Friday, December 31, 2010

Feminist Does Not Mean Pro-Choice

I didn't want to do this. I'd much prefer to never mention the subject of abortion because of it's polarizing nature. Because there are very few people who are apathetic on the subject. Because there are very few people who can read about the opposite point of view and not get riled up. But I was reading a blog post by a conservative feminist and the majority of comments that followed claimed that the basic definition of feminism is being pro-choice.

Excuse me?

I take issue with this statement for 2 reasons. One is because I am pro-life (although atheist, for the record), and the other is because the term "feminist" is already considered a foul term. Recruiting women to the women's movement is already an impossible task, and now feminists want to not only alienate half the country, but even denounce some of their own? I don't see the point.

I understand the argument. That, to some, being pro choice means having complete autonomy and thus without said autonomy we can never be equals. But that's assuming everyone sees the issue with the same eyes. Abortion is such a hot debatable, political topic because it is NOT universally construed. So how can an issue that barely has a definition of its own be used to define a completely separate idea?

I am a feminist because I do believe women have the right to own their bodies. That sexual and physical assault are all too commonplace and unrecognized. That all humans are equal in every sense of the word. That the issues women face on a daily basis all over the world are rarely given the attention they deserve or need. That the media favors masculinity over femininity and the very definition of feminine has been distorted and bastardized to keep women feeling inferior. That we are all capable of changing the world and the subjugation of women.

I am a Feminist. And I am Pro Life.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

If this doesn't make you angry....



then what will?

Taken from BlogHer.com

Hooters is Dangerous to Women, Children, and Owls
December 28, 2010 1:00 pm by Suzanne Reisman in Feminism

Looking for a great place to take the feminist family for a holiday meal, plus pick up some hilarious gifts for the kiddies? I’ve got the perfect place - Hooters. Seriously! According to Hooters Facts, 32% of Hooters management is female. Plus, they’ve donated $2 million to the V Foundation for Cancer Research in honor of “former Hooters Calendar Girl and manager, Kelly Jo Dowd, who passed away from the disease in 2006.”

As if that’s not enough, Broadsheet reported that the chain offers a “kid's menu, high chairs, booster seats and all sorts of merchandise for little tykes -- like... an "I'm a boob man" onesie and a "Your crib or mine?" bib.” (The kids’ menu in Arizona charges $2.59 for burgers and hot dogs and $59.95 for liver and onions. Soooo funny.) At some locations, kids even eat free on Sundays. Practical and hilarious, right?

What’s really great about Hooters, though, is that it also functions as a purveyor of “adult” entertainment. While the children drool over their tender chicken strips (made from breast meat?), the adults have their own fun. Several chapters of the National Organization for Women in California think there’s something fishy about this. As Broadsheet notes:

Hooters is described in official business filings as a provider of "vicarious sexual entertainment." NOW points out that the chain has "used this designation as a way to avoid compliance with regulations against sexual discrimination in the workplace." The official employment manual warns that a waitress is, as NOW paraphrases, "employed as a sexual entertainer and as part of her employment can expect to be subjected to various sexual jokes by customers and such potential contacts as buttocks slaps."

I think this is rather clever. (It sure beats the New York NOW chapters protests of the botox tax as discriminatory toward women because we need plastic surgery to stay competitive in the discriminatory workplace.) Of course, when feminists get all clever in order to achieve something positive, the world gets all mad. (Actually, the world gets all bent out of shape when feminists try and do anything, but that’s another story. Haters just sit around waiting for something to hate on.) If you want to read many rants about how feminists are horrid people out to deprive the world of the good fun that bouncy tits and tight asses provide, I suggest that you google “national organization for women hooters.” It is ugly out there.

Shannon Drury of the Minnesota NOW blog, Minnesota Feminists Speak Out! defended the actions of the California branches. In an amusing and thoughtful post, she concludes, “This suit is about the rights of Hooters workers to expect a modicum of protection from harassment and employment discrimination. Hooters uses legalese to protect itself from liability–I applaud California NOW for turning the tables back on them (waitressing pun totally intended).”

Honestly, Hooters grosses me out. I know that there are people who enjoy it, but in general I prefer my food to be served to me by people who are fully clothed and can breathe somewhat easily. (For more details on the Hooters attire, I highly recommend this insightful post from Princess Melissa about her day squeezing into a Hooters “uniform.” The description of the pantyhose is priceless.) I hate the fratty-sneering-isn’t-this-all-just-fun? attitude. As a buzzkill feminist, I don’t find it fun at all.

But it’s not just the vapid sexism that I oppose. The more I think about all this, the more I hope that animal rights activists will join the campaign against Hooters. What is with that poor little owl forced to leer at women nonstop in their stupid logo? He looks completely stressed out. Does he ever get to close his eyeballs for some rest? Aren’t some owls endangered species? The chain doesn’t even bother giving their mascot a name on their homepage, which is terrible. He’s just another body to use to sell their products. (Further research uncovered his identity as "Hootie the Owl," which is the type of lazy name someone gives when they don't care.) I think I am going to call him Woody to honor his roots and form a new organization, Save Hooters Little Owl Now, Girls! (SHLONG). SHLONG’s logo will feature Woody clinging to an erect branch with his talons.

If people can’t work for justice for Hooters Girls than I hope they will at least find the decency to rally to Woody the Hooter Owl’s aid. We have to start somewhere. I'm taking a stand with SHLONG.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

16 and Pregnant

I don't think any show better illustrates the vast differences between males and females than MTV's reality series 16 and Pregnant.

In fact, the inherent differences between the two genders are so great, it's a wonder we're all able to get along at all. One of the biggest obstacles to equality is our ignorance to these disparities. We shouldn't waste time trying to change how men are, but trying to integrate our needs into their ways, and the same goes the other way around.

I wonder how different the families in 16 and Pregnant would be if they were not so ignorant of these problems and solutions.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bridalplasty

"'Bridalplasty' brings together engaged women who are seeking complete image transformations before their big day -- they want the dream wedding AND the dream body to go along with it."

"Bridalplasty" will be the first American reality show to have participants compete for plastic surgery. There have been shows about people having plastic surgery, but in "Bridalplasty," it's the prize -- pushing the limits of medical ethics.

Under the American Society of Plastic Surgeons code of ethics, "We're technically prohibited from giving procedures away as a prize for a contest. It totally undermines the doctor-patient relationship," says Dr. Gayle Gordillo, associate professor plastic surgery at Ohio State University. "The ethical and social implications of this [show] are frightening."
~ABC News

Frightening? Understatement of the century. Not only do these women (who are of course all gorgeous to begin with) want plastic surgery (usually liposuction and/or breast augmentation), their fiance won't get to see their bride's new look until they wed them at the altar. I admit, I watched the series premiere. I had to, in order to justify my stance that this show defines the media's stance on women.

