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How The Vote Isn’t Good Enough

Sometimes the universe, the communal conscious, puts things in front of me that I can’t get out of my head and I end up writing about them here. And today it just so happens to be about violence against women. I feel like the majority of women in the US, the majority of middle class women at least, would say that women in this country have it pretty good, we can vote, and we have title IX, and we have the right to choose, and women can be fire fighters and astronauts. But that’s not enough for me, that’s not enough for my future daughters, it’s not enough to be able to vote.

One morning this weekend while browsing the internet in bed with Kamel, we both started reading this article from The Stranger (a weekly newspaper in Seattle) called the Bravest Woman In Seattle. It’s amazingly well written and brought me to tears multiple times, so I encourage you to read it, but I’m also going to pull some excerpts. The breakdown of this story is this: Two women, planning their wedding and living together in a little red house outside of Seattle in a place called South Park. A man enters their room in the middle of the night while they are both sleeping, rapes them, and kills one of them.

Ok. That alone screams violence against women, right? So why am I talking about this? Why is this bouncing around in my head. Big deal, I hear about these kinds of things on the news all of the time. But generally, all I hear are stats, I don’t see the victims or am afforded a glimpse into their lives, or have a moment where I suddenly realize: that could so easily be me.

They were attacked on a Saturday night, Friday night happened like this:

“We had one of the deepest conversations that we’d had in a long time,” Butz’s partner recalled on the stand. “She’d always had this dream of—I think she always wanted to work for herself. And she had this dream of owning a cafe-slash-movie theater. She wanted to call it the Reel Cafe. We were talking about it, what it would mean, what it would take… We came to this decision that we would work at our corporate jobs for as long as it took to make that happen, and then she would do that.”

They talked about children. Butz, who was 39, who had never been the one they thought would carry the child, announced: “Maybe I’ll have the baby.”

The prosecuting attorney asked: All of this happens at Loretta’s?

She laughed. The crowd in the courtroom laughed. It did seem remarkable.

“Yeah,” she said. “We were there for a few hours… It was our place.”

“It was just one of those nights,” her partner said. “I remember thinking: ‘In this moment, my life may not be perfect, but I am so happy.’”

Two women. Something about that makes them so much more vulnerable, so much more tender. I doubly relate, not from sexuality but from a deeper part of who I am. Two of me, planning a life, building a life, having a normal Friday night.

But then of course, on Saturday:

“I woke up to a start,” she told the court. “There was a man that I could see was naked, standing over the bed with a knife in his right hand… And the knife immediately went to my throat.”

She gasped. She thought: This is a dream.

“And then,” she told the court, “it’s just processing that there’s a person here and something’s going to happen.”

Which of course blows my mind because, that’s pretty much the worst nightmare, right? A nighttime intruder standing above you when you wake up. That’s it, that’s the bad dream, the scary movie, the beginnings of hell all wrapped into one. And of course he raped them multiple times, multiple different ways, continually telling them he wouldn’t hurt them. They went along with it thinking, “Just get through it, just grit your teeth and take it, let’s just get out of here alive.” And I wonder, on a smaller scale, how many times do we do similar things. When male coworkers make rape jokes and I have to pretend not to hear, or when I’m walking down the street and men are acting aggressive, calling to me, maybe following me, and I’m thinking, “Just get to my car, just get to my car.”

Women in 1922, being arrested for wearing illegal bathing suits. They needed leg coverings.

Of course, these women were trying to survive. But what if they had been taught to fight back, immediately. What if it had just been a given that they would. What if their first instinct was to not allow him to force his penis into their mouths. What if the scenario where they get raped and stabbed seemed ridiculous, like a piece of science fiction! Could the story of two women, woken in the middle of the night to a naked intruder with a knife and who didn’t laugh him out of the room, who didn’t beat him to a bloody pulp, who didn’t knock him to the floor and sit on him until the cops came, could this ever become absurd?

This isn’t my attempt to blame the victim. I would also like a world where intruders didn’t happen, where rape didn’t occur, but unfortunately I think that’s too far reaching. It’s not within my space of control.

