Tag Archives: Misogyny

The War Against Women

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Black Hand Trail walk

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I rail against Republicans a lot in my posts. Well, beyond their clear and obvious intent to subvert American democracy for the purpose of installing a plutocracy of wealthy corporatists, my opposition may have something to do with the fact that every single law they attempt to jam through state and federal legislatures appears to be aimed directly at me. Everything I do seems to offend them! I co-habit with my boyfriend out of wedlock, so they introduce a bill in Virginia to outlaw co-habitation between un-married couples. I occasionally walk topless in the woods or sunbathe topless so they introduce a bill in North Carolina outlawing bare nipples and aureola. Even nipple-slips can be punishable under their new law. Unless I have a baby attached to my bare nipple, I’d better have my tits properly hidden or I’m a criminal. I’m both Native American and bisexual, so they specifically strip protection of Native American women and LGBT women from the proposed Violence Against Women Act which they have been doing everything in their power to keep from passing at all. As a rape survivor I’m also offended by the reprehensible rape language Republicans have been using in the national media to shift the blame for rape from rapists onto women and doing everything in their power to cut off rape victims from fair avenues of justice in prosecuting their attackers and ending their access to proper health-care and abortion access in the event their rape results in an unwanted pregnancy. In state after state they’re legislating petty, prudish, but mostly misogynist measures against women’s freedoms. They’re going after our access to birth-control, our reproductive rights, equal access to health-care, even our right to vote! Several Republican commentators including Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh have openly advocated for stripping women of their voting rights. One Republican state legislator even proposed recently that women should voluntarily give up their right to vote because they don’t know what is best for them! Republican men do of course!

Republicans are against equal pay for women, they block us from career advancement with the glass-ceiling, they tell us to hide our shameful bodies, and if we get pregnant from rape to be thankful for the “new life” we’ve received as a gift from God. What is WRONG with these people?! In a worldwide recession where millions are out of work, they refuse to pass any legislation to ameliorate the jobs-crisis and instead dwell obsessively on controlling women’s bodies, humiliating them with forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds, and shoving them back into the barbaric days of back-alley abortions by de-funding Planned Parenthood, passing “trap” laws which regulate abortion providers out of business, gutting sex-education programs, and blocking women from access to birth-control. A proposed new Republican law in Arizona would give employers the power to request that their female employees who are being prescribed birth control pills provide proof that they’re using them for non-sexual reasons and allow them to fire their employees for using birth-control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The only state in the entire United States which hasn’t passed any of these ridiculous Republican-backed laws that infringe on a woman’s reproductive rights is Oregon! Despite the fact that Roe vs. Wade has for nearly 40 years given us the legal right to obtain an abortion, it is all but impossible for most women in America to terminate an unwanted pregnancy even when their lives are medically in danger or if their pregnancy was the result of being raped! Why in the world are Republicans against the Taliban? They share exactly the same misogynistic attitudes towards women! Any woman who votes for any Republican candidate in any political race in America is insane. Republicans are the enemies of women and must be voted out of office at every opportunity or else America will soon become The Handmaid’s Tale. (Read it if you don’t know what I’m talking about!)

(c) February 27, 2013 Bethany Ariel Frasier

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Rape

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jyoti

The girl in the picture above was named Jyoti Singh. She is dead. The grim details of the gang-rape and brutal beating of this beautiful Indian medical student are not really important except to shock and dismay us at the degree to which men can lose their humanity. Even men we trust. In Sri Lanka a famous stage actress was gang-raped on New Years Day by four men, one of whom was her ‘boarding master’ who had advised and looked out for her before three other men induced him to betray her and join them in raping her. In Steubenville, Ohio a 16 year old girl was recently raped by two high school football players, and because football culture rules the community, local officials chose not to investigate the crime, so to add insult to injury, she was mocked and taunted on Facebook by friends of the rapists who gloated over her humiliation. This is the male culture of rape. It is pervasive in our society, not just in the misogynistic cultures of the Middle East, but everywhere. On college campuses coeds are raped so often that wealthy parents and alumnae pay local officials not to investigate reports of the crime on campus to protect their sons from prosecution and the good name of their alma mater. I know this from personal experience and from my friends on college faculties who have told me that they have been instructed by university officials to look the other way when they see or hear instances of binge-drinking and rape on campus. It has become institutionalized to the point that women fear to even report it knowing the justice system will in all probability victimize and humiliate them again. Rape victims themselves are accused of ‘asking’ for it, for dressing provocatively, or venturing out in the night unescorted. The dehumanizing of women has reached the point in the United States where we are called sluts in the national media for expecting health insurance to cover our birth-control medications while there is never a question when men are routinely covered by their insurance plans for their Viagra.

