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My cultural and feminist angst came to a head this week in a major way. A significant, if not the main part of Czech Easter tradition consists of men running around with pomlázky (braided sticks) and whipping girls on the butt for fertility. They are rewarded with candy eggs but more often than not shots of 40% proof alcohol. Here is a guest post from two years ago which our HollaBack! mother site was kind enough to place on the homepage.
My partner and I were instructed last week to have our six-year-old son come to school with two pomlázky yesterday. Naturally, we refused and had a conversation with him about this tradition since we’re not Czech. We’re conflicted about causing offense to the people of the country where we happily live but also frustrated as it’s hard enough explaining many things to kids and it becomes even more difficult when certain things shouldn’t actually apply to you. Our son, I was quite pleased, looked horrified and said he had no interest in hitting girls. We instructed him to go to school, tell the teachers he didn’t believe in hitting and find something else to do. So when I picked him up yesterday and he ran to me happily swinging a pomlázka I flipped.
In short, he behaved like a normal six-year-old. The teachers said it was OK, everybody was doing it, the girls were all laughing and he got candy. I cried on the corner of our street for 40 mins on the phone to my partner wondering how on earth I was supposed to explain our patriarchal society to my little boy. In the end I frightened him and he thought I was mad at him. I told him I wasn’t angry with him or his teachers but at something bigger. I reminded him that sometimes when his papa is tickling him he laughs but he doesn’t really like it. But how should I continue?
In the wake of Steubenville, I imagine many of you have seen articles on “How Not to Raise a Rapist”. Well how do I convey to a little boy that what happened in school yesterday in and of itself was technically OK? We like his teachers very much and are confident they made sure nobody got hurt and the class all had fun…but the truth is that as the years go by these boys will get stronger; these girls will become used to giggling their feelings away; these girls will become used to no one around them intervening; they will get used to saying “yes” because that’s what polite girls do; they will become inured to not going against the grain or rocking the boat; and they will get used to seeing boys rewarded for bad behavior. And should I even get started on the “stick”, the “egg” and the messages of procreation as female function?
When he told me he was sent hom with instructions to hit both me and my elderly mother I seriously thought my head was going to pop off. As much as I feel it’s never too early to preach non-violence it can be way too hard to explain the nuances of what violence really means. I wonder if I’ll have a grip on this by the time he’s seven.
Scroll down for English
Praha, 22. ledna 2013
Vážený pane Zemane,
Váš výrok o znásilnění jako evoluční výhodě, který navíc zazněl v přímém přenosu v televizní debatě, je zcela nepřípustný a neomluvitelný. Při vší úctě k Vaší oblibě bonmotů byste jakožto soudný člověk měl rozpoznat, že tohle už bylo daleko za hranicí dobrého vkusu. A že jste hrubě urazil mnoho žen, ať už samotných obětí sexuálního násilí, nebo těch ostatních. Slyšet taková slova z úst prezidentského kandidáta je smutné a šokující.
Znevažování obětí znásilnění a dalších forem násilí na ženách, které je v naší společnosti bohužel běžné, přežívá právě díky takovýmto rádoby vtipným výrokům, jako byl ten Váš. Pokud zazní v televizní debatě, má dopad na spousty diváků a divaček. Nejsem si jistá, jestli si vůbec následky svého chování uvědomujete, což však Vaše selhání nijak neomlouvá.
Vyzývám Vás proto, abyste se za svůj nešťastný výrok omluvil. Je urážkou pro všechny ženy, a nejen pro ně. Vy sám jste přece také otcem a manželem, a tak by úcta k ženám měla být i ve Vašem zájmu.
Pevně věřím, že svá slova přehodnotíte. Že se jednalo o omyl, a nikoliv o promyšlený výrok, za kterým si i nadále stojíte.
Jana Smiggels Kavková
Předsedkyně České ženské lobby
On a related note here is an article which appeared in today’s Prague Monitor
Czech Women’s Lobby wants Zeman to apologise for statement about rape
Czech feminists want presidential candidate Milos Zeman to apologise for his statement about raping as an evolution advantage with which he wanted to explain to his rival, nobleman Karel Schwarzenberg, why princes have degenerated that he made in a TV debate on Friday.
The Czech Women’s Lobby, whose director Jana Smiggels Kavkova has written an open letter to Zeman, says similar statements offend all women.
Former Social Democrat prime minister Zeman (now SPOZ) and Foreign Minister and TOP 09 head Karel Schwarzenberg will compete for the presidential post in a direct presidential election run-off on January 25-26.
“Do you know the difference between princes and squires? Princes had the right of the first night, due to which they degenerated because they did not have to rape their female serfs, which means they did not have to use energy for the raping. On the other hand we, squires, always had to use much energy to fight out their rights, not only in the sphere of sex, and therefore we did not degenerate,” Zeman, whose name translates into English as squire, said on Prima Family TV.
The association of organisations focused on women’s rights considers this statement entirely inadmissible, inexcusable and reaching far beyond the border of good taste.
“The disrespecting of the victims of rape and other forms of violence against women that are, unfortunately, common in our society, survives precisely thanks to such would-be witty statements like yours. If it is made in a television debate, it has an impact on lots of male and female spectators,” the feminists wrote to Zeman.
They called on him to apologise for the statement.
“It is offending all women, and not only them. You, too, are a father and husband, and respect for women should also be in your interest,” the Czech Women’s Lobby wrote.
Schwarzenberg also made a would-be witty statement about former lawmakers for the senior ruling Civic Democrats (ODS), who gave up their mandates to allow the passing of a tax package with which they disagreed last December and they have gained lucrative posts in state firms, in a pre-election debate on Czech Television (CT) last week.
He said if a man has a girl friend who does not like doing certain tasks, relations are strengthened if she gets a beautiful necklace.
Schwarzenberg apologised for his statement about women in a pre-election debate Tuesday.
Za stovku si na prsa napíšu cokoli. Z USA dorazil fenomén mikroslužeb.
PRAHA – Budu komukoliv dělat za sto padesát korun doprovod na společenské akci, nabízím tři konverzační tématické okruhy a tři stupně machismu. Nebo: Napíšu si na svá pěkně vyvinutá prsa cokoliv si řeknete, vyfotím je a fotku vám pošlu, vše za 150 korun.
Takové inzeráty a řadu jiných lze najít na několika nových webových stránkách, které začaly působit v Česku. Nejde jen o bizarní či úsměvné nabídky, často je možné si objednat užitečnou drobnou službu jako nákup v obchodě nebo doučování.
Do země přichází ze Spojených států nový fenomén, takzvané mikroslužby. Původní myšlenka vznikla teprve před dvěma lety v USA, kde dva internetoví podnikatelé – Micha Kaufman a Shai Wininger – založili server Fiverr.com. Jejich mottem bylo: nakupuj, prodávej a bav se.
Zejména mladí uživatelé na bláznivé, užitečné či aspoň zábavné nabídky služeb skvěle zareagovali, Fiverr v současnosti zprostředkovává na 750 tisíc nabídek. Jen několik měsíců po americkém vzoru vznikl v Česku web stomanie. cz, další stránky Kilerr.cz přináší nabídky všemožných službiček necelý rok. Skutečný boom začal až letos, kdy vznikly další dva podobné portály, na jaře Manytu. cz a na počátku července Stovkomat. cz.
