminalized, gays were institutionalized and people of color were segregated too, wouldn't we?

truly: this guy is why our nation and our world is so broken. this guy and the millions of other people like him. he thinks he's just making a little point about 'the good ol' days' (before women were recognized as equally worthy of a voice), but what he's really saying is that anyone who is not exactly like him is simply UNDESERVING of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.