The man asked the couple for lube before one of his rapes of Butz. When the women replied that they didn’t have any lube, he said: “Too bad for her.”

The man asked, at one point: “So are you guys lesbians or are you bisexual?” Butz’s partner’s mind spun. Which would be worse? Which answer would make him more likely to stop?

“I remember what I said was, ‘Well, we’ve been together a long time, so I guess that makes us lesbians.’”

She felt that she deserved to ask him a question at this point, so she asked: “Have you seen us before?”

He shook his head no.

Butz asked: “What if we’d been an old man?”

He just shrugged.

Butz’s partner made up a story that someone was coming to pick them up at 5:00 a.m. to take them to a wedding in Portland. She asked him if they were going to make the wedding. He said yes. She said: “Please don’t hurt us. We’re good people.”

When we finished reading the article I was crying. Of course I was crying. The woman’s testimony is raw and real and gritty and detailed. And I cried for her and for her partner who was murdered in front of her after living through atrocities and witnessing atrocities. But I also cried because, “Being a woman is sometimes really unfair.” That’s what I said before I cried harder into Kamel’s neck space. It’s so unfair. It’s so unfair to be a woman sometimes, to be the one who is entered, to be the victims of these crimes, to have this be a real threat, something that actually happens to everyday women sleeping in their everyday home on a warm summer night.

But I told you there were multiple articles that came across my desk screen in the last few days. This next one by Vanity Fair called Murder By Text. The title alone makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and declare all doomed. What? Now technology is a weapon in violence against any and all marginalized groups? Of course it is, of course it would be. Why this is a given I don’t know, but there it is. A given.

The article in VF spells out this particular situation right up front:

When Kruse IM’d Kim to see if she was done babysitting, no response came. But he didn’t expect one. The instant message was a cover. Kruse knew Kim had never made it to her job. She was right there in his house with him and Cam. Bound. Beaten. Raped. And, by the next morning, stuffed in his freezer. Dead.

High school kids, Kruse and Cam became obsessed with violent porn and rape fantasies. Do I think porn is bad? No. Do I think porn makes people kill other people? No. But this is another example of the prevalence of violence against women. It’s there and it’s ignored or seen as “creepy”. I hate being told to “lighten up” about things like that. I don’t care if you’re pretending to rape a woman or not, you’re raping in effigy is far as I’m concerned. And that means all of us.

They chose a week when Kruse’s mother was out of town, perhaps to ensure that they would have free run of his home. They called up Google maps of local wooded areas, drawing red circles around areas where they might dump Kim’s body. At four minutes after midnight on Monday, March 15, Cam searched Wikipedia for the terms “vagina,” “speculum,” and “lithotomy position” (followed by a Google image search of the same).

Three days later, at 1:11 a.m., an instant message popped up on Kim’s screen at her home. It was Kruse.

Kim asked Kruse to call her. He secretly patched Cam in to eavesdrop on the call. As Kruse and Kim talked, Kruse and Cam IM’d each other, reveling as their fantasy came to life. “I’m gonig to rip her nose ring out and burn it,” Kruse typed. “BURN HER FLESH.”

“Y not keep her bound and alive,” Cam suggested.

“That’s what I’m going to do but I need to get her stoned first and possibly seduce her.”

“Lol, try quickly.”

In the early hours of that morning, Kruse had told Cam he’d use a code phrase—“I think I’m going to make some KD”—a Canadian abbreviation for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner—when he was ready to attack. Shortly after arriving at the house, the boys struck, kicking and hitting Kim as they bound her hands and ankles. Kruse stuffed a sock in Kim’s mouth, which he then wrapped in duct tape. The two raped and beat Kim for hours until she died from suffocation. They mutilated her with a knife and stuffed refuse, including a four-inch-long lollipop stick, into her vagina and anus. They moved her body to a freezer in Kruse’s garage.

In both of these situations the bad guys were caught and sentenced to life in prison. But there isn’t any justice in the whole wide world that would make up for these crimes. Preventing them from hurting others is nice, but there will be other people to take their places.

