Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Semantics and Slut-Shaming


A few weeks ago, I wrote something about a feminist friend of mine who was criticised for doing a lingerie shoot. I was admonished by an anonymous commenter for using the phrase, “Women are the niggers of the world”. His/her argument was that I was appropriating another commonly downtrodden group’s derogatory term to describe the plight of women.


for those of you who don’t know, I am not the main coiner of the phrase. John Lennon made a song in 1972 called, “Woman Is the Nigger of the World”. It essentially said that the woman is the most oppressed group in the world, and we treat her worse than we do those of different hues, in policy and in practise.


I respect the commenter’s point, and since I am a member of one of the downtrodden groups, and a lover/respecter of the other downtrodden groups, I thought that perhaps I may have gotten too loose and comfortable with the quote, and perhaps I should rephrase...but then the Steubenville case happened.

The short and disgusting version of this case is that a bunch of high school football players were at a party with alcohol, and they gang raped a pass-out drunk teenage girl. They posted pictures and videos of the incident and aftermath, one of which saying that the victim was “so raped”. Due to the social media aspect of the scenario, this case got national attention, and as of 17th March, at least two of the assailants were found guilty of rape. You’d think justice is served, but when I look at EVERY media outlet, their concerned is what the rapists will do, now that their lives are forever altered for their “bad decision”. A “bad decision” is wearing wool socks in the summer time. Gang rape does NOT fall into the “bad decision” category. Every article I see about the case shows the perpetrators crying on their lawyers’ and parents’ shoulders. “What ever will they do? They will be sentenced to juvenile detention centres for a few years and get out with sealed juvenile records. Woe is them. Their football careers are over!”

How about the victim, who was humiliated, violated in the worst way, and, given our society, likely labeled a dumb slut in her community? All she did was not know how to handle her liquor. Now she has to live with this trauma for the rest of her life.how many years of therapy will she need before she starts trusting people again? Who of the perpetrators actually apologised to her? Given their repugnant “she didn’t say ‘no’” defence, it’s likely that none of them did. Even if she left town, changed her name, and started somewhere fresh, it’s likely this will haunt her for the rest of her life. But everyone is worried about the perps’ “ruined” lives.

America is the largest exporter of hypocrisy in the world. We talk shit about the india gang rapes, and discuss the plight of women in Sudan and Congo, and discuss what can be done for the girls and women of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and send justice crusaders to Thailand and Cambodia to combat the child sex trade, yet we turn a blind eye to the fact that a woman in this country is raped EVERY TWO MINUTES. About 84,500 rapes a year. That is just what is reported. Who knows what the real number is? That’s us. It’s all of us. We are all guilty of failing our fellow citizens while pointing fingers at other countries’ problems. We took way too fucking long to renew the Violence Against Women Act, because there are new provisions to protect more brown people and transgendered. We care more about a football player’s fake girlfriend than we do about a woman who was ACTUALLY raped, then harassed to keep silent, then subsequently killed herself (RIP Lizzy Seeburg). America is the worst, because we are supposed to be a “civilised” society, yet we let all this happen around us. We are savage animals.

Perhaps my John Lennon quote is incendiary. Perhaps it offends, but given that blacks got to vote and own land and join integrated military forces in this country before women were allowed the same courtesy makes me believe it to be true. So when will I stop saying, “Women are the niggers of the World”? When it’s no longer true.

If you want at least one of these media outlets to apologise for perpetrating the “woe is the perp” trope, click here. Also, who wants to help me bring this to Rochester? www.walkamileinhershoes.org.

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