Here are just a few of my gripes about this show, and topic:

(1) the whole premise - fairly self explanatory why it's abhorrent. Women competing for boob jobs to impress their future husbands? seriously? first of all, boob jobs can inhibit your ability to breast feed. so that future family you may desire? your kids will lose the benefit of breast milk. nipples can lose some of their sensation, so that boob job is literally only for your husband. and if you're planning to marry someone who doesnt think you're beautiful as you are, you might want to reconsider the whole marriage plan.

I sometimes watch shows like I Shouldnt Be Alive, or I Survived, and I saw an episode once about a woman who was attacked by a mountain lion. Her face was mutilated, and although reconstructive surgery certainly helped, the scars of course remained. Her husband stayed at her bedside throughout the surgeries and when it was all over, and the bandages were removed, and she was provided a mirror, she started sobbing. Her husband gently brushed her face, and said "You are so beautiful". That's the kind of man I want to marry.

(2) What kind of fiance would allow their wife to go on such a show? Allow is a strong word, because it might insinuate that a woman needs her mans permission, but I'm talking about without a fight. If my boyfriend wanted to leave me for however many months so he could compete for a head to toe plastic surgery makeover, and not come back to show his face until i put a ring on his finger, I'd tell him he was out of his mind, and if he wants to leave, he can just not come back. Isn't love enough anymore?

One woman on the show is engaged to a military man (I don't remember what branch), and he had been overseas for months when she left for the show. He returned to the states while she was filming, and production flew him out so they can reunite for a night. They talked about how much they missed each other, and all that, and then he left, and she stayed. In the confessional she said how she had waited for him, and she knew he would wait for her.

I'm not sure if waiting for your husband to return from serving our country overseas at war is quite comparable to waiting for your wife to make a fool of herself in order to get a boob job on national television....Go home and be with the person you love. Just the way they are.

(3) When the women first appeared at the house in which they would live during the competition, they met with the plastic surgeon to discuss what they wanted to change. These interviews were then replayed for the whole house, so every girl could see what everyone else wanted done. When meeting with the surgeon, the women invariably asked for some sort of liposuction, usually on their stomach. The MD then went on to show them where ELSE they could take some fat off, and all the other work they would probably want done. Apparently the low self esteem that prompted the appearance on the show wasn't low enough for the doctor. You want a skinnier stomach? Honey, have you seen your legs? We're gonna have to suck some fat off those too! It's absolutely appalling to see a grown professional man prey on a woman's insecurities the way this doctor does. And as noted in the opening quote, this is not at all how a patient-doctor relationship should be. He should have his license revoked for appearing on the show.

The fact that these interviews are played for everyone on the show furthers the insanity of the show. Skinny woman after skinny woman who said they wanted smaller stomachs (and were told they needed smaller arms, legs, backs, etc), forced the others on the show to show the same incredulous face in their personal confessionals. eg, "Nancy"'s so skinny! If she wants liposuction, how fat must she think I am?! And thus, every woman, despite their beauty is left feeling worse than when any of this began.

Every part of this show not only preys on the contestants' insecurities, but furthers them. This is not a mindless reality show about people doing ridiculous things for cash prizes. This is a show that almost makes fun of body dysmorphic disorder (a type of chronic mental illness in which you can't stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance — a flaw that is either minor or imagined. MayoClinic) in that it pretends that plastic surgery will help self esteem. In reality, all the surgery in the world won't help these women to love themselves.

Someone once told me they wanted a breast augmentation. As they were, she was at least a cup size larger than me. I asked her what she was trying to say about me if you thought her boobs were too small. She, of course, tried saying it was just about making herself happy, and that she just wasn't comfortable with how small hers were, but mine were fine. When I see girls skinnier than me crying that they're too fat, or their breasts are too small, am I supposed to just write it off? Luckily I'm comfortable enough with myself (though God knows it took a hell of a long ride to get here) to brush off such insecurities, but many people are not.

With shows like Bridalplasty, the media is not only preying on the contestants, but on all Americans. When gorgous women fight to change their looks because they believe themselves to be too ugly, the rest of America wonders where that leaves us.

I watched one episode of this show just to have enough material to rightfully hate it. If this is where American gameshows are headed, then call me old fashioned. I'll take Let's Make a Deal any day of the week.

You don't need plastic surgery to be beautiful, or feel beautiful, or to have the perfect wedding, or to be the perfect bride. Healthy and happy is far more appealing than a plastic mask on an uncomfortable body.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No, Khloe, it's NOT liked being raped

I don't know what's worse: the existence of the Kardashian's fame, or the uproar over the new airport security measures. While I haven't yet personally experienced the TSA's newest encroachment on personal space, to be honest, I think having to remove my shoes every time I fly sounds like more of an inconvenience than a pat down does. and regardless of anyone's personal views on the subject, I can guarantee that such a measure does not even closely resemble "being raped in public."

A pat down done by security officials in order to ensure the safety of the nation does not quite elicit the emotional and physical duress that comes from a sexual assault. I'm sure that even Khloe Kardashian is aware of that. And while no one believes that the two are actuallycomparable, making such insensitive remarks isolates victims and their supporters. If the only way we talk about rape and sexual assault is when we are doing so in jest, then the gravity of such crimes and their effects will never be embraced.

Whether the pat downs and "x-ray machines" are too invasive or not is irrelevant. As someone who purchased many a one-way ticket in the past, I've done the special screening more often than not, so I could honestly care less about what security does to me. I've had women pat my shirt down, telling me at each point what they're doing and why. I believe the act of being sexually assaulted would be somewhat more traumatizing.

I'm friends with too many guys to not be able to withstand the worst of off-color humor. There are few topics at which I cringe. Not surprisingly, one of those is sexual assault. Someone asked me once why it didnt bother me to say or hear the term murder in reference to anger, whereas using the term rape to mean something completely unrelated to rape (eg that exam just raped me) is entirely unacceptable to me.

When society starts viewing sexual assault as the prevalent, underreportered, tragic crime that it is, then I can accept any kind of line blurring. Until that day comes (if it ever comes), nothing is like being raped in public. Except rape itself.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Modern Feminist Movement

I've often considered myself an "anti-feminism feminist," and most people who know me from my women's studies class at UConn would probably consider me anti-feminism period. The truth is though that, as mentioned in a much earlier post, I believe ignorance is the biggest threat to the women's movement, and to the egalitarian humanist movement in general.