Za všemi projekty stojí mladí technologičtí nadšenci, kteří v podstatě okopírovali americký vzor a za pár desítek tisíc postavili svůj web. „Aktuální model je totožný s americkým originálem. Rozhodli jsme se ten model nijak neměnit, protože jsme chtěli otestovat, zda se tento model prosadí v kontaktu s vcelku rozdílnou českou náturou,“ říká zakladatel stránek Kilerr. cz Kamil Brejcha.
Jeho odpověď se přitom neliší od konkurence, která kopírování taktéž připouští, ale upozorňuje na česká specifika. „Lišíme se v osobním přístupu k uživatelům a případným reklamacím, které Fiverr kvůli své obrovské uživatelské základně nemá sílu řešit. Nicméně, byť je Fiverr jasnou dominantou světového trhu, z vlastních zkušeností vím, že na české potřeby je krátký,“ říká Petr Spálený, marketingový ředitel Stovkomatu. České specifikum spočívá především v českém jazyce.
Všechny české servery si rychle získávají oblibu. „Na začátku poskytování mikroslužeb byly blázniviny jako třeba, že za sto korun za vás vyřídím nepříjemný telefonát. Dnes je víc odborných nabídek, úprava stránek pro vyhledávače, různé grafiky a podobně,“ říká majitel serveru stomania.cz, Tomáš Jankůj. Jeho web zprostředkoval od svého vzniku mezi pěti až deseti tisíci transakcemi. „Od letošního jara se počet transakcí meziměsíčně zvyšuje o třetinu,“ říká Jankůj.
Weby nabízející mikroslužby
Podstatou webů je, že většina nabídek je za stokorunu či jen o něco víc. To třeba neláká případné poskytovatele erotických služeb. Většinu těchto webů jsou jejich majitelé schopní financovat sami bez jakékoliv pomoci. Za úspěšné zprostředkování vybírají procenta z ceny služby. Podle Jankůje není problém, aby takovýto web naprogramoval středně zdatný středoškolák. U profesionální firmy nevyjde vyrobení „službičkomatu“ dráž než jiné internetové stránky, tedy desítky tisíc korun.
Děkuji na Samuel Beckwith na PraguePig.com
Originally published on xoJane
by s.e. smith
People like to say that sexism is invisible, that it doesn’t actually happen, or that women are simply being oversensitive when they say they experience it.
Microaggressions. Those little things that, on their surface, “aren’t such a big deal,” but are actually illustrative of how far we haven’t come as a society. The things that you point at to say “actually, we’re nowhere near equality.”
The concept of microaggressions was originally developed in a racial context, to discuss: “the ‘everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent to them,’ in [Derald Wing] Sue’s definition.” The term caught on and started to be used more generally to talk about the small things people say, often without thinking about them, and how they pile up.
Microaggressions became a popular site for collating examples, submitted by users with a range of experiences. The curators say:
Each event, observation and experience posted is not necessarily particularly striking in and of themselves. Often, they are never meant to hurt — acts done with little conscious awareness of their meanings and effects. Instead, their slow accumulation during a childhood and over a lifetime is in part what defines a marginalized experience, making explanation and communication with someone who does not share this identity particularly difficult. Social others are microaggressed hourly, daily, weekly, monthly.
Each carries a sting. Many are thoughtless, but the very thoughtlessness underscores the attitudes behind them, the casual approach people have to each other, and the internalized nature of many forms of prejudice. The people who say these things would often profess shock and horror that they’d caused harm with their words.
“Everyday Sexism” is specifically collecting examples of sexist microaggressions, the things people casually say to women to reinforce their role in society. With a constantly updating feed of user-submitted entries, the site provides a stunning array of sexist attitudes on display. While it’s based in the UK, users can submit from anywhere –- thanks to the power of the Internet –- and users talk about everything from women in pop culture to being patronized by utility repair people when they ask technical questions.
Helena 2012-08-20 13:26
Went to the pub the other day with a male friend, and he went over to the cash machine to get some money out. The barman offered me an expensive ‘girly’ drink and when I said I wanted something cheaper he said ‘doesn’t matter, does it? He’s paying’. As if the assumption that I would not be paying for my own drinks wasn’t enough he then tried to give me a half pint of lager instead of a full pint for no reason; he just assumed again.
Rose 2012-08-20 12:46
When I tell people I’m studying physics they usually look confused, and then say, ‘Oh! You want to be a teacher.’
No, I want to be a physicist.
As an OU student I have to go to residential schools. I have had guys shouting in my face about how women aren’t fit to have jobs, and guys following up sexist hateful speech with violence – nothing I say will make them stop, because they don’t listen to women, and the other guys around don’t want to get ‘involved’. The gutless cowards wont even state if they agree or not.
Laura, the curator, says in the introduction that the site is intended to create a discussion, and stand as a reminder that sexism is not over, that we are nowhere near gender equality. “By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.”
She points to the statistics many people may be familiar with; women are underrepresented in positions of power, for example, and are more likely to be viewed as public property. To add to her list, I’d note that women are more likely to live in poverty, especially if they are women of color. And the list goes on.
But, she argues, sexism is also more insidious. It’s also about the small comments made every day, all around us, that remind us of the lesser place women are supposed to occupy in society. She created Everyday Sexism to fight back, to show that women are talking about sexism and regard it as a serious issue. The site is a way of telling the world that it is on notice and women are not afraid to report what they see.
Reading through the stories on the site, I was reminded of my own experiences at a past place of employment, when I was still struggling with my gender identity and presented as a woman for the most part. We were training a new employee, a man in his 40s, and he resolutely refused to allow me to handle any of his training because, he said, he didn’t want to learn from “a girl.” After he was brought on board as a regular employee, he made a point of hounding me with small, pointless acts of sexism.
I struggled to articulate what was going on when I complained to my manager. I fought to explain why this was a problem. And eventually, I quit, because no one was listening to me, and I started dreading the thought of going to work every day. Until he was hired, it had been one of the best jobs I’d ever had, and I’d loved working there. He managed to ruin my experience simply by assuming he was better than me, and being unafraid to remind me of that at every possible moment.
People like to say that sexism is invisible, that it doesn’t actually happen, or that women are simply being oversensitive when they say they experience it. What Everyday Sexism is doing is confronting that claim, showing visitors firsthand that sexism is alive and well, and doesn’t show any signs of going away. By talking about it, dragging it out into the open and showing people what we mean when we talk about sexism, maybe we can start fighting it.
Because this is not just a fight that needs to be won in the corridors of power and on the boards of major corporations. It’s also a fight that needs to be won in small businesses and on the streets and in private homes, in classrooms and community organizations. Until women can go through the day without being confronted with everyday sexism, we haven’t reached gender equality.
And storytelling is one way to accomplish that fight.
Ally 2012-08-20 15:35
At uni, being told by my housemate (an intelligent and confident woman) that, if she married, she would be happy to let her husband use her vote.
