Posts Tagged ‘violence against women’
This is a cross-post from Miss Wizzle at feministhemes.com. Miss Wizzle is a product of the Midwest suburbs and was raised to think for herself. She never realized how important this upbringing was until she was transplanted into the Wild West and the like-minded community she gre up with became a distant memory. After a couple years in the conservative west, she has developed a clearer idea of who she is, what she believes, and why she believes it. Read Miss Wizzle’s previous cross-post.
The Middle East has become the focus of a great deal of attention in the recent history, and as the region continues to draw our interest, we are increasingly made aware of the status of the women who reside there. In her heartwrenching memoir, In the Name of Honor, Mukhtar Mai allows us into her personal experience of trauma, loss, courage, hope, and the quest for justice in Pakistan.
After a family feud results in false accusations of rape committed by her twelve year-old brother, Mukhtar Bibi (as she was called at the time) must present herself to the rival family, the Mastois, and offer an apology on behalf of her family. Guided by her father, older brother, and uncle, Mukhtar bravely carries her Koran into the neighboring community, wholly unprepared for what is about to occur. A number of the citizens turn guns against her chaperons, and four men carry Mukhtar into a dark barn where she is gang raped and then tossed out, humiliated and half naked. The intensity of the experience, and the feeling of being in that dark building with Mukhtar is devastating.
Following her assault, Mukhtar falls into a deep depression, having lost all honor for herself and her family. She considers suicide, explaining that the aggressors “know that a woman humiliated in that way has no other recourse except suicide. They don’t even need to use their weapons. Rape kills her.” However, Mukhtar’s loving mother refuses to leave her daughter’s bedside, even as she begs for acid to drink. Finally, the hopelessness subsides and Mukhtar is driven by her anger to do something unheard of in such cases: report the attack and fight back until justice is served.
Mukhtar fights an uphill battle the whole way to the Pakistani Supreme Court as a result of pressure from jirgas (traditional tribal councils) on local government, false testimonies composed by police officers taking advantage of the widespread illiteracy of women in the region, and the misogynistic bias that prohibits her access to a fair trial or even humane treatment. Despite all this, Mukhtar never gives up, and in fact uses her case to draw global attention to the status of women in Pakistan, and the use of rape as an essential bargaining chip in the relations of tribes and clans in the country. In order to make the lives of future generations less painful, Mukhtar uses the money she is offered from various causes to start a school for girls as well as boys, and becomes a source of hope and strength for those who survive horrendous abuses and traumas as a result of the old ways of the patriarchial, misogynistic culture.
The courage and persistence demonstrated by Mukhtar Mai despite it all is cause for hope. “Sometimes, the magnitude of the problem overwhelms me,” she states. “Sometimes I’m so angry I can hardly breathe. But I never despair. My life has a meaning. My misfortune has become useful to the community.” Because women like Mukhtar are beginning to stand up, the world is noticing. Their stories turn a distant region into our own backyard, and force us to stand alongside them.
Can we have a show/movie about vampires that does not have at least one stalker-y vampire who wants to have his way with a certain women. Twilight has Edward. Both Angel and Spike have their stalker moments in Buffy and Angel. And Bill in True Blood is pretty possessive of Sookie and feels the need to “have his way with her.”
But no worries, Stephen Moyer (who plays Bill Compton on True Blood) can explain women’s desires to watch stalker-y vampires. In an interview for Nylon magazine, Moyer had this to say about vampire sex:
The thing about vampirism is that it taps into a female point of view – you have an old-fashioned gentleman with manners who is a fucking killer… it’s an interesting duality, because in our present society it would be an odd thing for a woman to say, ‘I want my man to be physical with me.’ How, as a modern man, can you fucking work that? It’s one thing to be polite and gentle… But when do you know it’s OK to crawl out of the mud and rape her [as Bill does in one scene]?… It’s difficult stuff for a bloke, but a vampire gets away with it…. I think that’s the attraction of the show – it’s looking back at a romantic time when men were men, but they were still charming.”
I’m glad Stephen Moyer is here to tell us about the “female point of view” and how women want to be raped sometimes. I hate to break it to you Stephen, but there is nothing romantic or charming about rape. I can’t speak for all women, but I don’t think it is ok to go around with the mindset that women want to be raped sometimes.