For example, the belief that men and women are born the same is incorrect. Nature versus Nurture allows for people to develop differently because of genetic differences as well as environmental differences. Meaning men and women are different from as early as our time in the womb. This does not mean we are unequal, and knowing these kinds of facts will help, not hinder, our progression to true equality.

Falsities of any kind prevent not only the truth from reaching the masses, but once the truth comes out (and it often does), those that spoke the lie lose all credibility.

Any statistic should be taken with a grain of salt. Too often, all that we read or hear is taken at face value. One Snapple cap fact says "80% of all statistics are made up" (or something along those lines. Perhaps not made up, but too often studies are misinterpreted to fit the desired conclusions, or words are twisted to make an exaggerated point.

I recently started reading Christina Sommers's Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women, which at the surface looks like anti-feminism rant. In reality, it exposes all the false stats that make up the feminist women's movement. The origins of stats regarding domestic abuse, eating disorder fatalities, and the wage gap (among others) are exposed and how the true numbers are twisted to make women appear more oppressed than we are are the main subjects of the book.

Her point being, of course, that we don't need false evidence to prove our inequality. We should rely on the truth. We shouldn't segregate ourselves through angry hate-filled rants or rallies. We shouldn't isolate ourselves by blaming our isolation on men.

Rape and domestic violence are still a huge problem in America and abroad. There is nothing false about that. These are causes we all can unite against, men and women alike, and they are causes that do not need inflated numbers to signify the damage they do to those they afflict.

Change the war on feminism by changing feminism itself. Prevent feminist backlash by avoiding ignorance and avoiding falsifications.

There's only room for truth on the road to justice.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Domestic Violence

My oldest sister sent me an email regarding news of a recent domestic violence fatality.

Help support those in need by donating to shelters for abused women. Help end the violence.

Crazy Yankee Chick (my eldest)'s plea for help

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sex vs Violence

"Mac MacGuff: Did you see that coming when she sat us down here?
Bren MacGuff: Yeah, but I was hoping she was expelled or into hard drugs.
Mac MacGuff: That was my first instinct too. Or a D.W.I. Anything but this. "

~From the movie Juno - her parents reactions to her declaration of pregnancy~

"Sadie: Where do babies come from?
Debbie: Where do you think they come from?
Sadie: Well. I think a stork, he umm, he drops it down and then, and then, a hole goes in your body and there's blood everywhere, coming out of your head and then you push your belly button and then your butt falls off and then you hold your butt and you have to dig and you find the little baby.
Debbie: That's exactly right."

~From the movie Knocked Up~

The movie Team America (which I refuse to see) was originally given a rating of X due to its apparent graphic depiction of sex using 2 dolls. That's right - dolls with the same human resemblance as barbie dolls. And it was deemed to graphic for anyone under the age of 18 to see regardless of parental consent.

Much to my mother and middle sister's horror, my oldest sister and I are semi obsessed with the seven movies of the Saw franchise. Movies that depict gory, graphic deaths such as a woman's scalp being torn off and a man's limbs and head being twisted off one by one. Twice in the franchise people were burned alive in furnaces. When my sisters and I went to see Saw VII in 3d, we were horrified at the amount of children in the audience. Sitting in front, behind, and next to me were kids no older than 15 - one of which was at best 13. They were accompanied, of course, by adult guardians.

Apparently violence - graphic, terrible, twisted murders - are more child friendly than 2 dolls having sex. The two movie quotes at the start of this post reflect the absurdity of such societal standards. A parent would rather her daughter be into drugs or have a DWI than be pregnant. Rather she be putting the lives of herself and others at risk than think about her having sex. In Knocked Up, of course, the mother would rather her daughter think of bloody, crazy, beginning to pregnancy than explain the idea of sex.

Unlike violence and murder, unlike drugs and drinking, sex is a perfectly natural, and necessary part of life. In some cultures outside of America such as Dutch culture, sex is discussed at an early age, leading kids to confer with their parents before their first sexual experience. They are more likely to use contraception, especially birth control pills. They have significantly lower rates of STD's, teen pregnancy, and consequently, abortions. Something the conservative right should desperately want to jump on. And it's not created through abstinence only education, secrecy, and fear tactics.

I'm not suggesting pornogrpahic movies have a G rating. But I think most people can agree that a society where violence is deemed more acceptable and natural than sex is a little twisted. I would rather my future children be exposed to sex than SAW. The more we start to view sex as a beautiful, natural intimacy between two consensual partners, the more likely we are to reduce the excitement and desire of having as many partners as possible. Like the drug war, prohibition breeds misuse.

End the prohibition of sex education, and help women and men alike reclaim our sexuality and sexual autonomy.

Men?

I think it's safe to say that the only males that have read more than a single post in this blog is my boyfriend and my father. Given that I have no brothers, and my guy friends are still confused about when, where, and how I managed to turn into a feminist (I once wrote a paper for a high school history class about how feminists should shut up and accept their female roles in society...), the only male figures in my life with feminist loyalties is the bf and dad.

Which is akin to attempting to spread the word of god by talking to a convent.

It's impossible for the feminist movement (or any egalitarian movement) to gain any ground if the only audience it reaches is the victimized group. How can we get men to join the fight towards female autonomy, and a safer society when it's they who don't want to identify themselves with the perpetrators of crimes?

How can we better use sexual assault prevention programs already in place at Universities and in Fraternities? Most research shows that while these current programs help reduce rape myth acceptance immediately following the session, long term effects are minimal. I would think that having coed educational groups on this subject would be more productive, as fraternities especially are notorious for their dangerous male group mentality. A female voice or even simple presence could provide a sort of reminder that such programs are not jokes nor a boring waste of time.

Oddly enough, my theory is unsound. In order to affect change among our male counterparts, studies show that all-male peer education groups provide the greatest long term changes in the rape myth acceptance. Even more telling is the way such programs are advertised.

Nobody enjoys being blamed, especially not for another's crimes. When it comes to sexual assault, men especially don't want to hear about how their entire gender is ignorant and responsible. Men want to feel like protectors, not violent criminals (well for the most part anyway). So programs aimed at supporting rape victims as opposed to stopping rape actually do more to educate males on both subjects. Furthermore, using an example of a male rape victim instead of a female helps men to identify more with the victim.

When men know better how to help a friend who was sexually assaulted, they can incorporate that knowledge into everyday lives. By better understanding the emotional distress of victims, it becomes easier to learn how to prevent that distress from occurring in the first place.

My father obviously has lived with my mother, my two sisters, and I for decades, and my boyfriend is not only a cop who deals with domestic violence on a daily basis but clearly dating a feminist. These are not the audiences I want or need to reach. While I appreciate their support in the fight, it is more important to reach those men who won't ever read this.

