Banter in the Garden
|Presenting the 51st… on Guest Post: Women’s Refu…|
|Fuck off, Bob Jones,… on Risky Business|
|Daniel Copeland on Risky Business|
|Emma on Risky Business|
|Deborah on A plea for your voice.|
Tea and Strumpets
Incumbent Roger Rivard (R), lost his Congressional seat to Steven Smith (D). Rivard was the chap who told passed on his father’s wisdom that “some girls rape easy.”
Todd Akin (R) failed to take what should have been a winnable senate seat for the Republicans. Akin was the chap who told us that if a rape was “legitimate”, then a woman could not get pregnant because her body would shut conception down.
Tea Party backed candidate Richard Mourdock couldn’t win what should have been a wide open race, giving the Democrats one more seat in the Senate. Mourdock was the chap who told us that pregnancy resulting from rape was something that God intended.
But why should we care, here in New Zealand, an ocean away from the United States?
Here’s why. We should care because the anti-women rhetoric coming from conservatives in the US travels down here swiftly. Rape culture is alive and flourishing in New Zealand, and concepts like “legitimate rape” and “can’t get pregnant from rape” and “some girls rape easy” and “God meant for you to be raped” play into it, and sustain it.
I am so very glad that voters in the United States rejected these men who endorsed rape. It’s a push back, a small step towards dismantling the narrative of hatred and contempt for women.
trigger warning for rape, victim blaming, and a healthy dollop of institutional sexism.
This letter should have, actually, been titled “Women get dangerous message that it’s wrong to expect not to be attacked”.
It’s doing the rounds on Twitter now, of course. And of course, we’re all angry and pissed off and making arguments about victim blaming and slutshaming and OH MY GOD FUCK OFF ANNETTE WALE.
Not to mention the argument that all men are a few beers and some exposed flesh away from being rapists. You’re all hopped up on testosterone, dudes, and too weak to withstand flirting from a sloppy drunk chick.
So far, so not new. Feel free to combat those arguments in the comments. It’s not like we haven’t before.
Here’s a question though. What the ACTUAL FUCK is the “paper of record” in our capital city doing printing shit like this? Does the Dom have a responsibility to think about how this perpetuates double standards and makes it easier for rapists to commit their crimes? Or is it really just about getting people to look at its letters page?
Trigger warning for rape
So this, this right here, this person you like and laugh at and respect in other ways, this person is currently the personification of male privilege.
Thinking that it’s part of a “dialogue” when a woman gets singled out in a comedy club and has someone “joke” about how funny it would be if she was pack raped there and then, that is privilege. It is something only someone who is fortunate enough to not be threatened by rape culture can afford to think.
The fallout from a woman being threatened with rape in a comedy club for the purposes of a “joke”, is only beard-strokingly interesting to people who have never been told that what they’re wearing could get them into trouble. To people who don’t have to think of survival strategies on a daily basis, to the point where they’ve perfected LOUD FAKE CELLPHONE CONVERSATIONS while walking home in the dark. To people who haven’t memorised which neighbours stay up later than others in case you have to run to their door. Or which shoes you can run in and which you can’t. Or which of your boyfriend’s friends you don’t want to get a ride home with. Or what you’d say if you needed to leave somewhere fast.
Rape “jokes” (no matter how public they become) are not part of a dialogue. They are part of a systematic and institutionalised violence against women everywhere and always.
The reactions to those jokes are not part of a dialogue, they are fucking survival strategies. They are attempts to try and protect ourselves, our sisters, our daughters, our mothers, from the ever-present threat of rape, which is now even more dangerous because apparently it’s funny. They are attempts to get people to please stop scaring the shit out of us, or reminding us of something we’re trying to forget, or what could be in our futures, or what has definitely happened to women we love.
It must be really nice to have the ability to enjoy those pleas as part of some interesting anthropological discussion which benefits everyone apparently, because Louis CK got reminded he doesn’t have to worry about it.
