Monday, March 24, 2014

Women's History Month 2014 Theme: Shut the F*** Up

Well, It seems we have a theme for Women’s History Month this year, borrowed from Black History Month’s theme. The theme for Women’s History Month 2014 is “Shut the f*** up. Men are doing stuff”. It’s bad enough women didn’t get to vote until about 55 years after brown people...Jim Crow laws excepted, of course. It’s bad enough that women’s visibility in board rooms and in STEM fields  are in shameful single-digit percentages, even though they are over half of the American population. It’s bad enough that women STILL make 77 cents to a man’s dollar in the work place. One might argue that this is progress, since in the past women made 50 cents to a man’s dollar. However one could counter-argue f*** you; give me my fair share, so…

Anyway, first up, Texas is...well...Texas. Their push to make women illegal will soon make Saudi Arabia look like a Sandals resort. Access to women’s health care is in still jeopardy. The attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott takes pride in his chauvinism. He even wants to make it easier to pay women less money for the same job. But hey, that’s just Texas. We could mess with Texas for days and still not be finished. Michigan has a “rape insurance law” on the books. Granted, it was passed in December, but still, If you are a woman Michigan resident, and you get pregnant from a rape and need to get an abortion, you’d better damn well have planned for it with a rape insurance rider, because your insurance might not cover it. This having complete health insurance, but they won’t pay out to if you need stitches from a kitchen cutting accident, because you should have had an “oops, I dropped the knife” rider. Massachusetts ALMOST made the list for what-the-f***ery on 6th March when a judge deemed upskirt photos in public places not a violation of its peeping tom laws, but they fixed their error.

I think one of the most despicable things that happened this month was that the senate blocked a bill that would overhaul how sexual assaults are handled in the military. Sexual assault in the workplace is a thing. It happened a lot in the military. So essentially by blocking this overhaul, The US Senate is saying to women who serve, “Thank you for literally putting your life on the line for this country, but should you get attacked by your own co-workers, shut the f*** up and take it. You don't want to ruin their careers, do you?”

Shortly after this mess, almost as if it were planned, Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair’s case was brought to military court. He was accused of adultery, improper relationships, and sexual assault. He pled guilty, has to pay $24,100 in fines, and will likely retire Lt. Colonel instead of a general. He gets no jail time though, and he is not guilty of the rape that his accuser maintains he committed. Don’t worry, though. Sinclair’s wife says he’s really hurting about the whole thing.

I know that though the accused crime was sexual assault, the affair lasted three years. This is usually what people bring up to say that this is just a case of a scorned lover’s revenge. However, I know that there are details about this case that no one will ever know. I also know that people in power have been using their power to manipulate subordinates to their advantage since power existed. I know that inside of relationships, whether above board or not, assault does happen. Husbands rape their wives. Boyfriends rape their girlfriends. Married men rape their mistresses. The reason they get away with it is because the excuse is always, “But they’re together, so it can’t be rape!” If there is lack of consent from either participating party, it is RAPE. And it looks like this “man” just got away with it.

Male privilege has been around for years, and has reared its head on Hollywood casting couches, in executive offices, and most definitely in the military. Some may find it entertaining on Mad Men or some other period piece, but it;s not something to glorify and definitely not something to continue. Women are regularly told to keep their mouths shut about harassment or assault, lest they tarnish the good image that their assailants portray to the world. This happens even when the crime is so heinous, it makes you sick. Right after the verdict of the Steubenville, OH case of a gang rape of a passed out young woman, ALL media, even the so-called “liberally biased”, posited the fate of the “men” who were found guilty. What will happen to their football careers? How will they get into college? How will they move on after having to register as sex offenders? WHY DIDN’T THEY THINK OF THAT BEFORE THEY ASSAULTED SOMEONE??? Meanwhile, the victim was getting death threats by friends and family of the guilty for “ruining their lives”.

I had a friend who was drugged and gang raped. She went to a hospital and was subjected to a rape kit. She went to the police. The investigating detective asked her why she wanted to ruin the men’s lives. After all, they had budding, promising careers ahead of them. How DARE she go to a bar and try to enjoy herself, only to wake up naked and violated? She dropped the charges, even though the evidence was there. More than a year later, her body was still suffering repercussions from the assault.

So this General Sinclair will pay his fine. He will get a letter of reprimand. He will likely retire very soon, but he will be bumped down a few levels. But he will still retire with benefits. His accuser is still in the military and plans to stay there. She is a brave woman for that. We don’t know her identity, but it is certain that many in her field, and in her path to success, do. I hope that she is not shamed and ostracised for speaking up about her assault. I hope she's not pressured to resign early. Sadly, given the American way of thinking, there is a good chance she will be. So that is the message of the month. Yes, you can strive for success, but if someone has wronged you in the worst way, shut the f*** up. Men are doing stuff.

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