A Departure

So, fair warning, I’m about to open up a can of women’s rights all over this blog. I know its a departure from my usual anti-GMO, pro-homemade, homestead ramblings, but I’m okay with it. If you’re not okay with it, I will throw a wheel of cheese at you. 

 I tried to post here a picture of a cat with a piece of cheese on its face. The picture refuses to load, which is your loss, because man. LOLCats are true comedy. 

Anyway, in the wake of yet ANOTHER school shooting here in the U.S. (in Santa Barbara, a normally idyllic beach town that I’ve been going to since I was a kid), this one accompanied by a misogynistic manifesto (alliteration QUEEN right here) video rant from the perpetrator, the internet has been atwitter with a grassroots campaign, #yesallwomen. Women everywhere speaking out against sexism, misogynist behaviors, and the “rape culture” that it seems is especially prevalent here. 

Although I experience a lot of this pervasive sexism and gender inequality on a fairly regular basis, that isn’t the point of this entry. What really got me interested in writing a little something about it (and please, another caveat…this post is in no way comprehensive, nor is it meant to start a widespread internet debate, although I do like it when people comment because my phone makes a happy noise and I feel less like I’m hollering into an abyss of emptiness, but I digress) was this article, written by a man about what rape culture is and what men can do to speak and act out against it. 

Rape culture, for those who are already rolling their eyes or hovering over the teensy x that takes you away from this crazy, bra-burning feminist, is not a society that glorifies rape, and just rape. It is, though, things that we do together as a society, that promote a culture of violence, shaming, and trivializing of unequal or violent behavior. If you want a really clear definition of it from a sociological perspective, check out this article. And in my mind, it also includes hypersexuality and insidious messages that the media sends us, and so the rest of this post is written from that perspective. 

I really liked this gentleman’s article. First of all, its a thoughtful and comprehensive overview of WHAT rape culture is, and how it defines our world. Further, it has some interesting points for men reading the article on actions they can take, but here’s where I got interested in writing: although I absolutely agree with his points, and although he never says this outright, I don’t think that the onus falls squarely on the shoulders of men to halt rape culture in its tracks and reinvent the way that we view each other in terms of gender. 

I’m absolutely sure that this has been written about before, and I’m sure that nothing I’m saying is necessarily NEW, but read the above comment about shouting into the abyss. My blog, so I get to blather on to my heart’s content and you are POWERLESS to RESIST. 

Jk. 

Here’s what I think: I think rape culture absolutely exists. I also think it defines our world. And I ALSO think it seeps into other areas of our lives outside of our sexuality…our safety, our overall wellbeing, our families, our careers. How many people have been to one of those mandatory sexual harassment meetings at work? God, I hated those things, if only because DUH you don’t grab secretaries’ butts. I mean, seriously, isn’t that just obvious?

No. It’s not obvious to a small but important portion of the population. 

And I really respect this guy for writing this article and taking a proactive approach to it. 

So I write to talk about women’s role in halting rape culture. As a woman in today’s society, I think it is a pretty easy well to fall down (and Lassie’s nowhere around to rescue you from this one) to run around blaming men or the music industry or porn or whathaveyou on your problems as a woman. I would never say its easy to be a victim, because I worked with survivors of sexual violence for three years, and they had the hardest job in the world. But still, its easy to cast the blame somewhere else. 

Nor am I saying that we, as women, are casting blame elsewhere, but more that I am urging you to look at your role in supporting rape culture. Check out this little list I compiled…five propagators of the rape culture around us. Do you support any of them? All of them? And by support, I don’t mean that you offer them a thumbs up and clap loudly for them at awards banquets. No. I know I do not get invited to awards banquets, since I am not even a C-list celebrity (do they have a Z-list? How about a, like, DD-list?). But we are a consumer-driven society, and we vote with our dollars. Do you vote for these companies, associate with people like this, or indirectly condone this behavior? 

A Little Top Five List for You (and me, because nobody’s exempt, and certainly not ME)

1. Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines (music). Kanye West. Basically any other hip-hop artist of the past five years. M. Cyrus.: I know Blurred Lines has been shouted about extensively on the internet (Google told me so). But it doesn’t stop there. Whether they sing about it or they act it out in their videos, or they talk about it in real life, the music industry is rife with examples of rape culture and misogyny, both from male and female artists. And you are contributing to it by buying their music, because you are saying that you are WILLING to listen to that type of language and message for a good backbeat while running. 

2. Trent Mays, Ma’lik Richmond, Darren Sharper, and countless others: These are all professional or college athletes who are charged with or accused of rape, sexual assault, or violence, and maintain their careers as athletes. In this article, it even talks about CNN “grieving” the lost talent of several young athletes who were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old while she was unconscious. It never mentions the effect they may have had on their victim, who was also publicly named by the press.  

3. Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, and countless others: These are all politicians, people who are shaping our public policy and laws, who say things like labeling some rapes “legitimate rapes” and claiming that rape is something “God intended to happen”. Do you vote for people like this? Are you an active and staunch supporter of politicians who support women’s rights whenever possible? 

4. Rape jokes, sexual jokes, disparaging remarks, etc.: Is this funny? No, right? But would you walk out on it? If that kind of joke was said in a group of people, would you stand your ground and say it wasn’t funny? Probably not. I certainly haven’t in the past, but I will rethink that now. In the fire department where I once worked, this sort of thing is an everyday occurrence. If it isn’t sexually explicit jokes or comments (about women not currently in the room), its derogatory comments about their wives, sisters, whatever, and not only is it supported by all of them laughing and joking about it, but its supported by my silence. 

5. Victoria’s Secret, jewelers’ everywhere, and just about every ad on television these days: Women are not objects. We are not beautiful sets of boobs (although we may have them), gravity-defying hair (if you’re lucky), freakishly smooth and glossy skin, or our underwear. We want to be respected as individuals, not given jewelry to soothe us. Ads promote sexual violence, misogynist beliefs, or perpetuate clothing choices that define our culture. 

6. “Totally raped”: I’ve said it (about the lovely city of Inglewood) and of course not meant it in a blasé way, but doesn’t this also promote a culture in which rape or sexual violence is kind of a badge of honor? In my language, it WAS, because it meant that we had run an absolutely incredible number of 911 calls and lived to tell the tale. Maybe I should say something else instead. 

OK, I couldn’t stop at 5. I gave you an extra, a freebie. 

This was not an easy blog entry for me to write. And I do dearly hope that it doesn’t come off TOO preachy and holier-than-thou. I’ve lived inside the culture of EMS for six years now, so I am certainly not one to talk about not tolerating these types of behaviors and comments. I support most of these companies or people in one way or another, directly or indirectly, but its about changing your mindset and your worldview. Becoming mindful of your words, your actions. Nobody says you have to start at the top, but in a typical grassroots kind of way, you start with a quiet protest, and you get bigger. 

#yesallwomen. 

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