Some progress, but a lot of room for positive change.
Some progress, but a lot of room for positive change.
The University of Notre Dame announced yesterday that it would be refiling its lawsuit against the HHS mandate (dismissed last spring) regarding contraceptive health care coverage. University president, Rev. John Jenkins wrote:
The government’s accommodations would require us to forfeit our rights, to facilitate and become entangled in a program inconsistent with Catholic teaching and to create the impression that the university cooperates with and condones activities incompatible with its mission. . . The U.S. government mandate, therefore, requires Notre Dame to do precisely what its sincerely held religious beliefs prohibit — pay for, facilitate access to, and/or become entangled in the provision of objectionable products and services or else incur crippling sanctions.
Many of you may have read Emily Yoffe’s advice to young women that they should stop binge drinking to prevent rape, for which she was roundly criticized. The New York Times has a ‘Room for Debate‘ forum up on the subject, and it features the ever-brilliant Louise Antony on what’s wrong with telling women not to get drunk as a method of rape prevention:
But the special risk that drunkenness poses to women – that’s due to a social climate that tolerates sexual predation. When we tell young women to stay sober in order to avoid getting raped, we send the message that we do not intend to change that social climate, that we have chosen to regard misogyny as inevitable.
That’s the message that is sent when we tell women to restrain “pleasure-seeking behaviors” in order to avoid life’s dangers. When men get drunk they get sick; when women get drunk they get sick and raped. That’s not because women are less restrained in their “pleasure-seeking” than men are; it’s quite the reverse. And that’s what needs to change.
Read the whole of her contribution here.
Soraya Chemaly argues that violence is a natural end-result of the same principles which operate in what we ordinarily refer to as street harassment:
Earlier this week a man in a car pulled up next to a 14-year old girl on a street in Florida and offered to pay her $200 to have sex with him. [. . .] The girl said no. So what does this guy do? He reaches out, drags her, by her hair, into his car, chokes her until she blacks out, tosses her out of the car and then, not done yet, he runs her over several times. Bystanders watched the entire episode in shock. He almost killed her, but she lived and ID’d him in a line up and he’s been arrested and charged with Attempted Murder, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and False Imprisonment. What was the Deadly Weapon referred to in the charge I wonder? Given our normatively male understanding interpretation of what is threatening, does a man pulling up to a girl like this and talking to her in this way constitute imminent harm?
This was an incident of street harassment taken to extremes.
You’re thinking, ”He’s crazy! You can’t possibly put what he did in the same category as street harassment!” Yes, I can.
He stopped and talked to a girl he did not know and he told her what he thought and what he wanted her to do. Clearly, he felt this was okay, or he wouldn’t have done it. This isn’t insanity, it’s entitlement. This is, in principle, the same as men who say, “Smile,” “Want a ride?” “Suck on this” and on and on and on. And, that’s all before the public groping that might ensue.
OK. No big deal I’ve been told. But, he went further, as is often the case. When she said no, he just took her. He crossed a red line that seriously needs to be moved. ”Taking someone” should not be the “red line” for public incivility and safe access to public space.
You can read the whole piece here on the HuffPo Blog. About a year ago or so, I went to the store — I pulled into the parking lot, and I noticed that in the space next to me, a man was sitting in his car. When I came out of the store, he was still there — except now, he was masturbating. In his car. In broad daylight. He smiled and waived at me. I called the police about it, but effectively, they do didn’t do anything (when the police came, he wasn’t doing it anymore, and by the time I requested specifically that the police allow me to file a witness report or press charges, they had already let him go without taking his name or any information, so there was no one to press charges against). Certainly this experience is no where near the sorts of extreme cases mentioned in Chemaly’s piece, but I have wondered since, if this is the sort of thing that’s effectively permissible in public space, where is the line? When I voice discomfort over my inability to go to certain gas stations without being cat-called, hit-on, etc., my less fervently feminist acquaintances think I’m being over-sensitive, or give me the usual “You ought to take that as a compliment” (which I think is a ridiculous response for a million reasons that are probably obvious to all of our readers) and yet, my run in with the public-masturbator seemed like it ought to be a predictable escalation of that same sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.
