Last night, I was reading Curve Magazine (Vol.18,#6, July/August, 2008). In it was an article by noted Lesbian activist and writer, Victoria A. Brownworth, "Why Do They Hate Us? How the Media treats Hillary is indicative of how the world sees women: as second class citizens." The title pretty much says it all. And what she wrote included startling facts, which I will list below. They are not for the faint of heart, let me warn you right now. As is my wont, I felt compelled to write the Editors:
I just finished reading Ms. Brownworth's piece, "Why Do They Hate Us." It moved me to tears. As one who has followed this election campaign VERY closely, I have been horrified, and furious, at the treatment of an attorney who worked for poor women and children, a Former First Lady of Arkansas, a Former First Lady of the United States, and a TWO TERM Sitting US Senator by the Mainstram Media, Senator Barack Obama, and the DNC. It is simply staggering how accepted sexism, even misogyny, is in this country. It is mind boggling that Main Stream Media can make demeaning, disparaging remarks about a US Senator because she is a WOMAN. I am a lifelong (50 yr old), straight party ticket Democratic voter, or I should say I was, until the treatment of Senator Clinton, and ALL women, by the DNC elite and Senator Obama. I have now left the party to which I have dedicated myself, my money, and my vote. (I might add, my decision was reinforced when the RBC/DNC decided to take actual votes cast for one candidate, Clinton, and give them to a candidate who was not even on the ballot, in addition to the sexism, even misogyny, in which the above three have participated this year.)
And I am saddened. As one who actively worked for women's equality for over 32 years, it is incredibly discouraging and disheartening to see how quickly people - men AND women - revert to blatant sexism, almost with GLEE. They act as if they have been holding back these comments and feelings, but are now free to let loose with their derogatory comments. There is not a DOUBT in my mind that if these same comments were expressed in a racist manner, they would - RIGHTLY - be decried far and wide. Yet, since they were *only* about a woman, well, haha," weren't they funny, and we all know they are true anyway, right? Nudge, nudge, wink wink," it was just fine. Sigh.
And now, the more qualified candidate (IMHO), the one who has been a STALWART supporter of women, children, the LGBT community, and numerous other groups as diverse as veterans and Native Americans, has been subjugated to the less qualified, far less experienced, male candidate. It seems we have not moved very far at all...
Thank you, Ms. Brownworth, for writing what many of us have experienced, and for pointing out the cruel facts of what it means to be a woman in this country, in this world. We have much, much work to do...
The Rev. Amy
And juxtapose this to Obama's recent remarks about how Senator Clinton was "brutalized," equating the treatment his wife got during this campaign season to the treatment Senator Clinton has endured. No apology, no acknowledgement of his, and others, horrific treatment of her during this campaign. Just deflection, and "look over there." I'm sorry, but from where I sit, Michelle Obama has been treated pretty fairly by the MSM. The grief she has gotten has been more a DIRECT response to what she has SAID, not that she is an African American woman. There is a world of difference between the two.
And now seeing these articles and photographs of Senator Clinton and Senator Obama together, him with his hand on her back, just makes me cringe. Frankly, it makes me almost physically ill. See, I have done a lot of work in the Domestic Violence movement. And I have seen this cycle before: the man abuses, attacks, and lashes out at the woman. The woman makes excuses for, and accepts blame from, the man for his attacks. Not unlike Senator Clinton saying now that they are friends, respect each other, and support each other. I know what respect looks and feels like - Senator Obama has shown NONE for Senator Clinton. Senator McCain has, but Obama? No. Seeing these photos of her with him now reminds me of battered women wearing sunglasses to hide the bruises, and saying, "Oh, he didn't really mean it. It was my fault, really, I shouldn't have made him mad. He really does love me, in his own way, really! Don't be mad at him!" Not only did Obama make sexist remarks about Senator Clinton, INCLUDING at the fundraiser the other night, but he reaped the benefit of the sexist and misogynistic remarks made by others, the veiled death threats (talking to YOU, Keith), the threats of violence, the degradation, not on her record, or on her speeches, but because she was a woman. As Ms. Brownworth wrote,
Clinton was the focal point for American misogyny, writ long and large. She was tough enough to take it and not cry foul, but why do women and girls have to take it? Why are we called bitches and cunts if we speak the truth about our lives? We are treated as less-than-human in a myriad of ways in our society. We are victims of violence, discrimination, and hate, and that diminishes us daily as human beings.(Vol. 18, #6, p 34)
And now, for the facts I mentioned above. These are not pleasant. Stop reading here if you do not want to be disturbed. Okay. Here I go, from Ms. Brownworth's article:
For over a decade, war has raged in the eastern province of Congo. Gangs of militia have preyed on women and girls and made rape and vaginal destruction major tools of that war. Vaginal destruction - an act so violent a woman can never again have vaginal sex or bear a child - was defined as a war crime in April...In Congo, women have been raped so brutally and by so many men at one time that some have been eviscerated. Eviscerated by rape. That is how much they hate us. (p 34)