Ms, via Twitter 2012-08-20 15:12
I go on a plane & whole cabin does comedy nervous laughter at female pilot & I die a little inside
Kat 2012-08-20 14:46
I was raised by very academic parents who expected me to study a “respectable” subject at a top university and get a great job. Gender simply didn’t come into it. I always considered that I was treated in exactly the same way as my brothers.
But now that I’m older, despite everything I was (rightly) pushed to achieve, I’ve hit the glass ceiling that my mother has herself put in place for me. As the only daughter, I am expected to drop everything and run home across the country the moment assistance is needed. Does my work come second to my brothers’? Or is it that family should be the daughter’s priority? When the family is together, I’m the one who’s expected to be in the kitchen, regardless of my work commitments.
It works both ways, I suppose. It’s considered a minor miracle, and is the subject of almost exaggerated maternal pride, that one of my brothers can bake a passable sponge cake.
Originally published on Mommyish.com
by Eve Vawter
Felicia Garcia, a 15-year-old Staten Island teenager, committed suicide Wednesday when she jumped in front of a subway train. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people. Nearly 30 percent of kids are either bullies or the victims of bullying. Almost every day we read or hear about another teen or kid who decided to end their life due to bullying and harassment, and parents need to radically address this with our kids. I don’t care if you think your child would never bully another kid. I don’t care if your kid is an honor roll student and spends every weekend doing volunteer work. I don’t care if your kid is a victim of bullying themselves. We need to talk to our kids about this, and we need to do it now.
From The NY Post:
A Tottenville High School student jumped in front of a train after she was bullied for having sex with four football players at the same time during a party after a game this weekend, sources said.
Felicia Garcia, 15, jumped to her death at the Huguenot station moments after a group of classmates, described by witnesses as members of the football team, heaped abuse at her.
A senior who knew her, 17-year-old Victoria, who asked her last name not be used, said the bullying happened in hallways and online.
“This poor girl was called a sl–. She was teased on Facebook. People knock books out of kids hands,” she said.
They said some of the players were on the platform with her yesterday afternoon and taunting her with sexually explicit jeers when she suddenly jumped.
I really don’t give a f*ck if this little girl had sex with the entire football team plus every member of her school. If you hear from your kid that another kid at their school is having sex with numerous people or something else that conflicts with your own morals or what you are teaching your own kids about sexuality, you need to phrase the discussion that you may not agree with what you are hearing, but that teens who are sexually active shouldn’t be bullied for their behavior. No kid should feel this despondent that they feel the only way to deal with bullying is to take their own life.
“I cant, im done, I give up,” she tweeted Monday.
School officials heard of the bullying and set up a mediation session Wednesday with a counselor and one of the 17-year-old boys. The teenager denied harassing the girl, the sources said.
Leaving the office, Felicia later ran into the other 17-year-old who had been making her life miserable — and they exchanged words, the sources said.
Police did not say what was said. But it was enough to send Felicia marching off to the Huguenot station of the Staten Island Railroad, where she killed herself in front of horrified classmates.
Lately we’ve been discussing teens and privacy on Mommyish. I appreciate and understand how teens need privacy to an extent, but I also feel as parents we are ignoring a lot of warning signs that our own kids are displaying at the dinner table every night. If you have a son that refers to a woman in a derogatory way, parents need to stop that shit that right now. I don’t care if you give him a stern talking to. I don’t care if you wash his mouth out with soap. I don’t care if you ground him for a week. Your kid refers to a girl as a “slut” or a “whore” in front of you? You need to fully explain in no uncertain terms that language like that is unacceptable. It doesn’t matter if he is talking about a classmate or Rhianna’s latest music video. You overhear your daughter referring to someone as a “fag” or making fun of one of her classmates or gossiping about the sexual exploits of someone at school? Sit her down right then and there and explain to her why this sort of gossip and language hurts. Ground her. Most importantly, talk to your kids. Talk to them constantly. Talk to them until your jaw aches from stressing that they need to be good humans, good people, empathetic people who stand up for kids being bullied, who makes friends with the outcasts, who find the kids sitting alone at the cafeteria lunch table and include them.
As parents of these not-fully-formed-yet humans, we need to teach them by example. We need to curb the gossiping and backbiting we do to our own friends, over coffee, on the telephone, at family gatherings. We need to make the men our kids have in their lives be fiercely strong role models that respect women, that don’t objectify women, that do their part to teach our sons and daughters that everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of race, appearance, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and their gender. We need to get in their faces. I know that this is not a popular parenting method in this day and age but I really don’t care. Call CPS on me if you want to, but if I hear one of my kids calling a woman a “whore” they will be getting a bar of soap in the mouth, at least ten hours of lectures on why this is unacceptable, and a week’s worth of raking leaves off all of my neighbor’s lawns.
We need to pay attention to what they are doing online. We need to monitor their social media, their Facebooks and Twitters and Instagrams and whatever else they are using to keep in contact with their peer groups. We catch them bullying someone online, spreading malicious gossip or participating in demeaning language towards another kid? They lose that privilege. They don’t like it? They slam their door and swear at you and throw a fit? Too damn bad.
If you are one of those parents who think that lecturing and talking to your kids won’t help the problem, then get them books on bullying and leave them next to their beds. Casually mention cases like the horrific ones of Felicia Garcia or Amanda Todd or Teddy Molina at the dinner table and ask your kids what they think about bullying. When you see cases of bullying or violence on the news or on television or movies use these moments as jumping off points for starting a dialogue with your kids about violence towards others.
I don’t have the solution to the growing bullying problem we witness every day. I know that bullies have been around since the dawn of time and that kids killing themselves over feeling ganged up or marginalized isn’t a “new thing.” I do know as a mom when I read a story like Felicia Garcia’s I’m sick to my stomach and my heart hurts and I want to do everything in my power to raise my own kids to never behave in a way that makes any other person feel like less of a person. To me it doesn’t matter if the kid who committed suicide had a history of mental illness or was being treated for depression or would have killed themselves even if everyone they encountered in the hallways at school was kind and decent to them. Every time our kids degrade or humiliate one of their peers it contributes to bullying and marginalizing culture. As parents, we need to teach our kids that this is never acceptable.
Originally published on Deep Green Resistance
by Ben Barker
“Hello! I’ve decided to tell you about my never ending story.” These were the words written on the first two flashcards that 15-year old Amanda Todd shows viewers in the silent video she created about two months before she recently committed suicide to escape social torture.
Anti-bullying posters hang in every public school across the United States, yet kids continue to harass and hurt each other without intervention. Every school day, 150,000 students stay home out of fear of being picked on. Bullying has become epidemic, but still is only a symptom of the broader culture in which it exists. Despite even the most earnest efforts, youth problems and school problems cannot be solved until social problems and cultural problems are.
Amanda Todd is dead not only because she was born into this culture of bullying, but because she was born into it with a female body. Her flashcards continued: “In 7th grade I would go with friends on webcam meet and talk to new people. Then got called stunning, beautiful, perfect, etc. Then wanted me to flash. So I did. 1 year later I got a msg on facebook from him. Don’t know how he knew me. It said if you don’t put on a show for me I will send ur boobs. He knew my address, school, relatives, friends, family names. Christmas break. Knock at my door at 4am. It was the police. My photo was sent to everyone. I then got really sick and got anxiety, major depression, and panic disorder.”
