Street Harassment

I recently read an article about this site Cards Against Harassment  (neat little play off the game) which can be found here, about this woman who is both addressing and recording street harassment that happens to her.  This is only her experience, but  many people have been on the unhappy end of street harassment. It usually starts with you minding your business,  doing some activity whether it is walking to work, riding the subway, or trying to get some coffee, when someone decides they have a right to make a comment about your sexual appeal, sexual orientation, weight, etc.

Her cards are rather amazing and the fact that she hands them out to people who make comments to her is even better. Regardless of the excuses they make, she is setting up a boundary that lets them know she is not alright with their actions, and neither are many other people who may not speak up.

Check out the website and see what she is up to!

Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black  is a favorite of a lot of people, and is gaining even more attention with the release of Season 2( I loved it).   Like many others,  I was anxiously waiting for the new season to come out, and I binged watched it one weekend, and it was glorious.  For a lot of folks it is a big relief to see  women in more dynamic roles,  but also seeing women from different ethnic backgrounds being portrayed at all, and having personalities is something long awaited.  Which is why I was not sure how to feel about this article from Noah Berlatsky.

He made some good points in the article like,

Men are incarcerated at more than 10 times the rate of women. In 2012, there were 109,000 women in prison. That’s a high number—but it’s dwarfed by a male prison population that in 2012 reached just over 1,462,000. In 2011, men made up about 93 percent of prisoners. 

which is astronomical.  Our prison system is absurd, and the incarceration rates and why they are the way they are is something that needs to  be discussed more. There also needs to be better solutions to rehabilitating prisoners.

He also talks about male victimization,

Male victims of domestic violence are almost entirely ignored, though domestic violence is perpetrated by men and women at about equal rates (though, Jones points out, violence by men is disproportionately more serious because of strength and weight difference.) In Bosnia, human-rights organizations focused on the (horrible, important) suffering of women rape victims and refugees, while largely ignoring the mass, gender-targeted killing of “battle-age” men. Similarly, violent attacks on women receive much more media attention than violent attacks on men, though men are substantially more likely to be attacked.

I agree with him on both accounts and I think that it is tragic that anyone is abused, and that victims deserve sympathy and resources no matter their gender, age, orientation, or any other categorization.  He makes great points, and there needs to be more done to address the issues with male victimization being ignored or mocked.

However compelling and  important his points might be, he is complaining about men not being represented in a show about a women’s prison.   It is bothersome for numerous reasons,  but the main reason is that it is a women’s prison, discussing the lives of female prisoners.  There are shows out there that talk about male prisoners, or  gang / drug lifestyle that land people in prison.   These shows are comprised of men, and I expect that being that it takes place in an institution that is specifically for men.  This reason, is why I am not really sure why he  feels as though men need to be more represented on the show.

One of the most disappointing things about this article is that he is addressing important issues, but it is overshadowed by his ludicrous complaint. If he had taken the time to write an article about male incarceration and or male victimization he could have been far more productive.

Week 3 of Summer Reading: Ready Player One

Ready Player One

Ready Player by Ernest Cline has become one of my favorite books this summer. It has deeply indulged my nerdy side, and brought up some of my favorite 80′s movies. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and had such a hard time putting it down.   Nerdy things are great, but they often suffer from being male-centered with flat female characters, whether it is in video games, comics, or fantasy or science-fiction.  In this novel,  Ernest Cline managed to make some great social commentary about the way our society could be heading (some of the issues we are facing now),  gender, and poverty.

Even if you don’t consider yourself particularly nerdy or geeky, I highly recommend this book!

Victimhood: A Coveted Status

Recently George Will wrote about the stance that Washington has decided to take when it comes colleges/universities in regard to sexual assaults and rapes on campuses.   The proposed changes will hopefully educate colleges on how to handle  sexual violence, and how to better provide prevent and provide support within their institutions. It is also an attempt to keep these institutions from overlooking them, sweeping them under the rug, or outright dissuading victims from reporting to police.  That is quite a general explanation, and this post provides more information and links to what is going on.