What has never made the news is that nearly all of the murders of women in Palestinian territory have nothing to do with the political situation there: They are the result of honor killings...Honor killings are a leading cause of death among women in the Middle East. Since the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the number of honor killings has risen exponentially because the once secular nation is now an Islamic theocracy. (pp34-35)
Lest you think all of this violence is only in other countries, here are some U.S. statistics:
One in six women will be raped in her lifetime. One in four has survived child sexual abuse or an incestuous relationship with a male relative. One in three has been the victim of domestic violence. Over 1.2 million women are forcibly raped by an ex-husband or ex-boyfriend each year. The leading cause of death among pregnant women is murder by a spouse or boyfriend. Four out of every five female murder victims in the United States were killed by men they knew: a spouse or boyfriend, a male relative, a co-worker...This means millions of American men - men we know, men we may love or have loved - hate us enough to rape, main, or kill us. Millions. It's a difficult reality to face: Women and girls are so hated that our lives and bodies mean nothing to these men.(p34)
Perhaps that reality and the inchoate knowledge of it is why it was easy for people to refer to Clinton with the vilest of hate speech and feel no remorse and receive no recrimination from either the general populace or the media... (p34)
Wow, Speaker Pelosi - it seems that SOMEONE wasn't too busy to document all of the sexism and misogyny, even if YOU were too busy to do so...(Ref: Pelosi's interview with Greta Van Susteren this past week on "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.)
As I said above, Obama did not even have to say despicable comments himself - having others do so as his surrogates was sufficient. That is the whole thing with domestic violence - the THREAT of it is sufficient to keep many women in line. Their partners may not engage in violence themselves (and psychological and emotional battery still counts as domestic violence, by the way. Some would argue, convincingly, I think, that they are worse as they are more insidious, and stay with the woman much, much longer than physical abuse), as other men engaging in this behavior is enough for the fear to be present in most, if not all, women.
More from Brownworth:
It doesn't matter if we are siting U.S. Senators or sitting at home taking care of our children or sitting by a stream getting water right before we are gang-raped. It doesn't matter if we are in the United States or Congo or Gaza or Iraq. The one common denominator for women, the thing that unites us, is that we are all hated equally for our gender.
"To some men - even the men who loved us before they raped us or beat us or murdered us - we are all cunts. For ourselves - and for the women and girls of Congo, Gaza, Iraq, and every other nation where women are being eviscerated in body and spirit - we must stand up and speak out against the global terrorism of women and girls. (p35)
And so, as much as I admire and respect Senator Clinton, I cannot, and will not, participate in this Party-, this Country's- sanctioned cycle of violence. Please stop asking me, us, to do so. I deserve better. YOU deserve better. We all deserve better than to keep feeding into this cycle. I, for one, will not.
UPDATE: The following was left in the Comments Section under the article on the Afghan girls. It has a link to which you can go to see what they are doing, and to help in their endeavors:
The University of Nebraska at Omaha began its involvement with Afghanistan in 1972. In 1974, the Arthur and Daisy Paul Afghanistan Collection was donated to the Center; in 1975, an institutional linkage with Kabul University was established. The Center has obtained nearly $60 million in grants and contracts to support technical assistance programs, training, and educational exchanges, including the Education Sector Support Project (ESSP), Afghan Scholarship Program (ASP), Weber Scholarship Program (WSP), ARRENA Project, the Afghanistan Teacher Education Project (ATEP), the Japan International Cooperation Agency Afghanistan Community Development Study (JICA), and the Fulbright Program.
In addition, the Center publishes self-study and classroom language materials for Dari, and a Dari-English Dictionary. Research Associates of the Center are engaged in an ongoing Atlas of Afghanistan Project .
For more than 30 years, members of the CAS staff have regularly responded to requests for consulting services from federal agencies, the media, the private sector, and citizen intiative groups. In the six months following September 11, 2001, the Director and Assistant Director of the Center have provided over 2,500 interviews to local, national, and international media sources.
The Center demonstrates its commitment to Afghans and Afghanistan by maintaining a Field Office in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Center continues its cooperation with the current Afghan government and its Ministry of Education.
UNO and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) collaborate to revitalize health care in Afghanistan and improve educational opportunities for Afghan health care professionals.
The Center regularly assists scholars of Afghanistan studies, graduate students, government officials, and members of the media around the world in their research pursuits.
Over 500 Afghans have come to UNO as participants in exchange programs and other projects managed by the Center. More than 100 faculty and staff from the University of Nebraska have participated in projects related to Afghanistan.
The Center has provided training, coordination, development, and management for almost all sectors of education in Afghanistan: adult literacy, manpower development, gender equity, teacher training, and curriculum development.