misogyny

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Of Star Trek, Spring Break, and Sexual Assault

Trigger warning for mention of rape/assault especially of inebriated persons, and of sexual slavery.

Hello! I’m Maggie, usually called Wednesday hereabouts.

My first post here at SGB will be on the subject of media and rape culture. For those who don’t know me, I am a student in a field related to media analysis, and I’m a rape survivor, so these are both issues in which I have really strong interests. Specifically, I’ll be addressing the rape-apologist ‘Spring Break’ T-shirts marketed by the Star Trek franchise.

(Fellow non-American peeps not familiar with North American culture: spring break refers to the term break for college students right about this time.)

Context: the Star Trek online store advertised ‘Get your exclusive Spring Break gear featuring Orion Slave Girls and Romulan Ale at the Starfleet Academy Campus Store.’ (source) The Facebook page is saturated with misogynistic comments, and there have been reports of survivors being harassed and threatened when they criticised the publicity material.

If you’re not a Trekkie (and goodness knows I’m not, though because of my fannish interests I have some favourite lady characters), you might be wondering what this means in terms of canon. On Star Trek, the Orion are a species who can emit emotion-altering pheromones. Their first appearance was as a race whose women are frequently sold into sexual slavery, although retcons later suggested that they could control their owners using their pheromones.

Using this justification, I have been told – and apologists have been saying – that the T-shirt is alright, and that the concept of ‘Orion slave girls’ is alright, because the Orion are in control, anyway.

I’m going to unpack this very, very briefly here: Who created these characters? Whose gaze is served and fulfilled by the notion of always-sexually-available women being owned? Who gets to invent a back-story that magically makes it ‘acceptable’ and puts a veneer of consent upon the female body?

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The SuperBowl is over and the non-rapist is going to Disneyland

So, the SuperBowl came and went.  They guy who did not rape two women was chosen as the MVP.  I got a text message from a friend at about 5pm yesterday asking me "Packers or Steelers?" and I replied with "a bullet to my head...my team's arch rivals or a two-time rapist.  ugh."

Given that situation, I did what any rabid fan would do - I took my family to an Italian restaurant and ate carpaccio, gnocchi & gelato until the wheelbarrel was summoned.  While I sipped my beverage and gorged myself on EVOO and fresh baked bread, my spouse asked me about the game and for whom I might be cheering.  She was needling me deliberately, since she knows full well and good that the wounds from my team's exit from the playoffs were still fresh and painful.  She was shocked when I told her about how I could never support a rapist, much less a two time rapist and therefore wished that my team's rival be the victor.  She, a card carrying member of the the-only-real-sport-is-futbol club, had no idea of the assaults by Ben Rapelisberger.  I explained it to her in great detail while her eyes glazed over and she sipped her wine, pretending not to hear a word I said nor even care. 

Sometime after I finished my oratory, I overheard someone at the next table say the word "rapist" and I immediately wondered if I could eat my dinner with her.  In this cozy little trattoria, the bartender had posted a television in front of the bottom-shelf creme-de-menthe for those of us that needed some advertising, hokum and jingoism with our antipasto.  As I excused myself from the table under the pretense of verifying the correct time in Pago Pago via collect call, I made my way to the hoi polloi amassed around the television set.  The game was the spectacle I expected and dreaded, but my sole request for satisfaction was indeed there - the rapist was losing. 

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What Will We Teach Our Sons About Rape?

Andrea Gibson performs, "Blue Blanket" from her album, Swarm 

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Undesired: A Short Film About Discarded Girls

India is a diverse country separated by class and caste. But all women confront the cultural pressure to bear a son.  This preference cuts through every social divide, from geography to economy.  No woman is exempt.

This preference originates from the belief that men make money while women, because of their expensive dowry costs, are a financial burden.  As a result, there is a near constant disregard for the lives of women and girls.  From birth until old age, women face a constant threat of violence and too frequently, death.

The numbers are staggering.  Since 1980, an estimated 40 million women are 'missing,' by way of abortion, neglect or murder. 7,000 female fetuses are aborted every day according to the U.N., aborted solely because they are girls.  One dowry death is reported every 77 minutes.  Countless others are never known.

The government has tried to intervene.  Dowry and sex selective abortions are illegal.  Yet both practices still thrive, in large part because of deep-rooted cultural prejudices.

Today, eighty percent of Indian states are now facing a shortage of women.  To compensate for this differential, young, unknowing women are bought from surrounding countries like Bangladesh and sold to young bachelors.  Not knowing a word of the language, these trafficked women now face the same kinds of violence as other Indian women.

Read more: Mothers of a Hundred Sons: India's Dying Daughters.

Links:
The Alexia Foundation
Visa Pour l'Image: Astrada's back with new chapter in ongoing project
Visa Pour l'Image: Interview with Walter Astrada
United Nations Development Programme: Power, Voice and Rights (pdf)
Disappearing Daughters: Action Aid & International Development Research Centre (pdf)
NYT: Missing: 50 Million Indian Girls
The Guardian: Women fight for life

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Gov’t Hems and Haws Over ‘Honour Killings’

By Sujoy Dhar

NEW DELHI, Sep 9, 2010 (IPS) - Instances of ‘honour killings’ in Indian communities still steeped in traditional beliefs continue unabated. Yet the government has not enacted tougher laws that will deal a decisive blow against this societal scourge.