Last night, I was innocently walking home, and came across a group of young women handing out pamphlets. This being Courtenay Place, you would be right to assume that it wasn’t the local Temperance League they were promoting, but the opening of the capital’s latest strip club.
Just as I was about to open my mouth to tell one of them I liked her (sparkly!) dress, around the corner came a group of men. Significantly older than said young women, and quite a lot drunker, they seemed delighted to come across such friendly and welcoming Wellingtonians.
Because the encounter I then witnessed made me angry, I feel the need to offer some reminders to…well, people in general I guess, but I suspect drunk, white, middle-aged men might benefit from this the most.
I could write an extended post about victim blaming, and who is being held responsible for women being raped (hint: it’s not the rapist), and who has to change their behaviour in order to reduce the chances of a rape occurring (hint: it’s not the rapist), but you know what, I’ve done that before. Right here: Because the victim is responsible for not being raped.
One day, some police officer somewhere is going to talk about someone who is preying on women who are out jogging or walking, and NOT tell them that they ought to be careful. Instead, she or he will tell the perp that he or she must stop doing this horrible thing.
But alas, that day has not yet come.
Rape culture, ladies and gentlemen. You’re soaking in it.
People that the Vatican thinks should be disciplined and silenced: nuns who work on poverty and social justice issues.
CHICAGO — A prominent U.S. Catholic nuns group said Thursday that it was “stunned” that the Vatican reprimanded it for spending too much time on poverty and social-justice concerns and not enough on condemning abortion and gay marriage.
In a stinging report on Wednesday, the Vatican said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had been “silent on the right to life” and had failed to make the “Biblical view of family life and human sexuality” a central plank in its agenda.
It also reprimanded American nuns for expressing positions on political issues that differed, at times, from views held by U.S. bishops. Public disagreement with the bishops — “who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals” — is unacceptable, the report said.
People the Vatican promotes and places in positions of authority: priests who actively lie and cover up for other priests who rape children.
The Catholic primate of all-Ireland has said that he will not resign as Church leader despite revelations in the BBC’s This World programme.
It found Cardinal Sean Brady had names and addresses of those being abused by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.
However, he did not pass on those details to police or parents.
Not only did he not pass on the details to police or children, but he actively coerced the children into staying silent. And he has LIED about the support the children were given.
Sean Brady’s role in the affair became clear in 2010, when it became known that he had been present when the abused boy was questioned.
He claimed, however, that the boy’s father had accompanied him, and described his own role as that of a note-taker.
However, the BBC This World investigation has uncovered the notes Cardinal Brady took while the boy was questioned.
The child’s father was not allowed in the room, and the child was immediately sworn to secrecy.
The story about Sean Brady will make you sick. And he’s still making excuses. He says that he wasn’t the only one who knew. In other words, it was someone else’s responsibility. And he claims that he had no power to do anything in any case.
“The commentary in the programme and much of the coverage of my role in this inquiry gives the impression that I was the only person who knew of the allegations against Brendan Smyth at that time and that because of the office I hold in the Church today I somehow had the power to stop Brendan Smyth in 1975.
“I had absolutely no authority over Brendan Smyth. Even my Bishop had limited authority over him. The only people who had authority within the Church to stop Brendan Smyth from having contact with children were his Abbot in the Monastery in Kilnacrott and his Religious Superiors in the Norbertine Order.
He is completely wrong about that. He always had the ability to go to the police, instead of participating in covering up a crime, and enabling a rapist to carry on raping children.
And he is now a Cardinal in the Catholic church.
So on the one hand, all those wretched women who dare to spend their time and effort working on issues of social justice are dangerously out of line and need to be reprimanded and controlled, and on the other, a man who participated in covering up the rape of children and is still making excuses for his behaviour, is given a position of high authority in the church. He is an “authentic teacher of faith and morals.”
I do not think that phrase means what the Catholic church hierarchy thinks it means.
Previous posts on the Catholic church and its protection of men who rape children:
Out of touch
Can the Pope be impeached?
