Posts Tagged misogyny
There exists a narrative among some human rights activists, feminists and even progressives – in this country and elsewhere – that women wearing hijab in the from of burkas or any kind of other veiling in Muslim countries is a matter of cultural perspective and tradition that needs to be respected and is off limits to criticism.
This narrative, born out of a false sense of cultural relativism, insists that every woman who covers herself is doing so out of her own free will, is not forced to do so and in fact lives a life of happiness and contentedness under a welcoming and warm religion and men who do not at all view women as less than their equals.The wearing of the hijab and the practice of veiling are, therefore, seen as mere cultural differences and any such criticism of the hijab and the (patriarchal) culture that stands behind it, constructs it, perpetuates it and propagates it are seen as arrogant, western ethnocentric attempts at imposing one’s owns values onto others.
Frankly, that’s a load of crap.
No one is patronizing Muslim women with respect to the veils they have to wear as a direct result of the oppressive religion and patriarchy they live under. Being under the yoke of an oppressive religion and a stringent patriarchy that views women as second class human beings is a matter of cultural difference the same way slavery is.
A woman saying she enjoys wearing the hijab is like a slave saying he enjoys his shackles.
Muslim women who say they are ok with it and do not mind it don’t know any better and are speaking out of ignorance following a lifetime of socialization, manipulation and indoctrinated into believing that the oppressive patriarchy they live under is working in their favor and was just part of their culture.
It is not.
The hijab or any kind of other covering and veiling requested of women are not cultural artifacts or traditions that need to be respected and preserved any more than any kind of other act of oppression of and discrimination against women is.
They are tools and symbols of oppression and control of women that need to be exposed for what they are and abolished.
Body, Autonomy, Agency, Equality
The best and most effective way to control a woman is to control her sexualityand with it her body, thus stripping her off her autonomy and agency. A deeply dehumanizing act.
Controlling a woman’s body by policing what she wears and else does with it is treating said woman’s body and the woman herself like the property of her husband who then effectively just becomes her owner and proprietor.
It is a deeply misogynistic, not to mention offensive and invasive custom.
A man seems to be the extension of the state in such Islamic countries – as he does not respect a woman as an equal and thus as a self-governed, rights-bearing, autonomous individual human.
Subverting another human being’s agency is a very serious offense.
Hijab and veils in the form of burkas are symbols of oppression used to police women and their bodies to conform to norms established and created by men in a deeply patriarchal system.
Women do not cover themselves up because they want to. They cover themselves up because they have no other choice; because the patriarchy and the oppressive religion they live under dictates that they do.
Furthermore, the belief that policing women’s bodies and reproduction is acceptable and needs to be respected accordingly as part of someone’s culture is deeply problematic with rather dire consequences as the track record of how women are treated in such countries shows.That is nothing that deserves to be respected.
Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, has, according to Human Rights Watch, “long [been] viewed as the most progressive Arab country with respect to women’s rights.”
The evidence does not support such an assertion unless one considers not stoning women to death, not making them marry their rapists or allowing them to have driver’s licences, progressive. Arab Spring my ass. Tunisia is apparently only considered “more progressive” vis a vis places like Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. Being a notch better than the worst of the worst does not make you a progressive.
Men and politicians in Islamic countries, and yes I am lumping them all together because this is one rare instance where there are no exceptions, want to limit choice and marginalize women so as to be able to better control them. Just because in Tunisia they don’t stone women to death and allow them to have an education past fifth grade does not make them pro women. If you set the bar pretty darn low, it is not hard to exceed it.
What all this ultimately boils down to is that there is nothing about how Islam views and treats women that serves a decent purpose, and certainly nothing that advances women’s agency or autonomy. Not even in Tunisia.
The Veil As A Symbol of Patriarchy and Oppression
It is dehumanizing and insulting to be a woman navigating in a society in which you are not, uncompromisingly, respected as a man’s equal. It is terrible to be the sister, mother, daughter, student, friend or coworker of people who treat you like second class human beings.
It is demeaning to be raised in a world in which everyone around you, including your own father and brothers and partner hold the view that you not deserve equal opportunity and equal access. People who believe that you deserve less respect, less dignity, less agency, less autonomy, less opportunity, less voice, less ownership of self, less of your humanity.
The truth is that women in Islamic countries have to cover themselves up because of men who wrote the Koran and dictate the moral code of the nation, with devastating consequences. These women have no choice, which is the ultimate form of control and oppressions.
Not being stoned to death, being allowed to attend school and even university or being allowed to walk around without a head cover once in a while is not being liberal and woman friendly. Those are nothing but token gestures by Islamic oppressive patriarchs who are not really respecting a woman’s agency and humanity and much less really believe in it. These men are just allowing women, no permitting them, to do such things based solely at their discretion.
A permission that can be revoked at any time as the patriarchy sees fit.
There is nothing autonomous, liberal and feminist about men permitting women to be free and navigate through society without shackles once in a while and only in places and spaces they are willing to let them navigate without the threat to bodily harm.
