Rape culture or Culture war?

Before I begin, I want to confess I feel ineffectual regarding the following issue. It is humbling to be writing about my point of view on such a serious topic, and for one that my gender is the offending party. I cannot really empathize with women on the subject either. I basically would only fear rape if I went to prison. I find it a disturbing comfort that I don’t have the same kind of terror in my imagination or memories that half my friends do. I know that men get raped, but I don’t live with the same fear that mabye all women do. I don’t think any women say, “I am not at risk.” Sex workers are more at risk for being forced into unwanted sexual acts than non-sex workers perhaps, but I don’t believe that we should think it is more acceptable for a prostitute or a porn actor to be forced to do something they don’t want to do, that will scar them emotionally. I don’t believe there are circumstances in which we should view rape as somewhat justifiable. I believe that will be the dominating opinion of the American people eventually.

Sadly, this is a global crisis for women. Even if we changed America into an enlightened population, relatively free from violence against women, there are still nations of  men zealously defending the integrity of the rape culture we feminists despise so intensely. Take this disgusting example: According to BBC via the Saudi daily newspaper al-Eqtisadiah, “Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress.” You can read details courtesy of BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1874471.stm

Most of us have come to learn recently how much the Taliban is threatened by girls’ education. This opposition keeps young women from learning that there is more to know outside the role of wife and mother, or that there is a world outside their home that applies to them. But clearly it isn’t only the Taliban bent on keeping women down below what we consider to be human dignity. “The mutaween – or Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – are widely feared in Saudi Arabia.” per another BBC article on the story regarding safety of girls’ schools ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1893349.stm)  They basically patrol everyday life, like hall monitors, and they have corporal punishment authority.

What a nightmare that is!  That humans are forced into clothing in the first place is an oppressive concept, but to have a gang of deputized \men beating women with sticks is just unfathomable to me. Americans wouldn’t tolerate that inside a religious school, let alone in public. This is something done by law enforcement in a country that is our ally, no less.

Even young women fleeing for their lives are not safe from rebuke. “One witness said he saw three policemen ‘beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya.’ ” Girls beaten back into a burning building. Because? Because they could encite men to lust, so they musn”t be allowed in public uncovered. Is that not complete justification for men who cannot control themselves sexually around women? How can greater blame for sexual violence be placed on women? This story highlights the  perfect example of rape culture mentality at the height of its influence.

The existence of cultural differences is not contested, but does the average American really know this is goes on? When Saddam Hussein was accused of employing corporal rape on his own people, it energized the opposition to the Iraqi regime in our political process. And he was a secular dictator; Saudi Arabia has an unapologetic theocracy where religious law and law of land are hardly differentiated. Do we somehow feel it is no longer our business when a religion is behind it? When the religion is oppressive to one gender, while granting complete power to other, I don’t think cultural reasons can be cited in the court of world opion. It should not be forgiven, but we look the other way.

Since 9/11, Afghanistan has been considered a terrorist state and Saudi Arabia hasn’t. Both are treated very differently by the U.S.  Yet, in either country, and in much of the Middle East, gender inequity has great historical roots. We consider aforementioned tactics barbaric, to say the least. So how do Middle Eastern moralists view us and our Hollywood image in the United States of Kick Your Ass with Missles? I would guess they feel scorn. I would also say it makes their leaders very nervous.

Look at the steps taken by women of the Western World in the last century. Aside from high political office, we hold actresses in sexy dresses on the red carpet in high esteem for their physical beauty. Women are encouraged to contribute to mathematics, arts, science and education alongside men, all the while not being forced to cover their bodies. We are even discussing if recent WNBA draftee Brittney Griner should be competing in the NBA.

