Jess McCabe // 24 July 2009
Birmingham Fems yesterday held a fundraiser, Veg Out Against Violence. brand new feminist gave a speech about why the group is organising a Reclaim the Night march this year, which she’s posted on her blog:
As some of you will be aware, a woman that I knew was recently killed. Her husband is currently in prison awaiting trial. I was not friends with this woman, but I was involved in her life in a professional capacity. I knew her, I knew her husband, I knew her child. I discussed her with many professionals and I knew more about certain aspects of her life than perhaps some acquaintances would have. I saw her and spoke to her at least weekly for about three months. I knew what she wanted from life, I knew what her life was like on a day to day basis, I knew what her hopes for the future were. I knew how desperately she loved her husband, and that gave me hope to the point that I looked forward to seeing her. I knew that like me, she had no idea that he would be the one to end her life so abruptly and so violently. She had no idea that the man that she loved so dearly would leave her daughter without parents. I can not describe to you the feelings that I experienced when I became aware that she had died. I can only say that I know that my feelings were a drop in the ocean of those that must be felt by her parents, by her daughter, and by the people whose lives she touched. I can not tell the man who killed her what I think of him, but more importantly, she can not tell him of the pain he caused her before she died. She can not speak out against the violence perpetrated against her.
This is why we reclaim the night. We who have survived violence or have been lucky enough to be that one in two women who won’t experience the violence, take to the streets en masse to say no. No you can not do this to us, and no we will not be silenced. This is why we are going to reclaim the night for the first time in decades in Birmingham.
What does the term “rape culture” mean? Writing on the Yes Means Yes blog, Jaclyn Friedman talks through one example, in the case of US sports star Ben Roethlisberger’s alleged rape of a woman working at a hotel where he was staying:
When she reported the attack to Harrah’s security chief Guy Hyder, he declined to investiage and allegedly told her that she was “overreacting” and that “most girls would feel lucky to get to have sex with someone like Ben Roethlisberger.” He also told her to either keep it from their boss at Harrah’s, or to tell their boss they’d had sex voluntarily, in order to keep everybody happy. That’s rape culture. When people in power refuse to take women’s rape charges seriously, it means there are no consequences for rapists, which makes them more free to rape.
Later, while she was hospitalized for depression as a result of the assault, Hyder convinced her parents to give him the key to her house. He and other Harrah’s employees used it, allegedly, to enter her home without permission and erase information from her computer. That’s rape culture. When authorities use their power to deliberately silence rape victims instead of helping them find justice, it not only leaves rapists free but intimidates other victims from coming forward.
And now, as these details emerge, ESPN has instructed its entire team of reporters to not report any of this information. [Update: ESPN may be easing its ban, but it’s still unclear how much and what will be reported.] Yes, the same network whose sideline reporter is currently being exploited all over the ‘net in a peeping tom video. You’d think that would make them more sympathetic to the sexual exploitation of women just trying to do their job, but they’re too focused on protecting access to the star athletes who are their cash cows to even do their basic job as journalists. That’s rape culture. When our media won’t talk about rape, people think it doesn’t happen, and the rapists face no consequences. That emboldens rapists.
Every third day, the murder of a trans person is reported a new report has revealed:
The cases have been reported from all six World regions: North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The majority of cases have been reported from Latin America and North America. On these continents the majority of cases have been reported from Brazil (59) and the U.S.A. (16) for 2008 and from Brazil (23), Venezuela (20), and Guatemala (10) for the first six months of 2009. Moreover, the preliminary results show a total of 11 murdered trans people reported for Colombia followed by 5 for Honduras and 4 for Mexico and Venezuela for 2008, and 6 for Mexico and 3 for Argentina, and the Dominican Republic for the first six months of 2009.
In total 91 murders of trans people were reported in 11 Latin American countries in 2008, and 73 murders of trans people in 11 Latin American countries in the first six months of 2009. The reported murders of trans people in Latin America account for 75% and 88% of the world wide reported murders of trans people in 2008 and the first six months of 2009 respectively.**
Daisy at Feministe considers antisemitic gender stereotypes, and Jewish conceptions of masculinity, in particular related to the golem myth:
I’ve noted before that the stereotypes of Jewish men and women line up uncannily with the stereotypes of effeminate men and mannish women: think slight, nebbish men, and loud, overbearing women. Jewish genders are stereotyped as nonconforming (failed?) genders. As a genderqueer Jew, this has had many affects on my sense of self.
These ideas are both antisemitic and heterosexist. I find them offensive primarily on the later count: the idea that, to whatever extent Jewish cultural gender norms or Jews themselves don’t conform to the dominant gender ideal, this is a bad thing. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking — as a queer Jew who performs masculinity — about the ways in which Jewish masculinity in particular is, indeed, very contrary to the prototype that dominates my habitat: the masculine ideal of 21st Century, culturally Christian white US-America.
Boris Johnson is refusing to enter the Greater London Authority into Stonewall’s annual ranking of the best employers to work for, arguing that calling attention to lesbian, gay and bisexual-friendly workplaces “divides” Londoners:
However, my ultimate aim is to achieve equal life chances for all, including the LGBT community, and take a new approach that brings Londoners together, rather than dividing them. It is for this reason that I have decided not to enter the Stonewall Index.
Erm, and the Stonewall index “divides” people how? By acknowledging that some workplaces are decidedly not LGB-friendly, and putting pressure on them to change, by any chance? Meanwhile, his party plans to hold a Pride party at its annual party conference this year.
The Guardian reports on a generational shift in attitudes to topless sunbathing in France, with a significant minority of younger women saying that it makes them uncomfortable on a beach, attributed to increasingly pressurised body standards:
French media insist that it tends to be the over 60s – women involved in the initial women’s lib struggle – who dispense with tops. One swimsuit saleswoman said that going topless is no longer seen as a feminist act, as young women see equal pay and work-family balance as more pressing battlegrounds.
At the heart of this summer’s cover-up phenomenon is historian Christophe Granger’s new book, Corps d’été, a social history of the beach and the body in France.
He said: “In the 1960s and 1970s, toplessness was linked to the women’s liberation movement, sexual liberation and a return to nature.
“Historical feminist writing details how the row over toplessness was a struggle for women to do what they liked with their bodies. What has been projected on to it today are different values, identified, not with equality but desire, sexualisation of the body, voluptuousness and the body perfect.
“It’s less about women feeling at ease and free. It has been linked to the harsh cult of the body beautiful, where no imperfection is tolerated.”
Glasgow Women’s Library is holding an introduction to women’s studies day on 19 August. Femilist has more info.
Libby Brooks heralds the imminent arrival of three more UK books on feminism.
Sociological Images posted this clip from Fox News, in which a man in a “no chubbies” t-shirt (seriously!) argues that Obama’s pick for the job of Surgeon General shouldn’t get it because she’s too fat:
In the continuing racist sexist bullshit about Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the US supreme court, Rachel Maddow had Pat Buchanan on her show, where he fully opened up on the extent of his racist views. Maddow followed up with a segment going through some of the false information (*ahem* lies *ahem*) Buchanan spewed out. (Via CampbellX)
Last but not least, women in Ohio could soon have to get permission from a man if they want an abortion, Feministing reports:
Like a note from your parents for school, except you’re an adult now (minus the rights and bodily autonomy). But here comes the kicker – and this part of the bill was around last time as well:
“Adams told the newspaper that, in cases when the mother does not know the identity of the father, the abortion would be prohibited.”
You know, because if you’re a slutty whorebag, you should be punished with a pregnancy you don’t want. No, seriously. Adams said, “[T]here is merit to chastity, and to young men and women waiting until marriage.”