So how can we reach them?

(studies mentioned in this post are from John D. Foubert and Kenneth A Marriott's report "Effects of sexual assault peer education program on men's belief in rape myths from Sex Roles, Volume 36 Issue 3, 1997)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Now What?

"'When overweight women look at thin models, they see the dissimilarities between themselves and the models, which activates knowledge that they are heavy,' ASU researcher Naomi Mandel told Lemondrop. 'And when they look at heavy models, they see the similarities between themselves and the models, which also activates knowledge that they are heavy.'"
Plus-Size Models Decrease Women's Self-Esteem

Years, decades, of media inflicted blows to our self esteem have caused women to be dissatisfied with themselves regardless of the person gracing the cover of Vogue. Women have become more attracted to the underweight body type than men.

Once again, women don't need (or apparently want) models to look up to. Regardless of size the bodies we see in the media are nameless, objectified versions of idols. How many people dream of being on the cover of a magazine? Or depicted in a billboard?

So instead of aspiring to look like the people we see, why not have every model have a story? A real reason to look up to them? Real people with real accomplishments, so that we can all look past their looks and see the capabilities we all have to be great.

Why aspire to be thin? Is that really anyone's dream, goal, ambition? Why obsess about weight when we should be fighting for our true dreams? Fighting to affect change in a world that has neglected women and women's rights for so long?

Fight to be the person you want to be. Not the size you want to be.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sexual Harassment

Brett Favre is currently the highlight of the NFL, not for his consecutive game streak, his record number of touch down passes (and interceptions), or his age, but because of sexual harassment charges filed by Jenn Sterger, a model and Gameday host for the New York Jets. Favre allegedly sent lewd pictures of himself and continually called her, leaving multiple voice mails and sending multiple text messages.

Favre has since admitted to the voicemails but claims the pictures are not of him, but an impersonator. (God only knows why someone would try to impersonate Favre by sending naked photos to the girl and how this stranger managed to do it at the same time that Favre began hitting on her might be some evidence working against this claim, but as usual, innocent until proven guilty).

The only problem is...the legal definition of sexual harassment is a form of discrimination in the work place, and the work place alone. Unless a colleague or boss is the one sending unwanted signals, or unwanted (or unwarranted) touching, the legal system has nothing to say about it. Was Favre's harassment unlawful? Or simply harassment? More importantly, why does the law neglect the sexual harassment that occurs between students or even strangers?

Virtually every woman has experienced the catcalls that are stereotypical of men involved in construction. The whistling and lewd remarks about our bodies are clearly unwelcome and unwarranted. None of these men have any desire to actually get to know us, to understand who we are, where we came from, where we're going. Women are simply objects to banter about during their lunch hour. This isnt just those in construction (nor is it everyone in construction), rather, it comes from almost everywhere. Schools, bars, clubs, even a low key night at a restaurant can include harassment.

So why isn't this legally reprehensible? Why do women need to be accepting of the harassment that is commonplace in society? When can we stand up for ourselves, and when will everyone stand up for our rights? Our right to walk this earth without fear of unwanted and inappropriate advances?

Men didn't learn to disrespect women from their mothers (at least not in this country). But they also don't learn to respect them from their parents. The media teaches them to objectify women, to see us as bodies, and not people. Respect for women starts from knowledge of who women are. Not objects, not just bodies, not just strangers to harass and laugh at.

We are people. We are friends, daughters, sisters, mothers. We are YOUR friends, daughters, sisters, mothers. The most common insult involves ones mother. Respect for the woman who brought you into this world is the most basic of instincts.

So treat all women as you would your mother. Imagine every catcall as being directed at your mother.

Dear Brett Favre, men, and the legal system,

All harassment that is sexual in nature is sexual harassment.

And it is NOT okay.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

FGM

I was finishing up Kristoff's Half the Sky last night and the tail end of that book touches on FGM, or female genital mutilation. Formerly referred to female circumcision, that term was discarded because it did not convey the horrors and torture enacted in the procedure. In the most liberal of communities, girls usually before the age of 10, are taken by other women and have their clitoris cut off with knives that have not been properly sanitized. Many areas go even further and cut off the labia, and some places even sew up the vagina, leaving only a small hole for menstruation.

It's hard to even read about it with being appalled. Yet women in these cultures not only do it to each other, but girls even ask to have it done to them.

Can there be a universal right without encroaching on cultural beliefs? Does fighting for equal status of men and women mean being ethnocentric? Should we try to simply provide clean razors for this "circumcision" so that infection will be reduced, or should we try to stop the practice altogether and risk being seen as arrogant and egocentric?

In Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery," a town gathers together one day every year and one person is randomly selected to be stoned to death. The kids all get excited for the day by collection rocks to throw, and nobody every stops to question the barbarity of the practice. It's just what they do.

For how long did the world view slavery as just a cultural practice, just something people did, something that would never change? How long did China continue to bind the feet of their daughters?

Cultures change when education prevails. FGM may be how things are done in certain parts of the world, girls and women may even support the practice, and resent American involvement. But that doesn't make ignorance any better.

This isn't a matter of cultural ideals.

This is a matter of human rights.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Back to Basics

Eating disorders - most notably anorexia and bulemia - are the most fatal of all mental illnesses. Those who develop anorexia rarely fully recover from the disorder, and many fall prey to the ill effects of heart arrhythmias, hyponatremia (or water intoxication), hypoglycemia, and/or kidney stones. It afflicts millions of Americans, and is rapidly spreading to other countries where food abounds. Only a small percentage of the victims are male. It is mostly our young girls and women who are dying of starvation in a land with the highest obesity rate.

How did this country end up with an epidemic of starving young children when they have more than enough food to eat? Why are children as young as 10 years old dieting? Why are middle schoolers convinced that they are too fat, despite being of perfectly normal weight? And why isn't anyone paying attention?

The greatest irony of it all is that those who suffer from anorexia often disguise their skeletal bodies in too-large sweatshirts. Rather than showing off the body they work so hard to attain and maintain, they are ashamed of it. So why are these young women starving themselves?

Dove recently started a campaign aimed to raise the self esteem of women and girls - showing real women in their campaigns rather than models, and in one commercial showing men agonizing over their bodies they way we so often do. Most notably there is one in which a young girl is staring at an ad on a bus stop, when a barrage of images of women in various forms of the media fly at you.



How can women learn to love themselves, and their bodies, when the world around us is desperately trying to tell us that we're too fat, too ugly, too covered, too pure? Where are the half naked men dancing in rap videos, nameless, faceless, barely covered men advertising women's deodorant?

