Feminist Denounces Rape Culture, Ignorance

Feminist Denounces Rape Culture, Ignorance

Hanh Pham, Reporter

Females are stupid. Females are evil. Females are crazy. Females are inferior to males. Women need to shut up. Women need to know their place. Women need to be dominated. Feminism is stupid. Feminism is evil. Feminism is bull****. Feminists are annoying. Feminists are ugly. Feminists are crazy. Feminists are sexist.

These are all phrases that Google may suggest when we type in the words “females are,” “women need to,” “feminism is,” and “feminists are.” However, Google suggests options like, “males are superior to females,” “men need to feel needed,” and “men need to be men.” Google will also tell us that “misogyny is good,” “misogyny is a myth,” and “misogyny is funny.” At the present, feminism is given a bad name, while misogyny plays a prevalent role in society.

Why is this significant? Misogyny is defined as hatred towards women by men. Feminism is defined as advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. With this context in mind, one has to wonder why so many people vehemently protest against feminism. What is wrong with equality between genders?

The issue begins here: feminism has an extremely negative connotation in the world today. Feminists are believed to be passionate men-haters, otherwise known as misandry. Preconceptions about feminists include participating in ritualistic burning of bras, unshaven, gay, and hateful of housewives. People also believe that feminists think themselves to be above men or want to change the world so that women will be superior to men. Just as not all environmentalists are hippies, not all feminists are radical, and it is time that a larger percentage of the population becomes aware of it.

Recently, the University of Toronto surveyed around 400 Americans about political activism, and received an “overwhelmingly negative response,” published within Sadie Whitelocks’s article, “‘Feminists are man-hating and unhygienic’: Why people have a bad opinion of activists.” According to feedback, “typical activists” are too “militant” and “eccentric” whereas the general public would rather deal with a subdued perspective on activism. Certainly, some feminists are revolutionary and passionate about their cause, which generates misgivings about the topic.

F-Bomb is a website offered to teenage feminists who “have enough social awareness to be angry” and “want to verbalize that feeling.” Iris A., in her recent post on the blog, is aware of the stigma that is set upon feminists today, explaining that the websites on the internet, including Tumblr, FBomb, and Rookie are more receptive to feminism than the outside world. Iris A. states, “As a teenager, sometimes I believe that our generation is hopeless. Just walking through the hallway you can hear certain things that would make you want to sit everyone down on the spot and explain how they’re seeing things in such a male-dominated way. The truth is, though, that I’ve grown to ignore many of these instances just because I don’t think that anything I say will make a difference.”

There is something so abhorrent in American society at the present, and our capitalist economy certainly caters to the issue: unless the problem directly affects us as an individual, we are likely to ignore it altogether and lead lives blessedly free of unnecessary dilemmas.  Now, I’m certainly not going to claim that I’m the most politically aware American citizen, but in terms of this particular issue (and many others), I passionately believe that misogyny is a problem. I know that this is absolutely relevant to anyone, anywhere. So, where exactly are the issues? Why am I not just crazy and looking too deeply into things that aren’t there? Well, let’s see if we can’t identify with these circumstances.

As females, we are discouraged from laying or sitting down with our legs spread.

As females, we are supposed to interact with girls, not boys.

As females, we should not be able to date boys at a young age (although, clearly, boys can date girls whenever they want.)

As females, we are encouraged to keep our virtue intact.

As females, we shouldn’t try and participate in sports “exclusively” for boys.

As females, we should prefer the color pink: or at least, if we ever buy anything for a baby girl or boy, pink and blue are the expected colors, respectively.

As female children, we should be playing with dolls, or play “house,” not running around and muddying our clothes.

As females, we should not dress in overly provocative clothes.

As females, we should not walk around at night.

Societal pressures go even farther than these common standards that we uphold within society. Now, this doesn’t mean that I believe that women who enjoy feminine things are ridiculous. Feminism is about having the choice and the opportunity to live the way we want, and receiving respect for being who we want to be.

Politically, the sound barrier has not been broken. Politicians are still debating on rights that, personally, I believe, should be decided individually by women. Abortion is a popular debate topic, along with birth control. Recently, Rush Limbaugh berated Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University student, for promoting contraceptives for women; this is the best way to say it, as he actually called her a “slut.” Without due cause, without provoking a fight, without doing anything but advocating for the use of birth control, a student was labelled a prostitute because apparently, she would support birth control for no other reason than being promiscuous.