These are extremes. Extreme in violence, extreme in torture, extreme. But I think it speaks to the bigger problem. Why is this happening? Yes, we look at it and say “Oh my gosh that is awful! Those poor people!” And it’s almost a kind of fascination. Watching the most gruesome of human nature unfold behind a glass window and thinking, wow how fascinating, and feeling oddly safe because the reality is that glass window can crack.

There is an attitude about women’s health and women’s safety that puts us as second. We are not most important, or safety should be put second below a whole list of other things. In Topeka, Kansas the city repealed it’s domestic violence law because they didn’t want to spend the money to prosecute. Or what about the “Protect Life Act” (if that life is that of an unborn child that is, nothing about this bill protects the life of WOMEN) that was PASSED in the House this month? Have you seen anything about it on the news? Has it made a big splash where you’re from? Even though in this bill it says:

It is the latter part of the bill that has prompted its opponents to dub it the “Let Women Die” act, arguing that it would remove the existing requirement of hospitals to provide access to emergency services, regardless of one’s ability to pay. Talking Points Memo explains that argument: It “would free hospitals from any abortion requirement under [current law], meaning that medical providers who aren’t willing to terminate pregnancies wouldn’t have to – nor would they have to facilitate a transfer” to another hospital that would.

I will not sit back and grit my teeth and wait for things to pass. I will not simply be grateful for the vote. I will not revel in my equality until it becomes a reality.

59 Comments

  1. When I can form coherent thoughts I’ll be back to comment.

    • Fuck it, now I have too many thoughts. I’ll write them up in a separate post.

  2. I really thought sexism was mostly a thing of the past. If I’d have read this a year ago, I would have shrugged off the violence as “violent crime” rather than sexism. I’d have read the “Protect Life Act” as an attempt from the religious right to push their values on the rest of the country.
    But funny you started out by saying women could be firefighters…
    Women can’t be firefighters. At least not in my town. They’ve never had a woman on their all volunteer department. And then some girl & her boyfriend moved in from out of state (having already been through academy) and asked to joint the department. They “made room” for him. And not for her.
    The bottom line, is that the discrimination I’m facing makes me more sensitive to all these other forms of discrimination. There’s a subjugation of women and their rights happening all the time IN THIS country.

    (Sorry for the vent, I tried to keep it short…I can’t post about it on MY blog because I’m afraid someone in town will see my rant. And a rant is exactly what I need.)

    • All I can think to say is that I am so so sorry. I have rage FOR you and WITH you. And feel free to rant any time you like.

      It’s really important to share news like the firefighter issue because we live in a world where people tell you to get over it and it’s not a big deal in an attempt to keep us shamed and quiet and ignorant. It’s not SO dramatic, but it doesn’t have to be.

  3. I… I don’t even know how to comment. Thank you for being awesome enough to post about this and to not be quiet about it. I think too often we read articles like these and want to share them but we don’t. Because they’re too awful. Because they aren’t Pinterestable – they’re nightmare inducing. Because they don’t fit into mason jars and it’s terrible of me but I hate that I have to carry around the images that this happened to women just like me and I HATE even more that THIS HAPPENED. It really, not-in-a-movie-but-in-reality, Happened. And people need to know. We need to talk about the awful things that have happened and that ARE happening or they’ll never stop. Ugh, this is the least coherent comment ever but I just… I can’t think clearly through my tears.

  4. I found this post profoundly disturbing because I can absolutely relate to some of the victims you described here. You’re right, the initial reaction is horror at the violent act, but there is definitely sexism at play.

    In regards to your last sentence, refusing to revel in your current “equality”… what are you going to do?

    • I think to start I’m going to call it like I see it. And above all else i’m not going to grit my teeth for fear of retribution or embarrassment. How many times have we walked past heckling and thought “just don’t acknowledge them and they will go away” … except they NEVER GO AWAY. So it’s those situations that I can control, that come in contact with often enough that I’m going to change my reaction to.

      Also, I really really really want to participate in a women’s rally in DC. I think more people need to be involved in civil rights movements a la the 60s.