They could always turn themselves in
Chanting the script from Rome
Sez it all.
Trigger warning for sexual violence.
Last night, I went to the wonderful show A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayer, put on in support of Wellington Rape Crisis. It was moving and tearful, but in a supportive and empathetic space. I cried, darlings. A lot.
One of the monologues, written by Eve Ensler, talked about being angry. So angry you could spit. So angry you scream and rant and lose all sense of propriety and ruin a party. So angry at the violence and mutilation and shame and distress that you can’t understand why everyone isn’t so angry.
That was me last year. Angry, raging frustrated. Furious. Willing to temper my anger with humour, because that’s who I am. But angry nonetheless.
This year, I am not. I’d like to be angry. I miss the fury. I miss my high atop the Mountain Of Righteous Anger attitude, that got me through the first SlutWalk. Not the March itself, but the comments and posts telling is why what we were doing was pointless, unnecessary, dangerous. Why we were wrong, and our shorts skirts are an invitation to rape.
This year, I am not angry. I am scared. I’ve been scared all my life. This is what I thought about when Jan Logie, playing Eve Ensler asked “How can you not be angry?”
I’m scared of the violence done to our bodies. Of all the little ways we are beaten down, diminished, destroyed. The ways we are taught out bodies are public property. Not wholly our own. That our chastity is our most important virtue.
I’m scared of the half-formed memory. The one that tells me not to think about it, because I don’t want to know, to remember. That knowing, remembering might be something I can’t bear.
What I do remember is being scared of strangers. The first time my mother taught me not to talk to strangers, and illustrated it with the story of a girl from out neighbourhood who had been brutally raped and then murdered. My mother isn’t crazy, she didn’t put it like that, but it was my first taste of that amorphous fear that all women live with. I was so scared, when my uncle tried to pick me up from school one day, I wouldn’t get in the car with him. So scared, I cried when the priest at my family’s church shook my hand.
I’m scared for the girl I was at 17, at my first taste of actual violence. For the man who broke my ribs. I didn’t tell that story for a decade, so scared I was that I’d be blamed. I provoked him, I asked for it, I deserved it. Scared to tell the story because after so long, I wouldn’t be believed. That people who knew me then wouldn’t believe me, that I’d hidden it too well. And that they’d tell other people they didn’t believe me. (They did, and I was angry. But it taught me an important lesson. Don’t tell.)
I’m scared of the street harassment and the casual violence of being yelled at from a parked car. Of being reminded that being a woman in public is dangerous. That I don’t have the right to walk down the street free from fear. Free from being accosted, from being thrown against a wall and attacked. I’m scared for the women I know for whom the statistics aren’t one in three, they’re eight in ten, because they have the misfortune to have been born brown and in another country.
I’m scared of all the times I had sex I didn’t want to have. Of being coerced into fucking someone, cajoled. Not wanting to be a prude, or having a reputation as a Good Time Girl to maintain. Of being too drunk to say no, too stoned to move, too high to know better.
I’m scared of the man who is harassing me now. Who thinks that because he was allowed to touch my body once, that’s an open invitation. That because I opened my legs for him, I’ll do it again and again. And that my desire not to makes me a whore, a worthless nonentity who he can treat how he likes. That he can hurt, scare, torment. I’m scared of his anger, and of my own. I’m scared of walking home, being in my house, sleeping. And I’m scared, again, of talking to people about it.
I’m scared for those one in three women, for those one in five men, for those one in two transgender people. I’m scared, until I remember I’m one of them. I’m scared, but I will march, again. Because it’s important. I hope you will too.
Today is International Women’s Day, a celebration which takes different forms in different countries. In New Zealand, it serves as a day to consider the progress that women have made, and the progress that is yet to come.