If women are to ever gain any kind of autonomy and are to rise from the oppressive patriarchy that has been and continues to enslave and oppress them - overtly and covertly – they, first and foremost need autonomy over their bodies. They need to be agents of themselves rather than the subjects of the patriarchy around them where they are at their mercy and discretion, only allowed to behave in ways they deem acceptable and appropriate.
This is a crucial, if not the most important step towards independence because nothing robs a person of their personhood and humanity than not being able to make decisions pertaining to their own body. It cannot be emphasized enough.
This is what Amina Tyler was symbolizing and protesting when she posed nude on her facebook pic, the words “Fuck your Morals” painted on her bare chest.
Amina Tyler and FEMEN
This March, a Tunisian woman named Amina Tyler posted two topless photos of herself on Facebook. In one, “Fuck Your Morals” is painted across her bare chest. In the other, she is wearing eyeliner and bright lipstick, scrawled down her chest in four lines are the Arabic words ”My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honor.”
Tyler founded a Tunisian chapter of the feminist group FEMEN in February after seeing photos of the group’s activists online. Based in Kiev, FEMEN counts over a hundred and fifty thousand active members and has become famous—to quote the organization’s Wikipedia page—for its “noticeably erotic rallies,” strictly topless, against groups and individuals it perceives as corrupt, including the sex industry, the Church, sharia courts, Vladimir Putin, and Silvio Berlusconi.
After Tyler’s photos went up, an Islamist activist hacked the Facebook page of FEMEN’s Tunisian branch, posting religious videos and verses. One divinely inspired message read “Thanks to God we have hacked this immoral page and the best is yet to come.” Another said, “The page has been hacked and God willing, this debauchery will disappear from Tunisia.” In the meantime, news agencies frantically reported that Tyler had been committed to a psychiatric hospital, that her parents had disowned her.
In late March, Tyler told Italian journalist Federica Tourn that she believed she would be beaten or raped if Tunisian police tracked her down. She claimed that “nothing they could do would be worse than what already happens here to women, the way women are forced to live every day. Ever since we are small they tell us to be calm, to behave well, to dress a certain way, everything to find a husband. We must also study to be able to marry, because young guys today want a woman who works.”
But women, she said, are ready for change: We “have reached the height of self-determination: we no longer obey any authority, neither family nor religious. We know what we want and we make our own decisions.”
Tyler has received numerous death threats and stated that she is afraid for her life and the lives of her family.
In Tyler’s honor, protesters declared last Thursday, April 4th, Topless Jihad Day. A petition in her defense had fifteen thousand signers, including outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins. In capital cities, university-aged women with crowns of orange and lilac flowers painted their torsos for solidarity: “Bare breasts against Islamism,” “No sharia,” “Free Amina.”
Muslim Women Against Freedom
As to be expected, there has been a barrage of protests and objections to FEMEN’s and Amina’s approach. Islamic cultural centers all around the world, even those that claim to be supposedly pro women’s rights, and Muslim women themselves have protested, calling FEMEN’s approach “highly counterproductive and detrimental to Muslim women across the world.” As one Muslim woman and so-called activist wearing hijab on her profile pic on the Huffington Post stated “their [FEMEN] tactics are a part of the ideological war that is going on between neo-colonial elements in the West and Islamic societies. Their aim is not to emancipate us from our presumed slavery, but instead reinforce Western imperialism and generate consent for the ongoing wars against Muslim countries.”
As Muslim Women Against Femen spokesperson Ayesha Latif told HP, she finds FEMEN’s approach “racist as well as evidence of colonial feminist rhetoric that portrays Arab/Muslim women as oppressed.” She added:
“It is incredibly inappropriate and offensive that they’re taking advantage of the stereotype that us Muslim women have to face in order to further their questionable cause.
The assumption they promote is that we are subjugated creatures controlled by men, who need to be liberated by a group of perfectly groomed white women posing nude and using shock tactics.
For them, the more you strip the more of a feminist you are – that’s Western feminist ideology. That’s not liberation for us, but that doesn’t make us anti-feminist.
We wonder how many Muslim women they have actually spoken to?”
Questionable cause? Presumed slavery? Being pro hijab does not make us make anti-feminist? Not Subjugated and controlled by men? Don’t need liberating?
Exactly what Planet are these women from? And how intellectually comatose at best and deeply manipulated at worst do you have to be to believe that wearing your shackles in the from of veiling does not make you anti feminist? Or a slave to your men and religion? Or controlled by men and unliberated?
Women like Latif are precisely the reason this movement and the work of FEMEN is so important as clearly the oppressed do not see themselves as oppressed.
It is also amazing to see that amidst the death and rape threats Amina received, among others from Tunisian imam Adel Almi, chair of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, who proclaimed that Tyler “deserves to be whipped or stoned to death”, the problem seems to be FEMEN, Amina’s bare breasts and Western feminists.
