Posts in category Sexual Violence/Rape
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In the past several years, Halloween has morphed into something really scary. Not because of the blood and gore, creepy decorations, or traditionally spooky costumes, but because of how it reinforces the cultural narrative about women.
Halloween used to be the day when you could put on a disguise and pretend to be someone else for the night. For women, it could be a reprieve from the daily pressure to look thin, beautiful, and sexy. But instead of a day off from that pressure, Halloween is now a day to amp it up. Nearly every option for women is a sexy take on a traditional costume, from fetishized caricatures from porn to the totally absurd, such as the Sexy Hamburger, the Sexy Crayon, the Sexy Skittles, the Sexy Sponge Bob, and the Sexy Nemo (the clown fish from Finding Nemo). I just … I … have no words:
But it’s not all just harmless fun. Even child characters in fairy tales have been made into sexed-up costumes for women, e.g., Sexy Little Red Riding Hood, Sexy Goldilocks, and Sexy Alice in Wonderland. (See more examples here).
In addition to fairy tale characters, here are a few other ways for women to dress up as sexy little girls — the Sexy Girl Scout, the Sexy Schoolgirl, and the Sexy Baby (WTF is wrong with people?!):
What’s so troubling about these costumes is that:
“… [M]any of the ‘sexy’ costumes are highly sexualized versions of characters who are supposed to be little girls … The fact that many women dress up as sexy little girls points to both the sexualization of female children and the infantilization of adult women.”
The sexualization of girls teaches them early on that their value lies in their appearance, their bodies, and their sexuality. The American Psychological Association found that sexualization damages girls’ feelings of self-worth, impairs their mental functioning, and contributes to eating disorders. In other words, it fucks girls up. The infantilization of adult women reinforces attitudes that women should be treated as naive, dependent, and incapable of making intelligent decisions or holding leadership roles. In other words, it fucks women over.
Another disturbing trend in sexy costumes is linking sexuality with violence. Here are some creepy sexy costumes, such as female versions of horror movie serial killers — Sexy Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Sexy Jason (Friday the 13th), and Sexy Michael Myers (Halloween). I guess the Sexy Body Bag (seriously, who comes up with this shit?!) fits in here as well :/ :
Of course, many Halloween costumes are intended to be frightening or gory, but turning a male horror movie killer that often targets scantily-clad female victims into a scantily-clad female horror movie killer has some interesting connotations. Horror movie killers tend to murder (punish) the sexually open “whores” early on, while the good girl “virgins” often escape (reward). Underlying the sexy female killer is a misogynistic fear of female sexuality and power — it threatens conservative social attitudes about women owning our sexuality and our bodies. It also sparks our own conflicted feelings about sexuality or our insecurities about other women being competition or threats. Since all of these fears are uncomfortable, they must be buried or “killed”.
Clearly, there are lots of “sexy” costumes for women, but those for men are a bit different. This Tumblr page has tons of examples of the same costume idea, but different versions for him and her. The differences are quite striking when you look at them side-by-side. His costumes are typically silly, while hers are always sexy. Here are his-and-hers versions of Tigger, Skunk, Firefighter, and Astronaut:
Making sexy versions of non-sexy characters like Tigger or Skunk invariably make sexiness cross into absurdity. However, sexing-up women’s costumes of traditionally male careers, such as Firefighter or Astronaut, is another breed of animal. First, how could women realistically fight fires in a mini-skirt, garters, and fishnets or work in zero gravity in a mini-skirt and a top that low-cut? The answer is that they can’t. And that speaks to deeper cultural beliefs about what women should and shouldn’t do. Underlying sexy costumes such as these are sexist beliefs about a woman’s place in society. Women taking on traditionally male roles is treated as absurd in itself, and the only way to make it okay is to sexualize it. This reinforces beliefs that we’re primarily sexual objects and that we don’t belong in certain careers or positions of power unless we’re there to support men.
So far, we’ve only looked at sexy costumes for women, but men have a few choices as well: the Breathalizer (Get it? You “blow” into that straw between his legs), the One Night Stand, and the Pimp (Parents — make sure to teach your sons early that women are “hos” to exploit for money and status!):
There’s obviously a discrepancy between men’s and women’s sexy costumes:
“… [W]hen women go sexy for Halloween, it usually means being seen as a sex object for others. When men go sexy, it means joking about how men should be sexually serviced, have access to one night stands, or being in charge of and profiting from women’s bodies. A different type of ‘sexy’ entirely.”