      • I find that comforting, I was reading this and feeling pumped and then sad when I realized I’m not in a position to do much for these victims. All we can do is what you’re doing – making sure everyone knows this shit is happening and hollering nonstop about how it’s wrong

        • I think the more we stand up to violence, verbal threats, condescending BS, or otherwise, the more we win. And the more a reality exists where treating women like they don’t matter will be laughed out of the room.

      • “I think to start I’m going to call it like I see it. And above all else i’m not going to grit my teeth for fear of retribution or embarrassment.”

        That’s kick-ass. Good for you. I should embrace this, too.

      • Call it! It’s scary at first but empowering.

        Bus and sidewalk harassment is bad. I recently told a guy, straight up, “I have no interest in talking to you, please leave me alone.” There is cultural idea(l) that women must be helpful, welcoming and chatty. Well, eff you, you give me the creeps and I don’t want to talk to you. And no, don’t call me a “bitch” because I refuse to give a creepy stranger the attention he demands but doesn’t deserve.

        On the flip side, I want to feel braver helping female strangers get out of situations they clearly seem uncomfortable in.

        • I’m finding that using “I” statements and being blunt about what you’re feeling is good. “I feel very threatened when you’re talking about that.” “I feel very violated when you make vagina jokes.” “You following me is making me uncomfortable and isn’t okay. STOP.” Etc. So I’m practicing this in EVERYTHING. There’s no reason to be at all ashamed about how I’m feeling.

  5. Oh. Oh, oh, oh. That is heartbreaking and terrible and brave. I’m crying at work.

    Thanks for writing about it.

  6. This post reminds me of this and this from Nick Kristof about war against women and CHILDREN (oh God, the little girls…) in Sierra Leone, and things to DO about it.

    These stories also make me retch and curl up in a ball and shiver. I can’t stand it when “rape” is turned into a cute euphemism, e.g., “Man, the Bears got RAPED last Sunday!” No, no. Rape doesn’t happen to a professional football team. It could happen to your cousin, your sister, your wife. Don’t bury it in casual familiarity. Don’t make it “safe” by pretending it’s something that doesn’t happen anymore.

  7. This is how it starts, what you did today. We start, or continue, however you want to look at it, by seeing the REALITY of what’s going on around us and within us. Sometimes I think, “But how do I make a huge impact? I don’t have money or political power?”

    But then I think it can happen both ways, top-down and bottom-up. A bottom-up example? I *used* to feel guilty when I locked my doors or crossed the street when I wasn’t feeling safe. “Oh, I don’t want to make this person feel bad if I do x, y, & z.”

    I don’t do that anymore because you know why? I am in charge of my safety and my safety is more important than hurting the feelings of some stranger who may or may not notice that I’ve crossed the street or lock my doors. If this person is normal, he will think, “good for her for protecting herself. It’s a wild world.” If he’s not normal, then thank goodness I crossed/locked the door, etc.

    I think that this is one subtle way that I can emphasize how important I am to me. And it reverberates in other areas of my life as well. I think a lot of women were raised to think about others first (What will they think? I want them to like me! I don’t want to offend!) I don’t think we should lose that part of ourselves at all, but I DO think that we shouldn’t have to think about others first when it comes at the expense of ourselves. And again, it can be grand, or it can be as simple as how we choose our words–the subtlety of language is so powerful.

    Thank you, Lauren, for doing your part with your words :)

  8. I think you’re brave to write on this topic and address it head on. I was in agreement, until the last paragraph. I understand that not everyone counts the personhood of human beings in the womb, but I do and I see that act as a human rights bill. To me, if we don’t count every being as equal (differently colored skin, different gender, different sexual identity, etc), then it’s hypocrisy. I think that until we as a society/world value personhood from conception to death, the lines are blurred and allow for encroachment of all sorts of violence. To me, abortion is violence against women (especially the females in the womb who are dismembered, chemically burnt, and discarded). Sometimes, I feel excluded from the fight for equality because I count all persons from conception to death. I’m not trying to start a fight here, I’m just trying respectfully to offer a different perspective.

    • This law would also outlaw contraceptives that prevent implantation.

