Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Growing Up in the West: Women

You don't have to be a woman growing up in the Middle East or in Africa - in Afghanistan or in Mozambique - to experience the pains of sexism. The horrors of misogyny are in the West, in the USA and in Canada and in the UK. But the solutions are here too, and you and I can be a part of the solutions.

Here are reports from the blogosphere today:

With a few exceptions, the mainstream media continue to kill stories about honor killings and attempted honor killings in North America. How often did you read stories about the honor killings that took place in Toronto (07), Dallas (08), Atlanta (08), Oak Forest, Illinois (08), Alexandria (08), Buffalo (09), and Kingston, Canada (09)—on and on, until the most recent attempted honor killing in Phoenix?

[A c]rime fiction writer and reviewer for the Literary Review is refusing to review any more crime novels because of the high levels of misogynist violence, the Guardian reports.

In fact, it turns out that even among the most economically privileged women, the recession has been bad! (GASP!) And not only that—women have actually fared worse than men!
Female chief executives earned just 58 percent of what their male counterparts did in 2008, and their compensation packages were slashed three times as much as their male peers, according to a survey released on Monday. 
--from Melissa McEwan at Shakesville, "Shocked, I Say!"
Two suspects were in custody Monday, but police said as many as five other men attacked the [15-year-old] girl over a two-hour period Friday night outside Richmond High School. “She was raped, beaten, robbed and dehumanized by several suspects who were obviously OK enough with it to behave that way in each other’s presence,” Lt. Mark Gagan said. “What makes it even more disturbing is the presence of others. People came by, saw what was happening and failed to report it.”
It is impossible for me to believe that the people who stood by and did nothing are human beings- any more than the persons who perpetrated the act. Human beings don’t act this way. Or rather, don’t stand around watching and laughing while this kind of thing goes on.

The Campaign to End Rape coalition is conducting a survey on women’s attitudes to and experiences of rape and the law.


Katherine said...

I read about the Richmond gang rape yesterday. It's just left me numb...

But I disagree with Dr. West. These people who watch such depravity and violence and do nothing--or, rather, who enjoy the spectacle as if it were entertainment--they are indeed human beings. We don't get to feel better about humanity by labeling people who do these things "not human". It's an ugly and wretched truth, but "human beings" include people who would watch a girl being violently raped before their eyes, and not only not do anything, but call others to join in the "fun".

This is rape culture. It makes me want to scream.

J. K. Gayle said...

This is rape culture....

We don't get to feel better about humanity by labeling people who do these things "not human".

Thanks Katherine for the astute observations and comments! I'm left numb and wanting to scream too.

Here's an update (it was worse than we first heard) from Melissa McEwan. And here's some of her advice for change (in contrast to just labeling the rapists and voyeurs as totally depraved):

What you can do...is vociferously advocate that rape awareness be part of your kids' school curricula as soon as any level of sex education is introduced. There is age-appropriate rape awareness just as there is age-appropriate sex ed.

"Shout and say NO! if someone touches you in any way you don't like" and "NEVER touch someone else if they don't want you to" can be taught at any age.