Instead of acknowledging their horrible situation and use this opportunity to bring attention to the cause of oppressed women in the Muslim world, all people like Latif vest their energy in is condemning efforts by FEMEN to give their cause a voice, publicity and direction.
After all, as we all know, Muslim women have such a great track record of protecting their freedoms and rights. They have the right no not talk to any men. The right to get beaten by their husbands and any male relative really. The right to not go to school and get an education. The right to be obedient and quiet. The right to let their bodies be treated like state property. You name it.
You know you have mastered the art of complete control when those you do control have come to believe it is not only in their own self interest but that in fact no control is taking place at all. Just take one look at North Korea and the true, fanatical devotion of North Koreans to their leader as example of believing the lies one is told.
Who knew that a pair of bare tits, which are completely natural and normal body parts used primarily to nurse a newborn, and something so fundamental such as demanding autonomy over one’s own body, refusing to be subjugated and passed around like state and male property, demanding equal opportunity, equal access, respect, dignity, agency, a voice, ownership of self and thus more of one’s humanity could threaten self righteous, god loving and god fearing and supposedly moral people and their minions such as Latif to feel so threatened that they have to issue death threats.
Sometimes you have to engage in a radical, symbolic act to force the issue. And I am not talking anything violent but radical enough to rock the boat. Thirty of foorty years ago something like that would have been unheard of. But today people aren’t shocked.
Amina was making a statement. And given how autonomy over one’s body is the number one tool of oppression in Muslim countries, it is understandable why she chose to expose her breasts.
Making a woman wear hijab and cover herself up – at the request of a man, under the threat of violence if disobeyed - in ugly, shapeless wear that obliterates her femininity by, literally, covering up every inch of her womanhood in cloth is as oppressive and disrespectful and as quashing to autonomy and agency it can get.
The hijab tells a woman that not only is she not given a voice in the political and professional sphere but that her entire womanhood, including her body parts, are under the control of a man who ultimately seems to be serving as the proxy for the institutionalized oppression of women by the state and its religion, Islam.
It is the ultimate oppressive act, robbing a woman of her autonomy, agency, and the ability to consent dictating that women cannot and should not be their own best decision-makers, their own best advocates, and their own best protectors.
If you aren’t even allowed to wear what you want, how can you expect that you will ever be granted anything else? Such as equality?
Therefore, women’s liberation in the muslim world, much like any kind of other liberation, is not going to happen only through diplomacy and negotiations. Diplomacy only works with reasonable people who are willing and ready to have a discussion with you as their equals. Entities who are interested in engaging in good faith discourse to amend their ways and get rid of systematic, institutionalized misogyny. There can be no discussion had with entities, in this case men, whose response to your protests against subjugation is that you be stoned and raped. You don’t negotiate with Sith.
You Do Not Free Yourself From the Shackles of Oppression by Nicely Asking For It
It didn’t work when this country was founded and our ancestors fought the Revolutionary war. It did not work when the French Revolution took place. And it did not work during segregation. Some uprising, albeit peaceful, is needed.
Women in the West had to fight tooth and nail for their freedoms and rights (and we are still lagging in many ways). Burning of bras anyone? Protests? Marches? It happened in act of defiance, not by nicely asking for it.
The male leaders of Muslim nations are neither interested in nor do they care to sit down and have discussions on how to treat women as fully autonomous, right-bearing, equal human beings. They don’t believe that women are their equals. If such men were to ever grant them any freedoms it will be at their discretion and on their terms and only in the form of something like “you can get an education” or “you may get a driver’s license.” It will not be real equality. Not as long as Muslim women act like fucking minions unwilling and unable to stand up and fight back.
Amina is a symbol for standing up to religious oppression and the patriarchy that informs it and I stand in solidarity with her when I say, Fuck Your Morals. There is nothing moral about oppressing women and stripping them of their humanity and dignity.
After watching the entire first five seasons of Mad Men in two weeks I realized that I fucking hate Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and that despite all the talk about how cool and suave he is, I have found him to be nothing but a philandering, obnoxious, selfish, disloyal, sexist, unpleasant asshole incapable of love.
He is handsome. He is sexy. He is a panty creamer. Absolutely. But that is were the fascination ends.
Let’s recap Draper: he cheated on his first wife Betty (January Jones) at every opportunity and when he got caught he only apologized because he did not want to mess up his perfect little white picket-fence life with the good, gorgeous and dutiful wife and the model kids by his side (and not because he really regretted what he had done). As a matter of fact, he kept cheating on her while he was temporarily moved out and supposedly regretting what he did and he continued to sleep around when she forgave him.
After she eventually found out about him and his secret past and his affairs, he threatened her and called her a whore. When she had gained weight due to emotional problems and a health condition, he called her a fat whore.