While tragic to be sure, Amanda’s case is but one among countless more that lead girls and women first to crippling depression and then to their deaths.
“I then moved and got into drugs and alcohol,” the flashcards went on. “My anxiety got worse…couldn’t go out. A year past and he came back with my new list of friends and school. But made a facebook page. My boobs were his profile pic. Cried every night, lost all my friends and respect people had for me…again. Then nobody liked me. Name calling, judged. I can never get that photo back. It’s out there forever. I started cutting. I promised myself never again. Didn’t have any friends and I sat at lunch alone. So I moved schools again.”
The public humiliation visited upon Amanda Todd is a routine experience for women living under patriarchy, the system currently ruling the world through a campaign of violence. Many girls who have been similarly targeted have not and likely will never have their stories told because, unlike Amanda, they have the added disadvantage of being poor or lesbian or not white on top of already being female, which is hard enough.
“Everything was better even though I sat still alone at lunch in the library every day. After a month later I started talking to an old guy friend. We back and fourth texted and he started to say he liked me. Led me on. He had a girlfriend. Then he said come over my gf’s on vacation. So I did…huge mistake. He hooked up with me. I thought he liked me. 1 week later I get a text get out of your school. His girlfriend and 15 others came including himself. The girl and 2 other just said look around nobody likes you. In front of my new school (50) people. A guy than yelled just punch her already. So she did…she threw me to the ground and punched me several times. Kids filmed it. I was all alone and left on the ground. I felt like a joke in this world…I thought nobody deserves this. I was alone.”
Patriarchy means rule by men. Women can certainly support this system, as we see in the case of the girls who attacked and abandoned Amanda Todd instead of supporting her when she needed it the most. Never will women truly benefit from patriarchy, though, as it is predicated on their subjugation to men. Patriarchy is a system of power that controls women’s lives in every sense: economically, socially, bodily, and otherwise. Men and women are trained from birth to accept and fit into their respective social classes, known in shorthand as masculinity and femininity.
Masculinity says that men are only real men when they are violating or dominating someone else, someone whom they’ve deemed as “Other.” Femininity is also designed by and benefits men, because it attempts to naturalize female submission by claiming that women just like to be hurt and controlled. The school years are some of the most formative for human development, and so serve as a prime opportunity to indoctrinate children into the myth of patriarchy.
Kindergarten through twelfth grade schooling may be too far back for some to clearly remember, but surely the word “cooties” rings a bell. In this single word is all we need to know about how girls and boys are trained to see one another. What they see is that despised “Other.” Not human beings. From girls versus boys playground games, to boys at a slumber party huddled around a Playboy, to incidents of date rape after prom, children know perfectly well the meaning of sexism, of sexual hatred, regardless of if they articulate it or not. Boys know how to do it and girls know how it feels to have it be done to.
And children know perfectly well the meaning of homophobia and racism, too.
Amanda’s flashcards continue: “I lied and said it was my fault and my idea. I didn’t want him getting hurt, I thought he really liked me. But he just wanted the sex…someone yelled punch her already. Teachers ran over but I just went and layed in a ditch and my dad found me. I wanted to die so bad…when he brought me home I drank bleach. It killed me inside and I thought I was gonna actually die. Ambulence came and brought me to the hospital and flushed me.”
Few will hesitate to sum up the case of Amanda Todd as bullying, plain and simple, but perhaps it’s not so plain or simple. In her article about the Amanda Todd tragedy, educator and feminist Fazeela Jiwa takes the term “bullying” to task. She writes, “Bullying glosses over structural reasons for violence—reasons like race, gender, ability, and sexuality, among a myriad of insidious social hierarchies.”
From what is public knowledge about the trajectory of Amanda’s suffering, it’s hard not to see that the bullying she experienced was a direct result of her being female. Like all girls and women, she was a target of male violence. As Amanda has made clear, she was majorly coerced and exploited by two distinct male characters: the first pressured her to show her naked body over the internet, images of which he saved and used as blackmail against her for more sexual favors; the second manipulated her into having sex with him, only to later pit his girlfriend against her which resulted in the severe ambush that brought Amanda to first attempt suicide.
“After I got home all I saw on facebook—she deserved it,” read Amanda’s words. “Did you wash the mud out of your hair? I hope shes dead. Nobody cared. I moved away to another city to my moms. Another school…I didn’t wanna press charges because I wanted to move on. 6 months has gone by…people are pasting pics of bleach, clorex, and ditches. Tagging me. I was doing a lot better too. They said she should try a different bleach. I hope she dies this time and isn’t so stupid. They said I hope she sees this and kills herself.”
A few years ago, an anti-bullying event was hosted at City Hall. I and two other young activists and personal friends of mine were asked to speak on a panel on behalf of a radical community space with which we were involved. Other panels included teachers, parents, therapists, and students. All presented from their unique perspectives on the harms of bullying in school environments. Lesbian and gay high school students shared stories of being personally abused by kids at school: they told stories of being physically struck, shoved, and spit on. Many heterosexual students spoke, too. They were not spared from bullying either, targeted usually because they apparently looked or talked the wrong way.
Most of the adults who spoke suggested as a solution more strict consequences for those caught bullying. They also suggested more established support networks for the victims. Both ideas seemed appropriate to me, yet clearly incommensurate on their own. These have been the same solutions offered for years and bullying has not been prevented as a result. When it was my panel’s turn to speak, we pointed out that bullying is not an isolated act, but an obvious by-product of a culture sick with the drive of competition. We dared to be more explicit about the root problem: capitalism. (In case you’re wondering, no. The police stationed at the City Hall building were not in attendance at the event. And no, they did not ask us to spend the night.)
Who is ultimately responsible for Amanda Todd’s death? Who can stop bullying?
Is it the teachers? First of all, that depends on if the teacher is a decent human being. Many teachers, especially those who are male, do nothing but egg on the aggression in students. For our purposes, though, let’s say the teacher truly does care and wants to do what she or he can to prevent bullying. Well, next is how. The means available for teachers to make a difference are rapidly dwindling with school boards and administrations being taken over by the right-wing, comprised of people who are bent on disallowing even art and music programs, never mind a comprehensive anti-bullying curriculum. Regardless, much bullying happens out of the sight of teachers. It’s in the bathrooms, in the hallways, at recess, or before or after school.
Then it’s up to the parents to stop it. Once again, this depends on the parents being good human beings. Judging by the mass injustice and ecological crises caused by this society, I don’t see much reason to be optimistic about most people. However, for our purposes, let’s pretend these are parents that truly do care, that want to do what it takes to stop their child from bullying others or from being bullied. The parents can spend all the time they’d like having conversations with their child after school, but most kids learn just as much or more about life from the other kids they are around during the day. Unless every parent of every student is teaching the same lessons of love and compassion, and unless every student is listening in earnest and soaking up the morals, it’s only a matter of time before one child comes across another who says something like, “hey, let’s go make fun of that girl’s crooked teeth” or “hey, look at that fat kid.”