Eating disorders have become the illness, with the media as the virus. A virus - a rapidly reproducing semi organism that lives off the demise of its host - unable to procreate without the help of a host, a host it inevitably destroys.

Men and women both maintain this society that fosters low self esteem, and through it, eating disorders. Women's magazines try to tell their readers to be strong in their own bodies, yet opposite those articles are ads for makeup and weight loss aids. These ads are imperative for the magazines to continue publication, and money is always more important than morality.

Women, girls, are dying. The virus destroying them is not an unbeatable scourge. It's not an unknown cancer, or a unstoppable invasion. It's a lack of empathy. It's the objectification of females through advertisements, music videos, movies, music...Through strip clubs, pornography, and playboy. Instead of fighting to be like strong women role models, we look to those placed in front of us.

Impossible ideals.

Fatal ideals.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Breaking and Entering

Last Mother's Day weekend, I spent Saturday with my family, but due to the fact I had work on Sunday, I opted to go home that night. My mom wanted me to stay the night, but I got very stressed out about being late and left.

I should have listened to my mother.

I ended up getting home pretty late at night, and had to park in a fairly dark area of my neighborhood. Due to fatigue, I left my ipod out, instead of tucking it into my glove compartment. When I got up the next morning to get breakfast, my driver side window was smashed in, and my ipod was gone.

Thankfully I have full glass coverage through my insurance, and I got the window fixed pretty quickly. Unfortunately they were unable to get all the glass out of the door, and now my window is pretty annoying to operate. In essence, my window will never be the same.

When I walked up to my car that morning, when I saw the glass on the ground, and shards stuck in the door, a flood of emotions took over. I was stunned, angry, upset, confused...I called the police who took a report and then left. They had seen it a thousand times before, and it really meant nothing to them. But to me, I felt entirely violated.

Anyone who has ever seen my car knows it's a mess of pretty much everything. I basically live out of my car. And to have someone not only completely disregard my right to my own car, my privacy, my life, but to go through all my things, to assume the right to everything I own, left me feeling incredibly vulnerable. How could someone do that?

I can only imagine what it would feel like to have ones body violated in the same way. To have someone take control, not of your possession, not of your car, or your house, but of your own body...the feeling of helplessness and vulnerability is unfathomable.

When people found out my car was broken into, nobody asked me any questions about my actions. Yes, I parked in a dark area. Yes, I left my ipod visible. Yet not a single person told me I was asking for it. Nobody told me it was my fault. Nobody accused me of making it up. No one tried to tell me I probably gave it away and then regretted it, so I claimed it was stolen. Those would be absolutely ludicrous questions and accusations to make.

Yet it's the reality for victims of sexual assault. Although those are people who have suffered far greater wrongs, suffered far greater physical and emotional distress than those, like myself, who have had their cars or homes broken into. I had my ipod stolen, they have everything taken away. I had the support of the people around me, they have to keep their secret due to a disbelieving apathetic world.

I made a couple of dumb decisions that night before Mother's Day. But I do not for a second blame myself. Regardless of a person's actions, the victim of a crime is just that. A victim. The only person to blame, regardless of the crime, is the person who committed it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

victim blaming

If I go to a guy's place and get raped it's my fault. What did I think was going to happen anyway??

God forbid I trust men.

But if I opt out of trusting every guy I come across, then I'm a stereotypical man hating feminist.

So how exactly do we women garner support? do we trust everyone, or trust no one? at what point do we blame the men for inflicting pain instead of blaming the women for walking into it?

When is the victim of date rape considered a victim?

guilty pleasure

"Do you know why people make fun of us? They're jealous. Because we still have the guts to go after what we want."
-desperate housewives

...

New City man accused of raping 13-year-old girl

Suffern man guilty of punching wife, faces prison

Why is it so easy to find stories like this? How can we continue to deny the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence when every glance at a newspaper brings it to our attention? For every story that makes the media, there are dozens more that don't.

For every person who finds a voice to tell authorities of their struggles, there are dozens more still living in fear.

(n.b. in regards to the first link, the man is assumed innocent until proven guilty)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Burqaa

"Why do foreigners always ask about clothing? [...] Why does it matter so much what we wear? Of all the issues in the world, is that really so important? [...] You think we're victims because we cover our hair and wear modest clothing. But we think it's Western women who are repressed because they have to show their bodies - even go through surgery to change their bodies - to please men."
Afghan women, as quoted in Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book Half the Sky

Although I believe the Burqaa is oppressive to women, I absolutely agree that the apparent need to show off our bodies is almost equally oppressive.

Whatever happened to showing off our minds?

Friday, October 22, 2010

seriously?

"Phoenix man accused of sexually assaulting unconscious woman on Internet gets 2.5 years"

While his girlfriend was passed out drunk, this man sexually assaulted her while broadcasting the entire ordeal on the internet. Voyeurs called the police.

We well know the magnitude of emotional distress that such unwilling participation in webcam voyeurism can have. Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly videoed, and broadcast live, a tryst Tyler had with his boyfriend. The roommate and the woman accomplice could receive up to 5 years in prison for this invasion of privacy.

But this man who racked up further charges only gets 2.5 years?

Not to mention the headline. Phoenix man ACCUSED? How about Convicted?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sex Trafficking in America

"The mechanism of violence is what destroys women, controls women, diminishes women and keeps women in their so-called place." ~Eve Ensler

Most people think of sex trafficking - the trade of women for forced prostitution - as a problem in third world countries. It undoubtedly is a major issue for many countries abroad, where, although illegal, many law officials turn a blind eye to brothels due to bribes and free services. But even here in the United States, a country that claims to be one of the most advanced economically and socially, women and children are held against their will and forced into prostitution rings.

While many victims of this trade were children who ran away, or drug addicts who were lured into the practice by promises of a different job (much the same way women abroad are lured way from their homes), today children aren't just fooled by false promises of modeling jobs, but kidnapped right off the street.

According to the FBI, there are about 100,000 women and children, aged 9-19 with an average age of 11, "working" as sex slaves today in America - the supposed land of the free. Their ordeals begin with what many call a "breaking down" period, which includes verbal abuse, beatings, and gang rapes by the captors. Threats of murdering or maiming their loved ones during this early stage keep the captives from attempting to fight back or escape. And then it's time to bring in the customers.

Day in and day out these captives are forced to have sex with men who pay for their services - money the women never see. Younger children and virgins are especially high priced, and especially emotionally and physically detrimental to the exploited.