I do think there is something romantic about vampires or the vampire genre, but I think it has more to do with the gothic themes than the combination of charm and rape…at least for me. I used to love Stephen Moyer. While I find the character of Bill Compton problematic at times, I thought Stephen Moyer did a good job at playing the character. But I guess now we know why.
I’d like to see a mainstream vampire show/movie avoid this idea of vampire as stalker or vampire as racist. I think it could be either really good or really bad, but I think if the right person does it, it could have a great result…sometime that is romantic without being creepy.
Further reading about Stephen Moyer’s quote:
- Newsflash, Vampire Bill: Rape is Neither Romantic, Nor Charming [Bitch Blogs]
- Stephen Moyer on Vampire Sex: Masculinity in True Blood [Womanist Musings]
- Stephen Moyer Thinks You Want to be Raped By Your Vampire Boyfriend [Tiger Beatdown]
This morning I received an email from my friend who lives in Pittsburgh containing a link to this cartoon:
I have chosen not to write a lot about this horrible event because I feel like other people have done a better job at summarizing and analyzing the event than I could. So here, I will provide links to some articles that I find particularly interesting about the event:
Once more with feeling: Media Must Report Gender Motivation for Mass Shooting [WIMN's Voices]
Women At Risk [New York Times]
George Sodini: Misogynist and Racist [Womanist Musings]
Men’s Rights Activists, Anti-Feminists, and Other Misogynists Comment on George Sodini [Alas, a blog]
The Sodini Killing [FBomb]
The other week, I read this post about street harassment. I have never really been exposed to a lot of street harassment. Like the author of that post,
I grew up surrounded with contradictary views on strangers: you could smile at them, wave back at them, because in a small town you probably know them and just don’t remember, but never get in their car.
Then I went to college in a small city where I spent most of my time on campus or in the “downtown” area that was often frequented by college students. The amount of time that I spend in big cities, where I feel like street harassment is more popular, is very limited (hopefully that will change soon as I hope to someday move to a city like Chicago). So I just wanted to clarify that this post is not necessarily coming from personal experience but from observation.
This post states,
Street harassment is a display of power, a public forum for letting women know that they should be avoiding the realm of sidewalks and “staying safe” by sacrificing life at large.
Street harassment is all about power of the harasser over the harassed. And while men can certainly be harassed, street harassment victims are generally women. Therefore street harassment is another example of men exercising their power over women.
As a result of this exercise of power, women are made to feel unsafe. Women are constantly made to feel unsafe in our society in subtle ways. In the previous post “Women in Home Security Commercials,” I discussed how advertising for home security system uses women’s “vulnerability” to sell systems and increases women’s fear within their own home.
Street harassment is just another example of how women are made to feel unsafe. Many may think nothing of it, or just write it off as an everyday occurrence. But it’s not. Like the motivations behind rape, street harassment is not sexually motivated, it is an expression of power. And this expression of power contributes to the culture of violence against women.
Women should feel safe in their homes and in their neighborhoods. While a health sense of caution can be beneficial, if women are constantly made to feel unsafe they lose their power. And maybe this is the goal of harassers. But a society where at least half (because it’s not just women who face harassment) are made to feel unsafe by society in general is a broken society. Part of living in a democratic society with all of the rights that we have should be the right to feel and be safe.
As a feminist, I started to think about how being a vegetarian was not only a political statement, but how it could also be a feminist one. Part of vegetarianism is protesting the unethical treatment of animals in order to serve human purposes. Part of feminism is about protesting the oppression of women in order to serve white male purposes and about the interlocking forms of oppression. You can see the connection here. The unethical treatment of animals and the oppression of women can be linked in connection to the privilege of (white) males.
The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams (which I haven’t read, but it is definitely going on the list) is all about this connection. The Amazon.com description of the book says…
Building upon these observations, feminist activist Adams detects intimate links between the slaughter of animals and violence directed against women. She ties the prevalence of a carnivorous diet to patriarchal attitudes, such as the idea that the end justifies the means, and the objectification of others.
By connecting the oppression of women to the oppression of animals, we can then see the connection between the slaughter of animals and violence against women. The unethical treatment of animals by (white) males due to the patriarchal society is also linked to violence against women due to the patriarchal society.