He uses people and treats them, especially women, with the same care as the cum stained tissues amidst his luxury satin sheets. For years he took advantage of and disrespected Peggy (Elizabeth Moss), talking down on her and letting her do all the work while taking the credit for it, including awards. Despite her stellar work he pays her a fraction of what he pays his other, mostly untalented, male copy writers; she landed them account after account and when she asked for a raise or at least recognition he reached for his pocket, threw a handful of dollar bills in her face, literally, and patronizingly told her that she would go to Paris after all. He never apologized to her and on the same day he threw a wad of money at her face like she was a whore, he made Joan (Christina Hendricks) partner after having her sleep with the head of the Jaguar account
He is a lousy father to his three children whom he treats like puppys in a pound he occasionally agrees to take for a walk and he is never there while their mother dearest goes psycho on them.
After all the quality women he has met so far, he chooses to make his sweet-brained secretary Megan (Jessica Pare) his wife whom he pretends he is totally in love with (as if he could) and who of course gets billing before Peggy at his firm for the sole reason that she is pretty and fucking him.
Yes, the 50s Sucked for Everyone Who Wasn’t a White, Straight, Male
This is what the culture was like in the 50s and 60s. I understand. However, it seems as if the admiration for the magnetic, charming sexist, straight, white, racist homophobe Playboy was not just confined to that era.
Don Draper today is a source of fascination and admiration in our pop culture. Ask Men asked why people want to be like Draper. The answer was evident: he is, after all, a real “man” because he is so unlike the chronically unmotivated, sexually clumsy, socially inept, economically immobile, and childish boys in most of today’s movies such as Knocked up and The 40 Year Old Virgin; movies filled with “men” who are really boys and obsessed with fast food, video games and bodily functions.
As if there were only two kinds of men: the chic, suave, handsome selfish assholes like Draper who treat getting married or being a father like it’s doing someone else a favor, or the Seth Rogen, stoned-all-day slacker with no motivation or checking account. Uh-huh.
A Man’s Man
AskMen praises Draper’s “masterful manhood” and most importantly his professional and upward mobility above all, because god knows upward mobility and “the accumulation of wealth” as someone once told me after I asked them what they wanted out of life, are the things that truly matter in this country and define one’s manhood.
It doesn’t surprise me that despite all his other very serious character flaws such as his infidelity, his disloyalty, his lack of compassion, his misogyny and cowardice the one thing people know him and admire him the most for is the fact that he is good with hot women and upwardly mobile. Nevermind that he regularly fires people for things that are his fault or things that he does himself but judges others for. Or that he fired a gay employee because he did not want to sleep with a client, or when he made his secretary and long term friend sleep with a client to get the account, and when he drove a business partner and close friend to suicide by refusing to give him a break after that friend had a temporary laps in judgment. Nope, that is no big deal. As long as he is sexy and rich doing it, it’s endearing.
The only things he is criticized for are his chain smoking, his alcoholism and generally unhealthy vices. He is rarely, if ever, criticized for his deep misogyny and just the shitty way he treats people in life. Ironically, his wife Betty is considered the least popular character on the show while Don the most popular, even though he is the philandering asshole.
A Woman’s Man
As AskMen put it ”even those who consider themselves died-in-the-wool feminists — admitted that Don Draper represents just about everything they want in a man: not only is he tall, dark and handsome, but he is commanding, enterprising and always — always — in control. When we have, on occasion, pointed out to these same women that he is inwardly unavailable, hopelessly uncommunicative and serially unfaithful, many of them have conceded that, as one friend put it, “he would probably make a lousy husband and a bad dad in real life.”
It appears that according to AskMen women then – especially feminists – are nothing but a bunch of superficial bitches who may say they want one thing while in reality they all just want a handsome, assertive, in control asshole with a 10 inch dick.
Great. Looks like they agree with one of the male copywriters who once told Draper that women basically just want a man and that they’ll buy anything that’ll help.
Seems like men today fully concur and so does our culture.
Of course AskMen portrays Draper as the kind of guy not only all women want, whether they know it or not, but also as the kind of man most men wish they could be. You know, being “able to drink and smoke with abandon, womanize with impunity, [...] rule over everyone while being ruled by no one [despite being] an alcoholic, a chain-smoker and a depressive introvert.”
Note again, that nowhere are Draper’s misogyny, lack of compassion and bigotry mentioned as character flaws. Apparently in the world of Men, that is a non-issue.
So Why Does Everyone Want to Be Don Draper?
Because in essence not much has changed from the 1950s/60s with respect to the patriarchy and how our culture sees the two genders. I bet a lot of men watch this wishing things were that way again.
It is not surprising. After all, we live in a culture that considers “men” who are self-reliant, shrewdly ambitious, emotionally inaccessible and
philandering misogynists to be the ultimate hallmark of masculinity. As if the equal rights movements of the 60s and 70s had castrated men leaving them to be these supposedly non-masculine saps we see today – forced to operate and co-exist in a world full of women, negros, gays, jews and other ethnic minorities, as their equals.
The article laments manhood and white, male privilege of the 50s as a lost opportunity; a fall from greatness that still somehow appears to linger in the hearts and minds of men today who look at it fondly exclaiming that “if only things hadn’t changed…a man could still be a man“.