When these prostitution rings are finally broken up by police (who somehow have trouble finding them despite pimps' use of the internet to advertise these women), those responsible for these heinous crimes are given sentences that do not compare to the sentences inflicted on their victims. While the victims will never be the same because of their ordeal, and many have such severe PTSD that they are constantly in fear of other men and women alike, the convictions of their captors lead to a few years in prison. One man got just 7 years for his conviction of holding a 15 year old girl and her cousin hostage as sex slaves. The punishment inflicted on him by the girls father was worse (a severe beating including bashing a rock on the captors head). Another man who held a prostitution ring of underage girls received 22 years in prison. While a much better sentence than the aforementioned 7, it again is not harsh enough for what these men do to their captives.

We cannot begin to understand sex trafficking abroad (whose victims' have even worse stories) if we turn a blind eye to the trafficking happening in our own country. The media has given front page news attention to Lindsay Lohan's on again off again relationship with cocaine, yet the women who are in desperate need of our attention and aid are ignored.

In Nicholas Kristof (a fantastic op-ed columnist for the NY Times)'s book Half the Sky, he provides 4 ways to help women without joining law enforcement, or hosting rallies - things any of us can do to help those in need.
-www.globalgiving.org
-sponser a girl or woman through Plan International, Woman for Woman International, World Vision, or American Jewish World Service
-sign up for email updates on www.womensenews.org and www.worldpulse.com
-Join the CARE Action Network at www.can.care.org
The last one is the one I find most important. It provides assistance in speaking up and out against the injustices facing women by talking to policy makers and basic citizen advocacy.

One voice can be heard. A million can't be ignored.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

writing sample from my religion class fall 2009

Today’s world is plagued by a multitude of problems affecting the human race including bullying, access to quality healthcare, the drug war, sexual assault, domestic violence, poverty, famine, and terrorism. To pick one issue that is the most critical in terms of the detriment it is causing to the world at large is almost impossible. To do so would require that one issue to affect at least all the aforementioned crises. It is because of this factor that I believe the most crucial issue facing the planet right now is the mass injustices facing women worldwide. Both here in America as well as abroad, women are suffering on a daily basis from physical and sexual abuse, limited availability of career options, discrimination, objectification, and poor healthcare. While discriminatory practices tend to vary from country to country, women remain at the low end of the totem pole regardless of the nation in which they reside.

Even here in America, although we fortunately do not have sex trafficking, genitalia mutilation, dowries or arranged marriages (at least in American culture) in the same numbers as many other countries, women are degraded via their objectification in the media and through pornography and strip clubs, and this objectification contributes, if not causes such traumas as eating disorders and sexual assault. Each of these in their own right cause such severe emotional distress that it is worthy of being called a crisis. When you incorporate the billions of dollars the United States economy annually loses due to mental illness causing workplace absenteeism, tardiness, and decreased productivity, these problems affecting women also affect the country at large. And they are fairly easy problems to fix, when you realize all it requires is simply respect for your fellow mother, sister, daughter, or friend.

Globally, the problems facing women are much more drastic and pressing issues. Everyday women face discrimination at the hands of their government, and even their loved ones as they are prevented from attending school or having careers. Those who are allowed an education have a higher drop out rate than males because females tend to miss school while they are menstruating in order to avoid other people. In some places women are married off at ages as young as ten or eleven years and used as little more than a means for creating sons. Newborn daughters have a higher rate of death by negligence because they are not cared for as well as the sons. Some countries in Africa practice genital mutilation in order to ensure the women remain virgins until marriage. Any deviation leaves women shunned from their society. In other places, women of all ages, are kidnapped and used as sex slaves in brothels, at times getting them addicted to drugs in order to ensure they remain in the situation, as it is the only way they can be assured of their fix. Combining the egregiousness faced by women in America with that faced in countries around the globe, the 8 originally listed crises facing the planet are all accounted for as a part of the injustices women alone face. By respecting women, and treating them as equals, we would be well on our way to positively affecting all major issues facing the human race.

Why is it that women are the only sect of humanity that is consistently put down, in any culture or country? Throughout history, women have been seen as the weaker sex, both physically and emotionally, but how did this view, which is scientifically sound, create a worldwide culture of female oppression? Humans evolved from animalistic behaviors that saw females in submissive roles. Many species have the males as the dominant sex, being the aggressors and initiators in sexual contact. Although the species Homo sapiens evolved hundreds of thousands of years ago, we have still yet to evolve out of this oppressive behavior, and actually have somehow managed to aggravate it. I believe that our increased ability to rationalize, and to understand the nature of animals and ourselves as actually caused us to exacerbate the problems facing women, as we can now understand the place females hold in animals, and use that as a reason to maintain that subordination in our own species.

While still in the womb, males and females develop differently. The advent of testosterone leads different areas of the brain to grow and mature in the two genders, causing the differences we see in men and women once they mature even into children and then adults. Females, on the whole, talk more and tend to be more emotional, while males tend to be more aggressive and are better at employing spatial reasoning. Some people use this as a basis to keep women in the roles of housewife, while men should dominate the areas of defense and science. I believe these people are misguided. The differences seen among people do not dictate their place in society, regardless of what those variations are. As a woman, my stance on women’s rights should be a given, as I’ve experienced firsthand the injustices we face. However, since unfortunately not all women share the same ideals, my fervor for this issue stems also from my involvement in the Violence Against Women Prevention Program, a peer education group I was a member of during my time at the University of Connecticut. I am all too aware now of how the media and society aim to objectify women and the power these media have over our culture. In every magazine ad, billboard, music video, television show, or movie, women are seen as objects of desire. Scantily clad females are everywhere, regardless of what they are advertising. How can women learn to respect themselves when we are constantly being told, both explicitly and subliminally that in order to fit in, we must cater to an impossible and undignified ideal?

Resolution will only come from a mutual respect between men and women worldwide. Education of the grave injustices and oppression is only the first start towards aiding women in their struggle for equality. The answer seems simple, and it is because of its simplicity that it may never come. The world has become so accustomed to throwing money at problems that it has forgotten the basic human needs of empathy and caring. These emotions, too, are more readily available to the female half of the species, the emotional half, that to garner help from the part of the human race that has come to rely on aggression will be even tougher. It cannot be solved by money, war, legislation, or affirmative action programs. The authoritative figures of the world cannot be relied upon to change the minds of the people they govern. Instead, a worldwide change must come gradually, through changing the minds of each individual person. Women themselves must be called upon to fight the system and respect themselves. Men must be relied upon to love and nurture, instead of beating and neglecting. America has certainly come a long way, but it’s dangerous to put too much stock in how far we’ve come, as there is still a distance to go. Nations overseas, as well, are making progress, but again, it’s important to look ahead in order to avoid stagnation.