    • Lauren’s place is not to get into a debate about reproductive rights but I can’t not comment on this.

      I could not disagree with your comment more.

      But, I will just say, no abortion procedure includes chemical burns and it is a great disservice to the patients and providers to imply that the zygotes and fetuses are carelessly “discarded”.

      • I believe it’s a great disservice to women to not accurately describe abortion procedures and the development of the homo sapien/human being in the womb. By discarded, I mean that the remains are placed into medical waste containers or flushed down the toilet at home. I also refer to they baby as human being rather than zygote or fetus because scientifically, they have all of the chromosomes of the classification homo sapien. The reason I brought this up in the comments is because Lauren brought up this bill in light of serious issue of violence against women. I felt it was relevant. I understand you disagree. To me, it’s just an issue that can’t be separated from human rights issues of women. I appreciate you being willing dialogue about it.

    • I can respect the notion that a zygote or fetus has the potential to become a person and therefore deserves attention. The scientist in me struggles with with it somewhat, but I can see your perspective.

      What I cannot get behind is this:
      “I think that until we as a society/world value personhood from conception to death, the lines are blurred and allow for encroachment of all sorts of violence.”

      I think that we can do a whole lot of good without first making the argument that a zygote or fetus deserves equal attention. So, I respect where you are coming from. At the same time, there is lots to do NOW.

      • I agree with you that there are many things we can do for women’s equality. To me, I just see the equality of every person as being a paradigm shift that could advance everyone’s equality. Thank you for being respectful and engaging!

    • I appreciate your comment and I understand that abortion is a complicated issue and it does involve a lot of human rights issues all wrapped into one. I believe that when government puts a limit on healthcare, healthcare that touches only women, it is a passive act of violence against women. I believe that taking away legal options for what we do to our own bodies and how we live inside those bodies is an act of passive violence against women and blatent disregard for women. (I also believe prostitution should be legal but that’s a different discussion) I also believe it makes us second class citizens to have those rights – the right to make my own choices for my own body – constantly debated and threatened.

      I could list all of the different ways pregnancy can marginalize women, but in the end it won’t make a difference because my truth is that it doesn’t matter what your life situation is, if you are pregnant and don’t want to be, you should be able to have that choice and not be trapped in that situation. No matter what.

      Whether or not I believe that choice has spiritual or personal ramifications does not matter. I will always always always be on the side of the woman.

      • Thank you for saying what I couldn’t find the right words for.

        Without control of our reproduction we can never be truly equal.

        • That’s interesting that you would say that because similarly to what Lauren was saying about pregnancy being marginalizing, I feel like saying we won’t be truly equal without reproductive rights is more of a social construct than a truth. If we saw reproduction as part of what makes women amazing and wonderful and weren’t measuring ourselves against men who can’t carry the next generation, would that perhaps be more equal?

          Again, I appreciate everyone’s comments and engagement. I appreciate hearing the other side as well.

      • Thanks for your reply. What’s interesting is that I consider myself on the side of women taking my stance too.

        One thought I have is, is it the pregnancy that marginalizes women or is it society’s attitude towards pregnancy? What if we were able to change the paradigm and make pregnancy a beautiful time, appreciating that women are built differently? What if we held up child bearing as a unique and powerful thing?

        • Hmmm. I personally think that we do hold up pregnancy as a unique and powerful thing. Maybe it’s different somewhere else… but I think pregnancy is already considered a pretty awesome and beautiful time. IF you want to be pregnant. I don’t think the eighteen year old girl who accidentally gets pregnant is having an abortion because of her feelings on the state of pregnancy. Or because she doesn’t appreciate how she is built. I think it’s because she (bravely, in my very humble opinion) understands that she is ill prepared to raise a child at that time in her life. And maybe isn’t ready to give up her own dreams and goals. To clarify: I 100% think having a child is an amazing dream and goal… IF you’re ready for it. And I don’t think we should make girls/women feel bad who recognize they are not ready for that and choose to terminate their pregnancies. But that’s just my opinion.