Limbaugh said on national television, “She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception.”

Is there not something wrong with what he’s saying? It amazes me, what women are subjected to in society, and the fact is, many don’t think there’s anything wrong with how we are being treated. Many anti-feminists argue that feminists have no reason to exist, or that as independent thinkers, they can choose whether they want to be advocated for or not. The latter is a personal choice, but feminism is a widespread protest that will support any women out there that is beaten down without just cause.

Within the business world, females are statistically less likely to earn as much money as men (specifically, women earn $0.77 on the men’s dollar); this is attributed to the point that most men work more than women, or that women raise their children, which takes up time. However, there is an unequal standing. Most men have higher positions than women in the workplace, because there is a belief that women don’t have what it takes; supposedly, women are not as capable as men in the business world. Respect is hard earned within companies, and for women, it is even more difficult. Although a woman might be impeccably and professionally dressed, they are often sexually harassed; either by superiors or co-workers. With this in mind, consider the fact that unpaid interns can’t legally file a lawsuit if they’re sexually harassed.

Lihuan Wang, an intern at Phoenix Satellite Television, filed a lawsuit in 2010 against her superior, who reportedly made sexual advances without her consent. The case was dismissed because technically, only employees are protected under the law; of course, the offender was removed from his job, but Wang has once again filed a suit because the company allegedly refused to hire her after refusing his advances. Furthermore, Liu Zhengzu, the offender, continued to sexually harass her after he was fired, and invaded her home with inappropriate overtures.

Oregon is the only state that offers legal protection for unpaid interns, and the law was only passed this June. What does this say to us, as women? Should we all intern in Oregon to protect ourselves from harassment? Or should we risk our welfare? Even more pressing, why should this still be a concern to us? A case similar to this was dismissed in 1994. The laws haven’t changed in about 20 years. Why are our justice systems so stagnant, when the health of human beings are at stake?

The fact remains that some of the worst insults we can call a guy are “girl,” “sissy,” “girly,” and “feminine.” Guys also don’t like to be referred to as gay, because that somehow says something about a person’s masculinity. Isn’t that upsetting, to see that males don’t want to be thought of as feminine? Somehow, we, as females, don’t deserve to be seen as powerful or strong enough to be a compliment. I would love to see a man give birth.

In April, Heidi Klum saved her seven-year-old son and his nanny from drowning at the beach. Instead of helping her, witnesses decided to take pictures, and an article was published with a headline that declared “Heidi Klum Suffers Nip Slip While Rescuing Son and Nanny.” Of course, the article was taken down, and can no longer be located. Nevertheless, her heroic act was muted by the focus on exposure of skin.

Yet another thing that I despise is rape culture. Rape is glorified within society, and oftentimes, victims are vilified instead of the criminals who commit the atrocious act.

Hadley Freeman recently published an article, “The Painful Lesson of the Cherice Moralez Rape Trial.” In August, Montana Judge G. Todd Baugh, sentenced a 49-year old man to jail for raping Cherice Moralez, 14. The problem? The sentence was 30 days in jail. For raping a teenager.

Judge Baugh said that she was “older than her chronological age” because she looked mature. What constitutes as mature enough to understand sexual assault? It must be her physical appearance, because lawyers, judges, and reporters said the following statements:

“She was as much in control of the situation [as the 49 year old man].”

“She dressed older than her age…She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground.”

They described her as a predator, who tantalized a middle-aged man to rape her, and Moralez’ classmates bullied her after the event; Moralez committed suicide in 2010. She never saw the trial in which the man who assaulted her got off with a month in prison.

Her mom, Auliea Hanlon, said, “She wasn’t even old enough to get a driver’s license. But Judge Baugh, who never met our daughter, justified the paltry sentence saying she was older than her chronological age. I guess somehow it makes a rape more acceptable if you blame the victim, even if she was only 14.”

Officially, Judge Baugh apologized afterwards, and promised to revisit the sentence. The fact that the sentence was actually passed displays the sheer amount of misogyny within society today.