Ah, the 50s and 60s – the decades where men could be men instead of human beings who are no better, or less, than any other human being around them, male or female, black or white, straight or queer, thin or fact, handsome or fugly.
That is, of course, a very outdated and primitive notion of what constitutes masculinity. Or is it?
The patriarchy teaches young men, even today, that anger is safe and manly. Hurt equals weakness. If anyone questions your masculinity you must fight. Be assertive, be in control. Only a sissy pussy is not in control and so forth.
Don Draper is the opposite of that and according to AskMen, those are the hallmarks of not only real masculinity but also success, attractiveness and sex appeal. And a woman just wants to be part of that. Not do it herself, but be part of it.
The brilliance of the show is that no matter how redeemable Don Draper is made out to be and no matter how much sensitivity and vulnerability he is shown to possess, at heart he is a sexist and bigot and overall terrible human being who does not believe that women (and gays and blacks) are deserving of and entitled to the same rights as men. He does not see them as equals, no matter how much he may ultimately care for one of them on the personal level – such as Peggy or even his own daughter Sally.
His misogyny is so rooted in him, such a fundamental part of his chore, that he cannot part from it. And the writers don’t try to. They do not try to all of a sudden make him an advocate for equal rights or an enlightened man who really stops to check his immense white, male, straight privilege.
For Draper, women being nothing but child bearers, sexual conquests, housewives and neat accessories at parties to show off are a given that will never change.
The fact that our pop culture of today looks at someone like Draper and laments his greatness and masculinity that somehow seems to be amiss today amidst all the equal rights mumbo jumbo, says a lot more about how far we have come (or not come) in that area rather than how bad things used to be.
When people look at a black man like Obama running this country and yell “we want our country back“, Don Draper and the world of Leave it to Beaver and housewives like June Cleaver are what they are referring to. That’s the America they want back. The America that was great for no one but straight, white men.
The truth is that the masculinity of men in the 50s and 60s and thus of Don Draper - much like the masculinity of men today – is a mask; a facade hiding a person deeply out of touch with who he is on the inside. It is also a mask that allows them to navigate the world unhindered and thus without ever having to question the status quo. After all, why would you question a world that is so perfectly suited to and tailored towards your needs as a straight, white man?
On a personal level, feelings and emotions are tools that help you deal with life and when you constrict them the results are people like Don Draper in the 60s and a culture that considers everything Draper stands for, some 5o years after he stood for them, as the gold standard of masculinity and success ultimately.
Mad Men is a brilliant show and I thoroughly enjoy it, but the hype about Don Draper is just that. He is nothing but a pretty face in a nice suit attached to a big dick.
I enjoy following his journey but boy, I can’t stand the guy. Especially after he got married to his office bimbo and penile-equivalent Megan – whom they are trying to pass up as a really interesting person – I lost whatever little hope I had that there may be a worthwhile human being behind that spineless, quivering soul of his.
In Mad Men, Draper is portrayed as a complicated man. Even Hamm, in his recent Rolling Stone interview, admits that Draper is a “complicated man”. Someone lost in the woods, halfway through the journey of his life, who ends up exploring hell. Only that Draper is not that complicated man going through hell. Unlike Dante, Draper is part “The Inferno” – including, and especially, his fucked up sense of masculinity which – more than anything – is the source of his ruin and distorted sense of self, rather than its consequence.
“I think my strategy was right. They [women] just wanna get married and they’ll buy anything that’ll help.“
(Sadly, nothing has changed in that regard since the 1960s)
Two members of the high school football team that is the pride and joy of Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl in a case that bitterly divided the Rust Belt city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community’s athletes.
God and misogyny forbid that a 16 year old girl who was raped stand in the way of a long established and beloved football tradition in a town filled with righteous townsfolk and faithful church goers.
As it is the case with rape trials, rape apologia and victim blaming followed the case almost immediately because this is how the rape culture we have created operates: go after the victim, question her and her integrity and make it look like she was responsible for her assault in one way or another. Or go after her parents, friends, teachers and everyone for the rape. All but the actual rapists.
The two juveniles, who I am sure will grow up to be formidable misogynists and rapists, got off the hook easy with the verdict, as both Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were tried as juveniles, receiving merely delinquent verdicts on all three charges. Delinquent is the guilty equivalent for juveniles. They were both convicted of digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, and Mays was also found guilty of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
If they had engaged in copyright violation no doubt they would have been tried as adults.
The “boys” will serve their sentence at a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21, which effectively means they’ll probably be out in six months and welcomed back to the warm bosom of the Steubenville community that will treat them like long, lost sons that were unlawfully sent to the front but are finally returning to their rightful place on top of the football team throne, while their nameless victim will be traumatized and has to go into hiding for ever having dared to accuse her tormentors.
A guilty verdict in a juvenile case also means little given because their records will be sealed after they serve their sentence. Erased. Invisible to the outside world. If they move in your neighborhood or seek employment in your company or non profit, no one will know what they did. In other words, there will be no real consequences for them as a sealed document for a juvenile case may as well not exist.