All of this brings us back to the original culprit; the one that creates the indecency of so many teachers and parents who enable bullying. I’m speaking of the dominant culture. If we have any chance of stopping the cruelty committed by children, we must stop the cruelty committed by adults. Where do we think the kids learn it? As Fazeela Jiwa notes, “Violent behavior stems from a tolerance of, or a reluctance to acknowledge, the power imbalances mired in the fabric of our social structures at all age levels…The same oppressive learned behaviors occur in the workplace, in bars and clubs, on the street, and in other adult-inhabited places.”
This whole country was founded on bullying. It started and continues with the genocide of indigenous people, the enslavement of Africans, the use of women as chattel, and the destruction of the natural world. To stop bullying means to stop the misogynists, white supremacists, homophobes, and earth-killers in power. It means to end capitalism.
Amanda Todd’s never ending story eventually did end when she tried again to drink bleach, and this time succeeded in taking her life. Even after her death, people continue to celebrate her humiliation and complain about the public outcry as annoying. This is sadism beyond words.
Those who are bullied need to know it’s not their fault. Those who are not bullied need to stand in absolute solidarity and intervene at every instance of abuse. As long as some people profit, whether socially or economically or both, from another’s suffering, none of us are free. Amanda’s never ending story is the never ending story of so many suffering under this cruel and ruthless culture. Unless we rise up to stop it, we can expect nothing from the future but more Amanda Todds.
“Why do I get this?” the flashcards in Amanda’s video finished. “I messed up by why follow me. I left your guys city. I’m constantly crying now. Every day I think why am I still here? My anxiety is horrible now. Never went out this summer. All from my past…lifes never getting better. Can’t go to school meet or be with people. Constantly cutting. I’m really depressed. I’m on antidepressants now and counseling and a month ago this summer I overdosed. In hospital for 2 days. I’m stuck…whats left of me now. Nothing stops. I have nobody. I need someone. My name is Amanda Todd.”
Beautiful Justice is a monthly column by Ben Barker, a writer and community organizer from West Bend, Wisconsin. Ben is a member of the Deep Green Resistance movement and is currently writing a book about toxic qualities of radical subcultures and the need to build a vibrant culture of resistance.
Originally published on http://unwinona.tumblr.com/
And then I debated whether or not to put it on Tumblr…but I decided it was important. Because in my own way, I can (unfortunately) point out exactly what is wrong with men when they don’t realize how hard it is to be a woman. How we do not have equal opportunities and freedoms in everyday life. How most men, even good caring men, have no clue what we go through on a daily basis just trying to live our lives.
So here goes.
I often ride the Metro when I commute from North Hollywood to Long Beach in order to save money. I bring a book, pointedly wear a ring on my ring finger to imply I’m married (I’m not) and keep to myself.
Without fail, I am aggressively approached by men on at least half of these commutes. The most common approach is to walk up to where I am sitting with body language that practically screams LEAVE ME ALONE and sit down next to me or as close to me as possible, when the train is not crowded and there are many empty rows. Sometimes an overly friendly arm is draped over the railing behind me, or they attempt to lean in close to talk to me as if we are old friends. Without fail, the man or boy in question will lean to close and ask me
What are you reading?
Is that a good book?
What’s that book about?
This serves the double purpose of getting my attention and trapping me in a conversation. If I stop reading the book I enjoy to talk to you, random stranger, you hit on me or just stay way too close to me. If I tell you to leave me alone, you get mad at me. Because I somehow, as a woman, owe you conversation.
Tonight when I boarded the train in Long Beach at 10:30pm, it started up right away. I was not on the train more than three minutes before three boys who looked eighteen sat in the row behind me and leaned over the seats into my personal space, close enough to breathe on me. The one with his arm draped over onto the back of my seat asked me—surprise— “what are you reading?” I went through my usual routine. I told them loudly and firmly that I wanted to be left alone to read my book. They got angry. I was told “Why are you going to be like that? I just wanted to talk!” His friends start laughing at me and they don’t move, telling me come on! and why are you gonna be like that? until I tell them to leave me the fuck alone, stand up, and move to the front of the car near the three other people on the train, a couple and a business man in a suit. They spend the next two stops shouting at me from the back of the car, alternating between trying to sound flirtatious and making fun of me, shouting “I bet she’s reading Stephanie Meyer! I bet she’s reading Twilight or some shit! You reading Twilight or some shit?”
They exit the train at the next stop, and I’m relieved. The train is going out of service at the next station, so we all exit to board a new train to Los Angeles. As we board, the business man steps aside to let me go through the door first and asks me if those guys were bothering me. I say yes, that it happens all the time, and he tells he’ll beat them up for me if they come back. He is a nice person who talks to me like I’m a human being instead of a walking pair of tits, and I make a mental note: This is how a real man talks to a woman on a train.
The business man and the couple exit our new Blue Line train an exit or so later, and I think my night is ending on a good note. A seemingly normal man enters the train with his bicycle. At this point I am three rows from the front of the car, another man was sitting near the back of the car, and the rest of the car is empty. Bicycle Man walks halfway down the row, and settles into the seat directly opposite me. Perfect, I think. Twice in one night.
It’s not the first time I’ve been bothered multiple times. As such, I’m still amped from the teenagers on the first train. So when this man leans across the aisle into my personal space and asks me, yes, what are you reading, I assertively but calmly tell him to please leave me alone, I am reading. The man stands up, moving to the front and muttering angrily over his shoulder that it isn’t his fault I’m pretty.
Yes. Exactly that. I am the bad person in this situation because somehow this is all my fault. I started this by being attractive. I am making a mental note to bitch about this to my friends later. I go so far as to write it down so I know I’m remembering it properly.
It is at this exact moment I realize Bicycle Man is not taking it well. The seemingly annoying but normal man a moment before is now talking to himself, becoming agitated. In my years of being bothered by total strangers, I have learned how to hold a book and seem to be reading while taking in everything around me. He is glaring at me, and says out loud in an angry baby talk voice “PLEASELEAVEMEALONEI’MREADING. PLEASE LEAVE ME ALOOOONE.”
Then he’s up out of his seat and things go from bad to worse. He begins pacing back and forth in front of his bike, alternating between screaming something about his mother being dead and calling me a slut, a hoe, a bitch. I am frozen in place. There is one other person in the car, and I’m not sure if trying to change seats will draw more attention to me or less. I trust my instincts and show no fear, doing my best to appear to be calmly reading my book, never once looking up to acknowledge the abuse he’s hurling at me. There are four stops left until we reach the main downtown station where there are lights and security officers. Those four stops are virtually abandoned, and I have no guarantee that leaving to wait for another train won’t motivate him to leave the train as well, leaving us potentially alone at a metro station platform just outside of Compton. I’m frozen in place, trying to plan what I’m going to do if he decides to take all this rage directly to me. I’m ready to kick him, scream, make enough noise that he panics and flees.
At this point he’s punching the walls and doors of the train, screaming at me. He stares me full in the face and screams
SUCK MY DICK, BITCH
YOU STUPID BITCH
YOU GODDAMN HO
IF I HAD A GUN I’D SHOOT YOU
I WOULD FUCKING KILL YOU BITCH
This went on for two stops. No one came to see what was happening. The man in the last row was as frozen as I was. I’m not angry he didn’t come to my defense. He was smaller, older, and frailer-looking than I was. Again, I was worried if I got up, I would be turning my back on him to walk down the aisle. In the state he was in, I had no guarantee it wouldn’t get physical, and I had more physical strength with my back to the window and feet in kicking position where I was. If he had chosen to assault me, I would only be making it easier for him by standing up and putting myself directly in his path. On and on, over and over, he screamed at me, screamed at his dead mother, screamed at me again.