The Republican Party has waged a war on women in America legislating away our reproductive rights, our health-care rights, equal-pay, and some right-wing extremists have even advocated revoking our right to vote. This is a systematic attack on women by a male-dominated cadre of corporatists, religious extremists, and misogynists whose ultimate end is to see women reduced to chattel. This is a shocking turn after a hundred years of women making progress towards equality under the law to see our advances turned back by political and social reactionaries who have hijacked our political process. With the help of corporate money, funding such front-groups as ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, vested interests have been buying politicians on both sides of the aisle and writing legislation harmful to women which their Tea Party patsies have been pushing through state legislatures across America. The intent of this whole process is the further subjugation of women by an intrinsically paternalistic system where rape becomes an institutionalized method of keeping women powerless and in fear, unprotected by a legal system dominated by men. Only the most egregious cases like Jyoti’s shock us into becoming a humane and united community which then demands retribution if not justice, for a just society would not tolerate rape to any degree! But it exists as a pandemic sickness in our culture, swept under the rug and frequently dismissed. Instead of teaching our sons not to rape, society lets the responsibility fall to us to avoid getting raped, and if we fail we are looked upon with skepticism, derision and shame. We are not free to dress as we choose, walk alone in the night, or trust our male associates without our assaults somehow becoming our fault. Make yourselves aware of the male culture of rape as it currently exists in our society and work to change it so that what happened to Jyoti and others like her never happens again.

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Modesty

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burqa-3

I’ve never been a proponent of modesty, either physically or intellectually. Its been a journey for me to cope with the culture of modesty which has been forced upon women by religion and cultural misogyny. Historically, most religions stress modesty as a virtue for women implying that the blame for sexual temptation in men should fall on the exposed female body, not on the the unbridled lust in the minds of men. But Islam seems to carry that blame to an extreme, requiring women to cover their bodies from head-to-toe which offends many in the West and for years offended me personally too. In 2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy flirted with a law forbidding the hijab being worn in public. This was to curb the outward manifestations of the growing cultural incursion of Sharia on French society. It was seen as both cultural intolerance as well as an effort to free Islamic women from the oppression of Sharia in a western society, but surprisingly most Islamic women fought to preserve their right to wear the hijab and felt it was their right to freely practice their religion, or at least their cultural traditions. There was even an intellectual argument put forward that the uniformity of the burqa yielded a condition of equality for women in that the advantages of greater beauty were neutralized and the hassle of the distraction of men’s amorous attentions were removed in the workplace and all public venues. Many of us can’t help but feel these are rationalizations and that Muslim women are in reality yielding to the pressure and threats from men in Islamic society whose true motives are subjugation and oppression. If only we could free our Muslim sisters from that dominance. I thought that myself for years, but then someone pointed out that women like me are never vocal about freeing Catholic nuns from their habits. That was true, and made me reconsider the personal offense I took at the burqa and what I thought it represented.

There is controversy among objective scholars of Islam whether or not the Quran overtly requires women to cover their heads. Many say the restrictions on women’s attire come more from Middle Eastern culture than from literal Sharia. That culture deriving from Quranic scholars interpreting the Law too broadly to reenforce the dominance of male supremacy rather than from the literal word of Allah as written in the Quran. The pertinent verse 024.031 only defines a woman’s physical “ornaments” which she must veil as her bosoms. This is re-enforced by a later reference towards the end of the verse stating that a woman may not strike (stamp) her feet in a way to draw attention to her ornament, meaning obviously making her tits jiggle. Stamping your feet does not physically affect any other part of a woman’s body other than her breasts after all, so it seems clear that the intent of that verse is that the breasts are the focus of a woman’s modesty under the Quran.

The verse of the hijab which describes the use of a veil over a woman’s head comes from the Quran 033.053 and refers specifically to the wives of Mohammed, not Islamic women in general. So the tradition of Islamic women veiling their heads comes more from a cultural emulation of the Prophet’s wives, not from Sharia prescription itself. If this is a religious choice and a statement of cultural identity, then women who make that personal choice freely should be respected. Unfortunately, many have their religion forced upon them by their family’s expectations and the choice is usually coerced. Accepting the religion of our family and peers also entails the acceptance of the trappings of male institutions of subjugation which have contaminated nearly all religious faiths in the world today.

But we need to consider first principles and ask why modesty is a virtue at all beyond being a consequence of men historically blaming women for their own weaknesses. A few decades ago there was an epidemic of violent rape in Israel and Golda Meir’s cabinet ministers (males) recommended that the Prime Minister institute a curfew on women to curtail the incidence of women being victimized until the men committing the rapes were apprehended. Meir shot back, “Men are committing the rapes. Let THEM be put under curfew.” This is why we need more women as heads of state or even better, heads of everything! (Hillary 2016!) There is an ingrained male perspective on ALL of our social institutions, and it would be a healthier world if we tilted the scale towards the female perspective. Women are raped because of the weakness of men’s souls and the strength of their bodies. Instead of stifling women’s beauty under burqas, perhaps men’s strength should be crippled by debilitating counter-weights or other physically constraining measures just as women are inconvenienced now under religious customs devised by men.

Taking offense at the whole culture of misogyny by Middle Eastern men (and Republicans in America) is something I don’t plan to give up in the name of multi-culturalism and open-mindedness. Misogyny should be offensive to everyone. To me all religion is unnecessary and an age-old source of evil and conflict and I doubt there will ever be peace on Earth until it is eradicated. But… fat chance! To my thinking all religions with very few exceptions are tools of male dominance. Any other interpretation by women is wishful thinking. The irony is that the principles that most major religions of the world have in common are love, peace, tolerance, and harmony, which are feminine characteristics. Men have buried those honorable principles under endless arguments and hair-splitting which only separate people and stir up enmity. The profession and the reality of religion are two mutually exclusive things and it is predominantly the failings of the male personality which have made religion the bane of civilization.

So I reject modesty and the male institutions which have foisted it upon us.

(c) February 5th, 2013 Bethany Ariel Frasier

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