          Melinda, I just want to say that although I think many people here may disagree with you, I think we all really appreciate the respectful way you have presented your side of things.

          • Absolutely.

          • Yes, ditto to that. I am all about discussions that aren’t about blame and criticizing.

            And thank you, Lauren for hosting :)

          • Yes, thank you all. Lauren, excellent topic and thanks for putting up with me :)

          • Thanks for this Katie Jane.

            I would also say that I am deeply troubled by the social idea(l) that women are “built to be mothers”. Melinda doesn’t draw this idea out explictly but I believe she touches on it when she argues that we should celebrate pregnancy as something amazing and wonderful.

            Some women do not want to be mothers. Some women are not physically or emotionally capable of being mothers. These women are no less women than the women that deeply desire to be mothers. Having reproductive autonomy means supporting those choices and establishing legal space for those choices. And those choices include the ability to end a pregnancy, without having to inform your parents or your partner.

            In my opinion, reproductive restriction signal that the state does not believe that women have the werewithal to make these choices on their own. This, to me, is a sign of institutionalized sexism. Full gender equality is built on reproductive autonomy.

          • Not to bring even more hot button issues into an already touchy subject, but what about rape? Not every pregnancy involves a decision on the woman’s part. Should even women who become pregnant through sexual acts that were forced upon them not have a say in how they move forward from there?

            The thing is, whatever my personal feelings on the morality of abortion, to legally say that we as women cannot make those decisions ourselves is unfair.

            To me, making abortion illegal is not just a matter of women’s reproductive rights. It is a matter of legally imposing one system of morality on everyone. Morality is not an absolute. Taking away the choice of whether a woman wants to continue a pregnancy nullifies her ability to be her own moral compass and make the choices that are right for her.

            As well, criminalizing abortion doesn’t stop people from having them. What it does do is force them underground, into less sanitary and more dangerous situations.

  9. Bravo Lauren. Always speak the uncomfortable truth. Great job. Mom

  10. Ugh. That whole Butz case. I followed all the coverage on the Stranger of the trial, and it was just heart-wrenching. So, so awful to read. And a lot of people questioned why the reporter covered it, every day, in such detail. I remember his response: this is important. And yeah, it is. It is HORRIBLE to read. I’ve read it before, and it’s still horrible to read. But we need to know that SHIT LIKE THIS HAPPENS. We need to know so we can try and correct that.

    I consider myself a bit of a news junky, and haven’t read anything about that Protect Life Act. Bullshit. Why isn’t the media covering this?? Why am I offered ten articles on Kim Kardashian’s divorce, but NOTHING on this?

    You’re so right–in so many cases, REAL women and the REAL problems facing them are afterthoughts. Which is so fucking wrong. And it makes me angry. Which is better than complacent, I guess. Anger gets people up and makes things happen. I think more people in this country need to get angry over these sorts of things….

  11. Working in TV I have a first hand look at all kind of atrocities in our daily network newscast and those are only the ones that get “approved” to be aired. Nothing disturbs me more than news involving children or women.
    When we air stories about rapes or abused kids, the whole control room crew starts to talk, to show repulsion, to lose concentration. Even I have trouble keeping up with the broadcast.
    And we all give opinions of what would the punishment be if we could get a hand on the criminal. Then we have the follow up story a few weeks later saying that the rapist or the molester got away with only a few years while the victim is already marked for life. It is so sad.
    Having tougher punishments and easier ways for the victim to report the crime should be issues to be considered and that is definitely a fight I would love to fight.
    But most of us are more worried about job security, having a health plan, buying stuff. Important things, you know…

    • It would also help if the police officers the women are reporting crimes to a) believed them and b) weren’t the rapists themselves!
      http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/03/03/nypd-accused-of-raping-intoxicated-woman/

      And finally, the SlutWalk marches around the country were inspiring to me for this reason. While the politics may not have been my exact wording, the stance against victim-blaming and the slogan “No means no” were so powerful. We need that kind of fearlessly anti-sexist politics.

