Not. Gonna. Cry.
Don’t get me wrong - I am a Feminist. I’m an activist. This will never change. I’ve been a Feminist since I was like 3; as far as I remember knowing that I was a person with female parts. Believe it or not, I do remember conversations I had about women and equality and trying to understand why I was getting a “kicken” toy instead of a rocket or a space station or something I thought was more fun and interesting. So my history runs long.
I find it hard to be a Feminist because sometimes, I am catching myself thinking that what I am doing is not right for a woman to do. When I date men who are younger (which I mostly do by the way because I date people, not their age), I am the one thinking that’s not right. When I get into a fight with someone who sexually assaulted me on the street by making unwelcomed remarks about my butt, or by calling me “honey”, I am the one who thinks that it’s not lady like. When I am dressing in the morning, I choose neutral clothes as to not get attacked or attract unwanted attention.
It’s hard for me to admit because I always encourage others to feel free to do whatever they want; to break gender clichés and just be who they are; to walk around naked if they want to because HECK being naked doesn’t mean “rape me”.
I needed to admit this though because I realize we are the ones who limit ourselves; and by “we” I mean even the most Feminist of us. We are often called names like “haters” and “hairy feminists” and “obsolete” and what not. We lose clients and men who we thought might be interesting because they don’t understand what a Feminist is. I don’t want to date those men, but it still hurts to feel rejected.
As a man and a woman, we need to train our brains to accept Feminism as a way of life, as a fact, and equality as a given. Feminism is just about THAT: Equal rights and breaking gender roles and acceptance.
Some people even say that Feminism is dead. That Feminism was an issue 50 years ago. That we don’t need Feminism because now women can vote. We don’t need Feminism because if you are a Feminist, you shouldn’t accept for men to be manly and nice and respectful and to open the door for you. You know what though, Feminism is not dead. Feminism is very much alive and it will be as long as we live in a rape culture. Feminism is alive as long as we don’t have equal pay for the same jobs. Feminism is alive because there are men out there making laws about raping you with an electronic wand when you want an abortion and want to have control over your body. Feminism will be alive as long as women can’t just walk around naked, run bare breasted like men do, go out at night alone in a short dress and high heels if they want to, and feel safe.
It’s hard to be a Feminist because our brains have been conditioned to tolerate that women be raped if they wear a short skirt, be beaten if they speak too loudly, be humiliated if they step out of societal norms.
I am a Feminist. I am an activist. And right now, I have decided that I will condition my brain to stop stopping me.
Also, you should watch this video and then read the ignorant comments. It’s pretty eye opening.
The “wives, sisters, daughters” line of argument comes up all the fucking time. President Obama even used it in his State of the Union address this year, saying,
“We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence.”
This device, which Obama has used on more than one occasion, is reductive as hell. It defines women by their relationships to other people, rather than as people themselves. It says that women are only important when they are married to, have given birth to, or have been fathered by other people. It says that women are only important because of who they belong to.
Women are not possessions.
Women are people.
One of the most incisive responses to some of the rhetoric we’ve been hearing in the wake of the Steubenville rape verdict is this blog post over at The Belle Jar.
tears of righteous joy because yeah girl, YEAH.
I don’t necessarily agree that the “daughters, sisters, wives” line is dehumanizing women. As a matter of facts, I think this is a way of bringing it home to assholes who defend the rapists rather than look at the victims’ ruined lives… but this is a good argument, well made and nicely written… and worth the read. I am all about moving this discussion forward. Because we live in a rape culture and we need to acknowledge it and change this.
I don’t have anything to add. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about juvenile justice and trying minors as adults or not, but have nothing to say about it right now.
I spent the morning getting sick over this, but it needs to be shared.
Thanks to disgusting and/or ignorant people like the Steubenville rapists, their enablers, Todd Akin, teems of moronic internet commenters, over 20 senators voting against VAWA, and a tragically tone deaf and clueless media, we are at a specific moment in this country where we’re talking about rape. Let’s not let that pass.
The most insidious cruelty of rape is that still, in 2013, if you are the victim of a sexual assault, you carry a stigma. Too often you have to prove that no, you did not do anything to deserve it and no, you didn’t just “change your mind” after and no, men are not entitled to a women’s body just because. And if you don’t think that those are actual things that people believe well, then, you aren’t paying attention. Because those are exactly the sort of things that people have said in the aftermath of Steubenville.
People do not want to talk about rape. People want to pretend it isn’t a massive issue, a monstrous thing that happens over and over and over. But it is. And only by continuing the conversation loudly and constantly, can we fix that. And not by worrying about what might have become of the talents of the rapists had this thing not “happened to them.” But rather by focusing on the scorched earth damage to the victims and the nauseating response from apologists and flat out misogynists who would rather give an attacker the benefit of the doubt than admit we have a problem.
It is important not to let this moment fade, to keep the light shined on these issues. Without it, boys will keep being taught that it’s ok as long as coach can cover it up and that girls are teases who don’t know what they REALLY want. And it’ll keep happening over and over and over.
I suspect most rapists do not think of themselves as rapists. And that’s because we let them.
Getting people to talk about rape and to teach their sons about basic human decency and empathy is only going to happen when we reveal how real a horror it is in too many people’s lives. We have an opportunity now to make something good. We have to find something of worth in what these women and girls go through, and the conversation is, hopefully the start of it.
(PS: I wrote this quickly and because I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last few months. Thanks to CNN for pushing me over the edge into outright fury and depression with their reprehensible reporting. I will return to posting self-promoting videos and songs featuring at least two guitarists momentarily.)
What happened in Steubenville is despicable. It is as wrong as it gets. It’s as horrifying as the gang rapes in India, or the so called “date rapes” (what IS a date rape anyways?? Isn’t it RAPE, PERIOD?) anywhere. Any type of rape is horrifying. Those of you who have been following my blog know how vocal I have been about this issue. We live in a rape culture.
Women can’t walk down the street at night without the fear of being attacked, no matter what they wear. We can’t feel safe when walking alone and meeting a bunch of guys walking on the same sidewalk. We can’t feel safe when we wear a skirt, or a dress or something that seems a little revealing. We can’t feel safe when we get drunk in the presence of strangers. We can’t feel safe going to college. We can’t feel safe at work because we live in a rape culture.
Statistics abut college rape and workplace sexual harassment that are NOT reported are frightening and infuriating (it is believed that about 54% of rapes are unreported). I was the victim of sexual harassment at work and I can tell you that as soon as I spoke up, other women spoke up but NONE reported it. I did. I was immediately told it was “my fault.” We live in a rape culture.
When you read the newspapers’ reports of rape, there’s always something in there that makes it the woman’s fault. I remember an article in the NY Times (that made me STOP reading that paper) about an 11 year old girl who had been gang raped, and the article described her as “not looking her age,” “wearing really short skirts,” and “hanging out with those boys all the time.”
We live in a rape culture. We need to change that. There will be no equal rights for anybody as long as women’s bodies are considered commodities that don’t belong to them. How can there be equal rights among all citizens when half of the population is considered unfit to make choices about their own physical being? Think about it, in some states, it is legal to rape a woman who is asking for an abortion with a wand under the pretense of “finding out more about the fetus.” It is a local government prerogative - so how can 16 year old boys view this as wrong?
We live in a rape culture. I grew up in a rape culture. Let’s change that for our sons and daughters.