Posts in category Sexual Violence/Rape
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:
Here are two 4-letter words I'd say about dating guys who'd have this lighter: FUCK THAT.
This got me all choked up -- this courageous woman is taking back her power ...
Yeah, that's probably not a good sign ...
Infuriating, yet not surprising news of the day: Another middle-aged conservative mansplainer, Washington State Republican representative John Koster, discusses how "the rape thing" is not a good enough reason for a woman to have an abortion:
"'Incest is so rare, I mean, it's so rare,' he said. 'But the rape thing - you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept the child, gave it up for adoption, and she doesn't regret it.' He added, 'On the rape thing, it's like, how does putting more violence onto a woman's body and taking the life of an innocent child that's a consequence of this crime - how does that make it better? You know what I mean?'"
In the past several years, Halloween has morphed into something really scary -- scary enough to make some of us want to scream. But not because of the blood and gore, creepy decorations, or traditionally spooky costumes.
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 can and can't do. Underlying sexy costumes such as these are sexist beliefs about a woman's role. 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 by treating women like hos, they'll be rewarded with 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. :/
In a previous post, I discussed how voyeuristic assholes take photos or videos of girls' or women’s body parts and post them online on sites such as Reddit. These photos or videos are often taken -- or at least posted -- without the person's knowledge or consent. But the purpose of taking and sharing these images isn't just to perv over them. There's something more sinister behind it:
"The currency of 'creepshots,' 'jailbait,' and blackmail isn’t sex. It’s power—the power to capture the image of a girl who doesn’t know she’s being photographed, or to shame her by endlessly reposting what was meant to be a private image.What drew male fans ... wasn’t just the chance to see pubescent boobs, but to bond over the experience of another human being’s humiliation. ... "In a world where so many of men’s choices are driven by the desire to please other dudes ... the extent to which guys 'police' each other is what sets the limits of what is and isn’t acceptable. ... This isn’t about bullying the bullies. This is about destroying the reward system that feeds them. ... If we want to make a safer world for our daughters, we have to ask grown men to create a culture where their exploitation is never rewarded."
In today's Depressing News of the Day, you may want to know (or not) that there's a Facebook page called “12 Year Old Sluts”. Fans of that page post pictures of young girls who dress or act "too sexy" or even post "sexy" pictures of themselves. You can imagine what happens next:
It features, among other jokes and memes, the kind of idiotic 'sexyface' pictures pre-teen girls take of themselves in the bathroom mirror. The founders of the page encourage their commentariat to 'put these sluts in their place,' with shame tactics that would make the meanest mean girls blush.
Wow -- let's go slut-shame some little girls. What upstanding, compassionate human beings we are. Why do sluts need to be put "in their place" in the first place? Well, it's partly because kids can be insecure little bullies. But it's also because they've somehow internalized that female sexuality is threatening and shame is a powerful tool to dampen it.
On the "12 Year Old Sluts" Facebook page, a less-conventionally attractive girl made the mistake of posting a picture of herself in the typical bathroom-mirror-camera-phone pose, and the insults came pouring in.
The crux of the problem for this girl ... is that she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side, there is the crushing pressure to be sexually desirable. She is aware of this pressure even before she caves to it, and at a much younger age than adults would like to believe. ... On the other side, [she] knows that she loses the desirability game if she caves to the desires she has inspired. ... [She] intuitively understands that she loses hers if people think she’s too accessible.
We're damned if we're too sexy and damned if we're not sexy enough. It's a trap. So why would she post that picture then? Why would a girl put herself in the position of being publicly critiqued and ridiculed by cruel internet strangers? It's not unlike the reasons why teenage girls and adult women would post their pictures to websites like Hot or Not (feel free to Google it if you want, but I'd prefer not to give them the traffic), or hundreds if not thousands of other online forums. Many girls -- and women -- act in desperate ways in that elusive search for validation.
I still remember the name of the girl who gave the first blowjob in middle school. Minutes after it happened, her name had worked itself from one end of the building to the other. You can bet that no one gave two shits who was on the receiving end; he remained anonymous and she watched one afternoon’s adolescent experiment destroy the desirability she’d spent years cultivating.
As girls grow up, we learn that it's important to be pretty little princesses and to be sweet and nice to others. This teaches us that our value lies in our appearance and our ability to please. Boys learn to be tough, confident, but unemotional -- which of course has its own downside. It's incredibly unfair to teach girls that they're supposed to be pretty and pleasing, and then turn around and punish them for doing exactly that. Amanda Todd is a heartbreaking example of this. Amanda was a 15-year-old who some called a "slut" after topless pictures of her were made public by the GROWN MAN who flattered her into posting them for him. This asshole-who-deserves-to-be-in-jail stalked her and made true on his threat to share them with her peers after she wouldn't give the perv a "show". She ended up committing suicide due to the torment and bullying. If that weren't bad enough, the slut-shaming has continued after her death. The pressure to be sexy, the need to be admired, and shaming a girl for doing just that can have tragic consequences.