  12. Hi Lauren, I don’t think I’ve commented but I do enjoy your blog. But this? This is so amazing. These conversations need to be had, and I think it’s hard for a lot of us to START them as you have here. I don’t even feel like I have anything valuable to add–my head is spinning. I live in KS (not far from Topeka, actually) so to say this hits home… well. Just a bit.

    Thank you, thank you, for not being afraid to shy away from this.

  13. I clicked all the links, and FYI the one for

    Or what about the “Protect Life Act”

    doesn’t go anywhere

  14. Thank you, Lauren. That was terribly hard to read, but I am so glad that I did.

    I just came back inside from sitting in the backyard crying into the sky for these women, for all women, and praying for peace in the living victim’s heart. I found myself shaking, just saying over and over again to myself, “it’s just not fair It’s just not fair. It’s just not fair.”

    IT’S JUST NOT FAIR.

    I want you to know that you have inspired me. IT IS JUST NOT FAIR, and I am sick and tired of having to live in a world where shit like this happens to good people. I am not helpless.

    You know, just last night I got verbally harassed by a man in truck when I was running into the grocery for some cereal and coffee creamer. I have to admit, I have grown so accustomed to this behavior from men that I rarely even react anymore.

    Well, screw that. That shit will not fly in my book anymore. I don’t want to live in that world. And if that is the stand that I can take today, right here right now, then this is where it starts for me.

    I also feel very compelled, for the first time in my life, to learn self-defense techniques. So I will do this, too.

    • I took a self defense class for women from a police department several years ago. I think it was called “rape aggression defense”. You might call your local police office and see if it is offered near you. I found it to be an excellent and highly practical experience.

  15. This just makes me so angry and sad at the same time. I don’t even know how to begin to put into words what I really want to say right now, except for thank you for writing it.

  16. APW lurker here. I *had* to comment today though.

    I’m not a crier like you, but those articles made me *angry*. And as unpleasant as they are, thank you for sharing. Because we need to remember that as far as we have come, it is Not Enough.

  17. This is good stuff. Even though there are times when I feel completely equal to my male peers, there are other times when the inequality and blatant injustice of the way women are treated is more than I can understand.

    Why are women constantly cat called on the street? Why does a strong minded woman in the work place have to come across as a “bitch?” Why do women who bear children in this country have to choose between earning a paycheck and spending time with their infant children? There’s no in between in that respect, and for some reason, that issue pisses me off so much when I think about how difficult our society makes it for us to make our own life choices without having them dictated by “the man.”

    There’s a really shitty situation going on at my office right now that’s along these lines. I work for a brokerage firm and most of the stock brokers on my floor have their own offices. Very few have to sit at cubicles, and the ones that do are either new recruits, or have low production numbers (these numbers are public for some ridiculous reason, so everyone knows how everyone else does.) There is one woman there that sits in a cubicle who is CLEARLY making more money than several men who have offices, and every time she brings up the issue to our manager, he dismisses her and gets angry. BS.

    Anyway! Thanks, as always, for stirring up great discussions :)

  18. Wow, I wish I hadn’t read that first article, but I’m glad I did. I wish I hadn’t read it because I wish it wasn’t true.

    My heart broke when I read her last words: He lied to us. She had put her faith in that man that he would let her live.

    Of course, the entire situation is tragic, but that specifically crushed me.

  19. Wow. I haven’t read the articles you’ve linked to Lauren, because I’m at work and won’t be able to focus this afternoon if I do, but I will read them later.

    But wow. You are amazing for speaking out like this and you’ve inspired me. I too usually ignore inappropriate comments from men and just keep walking or pretending that they weren’t made. My clients often give me less respect than they do my boss, because I am young and female.

    I have one client in particular who constantly calls me “honeybunch” or “beautiful” or “sweetcheeks” instead of just calling me Donna. He has also frequently made inappropriate comments about it “being nice to see me” (sleazebag tone) or about my hair/dress/jewellery. I had always ignored these comments because saying something to the client would only cause him to make further comments. Because that’s the type of douchebag that he is. However, last week, the client did all of the above and worse in front of my boss (for the first time) and my boss reprimanded him for it on the day and again a few days later. The client has now apologised.