That’s it. I’m skipping Halloween. These are all just too scary for me. :/
I’ve seen this rape prevention poster with the added commentary circulating around social media lately. I decided to fix it.
My cousin just had this lovely exchange with a guy on OK Cupid. She said they had just started chatting. He first told her she was beautiful, she said thank you, she asked how his week was going … and then this is how the conversation progressed.
She certainly dodged a douche. :/
Ilana and Abbi from Comedy Central’s “Broad City” have the perfect response to a random stranger telling them to smile. :D
“Little Boy Gets Rejected, Doesn’t Understand Rejection And Gets Pushed Over By Little Girl”: In this 2-min video, the little boy keeps going in for a hug and the little girl keeps pushing him away. Repeatedly. This would’ve been a perfect opportunity to teach the boy about consent and that no means no. Instead, the parents film this interaction for 2 minutes and post it to youtube. While they presumably find this “cute” or “humorous” behavior at 2 or 3 years old, it’s teaching damaging lessons to both the little boy and the girl. This won’t be so cute when they’re older.
(I’d recommend muting the sound – it’s just goofy, annoying music.)
Political commentator Keith Olbermann goes off on the NFL’s acceptance of sexism and violence against women. This rant comes after the league punished Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice with a mere slap on the wrist — a two-game suspension — after he knocked out his girlfriend then dragged her unconscious body out of an elevator.
Watch the video:
Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)
This phenomenal woman truly showed that when beauty is inside, it shines outside too.
(Quote from Huffington Post)
A significant aspect of a culture that condones rape is teaching women how to avoid being raped instead of teaching men not to rape. Rape prevention is treated as women’s responsibility, and we’re taught early on about how to take precautions so that we can allegedly guard ourselves against it. Inevitably, discussions about sexual assault devolve into victim-blaming. What was she wearing? Why did she drink so much? Why did she go back to his place if she didn’t want to have sex? The focus shifts to whether a woman acted or dressed in such a way that she provoked the man’s lust (because boys will be boys, right?). Therefore, if a woman dresses provocatively, she’s essentially provoking a man to take advantage of her — she’s “asking for it.” Lieutenant Joe Kenda, retired police detective and host of the television documentary program, “Homicide Hunter,” sheds some light on what really causes sexual assault.
Here’s an old school response to sexism that unfortunately is still relevant today.
“A lost D.H. Lawrence essay in which the famed author issued a major takedown to a misogynistic contemporary has been found in a library in New Zealand.”
Lawrence was the author of classic novels such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Women in Love. Regarding the newly-discovered essay:
“Lawrence wrote the piece some time in late 1923 or early 1924 in response to an essay published in Adelphi, a literary magazine … That essay, which ran under the byline ‘JHR,’ was a viciously misogynistic treatise called ‘The Ugliness of Women.’ Its author argued that ‘in every woman born there is a seed of terrible, unmentionable evil: evil such as man — a simple creature for all his passions and lusts — could never dream of in the most horrible of nightmares, could never conceive in imagination. … No doubt, the evil growth is derived from Eve, who certainly did or thought something wicked beyond words.'”
Here’s an excerpt of Lawrence’s enlightened response:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a renowned Nigerian novelist. She gave a powerful presentation at TEDxEuston entitled “We Should All Be Feminists”. This is an excerpt from her speech:
Watch the full presentation here:
It’s time to declare independence, to separate ourselves from the bad habits, the stifling expectations, and the negative messages that no longer serve us (assuming they ever did).
It’s time to declare independence from media messages that tell us we’re ugly if we don’t look like the “flawless” images of celebrities on the screen and in the magazines. It’s time to stop buying into the manipulation and stop wasting time trying to chase an illusion that doesn’t even exist.
It’s time to declare independence from the belief that having the perfect body will make us worthy of love and respect. We’re already worthy of love and respect in the bodies we have now — no amount of weight loss or plastic surgery will increase our value.
It’s time to declare independence from dieting, from deprivation, from seeing food as the enemy. The American weight loss industry makes nearly $60 billion a year trying to convince us that we’re not good enough — if diets worked, would these companies be this profitable? It’s time to stop contributing to their false sense of hope.
It’s time to declare independence from body loathing, from looking at our bodies with disgust instead of love. It’s time to appreciate all of the amazing things they do for us — the jiggly arms that give great hugs, the flabby thighs that carry us through the park, the droopy breasts that fed a child, the wounded heart that still knows how to love, the exhausted brain that still manages to tell our lungs to breathe.