To many these changes sound great and long overdue, but Mr. Will feels quite differently. He writes, “They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. ”   If he sat down and talked with victims, I highly doubt that they feel privileged or as though they are in a coveted status. It is not as though there are unreasonable requests being made, most people who have been victims of sexual of violence would benefit from having safe places, and environment where they are not being shamed for being a victim. 

This kind of mentality just reinforces #yesallwomen, and how it is normalized in our society.  He calls them “micro-aggressions”, and I call them those moments where I would feel the need to say something or just leave because it is not worth it for me to stay in an environment where I feel uncomfortable or potentially unsafe. He can call the whatever he likes,  but that does not make them any less valid, nor does it minimize how it ties into the overarching issue of sexual violence.

Week 2 of Summer Reading

Sula by Toni Morrison

As promised, here is another book to add to your summer reading, if you have never had a chance to sit down and read this great piece. Toni Morrison presents some memorable characters in this novel.  Morrison’s works are deeply layered, and one of the most fascinating layers is the examination of the relationships between women, whether it is a mother and her daughter, or two friends.   This is definitely a must read, and we would love to hear your thoughts on the novel.

#YesAllWomen

The shootings over the weekend have really struck a note, and all over you see commentary on how this violence is not out of the norm, or an isolated incident, rather it speaks to a larger norm that is so pervasive.

The statements made by Elliot Rodger are not uncommon, all anyone needs to do is read the comments section on an article dealing with men and women.  It was disturbing to  once again read, see, hear this young man blame is his issues on women, as if he is owed something by women, or that there is this sense that women are supposed to want to sleep with guys, that it is a given.  If she does not reciprocate a man’s advances it is her fault for not being enlightened enough or smart enough to know that she should be falling down at this man’s feet.

I have heard too many guys say, ” I am a nice guy. I did this or that and when I asked her out she said, ‘no’.”  Statements such as that cancel out being a nice guy; the expectation that you are owed something, furthermore that you have a right or claim to a woman because you did something decent is deplorable. It just speaks to the larger issue of women not being seen as whole or independent people.  Women are often seen as an addition to the man that they are seemingly attached to, and that is where their worth is, not as people with independent thought feelings, and paths of their own. This gets even more complicated when you factor is sexuality, because lesbians are often either categorized as masculine or just needing the “right man” to show her the way.  Transgender women are often punished for not being normal.

So when people claim that this is an isolated incident, no, it is another violent incident that follows a long tradition of violence against women, whether it is physical, emotional, or creating atmosphere that is threatening.

Leslie Jones SNL Skit

This past weekend on SNL, comedian Leslie Jones managed to offend viewers with her jokes referring “to how both her sex life and dating options would have been much better if it was back in slave times.” There also was reference to “producing super babies” due to being paired with the strongest, most capable black male slave on the plantation.

You can catch the segment below.

Leslie Jones SNL Skit

It is fairly obvious why folks were upset by this, but despite her casual tone, she did manage to kind of point out how strong black males that are built to be able to either perform well in the field,  court, or playing field is something that was desired long ago, and is still today. While people seem to think that she is condoning systematic,  I think the suggestion that she would have been paired with the best male slave indicates that lack of consent, as well as that  slaves were viewed as a product.  Slavery is always going to be hard to talk about, especially with how deeply entrenched it is in today’s ongoing racial tensions and systemic issues.

SNL was probably not the best venue to deliver those jokes, but either way, her comments are not any less false, that she would have been prized for her size and strength.  This reminds me of Kara Walker’s exhibit which was quite controversial, but addressed this romanticized notion of slavery and how able bodies were such an appealing commodity.   The installation surrounded you, so there was the force of it weighing down on you. I think she has captured the perverse nature of it, better than anyone else.

Kara Walker

I have mixed feelings about the skit, but I like that she is getting people to talk about it. I think she is bringing more light to a bigger issue.