And no one shows the connection between slaughtering animals and violence against women (by promoting violence against women) like PETA. The PETA ads are old news, but still relevant. Using women as a way to promote animal rights activism, PETA equates slaughtering animals to violence against women, but not in a good way. These ads are sexist and rather than stopping the unethical treatment of animals (like I’m assuming its intention is), it is making women a piece of meat, ready to be consumed by men.
PETA has been creating these kinds of ads for while, but nothing seems to change despite outcry from feminist communities. You would think that PETA would be more sensitive to the oppression of women because of the connection between vegetarianism and feminism. But PETA is all too aware of this connection, but does not use it productively. PETA uses this connection to further their cause at the expense of women.
So, is vegetarianism a feminist issue? Yes. Should all feminists be vegetarians? No. Being a vegetarian is a personal choice. And what is feminism all about? The freedom for women to make their own decisions about their life, their body, and what they do to or put into their body. I chose to be a vegetarian. Well, chose out of personal preference, but if I liked meat today, I would probably still choose to be a vegetarian. But not everyone has to be. It’s all about the personal decision. While I do believe in the connection of these forms of oppression (as with all forms of oppression), being a vegetarian is such a personal decision that I believe that whatever someone decides to do, it is the right decision for them.
I was looking through The Huffington Post today and came across this article about the need for a registry of people who have committed violence against abortion clinics or providers. I found the article really interesting and it definitely made me think.
The author, Jacob M. Appel, compares the anti-abortion violence registry to the sex offender registry.
Much as we do not permit convicted pedophiles to teach kindergarten or convicted hijackers to board airplanes, common sense dictates that individuals who have been imprisoned for plotting violence against abortion clinics should never again be permitted anywhere near such facilities.
While I was intrigued of the idea of this registry and could definitely see the benefit of it, I was a little weary while reading the first part of the article just because of the restrictions against free speech. But Appel later addresses this concern.
While shouting at female patients during their most vulnerable moments may be a Constitutionally protected right, doing so does not contribute to a robust marketplace of ideas. Nor does the legality of such demonstrations make them any less distasteful. Civil society would benefit greatly if anti-abortion activists took their protests to state capitals or to the steps of the United States Supreme Court instead.
I think that this idea merits serious consideration. It has benefits for both sides. One the pro-choice side, it helps promote the safety of clients and employees of abortion clinics. On the anti-choice/pro-life side, it further supports their nonviolence mission.
Doing so would lend convincing credence to the anti-abortion movement’s claims to nonviolence and would prevent dangerous ex-felons from infiltrating its ranks.
Appel doesn’t make any claims that this registry is going to solve the debate over abortion, because we all know it won’t. But what it will do is ensure safe access to abortions for women who need them while also stopping violence within the “pro-life” movement.
This article spoke to me on a personal level as well. I recently started volunteering at my local Planned Parenthood. While this clinic does not provide abortion serives, there have still been protests there (because heaven forbid women get basic health care). As Appel asserts, people who committed crimes against abortion clinics in the 80s and 90s are just now starting to be released from jail and it is unlikely that they have shifted their political beliefs.
And this is the case at my local Planned Parenthood. A man was recently released from prison where he was serving time for crimes he committed against this clinic. When he was released, this office strengthened their security measures to prevent any future protests and/or crimes. While I still feel completely safe there, these security measures could turn off people going to the clinic. If this type of registry was in place and there were laws that legally kept this man away from the clinic, these measures would not have to be in place and it could potentially be a safer place for women to come to receive health care.
Today the White House announced the appointment of a new White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, Lynn Rosenthal.
In this new position, Ms. Rosenthal will serve as an advisor to the President and Vice President on domestic violence and sexual assault issues; be a liaison to the domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy community; coordinate with the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) on implementation of Violence Against Women Act programs; coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services on implementation of Family Violence Prevention Act services (including the National Domestic Violence Hotline); coordinate with the State Department and USAID on global domestic violence initiatives; and drive the development new initiatives and policy aimed at combating domestic violence and sexual assault with advocacy groups and members of Congress.
This new office is just one more step towards ending violence against women. While the battle is still far from over, by giving the issue the importance that this office does, more people will become aware of the seriousness of this issue.