The myriad of problems facing the globe today are seemingly insurmountable. How can we solve famine, poverty, terrorism and genocide? To make the world a better place, the answer to every problem is simply to care. If we all can care enough about our fellow human, every manmade problem can right itself, but we need the help of everyone, and so far, we’ve been neglecting half the species, by neglecting women. By eradicating the oppression of women, we can truly begin the crusade to a better world.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching (which, oddly, I've always found to be my most stressful holiday, with New Year's a close second). There's too much involved in finding a costume, or making one, being creative, original, and finding something fun to do. And whenever I have gone out in past years, I find myself inevitably rapidly fluctuating between sadness, disgust, and frustration with what I see around me.

Halloween has become a holiday where it seems its sole purpose once you reach the age of, now 13ish, the goal for women is to wear the minimal amount of clothing. It's an excuse to apparently degrade ourselves, objectify ourselves with seemingly no consequences. It is widely accepted that wearing masks, being online, or even hiding behind the steel cage of a vehicle allows people a certain sense of anonymity, and thus enables them to let go of their usual inhibitions. We can suddenly forget about the consequences of our actions, almost like being drunk. But costumes for females rarely utilize a mask. We wear our own faces, and yet our self respect still manages to go out the window.

Why do we need to walk around in (especially in New York) almost freezing weather with a skirt that barely covers the ass, and a shirt that can barely be considered a bra. My freshman year of college 3 girls on my hall dressed up as "cats." apparently such a costume consists of fishnets, a black bathing suit and cat ears. there may have been a tail involved. Why? Do we feel the need to fit in with other girls? Do we believe that if we don't dress in sexy playboy costumes that men won't give us the time of day? Do we base our self worth, happiness, and our ability to have a good time out with friends on whether or not members of the opposite (or same) sex approach us and are attracted to us?

Admittedly I myself bought into the fad my freshman year, although not nearly to the extent of my hallmates. and I did it for all those reasons. To fit in, to be attractive, to be liked. And I realized it did none of the above. I'd rather be comfortable, and approached for creativity and originality. I'd rather be warm. I'd rather men and women alike not stand for the objectification of either gender.

Keep it classy ladies. And keep it original. What are we saying to the world if the only thing we can dress up as is a sexy nurse or french maid? A school teacher, or an angel? Do we even stop the consider that these costumes perpetuate stereotypes of females, and do nothing to further our status in the eyes of men and women alike? Stand up to the stereotypes, to the objectification, to society's desire to degrade and demean us. Keep your head up, and fight for change.

Women are not sex objects. We have minds, and thoughts, dreams, and hopes, and halloween every year is a step back in our fight to prove that to a disbelieving society.

There is more to us than boobs and legs. Everyone knows we all have those, men and women alike. It's time to start showing the world what we really have to offer.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Call to Action

October is internationally known and recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everywhere you look there are people donning pink shirts or ribbons, wearing livestrong bracelets with "save the ta-tas", or other (arguably) demeaning logos. According to the CDC, about 40,000 women lose the fight against breast cancer every year. Walks, marathons, and other fundraisers garner thousands upon thousands of dollars towards helping find the cure for this and, through its research, other cancers as well.

Often overlooked in this month is that it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While the number of annual fatalities due to partner homicide may not reach the staggering numbers of breast cancer, unlike cancer, domestic abuse is done by what should be rationally thinking teens and adults. It is not an untreatable disease, but a scourge due to lack of public education, awareness, and in truth, due to general apathy.

Over 500,000 women will fall prey to stalkers this year.

Nearly a third of women have reported being abused by a partner at some point in their life.

The US divorce rate is at 50%. almost a quarter of those divorces cite violence as a primary reason.

A third of all women who are victims of homicide are murdered by a current of previous boyfriend.

Abusers are a cancer to society. While we remember all those fighting the battle against the cancer inside them, let us also help to fight the cancer that is destroying families.

While we mourn all those lost to cancer, let us no forget to also mourn those lost needlessly to domestic abuse.

Wear a pink ribbon on your breast. And a purple one on your heart.

Work Cited

Friday, October 8, 2010

Feminst Neurobiology

Dear Feminists: Different Does Not Mean Unequal

I believe it was Ron Burgundy who said, "You're just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It's science," a quote that garnered laughs from its audience and its apparent incorrect old-school line of thought. Unfortunately for the feminist movement, this has actually been proven true (well, kind of. The volume of the average male brain is 10-15% larger than a female's). What I would like to inform the general American public of is the fact that gender roles, although they have some cultural aspects, are inextricably linked to our neurochemistry as well.

Americans tend to "stereotype" males as aggressive, dominant, more athletically fit, and the main money-maker of a family unit. Females, on the other hand, are seen as passive, caring, talkative, and they should stay at home to care for the children. Men dominate the fields of science, math, technology, while females remain in education and child care. Is this because society has ingrained in our heads that this is where we belong? Or is it, maybe, just maybe, because our brains are created in a way that we end up doing the things we actually enjoy?

At conception, the human brain begins as female. It isn't until 2 months into development that excess testosterone begins affecting those of males, including areas responsible for communication and aggression, and the processing of sound and sex. What effect does this produce after we're born? Exactly what we notice in society – women talk more, act less, listen more intently, and think about sex less. The increased density of the male brain leads them to be more adept at spatial reasoning and problem solving. It is also this difference that explains why boys will play with trucks and blocks, and men will be drawn to areas of science and math, decisions that allow them to exploit these neural areas. There's an anecdote in the book The Female Brain, by Dr. Louann Brizendine, in which the author's friend tries to bombard her daughter with "unisex" toys, steering clear of dolls and stereotypical female playthings, until she enters this 5 year old's room one night to see the toy truck wrapped in a blanket, rocking in her child's arms like a baby.

The increase in women branching into the fields of pharmacy, technology, engineering, does not disprove this theory. We (females) are certainly capable of the same mental abilities, although they may come with more difficulty to us. I'm more interested in baseball than America's Next Top Model, and I'd spend the rest of my life in prison before I ever agree to have kids. But maybe I was exposed to excess testosterone while in the womb. Studies with rhesus monkeys (the species closest to us in terms of genetics, and the one used most often in studies aimed at discovering more about human behavior) have shown that an increased flow of testosterone while in the womb will create an offspring with more male-like behaviors, most notably, more 'rough and tumble play.' When the pregnant mother is given injections of testosterone, even female offspring will end up like "tomboys," fighting (playfully) with their brothers while offspring whose mothers did not receive this will keep more to themselves. This is not to say that all women who enjoy sports were exposed to abnormal amounts of the male hormone, but that exposure to this will cause monkeys, and, presumably people, to act more like a stereotypical male.

