Newsflash: You’re part of the problem

24 02 2009

While browsing a social website, I came across a post that became quite popular, and now I can see why. A twenty-seven year old woman from California posts a journal entry titled “Newsflash: Guys are Great” After reading the title, I braced myself for the post.

I’ve been skimming journals for the past few days and it seems there is too much guy bashing for my liking. I heart guys. They’re great to cuddle up next to, carry heavy stuff, getting advice and just generally fun to be around.

Girls make guys crazy. I don’t like feminism; I like a guy to be a gentleman but more so to just be themselves. If you’re a girl who meets stupid guys who treat you bad:

FUN FACT: You brought it on yourself.

People can only treat you as good or bad as you let them. If someone sucks at being nice, you can totally choose to not be around them anymore. If you choose to stick around.. you get what you pay for.

I’ve met some scumbags in my time, and the key is to move on and know that there are nice guys out there..

So.. where are these guys hiding out these days?

This post basically sums up my biggest pet peeves of anti-feminism. It upset me even more that a woman posted this, but it comes to show that one’s gender is not always a guaranteed indicator if one is a feminist or not. Where do I begin?

Girls make guys crazy.” Yes. All women collectively have worked to make men the way they are now. It is not one’s fault if they’re “crazy” (whatever she means by this), but it is the woman’s fault! How dare women push these guys who would be otherwise perfect if it were not for their existence!

I don’t like feminism; I like a guy to be a gentleman but more so to just be themselves.” I’m not sure why she put these two clauses together in the same sentence. It seems like she’s saying that feminism is encouraging men to not be themselves? Damned feminists! Wanting their equal rights! They’re just trying to change men from their perfect selves! Who cares if the guy is abusive or a rapist? We shouldn’t have to change him! Feminism isn’t about changing men. It’s about changing society…so that men and women are EQUAL and have the SAME opportunities, i.e. same pay, same access to certain professions, etc.

If you’re a girl who meets stupid guys who treat you bad:

FUN FACT: You brought it on yourself…If you choose to stick around.. you get what you pay for.” Did you guys have as much fun as I did reading that fact? This is the kind of victim blaming that keeps people in abusive relationships and then causes them to not get help. NO ONE deserves to be hurt. One does not have control over another’s actions and it is not their fault that they love someone and believe that they will change. It is not their fault of the abuser has made it nearly impossible to leave someone. It is VERY difficult to get out of an abusive relationship– abusers do not start out being abusive. If they did, they most likely would not have any victims to hurt. Partners are lured in by this so-called “amazing person” and then the abuse comes unexpectedly. Oftentimes the abuser says exactly what this poster has said “you deserve this.” The victim lives in fear thinking that they caused this abuse to happen and if only they didnt bring it onto themselves the situation will change.

I’ve met some scumbags in my time, and the key is to move on and know that there are nice guys out there” Yes, it is just so easy to “move on” after being in an abusive relationship. It is difficult enough to start to heal after such an ordeal and even more difficult if they do not seek outside help. What does “move on” even mean anyway? Many say it takes a lifetime to heal from an abusive relationship. Does that mean they have moved on? I think women have a right to share about their bad experiences with men; it’s a way to show that their behavior is not right and should not be encouraged. Taking time off from men CAN be a good thing. Her dismissive attitude about women’s suffering and victim blaming is deplorable. Just because she personally has been able to “move on” from these “scumbags,” it doesnt give her the right to say that everyone out there deserves to be treated badly if they have.

The comments just pissed me off too much. Some gems say that feminism has shifted to Valerie Solanas’s feminism: man-bashing with the goal of manocide (read: male genocide). Other say that feminism is IRRELEVANT…sure you women got your voting rights…what else is there to be done? Feminists just want to be a part of something, so they joined this so-called movement.

This served as an eye-opener. I surround myself with educated, like-minded women, so reading that there are people still out there jolts me back to reality.  This is a reminder that we still have sooo much to still be done in this society.

There is not enough D: in the world.

NPSA offering gay rehab! Just what we all wanted

24 02 2009

The South African National Party’s former spokesperson, Juan Dval Uys, is said to have “agreed” to resign from the party in recent weeks; he has come out as a gay man in the past. Their affairs leader, Elize Sprague, insists that the change in the manifesto didn’t affect his recent departure…right.

The South African National Party recently released a revised election manifesto. The party now states that they will accept gay and lesbian members, but they will have to “rehabilitated.”

Sprague said, “The party is open to all. We don’t approve (of homosexuality), but there is nothing we can do about people’s lifestyle. We won’t exclude them, we will rather rehabilitate them. We regard them as South Africans and we will still serve them.”

This party has been seeking to abolish same sex marriage in the country, which has been legal since November 2006.

This party needs to acknowledge that homosexuality is NOT a disease to be “cured” and that these so-called reparative therapy programs do not work.

The policies of this party are a disgrace. You can email/write to this party and tell them that they should cease their efforts to change the constitution to outlaw gay marriage and that homosexuality is nothing that is needed to be “cured.”