I wonder,  just how much does fundamentalist terrorist plots have to do with us pushing women into the driver’s seat with men, and allowing them to be sexually liberated and economically empowered? Yes, terrorists want our military presence to disappear from their regions. It is obvious that  fuels the fire, but they make no secret of their hatred for ‘the Great Satan.’  That is a moral judgement. George W. Bush said that they “Hate our Freedom.” I love to snicker at GW and how he would over-simplify our nation’s problems with colloquialisms, but it’s not like he is wrong about that either. Is it mostly our women’s freedom? If so, are feminists the polar opposites of al-Queda? Can we then consider rape terrorism?

We are going after terrorists on our own soil, for sure. We consider them a critical threat to our well-being, and believe they are motivated by cultural agendas. It would not be difficult to argue that rapists do the same thing. Talk about a threat to our fundamental way of life through violent acts that encite fear. Rape is also a strategy that is employed in corporal fashion by religious extremists and even government entities in the Middle East. So don’t consider calling rape a terrorist activity a stretch.

The lines are pretty blurry between cultural battles in the Middle East, and the motivation behind the horrific feud their terrorists are bringing to American citizens. If they harm their own women for perceived sexual inpropriety (by a much different definition than ours), how must they feel about our cultural values? They put raped women in jail. That’s thinking like a rapist, putting the blame on her body. That gives the men greater control than even their religion dictates. So at what lengths do they go to stop their women from thinking like liberated  women? Will they stike at us with violence whether our military is present or not?  And should we consider rape to sympathetic to terrorist cultural values?

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Categories: feminism, rape, sexism, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Rape culture or Culture war?

  1. druidwinter

    Thankyou for understanding a woman’s position and being an ally.

    Yes, I did said it and give credit where it is due. As a woman, I ask for nothing more or less then for my oppression to be understood along with any other persons.

    Many radfems openly admit to each other that trans, gay and even -he-man-ripped muscled males that have unrealistic expectations forced on them to experience no fear- are forced into dangerous situations- have oppression as well. Why are all war efforts for the front line on teen boys 18 -19? Those are children barely out of highschool with no life experience.Why force them when there are males AND females in their 50s willing to do this job. Age and sex discrimination plays a role in this.

    Minority people have compound oppression. Not only do black women have to deal with gender oppression, but they live with racial oppression that compounds it.

    Mexican and south American women have machismo oppression. That is similar to sharia law. Men are allowed to kill females if they ‘insult their manhood.’ In Brazil a Doctor killed his wife [that he had two children under five years old with] to date other women when he was bored with her. She was a nice girl and Her father fought for a murder conviction for years and could not get one and insisted until the end she was not like that. That can happen to your little girl and this would hurt you and you are never the same.

    The oppression affects everyone, the Dads, the children left behind, the grandparents, little brothers/sisters..etc.

    in 1968, Ros Baxandall came out with… “Every day in a woman’s life is a walking Miss America contest.” and-nothing has changed, we are subject to gender biased and judged by how sexually attractive we are and our shelf life for use instead of being humans with feelings and a soul. Are we pretty or not is more important than if we discover the cure for cancer or even want to contribute our lives to a worthwhile pursuit that benefits humanity..

    Trans People experience a different gender bias, but not a sexual enslavement gender bias born females do.

    How do we expect humanity to go forward with all this sh*t going on?
    🙂
    Blog on!

    • SouthBoundDirt

      Druidwinter, there have been plenty of transwomen (mtf) who have been victims of sexual assault, sexual enslavement as well as murder by their partners. While it has not been an uncommon occurrence for transwomen to have to resort to prostitution just to survive in the USA, there have been many situations where transwomen have ended up in abusive relationships where in some cases the transwoman was pimped out routinely against her will all because as a transwoman she is in an incredibly vulnerable social position. I should know, I got away, he never served time for what he did to me other than about 72 hours. I’m still working through the traumas he caused me.

      Sincerely,
      A transwoman

      • druidwinter

        So, you were subjected to life as a women? What have you done to discourage this treatment? Have you said anything against GTA for having a program that allows you to kill hookers so you dont have to pay them? or you think that this has nothing to do with the reason you are treated that way?
        Do you think because women are born women this should be ‘normal’ treatment for us?