The New Zealand Herald focuses on the biggest concerns facing women, with various facts and stats, and an interview with Rowena Phair, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The issues are… interestingly framed, in the way that Sheryl Sandberg’s analysis of why we have so few women leaders for TED is interestingly framed (video at link). Sandberg is Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, and her advice for women about how to get to top positions is all about how to behave like men. She pays no attention to systemic problems that confront women, and instead offers advice for individual women, not contemplating even for a moment that it might be better to look at the whole way our society structures work and work expectations. See Julie’s post at The Hand Mirror for a discussion of the Sandberg talk: Too few women leaders.
The CEO of Women’s Affairs tells us that the top five issues facing women are:
1. Balancing home life with paid work
2. Staying healthy
3. Getting the right reward for their skills
4. Backing themselves as leaders
5. Feeling safe in relationships.
All good issues to focus on, of course, but look at the advice that is given for each issue.
1. Balancing home life with paid work:
“A big issue for women is managing those responsibilities.”
2. Staying healthy:
“New Zealand women need to make sure they leave space in their busy schedule to take care of themselves.”
3. Getting the right reward for their skills:
“Women are concerned about their financial future, especially in their 20s, and Phair said one way this can be dealt with is by considering all the options available to them in the workforce.
4. Backing themselves as leaders:
“Women are really active in their communities, they’ve got opinions to contribute, but they’ve really got to have the confidence in their convictions…”
5. Feeling safe in relationships:
“It’s very unusual for men to be physically violent without some behaviours that lead up to that so women can keep themselves safe by being very alert … and to get help as quickly as they can.” She said young women are particularly vulnerable to abusive relationships. “Woman really need to keep their eyes open in relationships.”
With the exception of the first, it’s all about what individual women can do to change things. No discussion of systemic factors that might work against women. For example, it sounds like the easiest thing in the world to find a bit of time to stay healthy, but if you are trying to care for small children, and trying to work, then just finding the time to do anything extra can be difficult, even when it’s home based. As for trying to get to the gym, well, you have to sort child care first, so the cost can be considerable. Getting up and going for a run in the mornings might do, until winter darkness closes in. And even then, someone has to be a home to care for the children.
Getting the right reward for their skills? The evidence is that even when women don’t take time out for child care, and do push just as much for higher salaries, they still don’t get paid as much as their male colleagues, because it’s not nice for women to negotiate, so women who do negotiate are punished for it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. More recently, Catalyst found that:
When women did all the things they have been told will help them get ahead—using the same tactics as men—they still advanced less than their male counterparts and had slower pay growth. (Source)
Being a leader in your community – it’s up to you to be confident in yourself. No mention of the constant put-downs that women are subject to, from on-going commentary on their appearance and what they wear (vide Helen Clark and Julia Gillard) to being spoken over, to the dispiriting experience of saying something insightful and helpful, only to have it ignored, until a man two seats further along the table says exactly the same thing, and the point is taken up with enthusiasm.
And the last one – that’s a real doozy. It’s up to the woman to keep herself safe in violent relationships, and the person who perpetrates the violence is not responsible for his, or more rarely her, violence at all.
We are hearing the CEO through the filter of the NZ Herald reporter, so we can’t be sure that Phair herself framed those issues and responses in exactly that way. Even so, it is at least disconcerting to find no attention paid to the systemic issues that women face. Instead, it’s all individualised, and the remedies are all focused on what individual women can do.
On the other hand, the Herald’s reporting is several light years ahead of what Stuff has come up on International Women’s Day. You can find out How to look 10 years younger! In a transparent piece of advertising for a book masquerading as editorial content, women are told that they need to use the right make-up so that they can look younger. The book’s author says that she loves, LOVES! working with older women, aged over 35, because they can look 10 years younger with the right make-up. And of course, it is a woman’s duty to look as young as possible, because older women are simply socially unacceptable.
This 46 year old woman declines.
For a much more inspiring analysis of International Women’s Day, take a look at Scuba Nurse’s post, where she writes about all the good things for women in New Zealand, as well as noting where there is still work to be done: International Women’s Day 2012. And over at Hoyden about Town, Mindy has some Sobering thoughts on the eve of International Women’s Day, reviewing the international statistics on violence against women.