    Lauren, you’ve inspired me. By staying silent and relying on my boss to reprimand the client for me I allowed the inappropriate sexist behaviour to occur. I didn’t do anything to stop it. I let myself be powerless. Never again.

  20. I appreciate you being so respectful given that abortion is an extremely complicated and emotional issue. Personally, my issue with these types of laws are that they put the fetus above the mother as more important life. The fetus, which in essentially all abortions is not anywhere even close to viable. The fetus, which is not viable but which has a 50% chance of being male. We find this to be more important than a living breathing woman?

    I think it’s disingenuous of you to point out the violence against the 50% of embryos that happen to be female as “violence against women” Abortions are not targeted or skewed towards female embryos. But 100% of mothers forced to carry a baby that they cannot care for are women. Restrictions on reproductive choices hurt women alone.

    This latest initiative is worded such that even with an ectopic pregnancy, one that absolutely cannot go to term and absolutely will kill the mother if left unattended… If that fetus is now considered a person, well, what then?

    • Well, that was supposed to be a reply to Melinda, but it didn’t show up as one. Internet fail. :( Wonder if this will show up as a reply to myself, as I intended or not?

  21. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, regardless of how uncomfortable or difficult. That takes a lot of courage.

    Interestingly, I read about those cases and instead of thinking, “How horrible that these things happen to women!” I think, “How horrible that these things still happen to people!” While yes, women are often targets of depraved individuals, they don’t by any means have a monopoly. Just this last Saturday, a homosexual man in Texas was beaten, stabbed, and set on fire by four men. Oh, and thus far, no arrests have been made. Of course, as women need to feel empowered. But I think both genders should be fighting together to protect ourselves against this kind of hatred and violence, not just asking what we as women are going to do about it.

    • This isn’t a zero-sum game. Recognizing that women are targeted for specific types of violence (and harassment and discrimination) based solely on the fact that they are women and fighting back against that doesn’t preclude anyone from also being outraged at violence against men.

      • I really appreciate this comment. Thanks Margaret!

      • Agreed. But also, I think often homophobia and hate crimes against gay men are often motivated, at the heart, by hatred/contempt for women. Gay men are stereotyped as being more feminine or effeminate, which makes them seem like LESS than men, because women are seen as LESS than men.

        Then again, any time you break gender norms you’re vulnerable, so it may just be part of a bigger picture.

        Lauren, thanks for making so many people think so hard this week. This post is heartbreaking but the conversation is inspiring.

        • You’re absolutely right, Katie Mae. It’s why I think feminism and the fight for gay rights are intrinsically linked.

  22. Awesome, lady. TRULY.

    I’m with you: I’m done with this. It’s not a question of if there’s a difference between how men and women experience violence and sexual offenses, it’s now what to do about it. NOW.

  23. Powerful words and thoughts to ponder this Saturday morning. This post really moved me. Thank you so much for speaking up and making me more aware of the world around me.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Not There Yet | Little Pieces Everywhere - [...] Lauren posted her super-brave condemnation of the state of women’s equality yesterday, I was incensed. So much so that I …
  2. Self Censorship | I'm Better in Real Life - [...] is a lot of what I was talking about in that other feminist tirade I went on a while …
  3. Style : Safety | the Discerning Dilettante - […] case you haven’t read Better in Real Life’s post about violence against women, uh, go do that and then …

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Who the hell is she?


Lauren

I am a writer living in Seattle and I believe that life is a grand adventure and only boring if you believe it to be. Plus! You don't need money to have fun.

I live with my husband, a photographer by education and a maker-of-video-games by trade, and a baby named gabe in an apartment on the hill.

I am romantic about most things and I cry... about almost anything. I tell stories to entertain you, I spread stories to keep you in the loop. I am not a grammar freak, but I do know how to spell it. I am exceedingly proud of my scrambled eggs and I really could eat an entire pan of cupcakes. If I met me, I would be my best friend. I tend to be irreverent.

If you would like to chat with me or see what else I'm up to you can follow me on Twitter (betterinrealife), on facebook, or email me at betterinrealife at gmail.


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