For bringing dishonour to the family, couples defying time-honoured traditions in many orthodox Indian villages must flee for their lives lest they become victims of ‘honour killing’ committed by kin or members of their own caste.

Some of the couples on the run were either caught unawares or hounded out and killed by their families who were determined to restore honour to the clan.

"Young couples live in fear. They are often driven to suicide, if not killed," Nishi Kant, who runs Shakti Vahini, a non-governmental organisation researching honour killings in India, told IPS.

Marrying outside one’s caste or within one’s lineage (‘gotra’), or outside one’s religion is still tabooed by many Indian families, who believe such "aberrant behaviours" deserve the most brutal punishment, often in the form of death.

Over the past months, horrific reports of honour killings have been pouring in. About 45 people have died as a result of such killings in the past 19 months, according to Shakti Vahini. Despite the spike in honour killings, the state remains a mute spectator, said Kant.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance has condemned the killings but has not acted decisively on the sensitive issue, fearing a dent in its traditional vote banks.

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Retro Sexism and Uber Ironic Advertising

Created for Bitch Magazine's Mad World Virtual Symposium: http://bitchmagazine.org/blogs/mad-world

Marketers are increasingly using Retro Sexism to sell products. This form of advertising uses irony and humour as a way to distance itself from the sexist and/or racist representations and stereotypes they perpetuate.

Retro Sexism (n.): Modern attitudes and behaviors that mimic or glorify sexist aspects of the past, often in an ironic way.

More info and links available at www.feministfrequency.com

(h/t jaded16)

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In Cameroon, Breast Ironing On the Rise to Stem Sexual Assault and Pregnancy

Warning: Graphic images and triggering language .

In response to the growing number of rape, sexual assault, un-planned pregnancies and contraction of HIV and other STI's, the practice of breast ironing is now on the rise, particularly in rural areas, of the African country of Cameroon.

Breast ironing is performed when a girl reaches puberty, the average age in Cameroon is 9. According to the BBC: "[breast ironing] involves pounding and massaging the developing breasts of young girls with hot objects to try to make them disappear". Hot rocks, hot shells and large, heated stones are among the tools used for this heinous practice. As the BBC article notes, international organizations are starting to take notice and of late, an concerted effort to stop the practice is now underway.

Video on breast ironing is posted within this article from HuffingtonPost.Com.



It is disappointing to know that the response to increased incidences of teen-pregnancy and sexual assault, is to physically alter young girls in order to dissuade the actions of men. It is as if these girls are responsible for the actions of men. Blaming girls' appearance for the increase of assault and unwanted pregnancy is something Western cultures regularly partake in. The next step of actually performing painful and life-altering procedures on young girls, is sad and very sick. It comes close to the practice of genital cutting, although not as graphic and painful. I sincerely hope to see the efforts of the organizations fighting to stop this practice, prove successful.

LaPrincipessa | Twitter | Email

(Posted at Women Undefined)

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Asuda Press Release on FGM in Kurdistan

The dissemination of Human Rights Watch report on 16 June 2010 on FGM and the reactions by activists and NGOs to the report initiated a controversy about the issue.  Also, in the last couple of days and on 6 July 2010, the Association of Islamic Clerics in Kurdistan issued a “Fatwa” on FGM in which parents [or guardians] of girls were given the choice of conducting FGM to their girls.

Following reactions and pressure on Muslim clerics with respect to the “Fatwa”, the Association of Islamic Cleric in Kurdistan issued a clarification which states “No clear text in Quoran stipulates FGM as a duty or Sunna”, however, in paragraph 4 of the same clarification statement says:

“The summary of the Fatwa of Kurdistan High Commission of Fatwa believes, parents [or guardians] have the choice to conduct or refrain from conducting FGM, this freedom of choice is not absolute, but conditional until it is proved that FGM causes immediate or long term health damage to mutilated girls, then they may not go ahead with FGM”.

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Why Mel Gibson's Latest Scandal Is Important

Trigger Warning: Some of this post and linked audio are very graphic and triggering. 

So, I don't mean I actually like (alleged) verbal and physical abuse, I abhor it with all of my being. Abuse in all of its forms hurt women and children and scar generations leaving dire social consequences and years long ramifications that take a toll in every aspect of our lives.

The images on television of partner abuse is usually of some woman trudging into a shelter bloody and bruised , having just run from an abusive husband/boyfriend. When politicians stand up and speak out against partner abuse they often point to lack of funds for battered women shelters and want to increase aid for women who have left an (physically) abusive relationship. But no one talks about emotional, verbal and mental abuse. Stalking, rampant possessiveness, jealousy, consistent anger , manipulation, financial abuse, and constantly attacking a partner's self esteem with perpetual put downs and insults - all of this is considered emotional or verbal abuse. But hardly anyone seems willing to acknowledge this publicly; there is little to no media attention paid to verbal and emotional abuse.

So when Mel Gibson is heard (allegedly) cursing out, screaming at, intimidating, insulting, and  threatening  the life of his partner on tape, the media takes notice and suddenly this type of abuse is at the forefront of America's pop-culture consciousness.

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