The wiggle room between the rock and the hard place—that sweet spot between being wanted and being respected—is all but non-existent. It is a sliver, a tiny wedge, the narrowest of alleys. Adult women spend years trying to find it, alternating between extremes, recalibrating, shooting for appreciation without denigration. Look at me, but not for too long. Want me, but don’t try so hard. Think that I’m beautiful, but know that I’m classy. But not too classy. Lady in the street, freak in the bed. You know the drill. ... But teenagers? Teenagers have it worst of all. Not only do the rock and the hard place still matter more than anything, but they have yet to fully develop the ability to scope out long-term ramifications. Their skins are still baby thin and easily pierced. They want to be noticed and ignored, be thought exceptional and average, all at the same time.
It's a balancing act between two extremes -- the respectable virgin and the unrespectable* whore. And it's all bullshit.
*I looked up "unrespectable" to make sure it was a word and here's the first response that popped up (you can't make this shit up):
respectable - characterized by socially or conventionally acceptable morals; 'a respectable woman'
Adj. 1. unrespectable- unworthy of respect
"A respectable woman". The problem isn't just one immature and mean Facebook page. You know there's a problem with society when even the dictionary is a slut-shamer.
Excerpt from my upcoming book:
... and your staring, your leering, your hissing, your kissing sounds, etc. (P.S. To the "gentlemen" last night at El Pollo Loco - you're at a chicken joint for Christ's sake. Get your own damn breasts & thighs and stop leering at mine. Assholes.)
Columbus Day is a national holiday observed on the second Monday of October and commemorated by inconvenient closing of banks and post offices, paid holidays for lucky employees, and appliance sales at Sears. Children learn that Christopher Columbus was a great explorer who sailed all the way across the ocean from Spain and heroically "discovered" America, a place that incidentally:
A. Was already "discovered" by the indigenous people who'd been there for generations.
B. Wasn't even the place he intended to sail to. He meant to reach India, which is why Native Americans used to be known as "Indians" (i.e., The dude wasn't even a good navigator.)
Those are just a couple of the less-damaging misconceptions. Here are a few brutal inconvenient truths about this great "discoverer" whom we still celebrate.
Christopher Columbus on taking advantage of the kindness and naivete of the indigenous people:
“They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance ... They would make fine servants ... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want ...
"As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts ... [The Indians] are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone.”
Columbus' treatment of Native American women and girls:
"Columbus and his men ... used the Taino as sex slaves: it was a common reward for Columbus' men for him to present them with local women to rape. As he began exporting Taino as slaves to other parts of the world, the sex-slave trade became an important part of the business, as Columbus wrote to a friend in 1500: 'A hundred castellanoes (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand.' ...
"[Columbus' crewmember, Miguel] Cuneo further notes that he himself took a beautiful teenage Carib girl as his personal slave, a gift from Columbus himself, but that when he attempted to have sex with her, she 'resisted with all her strength.' So, in his own words, he 'thrashed her mercilessly and raped her.'"
Columbus' way of disciplining those who disobeyed:
"... [T]he Taino turned out not to be particularly good workers in the plantations ... they resented their lands and children being taken, and attempted to fight back against the invaders. Since the Taino where obviously standing in the way of Spain's progress, Columbus sought to impose discipline on them. For even a minor offense, an Indian's nose or ear was cut off, [so] he could go back to his village to impress the people with the brutality the Spanish were capable of. Columbus attacked them with dogs, skewered them with pikes, and shot them.
"Eventually, life for the Taino became so unbearable that, as Pedro de Cordoba wrote to King Ferdinand in a 1517 letter, 'As a result of the sufferings and hard labor they endured, the Indians choose and have chosen suicide. Occasionally a hundred have committed mass suicide. The women, exhausted by labor, have shunned conception and childbirth. Many, when pregnant, have taken something to abort and have aborted. Others after delivery have killed their children with their own hands, so as not to leave them in such oppressive slavery.'Eventually, Columbus and later his brother Bartholomew Columbus who he left in charge of the island, simply resorted to wiping out the Taino altogether."
The question is, if Columbus was such a cruel bastard, why do we continue to honor him with a national holiday? Here's a likely explanation that could be applied to any form of oppression:
"... [T]he effort to caste his legacy as one of bravery and glory rather than brutality, rape, and murder is no accident. ... [T]hose in power (read most often as those who are white and male) can only live with our privilege if we create a 'culture of make believe,' whereby we invent imaginary narratives of the brutality of our past to justify the position of power and privilege which we enjoy today. Without such narratives, we could not justify our current system!"
Happy Columbus Day! I heard that Best Buy has a great sale on white washing machines.