The moment we reached the downtown station, I was out the door and down the stairs. I still had to catch a connecting train to North Hollywood, and made sure there was no sign of Bicycle Man before I entered the car. That’s when I finally starting shaking, and almost threw up. By the time I exited the Red Line and reached my car I could barely breathe and my heart was pounding out of my chest. Even now, in my own home, my hands are still shaking and for some reason the stress has made my back muscles feel cold and numb. From all the tension, I can only assume. I can’t eat anything, I still feel like I’m going to vomit, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t cried so much, so hard I still have the headache.
So when people (men) want to talk about “legitimate” forms of assault, tell girls they should be nice to strangers and give men the benefit of a doubt, tell them to consider it a compliment, tell them to ignore the bad behavior of men, I want them to be forced to feel, for even one minute, what it feels like to have so much verbal hatred and physical intimidation thrown at them for nothing more than being female and not wanting to share.
I just wanted to read my book.
It’s not my fault I’m pretty.
Originally posted on xoJane
by s.e. smith
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: An drunk off-duty cop walks into a bar [(Did I mention the prosecution says he drove himself there? After eight beers?], walks up to a friend of a friend, sticks his hand up her skirt and gropes her genitals. When a bouncer tries to eject him, he threatens the bouncer with arrest.
That happened two years ago, and the trial only just concluded. The jury found him guilty, but the judge decided to sentence him only to two years on probation and some community service, with credit for time served (a whopping four days in jail). Plus, he doesn’t have to register as a sex offender. He lost his job after an investigation within the police department, which is probably the only fair consequence to come out of this case, no matter what the judge and the community seem to think.
This kind of leniency in sentencing is extremely common for police officers, as is the support for the officer from the community; he got 25 letters of support to bolster his case that he’s just a good person, really. The judge claimed that she wanted to consider his excellent record, while his friends and former partners rallied around him to say he’s just not that kind of guy; despite the fact that he’d pinched another patron’s butt before assaulting the victim in this case, which would seem to suggest a certain pattern of behavior. One of his character witnesses even wound out quite a sob story about how he won’t be able to hunt now with a felony conviction on his record.
More seriously, his supporters claim that losing his job may result in losing his house, which I agree really, really sucks. But that’s a consequence he should have considered before committing an action that could potentially result in being fired.
In this case, there’s even more than the usual gross favoritism exhibited in the direction of police officers. Because, you see, while the judge felt that a slap on the wrist was an appropriate sentence for the offender, she also evidently felt it was necessary to shame and humiliate the victim in court. I didn’t realize this fell under judicial purview now; I guess Judge Judy-style justice is more popular than I thought!
She informed the victim that she really should have used better sense before going to a bar. No really, she did.
If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you…I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it. You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.
“When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” the judge said. I’m sorry, what? Maybe you should take your own lesson to heart, Judge Hatch, because all that time you wasted on lecturing the victim in your courtroom in front of an audience could have been spent on more productive activities like preventing sexual assault and making the world safer for people who want to report it.
Apparently going to the grocery store after 10 pm is dangerous for women, who should exercise some darn common sense, stop blaming people, and get over this victimhood complex. The judge hastened to cover her, and yes, that’s her tracks with a comment about how of course victims aren’t to blame, you know, except how they are because “all women should be vigilant against becoming victims.”
As Kate Harding eloquently put it this morning: “WHAT IS THIS I CAN’T ASDFHKG;FLGJQA”JS’L”
How about all sexual assailants become vigilant against not sexually assaulting people?!
The victim knew she was up against a lot with this case. First, there’s the inevitable shit anyone reporting sexual assault is in for by daring to talk about it, testify in court, and see the case through. Then there’s the added pressure in a case involving a police officer. She was “harshly criticized by members of the community and even friends who accused her of ruining the defendant’s life by pursuing prosecution.”
I see this all the time in cases like this, where victims are attacked for ruining the attacker’s life to distract from the actual case at hand. Well, how about attackers NOT ATTACK PEOPLE, and then maybe this whole life-ruining thing wouldn’t be a problem? The only people responsible for sexual assault are the people who commit it, not the people who report it; and the only people responsible for the consequences are, again, the people who chose to commit acts of sexual assault. If you don’t want to lose your job and your hunting license, don’t grope someone’s genitals without consent! Problem solved!
This unnamed woman was courageous for being willing to stay the course in this case, even through exhaustion, attacks from her own friends, and a lecture from the judge at the conclusion of the case. She deserves a medal, and what she’ll probably get is more shaming for daring to speak out about a sexual assault from a police officer. I hope she knows that her own actions may give other women courage to speak up and not back down in the future.
Jane Doe, I don’t know if you’re reading this, but if you are, here’s a little solidarity fistbump.
From Ozvi se!:
PLEASE sign the change.org petition forcing Judge Jacqueline Hatch to step down before overseeing another sexual assault case!
Originally published on Rookie
A private conversation about street harassment, made public.
Here’s an unexciting secret: the Rookie staff has a hidden Facebook group wherein we discuss themes and ideas and assignments. We also go there to chat and gossip and joke around and blow off steam. Sometimes things get serious, as they did last month, when Jamia told us about a gross incident of street harassment that had happened to her that day. As everyone began to chime in with support and tales of similar things that had happened to them, we all got so sad, and so MAD. It dawned on us that you can take any random group of girls and women, and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them will have multiple stories of terrible things that were said to them and done to them on the street by strangers, as a matter of course. Just the normal state of affairs when you are out in public, being female. Like, we’re not special. This happens to everybody.
We’re publishing that conversation here today. If you’re not a girl, you might be surprised to learn what all your female friends go through. It might help you understand why we don’t think it’s cute or cool or flattering to be hollered at, commented on, ogled, or groped as we just try to get from one place to another. This wasn’t a conversation we had for the public—this was just what came out when we talked about this stuff in private. Any girl you know can tell you her own horror stories, if you’re willing to listen.
Warning: strong language throughout, by necessity.
April 16, 2012
Jamia: OMG nasty street-harassment moment in my lyfe… I was sitting in Grand Central’s food court today eating soup. My nose was stuck in a book, so I didn’t notice what was going on around me. When I was done eating, I turned around and saw this old man sitting two seats away from me. He looked over at me and was masturbating in his pants and talking to himself. UGH. I got up right away and tried to find a cop, to no avail. When I came back the man had moved on to rubbing his arm instead. I am still pissed off about it.
Jamie: This sucks and is gross. I am adding my own story to this. One time I was in T.J. Maxx shopping for bathing suits. I was not trying them on, just browsing the aisle, and I looked over to the novelty-lotions gifty-crap section, and there was a man staring at me and jerking off with the lotion from the tester. I was 15.
Anaheed: GOD. I am so sorry, both of you. I always wish I had the balls to YELL at those people, but I get too grossed out and freaked out.