And that is the problem isn’t it? As long as we allow such actions to remain without consequences, we will only add to the problem and encourage it or at the least send the message that there is little consequence to committing such a huge crime.
As it is to be expected, after the verdict was announced, message boards and commenting sections of news articles and blogs were inundated with comments by people, some of whom think they are acting in good-will, lecturing the girl on how she needs to be more careful in the future and that hopefully she learned her lesson to “not get drunk” again so as to avoid getting raped, as clearly, she not only invited the rape but she is also the one person who needs to learn a lesson from this, namely to not get drunk or engage in other behavior that might prompt otherwise stand up young men like these to rape and assault her.
Some even wondered why parental supervision was missing.
Very few comments, if any at all, were criticizing the rape culture we live in and the values we raise young boys with. No one commented on the culture problem with young men or with bystanders not stepping in. No one commented on the fact that we need greater socialization of young men to appropriate masculinity so that honorable behavior and mutual respect are encouraged.
Instead everyone engaged in a cover up and burst into tears when the two men got what they deserved.
When these boys see that an entire community charges to their rescue, tries to cover up their crime and then bursts out in a hail fire of tears and sobs after they get their well deserved guilty verdict, how will they ever internalize the truly horrendous act they committed?
If I was one of the boys sitting on that chair, watching everyone cry for me and defend me after I did such a horrible thing to someone else, I would not think what I did was all that bad. I would just be bitter at the justice system that has come after me in the first place and failed me.
Note how the socialization works even at this stage: these boys are being treated as unfairly judged, misunderstood. Not as truly guilty. Sure the law says so, but just look at the support they are getting from their community.
I must say I was and remain very appalled and disturbed by all the rape apologia comments.
Instead of Asking “How can we create a culture in which men stop abusing and raping women?”,We Are Striving to Create a Culture in Which We Teach Women How to Not Get Abused and Raped
As if it was on them to not be violated, as opposed to those committing the crimes.
Telling a woman that if she had not been drinking, she wouldn’t have been raped – no matter how well meant (it is not) – shifts the blame to the woman “see, this wouldn’t have happened if only you had behaved.” Such attitudes and notions are destructive and callous and once again shift the burden onto the victim instead of to the perpetrator. As if some men just couldn’t help but raping and abusing (and thus as if it was somehow their natural birth right or something the world and their victims had to just deal with, like thunderstorms and earthquakes), so it was up to women to make sure a man doesn’t t get to engage in both or either behavior.
Let’s be clear on this, rape apologists and victim blamers:
1) Who brought alcohol to the event is irrelevant as that doesn’t make it ok or understandable to rape someone.
2) Lack of parental supervision doesn’t make it ok or understandable to rape someone.
3) The victim having been inebriated, dressing a certain way, behaving a certain way and talking a certain way is neither an invitation to rape nor does it make rape understandable and/or acceptable.
4) That these were 16 year olds as opposed to 26 year olds, doesn’t make the crime less heinous and it doesn’t mean their punishment is to just sit one out as opposed to seriously pay for their cruelty – which means being tried as adults as well as receiving counseling and an education vis a vis their actions.
Nothing makes rape ok, understandable, acceptable or invitational. “Oh sorry ma’am, I saw you dressed in this sexy outfit so naturally I thought you enjoy a little raping, no?”
There is nothing this girl - or any rape and sexual violence victim – did to cause, justify, excuse or make more understable the assault on her person. Period. It is not even a matter of opinion.
We do not accuse murder victims of having brought it on themselves, asserting that they, after all, behaved in a way that invited murder and then dismiss the case. Why is doing the same with rape ok? Again, I point to our rape culture where sexual assaults are far more forgivable offenses than other acts.
See Mike Tyson and his revival onto the grand hall of fame of legends for something or other ( I mean what is Tyson good for anyway?) and promising return despite being a convicted rapist. Cast members of The Hangover 2 - most notably Zach Galifianakis – wanted Gibson’s Hangover 2 cameo cancelled, but did not ask the same when Mike Tyson got to have a super duper cameo in the first Hangover. On the contrary, he ended up being portrayed as the sensitive, cool dude everyone was honored to meet. I mean MIKE TYSON. Yeah!!
This is the rape culture I am talking about.
Mel Gibson bad (for hating blacks) Mike Tyson redeemable (after raping and assaulting women).
I wish instead of trying to engage in the same old victim blaming and gas lighting rhetoric, people would just admit that what these two did was hideous and wrong instead of sitting here trying to assign blame to everyone but the rapists.
I am not even going to comment on the irony of casting a violent, convicted rapist in a show that claims to be all about condemning violent, heinous, sexual violence.
Instead, what I am going to comment on is the fact that a sex offender is being treated like some fallen-from-grace-knight whois totally misunderstood and served his time and is now finally getting to return to his rightful position on the throne of fame, wealth and luxury which he and everyone around him believe he’s totally entitled to and deserving of after the brief hiccup that was his trial and conviction for rape.