The bottom line is I'm a feminist. I think women are equal, and I think anyone who considers us inferior is just ignorant. (I mean that in the literal sense of the word). Furthermore, I believe the biggest threat to the feminist movement is akin to the biggest threat to the conservative movement (and yes, I am both – a feminist and a conservative). Both parties are being overtaken by their radicals, one by the men hating women and the other by the god fearing Christians. Once we can all take a step back and realize that women are inherently equal despite our neurochemical differences, the movement towards true political equality will go much smoother.

The Argument Against Victim Blaming in Sexual Assault

This is a speech I delivered to a class largely composed of young adults in their first semester of college. Obviously, most of them rolled their eyes during much of the speech, and when they did I tried to single them out with my eye contact. The brevity of the speech was due to time constraints, and I would much like to elaborate on many of the points. Counter arguments are more than welcome, to aid me in this process.

My first semester at UConn, a freshman girl was killed by a hit and run driver. She was walking home from a party, presumably drinking, and when she stepped into the road, she was run down by an SUV. Nobody asked whether she had looked both ways, nobody cared that she was underage and drinking, nobody cared if she was wearing dark clothes, or if she was paying attention. People immediately blamed the driver, and he is now spending the next 5 years behind bars. What if, instead of being hit by this man, she had gone home with him? And while at his place, he coerced her into sex. Would we still blame him for this violent crime of rape? Or would we now question her sobriety, and her decisions, do not most Americans all of a sudden change to victim blaming when the crime is rape? Chances are, it wouldn’t be reported, and the rapist would be free to do this again. On the handout "'The Rape' of Mr. Smith," it talks about the insanity of asking a man who had just been robbed what he had been wearing or whether he's giving out money before.

("The Rape" of Mr. Smith
"Mr. Smith, you were held up at gunpoint on the corner of 16th and Locust?"
"Yes."
"Did you struggle with the robber?"
"No."
"Why not?"
"He was armed."
"Then you made a conscious decision to comply with his demands rather than to resist?"
"Yes."
"Did you scream? Cry out?"
"No. I was afraid."
"I see. Have you ever been held up before?"
"No."
"Have you ever given money away?"
"Yes, of course--"
"And did you do so willingly?"
"What are you getting at?"
"Well, let's put it like this, Mr. Smith. You've given away money in the past--in fact, you have quite a reputation for philanthropy. How can we be sure that you weren't contriving to have your money taken from you by force?"
"Listen, if I wanted--"
"Never mind. What time did this holdup take place, Mr. Smith?"
"About 11 p.m."
"You were out on the streets at 11 p.m.? Doing what?"
"Just walking."
"Just walking? You know it's dangerous being out on the street that late at night. Weren't you aware that you could have been held up?"
"I hadn't thought about it."
"What were you wearing at the time, Mr. Smith?"
"Let's see. A suit. Yes, a suit."
"An expensive suit?"
"Well--yes."
"In other words, Mr. Smith, you were walking around the streets late at night in a suit that practically advertised the fact that you might be a good target for some easy money, isn't that so? I mean, if we didn't know better, Mr. Smith, we might even think you were asking for this to happen, mightn't we?"
"Look, can't we talkin about the past history of the guy who did this to me?"
"I'm afraid not, Mr. Smith. I don't think you would want to violate his rights, now, would you?")

Why is this such a crazy idea when it is the reality for rape victims? Why do we question a woman's past or her decisions when we should be questioning how any self respecting man could violate that woman in such a way? Today, I hope you will walk away with the belief that rape, like any crime, is NEVER the fault of the victim, and eradicating the system of victim blaming that is currently in place is the start of eradicating the rape society we currently live in.

In 1990, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported that incidences of rape were increasing at four times the overall crime rate. About 5% of college women are sexually victimized in any given calendar year, which amounts to between 20 and 25% of women being victims of rape or attempted rape by the time they graduate college, 80% of which are committed by someone the victim knows. On the opposite side of the handout, you'll find a quote from a college student who was a victim of sexual assault.

(How Sexual Violence Looks on a College Campus

"I was at a party and a friend and I were talking most of the night. We ended up in his room where we started kissing. He wanted to have sex and I didn't. I told him no several times, but he continued to pursue. He kept trying for so long and I felt I couldn't get away. Finally, I just asked him to use a condom. Immediately after sex I left. I somewhat blame myself because I could have tried harder to fend the person off. At the time, I felt the easiest way out was just to let him continue. If I had shouted, someone would have helped but because he was a mutual friend, I wanted to avoid a scene."
-19 year old college woman)

Compare your immediate thoughts of the quote and the situation with the rape of Mr. Smith. Are you questioning whether this is really rape or not? Are you asking the same questions you laughed at when we talked about Mr. Smith's robbery? The form of rape shown through this quote is commonly known as date rape, is probably the only crime that gets blamed on the victim. When a man murders his wife, he gets incarcerated. When a man rapes his wife, she remains silent, scared to tell a disbelieving world what happened. Who would even accept that a woman CAN be raped by her husband? According to research done by psychologist Dr. David Curtis, whether victims of date rape had even acknowledged their experience as rape or not, over a quarter of the victims surveyed had contemplated suicide after the incident. This kind of psychological damage is exacerbated by the idea that men don’t even realize they’re committing rape. 1 in 12 men have committed acts that meet the legal definition of rape and 84% of these men claimed what they did was “definitely not rape”. If men do not hold themselves accountable or responsible for their acts, who is responsible? The blame then falls on the victim. It’s time to stop this injustice. When a woman says no, she means just that. To assume otherwise is rape, and it’s intolerable and it is your fault. Regardless of what a woman is wearing, or how much she is flirting, we own our bodies, and only we have a right to them. I’d like to leave you with a quote from This is Not an Invitation to rape.com. “The identification of women as ‘prey,’ liable to be attacked on the basis of how they dress or as a result of all kinds of perfectly normal behavior, is a reflection of women’s subordinate situation in society at large. The misogyny behind such depictions may not be apparent…and it is [thus] taken for granted. The right to sexual autonomy to which all of us are entitled means complete control over what we do with our bodies, with whom, when – and for how long. There is nothing ‘inevitable’ about rape.”

Bibliography
Curtis, David G. Perspectives on Acquaintance Rape. 5 November 2008. http://www.aaets.org.article13.htm/

Flanders, Laura. Rape Coverage: Shifting the Blame. March/April 1991. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. 5 November 2008. http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1558

This is Not an Invitation to Rape Me. 5 November 2008. http://www.thisisnotaninvitationtorapeme.co.uk/