Amy Rose: Oh my god, Jamia, I am so sorry. I’ve had strangers touching me a LOT in the past week (seriously, what the fuck is going on here?) and I flip out enough over that. I hate street harassment so much, and I have so much love and empathy for you.
Jamie: I think it has something to do with spring. All the creeps come out of hibernation. I’ve been getting “Hey…smile!” a lot more, too, from weird paternalistic men on the street.
Jamia: I’m so sorry you ladies have had similar experiences. I usually say, “Show some respect,” but I was so shocked today. Another time this guy came up to me in Washington Square Park and yelled, “I want to eat your pussy” and made this hand motion at me…it was so gross that I burst into tears and yelled at him. GROSS GROSS Gremlins.
Anaheed: When guys used to yell that at me I used to say, “Oh wow, really, that would be amazing, I have been waiting all night for some gross turd to offer to eat my pussy.” (They don’t yell that at me anymore, ’cause I’m old.)
Jamie: My plan is to yell, “Would you say that to your mother?” and see what happens.
Amy Rose: I always fuh-REAK. Even at catcallers. My method has advanced recently: now when people holler at me from cars or on the street, I go into full pretending-to-be-a-horrible-tortured-monster mode and growl and act like a lunatic. I really want to demonstrate for you guys so you can see how into it I get!!!
Jamie: Vid plz.
[Please excuse the shitty video quality; Amy Rose recorded this on Facebook, which is not known for its high-def video capabilities.]
[Video not available]
[There followed a long string of “I love you, Amy Rose!” comments.]
Naomi: Amy Rose, be my bodyguard.
Emma D.: “Self-Defense With Amy Rose” should be a regular Rookie column.
Leanna: I’m so sorry those things happened. I like this project. [ihollaback.org - YESSS!]
Jenny: Dang, you girls are way better at fending off street harassment than I am. When I lived in France, I had it so bad that I literally had to look down at the ground whenever I went outside, because if I even accidentally looked up for a second, some dude or a gang of dudes would go apeshit. Oftentimes I had to factor in extra time when I would walk to the train station or go outside to do errands, because guys in cars would block the crosswalk or intersection so they could harass me. Probably once a day some guy would jump out from seemingly nowhere and do some “kung fu” move that would have been hilarious if it wasn’t in service of harassing the fuck out of me, and I didn’t go a single day without 10 to 15 dudes following me and whispering every single Asian-language word they knew while trying to grab me and pull me into their disgusting arms.
Hannah: I was on the Greyhound once and noticed a guy a few seats behind me moving his hand around in his pants area and staring at me intently. I freaked and moved closer to the driver, and when I looked back he had moved closer! I texted my dad to make sure he was at my station right away to pick me up and kept my hand inside my pocket on my Swiss Army knife. Also, this one time a guy stopped his car and asked me if I wanted a ride and I said, “Only if you’ve got a toilet in the back, ’cause I’ve gotta pee.” He drove away.
Emma D.: Once I fell asleep on the public beach (full of people) in my hometown and woke up an hour later because I could tell that something was GOING ON. As it’s rather difficult to figure out what’s going on when you’re wearing a swimsuit and OMG WHERE ARE MY GLASSES, it took me about two minutes to locate an old, naked man jerking off in the bushes one meter away from me. I ran away, and promised myself I’d yell at someone like him next time. So the next time it happened I yelled at the guy making nasty comments on the street and was all woohoo female power, but he ANSWERED BACK in a vulgar but somehow CLEVER way and it left me speechless. 1:0 FOR THIS ASSHOLE. I STILL CAN’T GET OVER IT.
Naomi: I was THIRTEEN when I first got asked if I wanted a “lift.” I had no fucking idea what to do. Actually, I think I was 11 when I was in the park with my friend and this guy asked us to keep watch while he pissed in a bush. We thought he was probably a flasher, so we just ran like hell.
Tavi: I am so sorry and grossed out for everybody here. On Sunday I was having the worst day and was on the phone with my sister while I was walking home, and these guys outside the library whistled and I WISHED I’d been like ANJSJSIDNSA AMY ROSE GREMLIN or at least like NOBODY ASKED YOU but instead I just gave them a dirty look and was like “ugh” to my sister. Then you have the guilt trip you put yourself through for not saying anything even though it is totally alarming.
Emily C.: Jamie, I will never shop at T.J. Maxx the same way again after reading that. That’s like the worst story I’ve ever heard in my life. The fluorescent lights, the T.J. Maxx smell…ugh. And Jamia, I’m so sorry! At least you got out of there.
Jamia: One of the creepiest street-harassment experiences happened to me in France too—what is it about France? This gang of dudes circled me and one of them picked me up and pretended he was going to carry me off somewhere. I was kicking and screaming, “Va te faire foutre!”* over and over, and my friend Sandy came over and yanked me out of this asshole’s arms.
Eleanor: One time when I was having lunch in a café, this man sat near me. I could see his hand moving around under this giant blanket. Then the other week me, my sister, and a friend were walking to a party and a guy asked to borrow a lighter from my friend. She passed it to him and he held her hand, then he was following us down the street, and then a massive dude came out of an alley and joined him, and then ANOTHER joined him until these three guys were like storming along behind us down this empty street at midnight. We were literally running at this point, and they were saying such disgusting, terrifying stuff, and thank god we got into the house before they got to us. I hate London because every time I visit I get disgusting comments thrown at me and weird guys shouting at me from car windows. I hate that I have to live in fear while on public transit and have to make sure I get off the train just before the doors close so that people don’t follow me…
Hazel: One time at Target there was this man who was yelling at me and saying VULGAR things. I told my mom, and when we left the store the parking lot was dark, but we saw him. My mom drove around him very quickly in tight circles, like almost hitting him and basically stalking him in our car while screaming at him insanely, and I swear to god he was actually scared.
Jenny: I love your mom, Hazel.
Stephanie: I have now had THREE experiences of riding the train in Chicago and seeing a man sitting nearby, leering at me and masturbating. Once it happened when I was on my way to a job interview. Seriously, how fucking unsettling was that? I’ve always been too freaked out to yell or press the train call button, except for once when I happened to be on the phone with my husband and said to him really loudly, “I’M SORRY, I HAVE TO MOVE BECAUSE THE MAN ACROSS FROM ME IS MASTURBATING.” This caused a very suburban-looking dad and son to take notice, and the dude fled the train at the next stop.
Tavi: Stephanie! The fucking El! That happened to me once. UGH. I was just reading my diary from March 2011 and it was around the time when I got contacts and started wearing more-flattering clothes, and all of the entries are like, “Can I do this all without these creeps assuming it’s for them?” Yeesh. That was when the thing on the El happened, and it was my first time on the train alone, too, which was so off-putting! The next time I took the train was on the way to SlutWalk, so I was like SYMBOL FOR PERSONAL GROWTH BLAH BLAH. Can we all have a communal hug?
Stephanie: Communal hugs for sure. And seriously, the fact that these guys think that women dress up so we can play a role in their personal porn is so annoying. I hate that it makes me self-conscious.
Hannah: I dressed very “masculine” once I hit puberty because I was the first one in my class to “develop,” and boys thought they had a right to snap my bra or touch my thighs, so I figured if I covered myself in baggy clothes and made myself look boyish no one would see my female-ness and I would feel tougher. I only really started to celebrate my femininity around 16 or so, and even then I chopped off all my hair as an act of anger toward harassing dudes.