He cannot ever be asked to talk about or even reflect upon his heinous crimes. Instead, everyone is working diligently to have his reputation rehabilitated, while his victims remain forgotten and the veracity of their testimonies still questioned to this day.
Clearly, in the rape culture we are fostering – from lawmakers who believe that there is such a thing as legitimate rape and the House GOP attempting to redefine rape altogether so as to apparently make it easier for the perpetrators to navigate the murky waters of the legal system after having committed such an act, to rape jokes that signal to and encourage male sexual aggression and support violence against women, to those who believe that a pregnancy resulting from rape is something god intended - it’s the accused, the criminals, and not the victims, we need to look after and give a second chance to, especially when those accused are “legends”, men and famous and especially if the second chance means not actually doing three of the sixty years you were supposed to - which I call a huge second chance – but the return to fame and fortune instead.
This is a man who was convicted of rape, has a history of violently beating and abusing his wife, is someone who assaulted and bit off part of another boxer’s ear during a boxing match and who possesses so little integrity, compassion and just dignity that he got married a mere two weeks after the death of his 4 year old daughter.
Speak of your terrible human being.
Yet, to the world, those things are beside the point apparently.
He is being graciously invited to talk shows, was invited by a major network to have his own show, he has been offered cameos in highly marketed box office hits; in 2008, a documentary painting him in a sympathetic “he’s just so misunderstood” light was released and he has been asked to give his opinion and expertise on domestic violence. His come back included receiving top representation in the industry and a management team working hard to fix his brittle image to insure a swift return to fame and fortune – which he is clearly entitled to.
Heck, he was even asked to participate in what they think is a skit filled with hilarity at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards, where he gave Joe Jonas a haircut and was, once again, painted as this really cool guy for an audience of children who aren’t old enough to know how horribly violent this man is.
The Culture of Victim Blaming
I mean, never mind that putting him on the stage with the Jonas Brothers makes him cool as hell to a certain young, female and male demographic who see this guy palling around with Joe Jonas as a sign of his coolness.
And never mind that those kids who then go looking up Tyson on Wikipedia will find out that he was a convicted rapist, wife-beater and just overall violent piece of shit abuser who thinks that women are nothing but fuck-holes to be “boned“.
And finally, never fucking mind that the message these kids are getting is that ‘hey, violence against women is not a big deal. This guy is still famous and cool hanging around with the likes of Joe Jonas. He must be ok and this must be ok too”.
A message that prompts the kid to not only not see anything wrong with this picture, since clearly Tyson – despite prison sentence and conviction still managed to come out on top – but to also subsequently rationalize that stuff away as “everyone makes mistakes” and “such is life”, making excuses for the perpetrators while creating a culture that blames victims and engages in rape apologia.
Doing Three of the Ten Years You Were Supposed To Is A Second Chance
Now to be clear, I am all for giving people a second chance, although – as mentioned above – it can be argued that facing 60 years in prison, actually getting sentenced to 10, and only serving 3 out of those 10 is a second chance in and of itself. But still. Everyone has a right to find a way to feed, clothe and shelter themselves, a right to bodily safety and autonomy as well as a means of maintaining their health. However, no one is entitled to fame and fortune and a place in the spotlight, not to mention the terrible message that is sent to society as a whole.
Putting a violent sexual offender - who doesn’t even have any remorse for what he did as he still denies it and who fifteen years after the first time he raped Desiree Washington talked about wanting to rape her again and who still maintains his innocence despite all the evidence to the contrary - back in the spotlight just normalizes and almost trivializes the crimes as ‘meh, not so bad, he made restitution‘ - treating restitution as if it was some bureaucratic checklist you go through to no longer be considered an outlaw under the law. As if there weren’t actual victims who are seriously damaged by the abuses and which is the reason you had to pay “restitution” in the first place.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that tends to exactly do that, trivialize crimes that involve violence against women by rewarding the perpetrators with the kind of empathy and understanding they never granted the victims.
I have noticed that over the years, and especially after the trial and his conviction, the tone and direction of the news outlets discussing Tyson’s comeback have been overall accommodating, warm and sympathetic in tone; like some long, lost hero had finally found his way home after he had been unjustly made to stand trial and pay for his crimes. As if some great injustice had been done to this grand man who had to give up a promising career as a violent miscreant getting his skull smashed in for craploads of money but now was finally returning to take his rightful place in the spotlight, just like he had always deserved but was robbed off with that pesky lawsuit.
As the New York Post put it
“Tyson served three years for rape in the mid-’90s and effectively ended his fight career two years later by biting Evander Holyfield during a bout. But he is now well on his way to remaking himself into a sensitive guy. He cried on Oprah’s show last year and starred in a stunningly candid documentary about his life, “Tyson” (which many in Hollywood believe was robbed of an Oscar nomination). “
Notice how he is being described as having been robbed of an Oscar nomination, as if he was entitled to being nominated for the Oscar and instead was robbed off that opportunity that rightfully belonged to him by that damn slut who was raped.