Despite the injustice of this sentence, this is not the first man to get off with an extremely light sentence just because the judges were sexist. In the Steubenville case, a girl was gang raped among the high school football team who decided to publicize the event by posting videos on social networking sites, humiliating her in the process. There was no remorse; the case was covered up, only to be revealed by a horrified blogger who then got sued by one of the football players. It’s appalling to hear these actual events in real life, and it’s even more repulsive when we have to deal with it in school. Teachers let degrading remarks and violent oaths pass without reprimanding students. In an extremely memorable moment in my life, a girl said that “I raped that [game].” Ironically, one of her close relatives was raped.

Rape culture is everywhere. It’s in mainstream music, where women are objectified and sexualized; on television, where women being raped is viewed as entertainment, in daily conversations, where “rape” is used as a slang word.  People discredit rape as unimportant when dogfights are viewed as worse than rape. Rape jokes are everywhere, and it’s demoralizing to see that such a vulgar, debased act is considered humorous. Rape culture is present when men treat women as nothing more than arm candy, and nobody cares. Rape culture is apparent when rape is covered up instead of exposed; when girls are humiliated for being raped when they have done nothing. Sixty-one percent of rapes remain unreported, and girls are frequently accused of “claiming” they were raped.

Think about Miley Cyrus, who recently showed up nude in her Wrecking Ball video: how many people said that she was promiscuous, or wrong, for this scandalous action? But how many people do you know, declared Robin Thicke’s treatment of women degrading and terrible? There was an extreme backlash against Cyrus, while Thicke’s video, “Blurred Lines,” has rocketed up the charts, nominated for Best Music Video. In today’s society, men who possess women are heroes, while women who showcase themselves are labeled and punished. I’m not an advocate for Cyrus, but think about what this tells us about society where women can’t be scantily clad without a dominant male presence. Is there something there? I think there is.

Here is another issue: there are never “blurred lines” within consent, and it is morally repellent that Thicke seems to think so. There is either no consent, or there is absolute consent; if there is even one iota of doubt, it should be constituted as rape. Furthermore, as terrible as it is, there are actually levels of rape. There are actual distinctions in how terrible a rape case is to society.

Rape culture cultivates the belief that if a women even remotely encourages a man by even smiling, then she is automatically at fault for being raped. The minute she dresses a certain way, or acts flirty, she was “inviting” it. That is the what America believes, and it shows. Frankly, the aspects of rape culture are endless and demeaning; I can’t cover it all, and it makes me dangerously angry and depressed simultaneously. But, just in case you want to educate yourself on the subject:

Rape Culture

If this still doesn’t matter to you, take this into consideration. Anywhere in the near or far future, this can happen to any woman. Our moms, our sisters, our aunts, our grandmas, our friends, our girlfriends, our cousins, our wives, our future daughters and granddaughters, our co-workers, they will face these challenges every day of their lives. Why should we sit back and let this affect our close ones when we can prevent it? Shall we wait until our loved ones are sexually assaulted, and decide that feminism matters then? Shall we wait until they commit suicide because they can’t stand social pressures? Are we going to sit down and tell our daughters that they have to put their heads down and hope for the best?

We need feminism. We shouldn’t be telling girls that they need to be wholesome, or expect them to fit into myopic and prejudiced gender roles. We shouldn’t tell them to change who they are. We shouldn’t have to teach them how to guard themselves from misogynists or rapists – we should be teaching our children the right way, starting with our younger generations. Acknowledge that certain behaviors aren’t okay, that rape culture isn’t right. Instead of telling our girls how to avoid rape, we should be telling rapists to stop raping. Preposterously, this doesn’t happen.

Let’s revise our way of thinking, and instead of saying, “we [girls] can do everything boys  can do” (because that’s a given), let’s teach boys to respect girls. If respect for females was present in society, we wouldn’t have to worry about how we dress or present ourselves,  be concerned about walking down the streets alone at night, or whether we should remain at our jobs without experiencing harassment. If respect was a given, females would be able to do all these things. And the fact is, we can’t, because society says so.

Next time you hear a derogatory comment, watch an awful music video that debases women, or see a girl get harassed, don’t look at her and think that she deserves it. We don’t need that. Think about how our actions have repercussions, because this issue won’t fade with denial and ignorance. Feminism should absolutely be advocated, and no one should be ashamed of it.