Tavi: I always thought it was interesting that Mary-Kate and Ashley dress so baggily now when there were entire websites counting down the days till they’d turn 18 and be “legal.”
Hannah: The thing is, even when I am not dressed “attractive,” I still get car honks and hoots. I can be bundled up in a parka and rain boots, with my hair pulled back and essentially looking like a genderless blob, and still, pervs will act out.
Naomi: Exactly! I was beeped at on one rainy day—this was last week—and I was like, “I am in jeans and a raincoat and my hair is in a greasy ponytail and I have no makeup on and my face is probably screwed up trying to see through the rain,” but no, people still think it’s funny to make a girl jump out of her skin.
Hannah: But it definitely heightens on those days when you dress up and feel good about yourself, and then some jerk makes you feel like garbage and it’s just like THIS ISN’T FOR YOU, A-HOLE. THIS IS FOR **ME** I AM A QUEEN GODDESS AND YOU ARE A LOWLY WORM.
Tavi: I was complaining about this in class with some other LADIEZ and this douche dude said, “Don’t you think you’re being a little CONCEITED?” God, this isn’t about being like, “IT’S SO HARD TO BE POPULAR!”
Hannah: If a homophobic dude were hit on by men constantly he’d never shut up about it, meanwhile at least once a week from puberty onward I’ve been made to feel like someone’s personal entertainment when I’m doing something as banal as walking to the bus in the middle of the afternoon.
Anaheed: It is crazy how hard it is for most dudes to understand this. How they’re like, “I would love it if people told me how hot I was all the time.” How they tell you, “You should be flattered.” I feel like boys need to be educated about this from a young age! On what it means to be leered at and touched way before you’re even equipped to understand what’s going on, and how that makes you feel shame and guilt and finally anger for the rest of your life.
Naomi: We need some kind of an intervention for men to make them see, LOOK, THIS HAPPENS EVERY DAY. I don’t know about you gals, but I think about it EVERY time I go out. I think most men can’t really comprehend it, because they don’t have to deal with it every day of their lives. I mean, I think I got my first wolf whistle when I was 12? NOW TELL ME WE DON’T NEED FEMINISM.
Anaheed: We should just publish this whole conversation.
Jenny: Hell yeah, publish it. ♦
* Translation: “Fuck off!”
Originally published on Mother Jones
by Erika Eichelberger
Men have been in the business of deciding when it is okay and when it is not okay to rape women for thousands of years. If Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s claim that women’s bodies magically fend off rapist sperm or the GOP’s meditation on what’s really rape sound medieval to you, that’s because they are. Check out our timeline of the male notions and common-law statutes that have defined rape over time, and see for yourself which eras the GOP’s views on rape line up with:
Property theft: The Code of Hammurabi, one of the first sets of written laws, which dates to about 1780 BC (and contains the old “eye for an eye”), defines rape of a virgin as property damage against her father. If you were married, sorry lady: You were an adulteress. Punishment? You get thrown in the river.
God is a dude: Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says if you rape a virgin, you have to give her dad 50 shekels and take her to the altar.
Et tu, Roma? The Latin root raptus referred to the abduction of a woman against the will of whatever male controlled her life. What the abductor did with her was secondary.
Todd Akin, 1.0: As the Guardian recently pointed out, one of the earliest British legal texts, Fleta, which was written around 1290, laid the foundation for Akin’s notion that if you get preggers, you weren’t raped: “Without a woman’s consent she could not conceive.”
(Mississippi and) The Middle Ages: During the 13th century, the severity of punishment under Saxon law varied according to the type of woman raped—whether she was a virgin, a wife, a widow, a nun, or a whore. That’s appropriately medieval. But in the United States, well into the ’90s (yes, the nineteen-nineties) some states still had laws that held statutory rape wasn’t rape if the woman was “impure”. Mississippi was the last state to ditch such a law—in 1998.
Pre-wave feminism: King Edward I of England was a forward-thinking chap. He enacted the landmark Statutes of Westminster at the end of the 13th century. They redefined rape as a public wrong, not just a private property battle. The legislation also cut out the virgin distinction and made consent irrelevant for girls under 12, laying the basis for the modern principle of statutory rape.
“The wife hath given up herself”: In a treatise on capital crime and punishment from around 1670, English judge and lawyer Sir Matthew Hale wrote this little gem: “[T]he husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract.” The law had quite a bit of traction. A man could legally rape his wife in North Carolina until 1993.
If you were brown: It didn’t count, whether you were a slave or a “savage.” And after abolition, the white legal establishment pretty much ignored rape against black women.
Rape to prove rape: Men in common law courts in the 18th and 19th centuries had a bit of trouble agreeing on how much proof a woman had to give to show she wasn’t lying. Some said the hymen had to be broken. Some said she had to provide evidence of semen. Virginity test, anyone?
“Absolute rape,” kind of like “legitimate rape”: English physician Samuel Farr was pretty certain women couldn’t get pregnant without an orgasm. The Guardian quotes the mansplanation from his 1814 Elements of Medical Jurisprudence: “For without an excitation of lust, or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place. So that if an absolute rape were to be perpetrated, it is not likely she would become pregnant.”
You can’t thread a moving needle: Or: If you don’t squirm a lot, it’s not rape. Dr. Lawson Tait, an eminent 19th century gynecologist and medical officer who helped police with criminal investigations, was “perfectly satisfied that no man can effect a felonious purpose on a woman in possession of her sense without her consent.” Said he: “You cannot thread a moving needle.”
The FBI calls rape by its name: As the Post‘s Gerhart explains, the federal government used the “rather prim euphemism, ‘indecent assault,’ a phrase that seems as linguistically tortured as ‘legitimate rape,’ from the 17th century until 1929, when the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program renamed it like this: “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” That definition was still totally 17th century, btw.
Lady rules: Feminists had been fighting to raise the statutory rape age in states since the 1890s (in response, some legislators proposed raising the age of consent to 81). Nonwhite feminists had been fighting for equal treatment under the law. Second wavers gave the movement another push, demanding a range of other expansions to make the definition of rape gender neutral, include date rape, and scrap medieval marital exceptions and virginity requirements.
83 years later: January of 2012: that’s when the FBI decided to update its definition of forcible rape. As Kate Sheppard pointed out last year, the year 1929 “was quite a while ago—before the Great Depression, before Mickey Mouse, and before the Empire State Building, to name a few. It was also before roofies had been invented and before date or partner rape were even concepts.” The new, expanded definition includes other forms of sexual assault, other genders, and instances where the “victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age.”
Backward, ho!: Last year, House Republicans pushed to limit taxpayer funding of abortions by excluding non-“forcible” rapes from federal abortion funding. Their plan failed. But the Republican war on women was just starting to heat up.
“Legitimate rape”: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Or, as Urban Dictionary puts it: “Rape between one man and one woman who are not married or even acquainted; the only rape sanctioned by the Republican Party.”
Erika Eichelberger is an editorial fellow at Mother Jones.She has also written for The Nation, AlterNet, and the Brooklyn Rail.