And then we are supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy when he declares that ”I never hurt anybody until somebody hurt one of my birds.”
Yeah, sensitive guy my ass.
I Was Just Depressed I Couldn’t Bone Her No More
During an interview this past April, Tyson discussed the day he walked into ex-wife Robin Givens’ house to find her in bed with Brad Pitt. As Tyson put it with the delicate sensibilities only a sensitive guy can:
“One day, I’m going to her house to bone her again and no one’s home, and I’m leaving and she’s pulling up with Brad Pitt, and I’m sad. He wasn’t Brad Pitt back then. He was just some little beach-bum-looking dude. [...] “I wasn’t thinking about attacking him,” Tyson told Global Grind. “I was just depressed I couldn’t bone her no more.”
Sensitive guy my ass.
During the notorious Mike Tyson/Robin Givens interview some twenty years ago, the majority of people sympathized with Tyson, not Givens, who was being accused of being a lying gold digger who had no right to talk about their personal life to the public with him sitting right next to her. Apparently having the living shit beaten out of you is personal dirty laundry that ought not to be shared with the world. It took a freaking rape conviction to take her seriously and even then, the victim blaming continued.
When Tyson was tried in Indiana his accuser, Desiree Washington, was also called names – from a filthy lying whore to a gold digger who was falsely accusing this pillar of a man and was after his wealth. She was being shredded through the press as someone who was just crying wolf with a “history of at least one false accusation of rape“.
And here we are, over twenty years later, and still no one is asking about either Washington or Givens or any of the people Tyson has hurt.
On the contrary, in countless magazines, interviews and all staples of the entertainment business, including Wikipedia, all sorts of doubts are being cast on their reputations and motives just so that Tyson’s can be rehabilitated.
One look at the commenting section of any article concerning Tyson’s come back and it is abundantly clear who people empathize with and pity. Either that or they see a commercial opportunity to exploit the situation, giggling that putting a freak like Tyson in their movie would be just so much fun and hilarious. Hardi har har har.
Never mind that he doesn’t have any remorse for what he did and in fact in an interview in 2006- while lamenting the “hard life” he faced after his conviction and incarceration for the rape of Desiree Washginton – not only still denied that he raped Washington in 1991 in an Indianapolis hotel room, he also said that the burden of being labeled a convicted rapist made him want to do it now even more.
“I just hate her guts. She put me in that state, where I don’t know,” Tyson said. “I really wish I did now. But now I really do want to rape her.”
Sensitive guy my ass.
He cannot even admit to having committed a crime. How can people think he paid his dues and made amends and then
forget about it altogether celebrating him as if he was a war veteran on the return?
Should he be able to make a living? Sure. But making him famous and rich? Some kind of a public figure people inevitably look up to?
All such behavior does is sweep a history of violence under the rug rather than confront how well that violence is abetted and normalized by the wider culture that tells women and other victims, over and over again, that violence against them is tolerated and will be fought even if it means dismissing their rape claims as mostly a result of ”miscommunication” or a sex act gone wrong, as opposed to a serious crime.
Entertainment Value Continues to Trump Appropriate Human Behavior
We’ve heard the story before when Michael Vick strolled out of prison right into a new multi-million dollar contract and thus back to that high status with all the privileges therein. He couldn’t even be bothered to serve as a messenger to all those kids that look up to him explaining why it’s wrong to torment and abuse weak, defenseless and innocent creatures.
Instead, he just went back to the high life signaling once again to society that there really are no serious consequences to your crimes against women as long as you have the privilege of maleness, wealth and fame behind you.
You Can’t Rehabilitate Someone Who Denies Any Wrong Doing
Ultimately, if there is a chance for Tyson to be truly rehabilitated, with which I definitely don’t mean the rehabilitation of his career but of his person as a human being – it is doubtful that rewarding him with wealth, power, entitlement and with it unlimited privilege would accomplish that. In fact, those are the very things that give credence to his behavior and are likely to exacerbate it.
Being famous inevitably puts one in a leadership position as people, in one way or another, look up to the famous person. While I’m not suggesting Tyson wear a scarlet letter, I must point out how reprehensible it is to use his image and persona in such a way as to suggest that his violent past, including rape, is no big deal. When Tyson realized that the world was welcoming him back with open arms, the message that was sent to him, all males, kids who admire him and the whole world as such was that Hey, what you did was no biggie. We’ll understand. Life throws you a curve ball every now and then. We get it. Note that if he had murdered someone, like OJ Simpson, it is highly unlikely that he would have been welcomed back. But rape – we can work around that as no sexual offense is heinous enough that fame and fortune would not take you back.
Is it then any wonder that our very own legislators dismiss and trivialize sexual violence against women with a straight face, trying to redefine rape, even going so far as to believe there is such a thing as legitimate rape? Judge for yourself.