Contact info
P.O. Box 1344, Sea Point 8060
Fax: (+27) 086 627 7405

Berlusconi does it again

24 02 2009

Around a month ago, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made statements strongly suggesting that women are raped because they are just so good looking and men can’t resist them. He falsely implies that rape isn’t about power or a sense of entitlement and ownership over another, it’s about sex. And her perpetuates another dangerous myth about rape – that it is a compliment because you know, sometimes men just can’t control themselves when a beautiful woman walks by. 

Now, Berlusconi’s gone even further by essentially blaming sexual violence on immigrants and enforce stricter police state measures:

Italy’s government has rushed through a decree to crack down on sexual violence and illegal immigration after a spate of rapes blamed on foreigners.

The decree sets a mandatory life sentence for the rape of minors or attacks where the victim is killed.

It also establishes rules for citizen street patrols to be conducted by unarmed and unpaid volunteers.

Critics of this act include the Vatican who has warned that these measures can “turn innocent foreigners into convenient scapegoats.” These xenophobic measures will also legitimate vigilantism, xenophobia and violence against immigrants.

Also, blaming immigrants for sexual violence falsely perpetuates the myth of the stranger rape and obscures the fact that most people are raped by someone they know. This also paints an incredibly narrow picture of the perpetrator as an immigrant, which is not only false, but xenophobic and racist as well.

It’s disgraceful when people in power are so ignorant and misguided. And it really breaks my heart that there are so many myths about rape floating around: like rape is only perpetrated by strangers, or that survivors lie about rape, or that rape is a compliment to how irresistible you are. Feminists have been fighting this uphill battle to demystify rape and make it easier for survivors to come forward and for perpetrators to get prosecuted for years now, but people like Berlusconi just remind you that we’ve still got quite a long way to go.

Menarche Parties and Purity Balls

24 02 2009

More and more frequently, parents are celebrating their daughters’ coming of age with purity balls.  At these balls, girls as young as four are urged to live a pure life, and vow chastity until marriage.  The ceremony is somewhat like a wedding, with vows formally recited and jewelry exchanged.  Their fathers are the head of the ceremony, often presenting the girls purity rings or bracelets.  The July 2008 Time article on the subject describes one such ceremony in which a young woman, Kyle Miraldi, attends a purity ball for her 18th birthday.  At age 13, Kyle was given a bracelet charm by her parents in the shape of a lock.  Her father held the key.  She explains:

On my wedding day, he’ll give it to my husband…It’s a symbol of my father giving up the covering of my heart, protecting me, since it means my husband is now the protector. He becomes like the shield to my heart, to love me as I’m supposed to be loved.

Young girls who participate in these ceremonies often describe their choices as a positive decision, a personal choice to live a pure lifestyle in the face of hookup culture and loose sexuality.  But the implications of putting the father in charge of a young woman’s sexuality seem more than slightly creepy.  What does pledging virginity to your father in an elaborate Cinderella-like ball have to do with the very personal choice of abstinence until marriage?  By making a young woman’s sexual “purity” a public vow, are we pressuring young women into making personal choices in an inappropriate public sphere?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, more and more young women are celebrating their coming-of-age not with purity vows, but with menarche parties.  Menarche parties celebrate a woman’s first period in a positive light, embracing menstruation as beautiful instead of disgusting.  Menarche parties are even becoming commercialized, as sites like Menarche Parties R’Us spring up offering menstruation-themed party items.  Young women who have these parties are celebrated in their womanhood, and the party is often themed around the color red and options for the use of alternative menstrual products such as The Keeper.

When I first heard about menarche parties, I was admittedly skeptical.  Even if I could get over viewing my own reproductive functions as dirty, could the rest of society?  How would my family have been viewed by our community if my parents had invited all of my friends to a party celebrating my first menstruation?  Would my friends and neighbors even have attended?  Additionally, is it really okay to embrace menstruation when women’s bodies are for many women both a joy and a burden?  Our bodies have been used against us for so long, in sexual violence and dominance.  Can we really reclaim our bodies in a positive light without acknowledging the history of abuse?  Pregnancy and childbirth can be a joy or a shackle, depending on a woman’s situation.  Menarche parties initially struck me as geared towards the upper-middle class women who have the privilege of viewing their bodies as beautiful and risk-free.

But, imagine the liberation in celebrating your first period.  I was ashamed of my first period, as I’m sure so many girls are.  Many young women don’t even understand their menstrual cycle until long after they have begun getting their period.  If we could learn to celebrate our cycle as beautiful and natural, perhaps we could learn to grow up in a more female-positive or sex-positive world.  “Feminine hygiene” and “sanitary napkins” might be replaced with terms that do not imply that our natural bodily functions are dirty.  After all, we don’t see male genital hygiene products such scented deodorant condoms.  Why should women spend exorbitant amounts of money on so-called “feminine hygiene” products that treat our menstrual cycle as smelly and downright icky?  Menarche parties can help young women to view their bodies as powerful and wholly their own.

Neither purity balls or menarche parties exist in a vacuum, and it is essential to examine the social implications of both practices.  Although purity balls may celebrate a young woman and these women may think of their purity vows as empowering, vowing chastity to your father in a public space seems to take the agency in the decision out of the daughter’s hands.  Menarche parties, although they may embrace female bodies as natural and wonderful, are  likely a very difficult thing for friends and neighbors to accept and condone.  Talking about our bodies is still taboo;  celebrating our bodies is mainly unheard-of.