Is physical violence likewise on that same spectrum?
If you think a woman in a tan vinyl bra and underwear, grabbing her crotch and grinding up on a dance partner is raunchy, trashy, and offensive but you don’t think her dance partner is raunchy, trashy, or offensive as he sings a song about “blurred” lines of consent and propagating rape culture, then you may want to reevaluate your acceptance of double standards and your belief in stereotypes about how men vs. women “should” and are “allowed” to behave.
For those of you who missed it, Dr. Jill is referring to the reactions to Miley Cyrus’s performance with Robin Thicke at the VMAs.
Pinky Mosiane was murdered at her place of work, the Anglo Platinum owned mine in South Africa. This article brings to light the context of that murder: one in which formal moves towards gender equality (the Mining Charter prescribing that 13% of employees should be women) have not been accompanied by changes in material conditions that ensure the safety of women (and indeed men) working in those environments. Sisonke Msimang writes:
although women are now being sent underground in greater numbers, nothing has been done to make mines safe spaces in which they can work free from sexual harassment and violence.
Women’s increased participation has been accompanied by informal practices (within problematic bonus structures which incentivise risk taking) in which women are treated as inferior workers and sexually exploited in exchange for their ‘share’ of the team bonuses:
In mines where women are part of underground teams, their male colleagues often resent their presence, suggesting that they are unable to mine as quickly. To meet team targets for production bonuses, a practice of bartering sex for bonuses and substitute labour has evolved. Essentially, female miners are coerced into stepping aside to enable their teams to meet the bonus targets. They receive a reduced share of the financial reward that goes to the team. Often, they are also forced to have sex with their colleagues in order to qualify to receive the bonus payments.
The judiciary have suggested that the rape and murder of women in mines is a ‘gender specific issue’, rather than a safety issue, and as such not a matter for investigation by the Chamber of Mines.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the Guardian newspaper. But I can only hope Tim Lott’s column today is a poor attempt at a spoof:
This week I am going to write about the biggest taboo in relationships I know… I’m going to write about money. Money in marriage is incendiary. It involves issues of power, feminism, patriarchy, trust and much besides. I have tried to write this column once before and had it flatly vetoed by my wife because she felt that the ground I was treading on was too dangerous.
Sensible wife. Tell me, why did she think it was too dangerous?
This column appears only after an emotional and sometimes painful back-and-forth about the subject. She accused me of sexism, while I suggested she was using double standards (I asked her, in her imagination, to switch the gender roles to see how it would look then).
Ah. I expect she found that reassuring. When people suggest that I switch gender roles in my imagination, I feel totally reassured they’re not being sexist.
My wife works as a part-time associate lecturer and, like many part-time workers, who are predominantly women, tends to be discriminated against in terms of financial reward and employment opportunities. I, on the other hand, am reasonably well paid for challenging but not backbreaking work.
Probably not unusual. So tell me, Tim, what are the implications for your family’s home life?
My wife does more of the childcare, cleaning and cooking than me. This is predominantly for practical reasons. She is physically at home for a lot more of the time than I am and, with a part-time career, she has more hours available. She also tackles all the laundry, having rejected my offers of participation in that area after I shrunk a cashmere sweater, pegged it out incorrectly and turned a dazzling white load grey.
Oh! Of course. Those pesky practical reasons why women do more childcare, cleaning and cooking. And of course, all your talent for challenging but not backbreaking work doesn’t mean you could learn to wash a sweater.
The income inequalities also mean that if there’s a big expense, like a foreign holiday or house improvements, I tend to have the last say. She feels that infantilises her, as she needs to “ask me”… My wife says that my having more money than her makes me feel powerful. She’s right – up to a point. It gives me an area of control, although I don’t think I use it in order to control. I just think that some form of imbalance is inevitable.
Unbelievable. I just don’t even know where to start. Go read it for yourself.