        You refuse to see where this violence is coming from, or address the source as wbw women being treated like this and men thinking you want the same treatment-but congrats on being treated like a real women. Every woman faces this when she accepts a date from a man- you hope this one is nice, but more often than not, that is what a woman accepts as a part of your life, getting away from violent males and avoiding bad ones.

  2. T.J. Haugo

    Thank you for your comment. From a big picture perspective, this all boils down to the battle of the sexes. But under a microscope, the web of oppression that entangles women is very intricate. One of the nuances of this, is a pervasive social paradigm that transgender individuals are mentally ill, or that their condition is a mental illness, as opposed to an authentic expression of true identity, or that being transsexual is a mental condition, not a physical one. A woman born into a male body can be all kinds of things, but to many, they are ‘faggots’ and sissies – a man with a problem, not a woman with one.

    I am not sure if you feel that a woman can truly be a woman without genitals, or if you think feminism is for the struggle if those born female. In my resident state of South Dakota, and many others, to change ones letter, there is legal requirement for medical alteration of sex organs. This is a cruel and fascist statute of the law in a land disturbingly obsessed with genitals, as though they are the key to your destiny in civilization.

    I believe these struggles will reveal broader truths to humanity about what gender identity and it’s expression really mean.

  3. T.J. Haugo

    Thank you for your comment. From a big picture perspective, this all boils down to the battle of the sexes. But under a microscope, the web of oppression that entangles women is very intricate. One of the nuances of this, is a pervasive social paradigm that transgender individuals are mentally ill, or that their condition is a mental illness, as opposed to an authentic expression of true identity, or that being transsexual is a mental condition, not a physical one. A woman born into a male body can be all kinds of things, but to many, they are ‘faggots’ and sissies – a man with a problem, not a woman with one.

    I am not sure if you feel that a woman can truly be a woman without genitals, or if you think feminism is for the struggle if those born female. In my resident state of South Dakota, and many others, to change ones letter, there is legal requirement for medical alteration of sex organs. This is a cruel and fascist statute of the law in a land disturbingly obsessed with genitals, as though they are the key to your destiny in civilization.

    I believe these struggles will reveal broader truths to humanity about what gender identity and it’s expression really means to everyone.

  4. Amanda

    i am an egyptian woman, and a feminist.

    i normally love to see pieces written by male allies, as it helps me believe the world is changing.

    however, this is not a feminist piece. this is a scare-piece about jihadists hiding under the bed. 😦

    did you really describe us as “their own women”?! a supposed feminist.

    our oppression is being used by westerners – usually men – to 1) oppress muslim and arab men and women, and 2) excuse the oppression of women in the west.

    high heels can cause nasty physical injuries, yet their wearing, and the constant pressure of women to wear less and less to look sexy and appeal to men, in no less harmful than the hijab.

    when did you last do half of the housework – i mean *really* half of the housework (if you live with a woman)? when did you last do anything practical to help make things more equal where you are?

    islamophobia is not a helpful subsitute to sexism for arab women. i say, even though this blog has both… 😦

  5. T.J. Haugo

    Amanda, you have given me a lot of thinking to do. I thought my piece was more of a cultural indictment, than that of a religion. I understand that jihadists have a much different interpretation of Islam than the majority of Muslims. I was really trying to compare elements like the Taliban to progressive western ideals. While western women are indeed opressed, they certainly have a lot more hope and liberty from what I’ve concluded. I don’t believe that America is better, but I would certainly choose to live here as opposed to Saudi Arabia. Men who refuse to accept gender normative behavior or wish to be more feminine are also subject to cruel treatment. I believe men can suffer from the oppression of feminism too.

    I will definitely choose my words more carefully too. I meant to imply women who belong to a certain region, not women who belong to the men in that region.

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