It’s time to declare independence from the oppressive labels of virgin or whore, straight or gay, feminine or masculine, and all the shades in between. Our number of sex partners do not define us. Our sexuality does not define us. Our gender identity does not define us. These traits can’t possibly define what kind of person we are or what’s in our hearts or our minds. Any attempt by others to claim otherwise is an attempt to control us, to police our behavior, and to shame us so that they don’t have to examine their own ignorance and fear.
It’s time to declare independence from the belief that women can bring sexual assault upon ourselves based on how provocatively we’re dressed, how flirty we act, or how drunk we get. The only ones responsible for rapists’ behavior are rapists themselves. We have the right not to be blamed when others hurt us, and we have the right to feel safe in the world.
It’s time to declare independence from legislators who think the female body should be controlled by wealthy, middle-aged, white, Christian, conservative men. Our bodies belong to us — it’s time to declare our freedom to make our own decisions about them. Because if we cannot, then we are truly not equal citizens and this country is not as free it claims to be.
It’s time to declare independence from spending so much time, energy, and money trying to fit into someone else’s idea of who they think we should be. It’s time to put ourselves first, to focus on our own desires and do what we think is right. It’s time to trust our own instincts and make ourselves proud.
It’s time to declare independence from shame, from the belief that we’re not good enough, not beautiful enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not clever enough, not sexy enough, not pure enough, not feminine enough, not worthy enough. It’s time to declare that we are already enough — that we are perfectly imperfect exactly as we are.
It’s time to declare our independence from any force that tries to hold us down — including those forces that limit us from within.
Ryan Gosling discusses the controversy from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) regarding a scene in the movie Blue Valentine in which his character performed oral sex on Michelle Williams’ character. Due to this scene, the MPAA tried to give it an NC-17 rating instead of an R — a rating which would spell death in theaters. The MPAA eventually backed down after pressure from the Weinstein Company (they purchased the indie film after it received buzz at the Sundance Film Festival). The quote below was part of an interview which inspired the popular “Feminist Ryan Gosling” “Hey girl” memes and resulting book.
Watch the interview here.
... nor will I allow others to treat me as if this is all I am:
- – a uterus
- – a collection of body parts
- – a vagina
- – a piece of ass
- – a pair of tits
- – a victim
- – public property
- – a virgin
- – a whore
- – a “before” photo
- – a body to legislate
- – a sexual object
None of these things can possibly define a woman.
Kurt Cobain would’ve been 46 years old today.
This poster is from the new anti-rape campaign: “My strength is not for hurting.” MyStrength is a project of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. This awesome campaign puts responsibility for rape prevention where it belongs — on the potential rapist. Learn more here: http://www.mystrength.org/
So sad about the tragedy in Connecticut. There are many social & psychological factors that may have led up to this horrific event — proliferation of guns, a culture that glamorizes violence, mental illness, & people who are just evil bastards. But simply speaking — it’s heartbreaking. Here’s a little something to consider today.
PETA – People who believe in the ethical treatment of animals & the unethical treatment of women …
Men’s t-shirts like these are sold in this store’s “humor” section & feature the most incredibly witty phrases ever uttered by 14-year-old boys, including such gems as “Nice tits, too bad about your face” & “Hey slut let’s fuck”. Brilliant stuff, I tell ya. Especially the image below – “I have the dick, so I make the rules” – which was clearly inspired by GOP lawmakers.
(Fyi – “inter alia” means “among other things”)
When people start waxing poetic about the good old days of the 1950s, here’s a little reality check. This appeared in the New York Daily Mirror: “If a Woman Needs it, Should She Be Spanked?” And here’s what four fine Brooklyn men had to say …
I’m not usually a fan of saying “real men” do this or that, but in this case, I concur!
… or that we shouldn’t complain about sexism here because women have it worse in other countries.
Example of men’s sense of entitlement over women’s bodies. Here’s the underlying message: She’s a tease, because men wanted to see her topless but she wouldn’t do it. But as a woman, she’s obligated to show men her breasts if they want her to. But haha – the joke’s on her because they got their way after all, whether she was aware of it or not. (And before anyone says that she chose to wear a sheer top without a bra, I speak from personal experience that in certain lighting, black tops are sometimes more sheer than you’d think.)
Women are routinely taught how to avoid being raped. We’re taught not to leave our drinks unattended, to not walk in certain neighborhoods, to not wear certain clothes, etc. The responsibility for rape prevention is placed on women’s shoulders instead of where it belongs — on potential rapists. It’s about time that we saw more Sexual Assault Prevention Tips like these: