Friday, March 5, 2010

Request For "Why Do They Hate Us"?

A regular reader at No Quarter, Cindy, asked if I would be willing to reprint the following post, first posted on 6/28/08, and re-posted a "Redux" 11/13/08 since this is Women's History Month. I am delighted that she asked, and happy (well, not really HAPPY, pleased) to do so. Thank you for asking, Cindy!

In the "Redux," I had added a link about the attack on Afghan school girls. As a prelude to this re-posting, I would like to mention a documentary coming out soon, also mentioned by a faithful NQ reader mentioned recently. Its focus is the slaughter of 13 young women by a misogynist in a school in Montreal. Here is a link to the trailer, if you wish to see it.

And finally, there is the arrest of John Albert Gardner, III, who is suspected of killing Chelsea King, and committing crimes against other young women. Gardner was released from prison after serving all of five years of an eleven year sentence for sexually attacking a 13 year old girl. The sentence was eleven years, and the psychiatrist had recommended a harsher sentence, to no avail. For some reason, that recommendation was ignored.

When will the sentences for violence against women and girls fit the crime? I have been asking that question for too long...

And now, to the original post

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:
Vaginal destruction:
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)

Honor killings:
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.
Brownworth continues,
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 (now Secretary 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.


Anonymous said...

What is so incredibly sad, Rev, is that nowhere have I heard anything about this being Women's History Month. It could be because I've not had as much time to spend on the computer and see what's going on, or maybe the channels I watch on TV just haven't gotten around to sharing the many brilliant accomplishments by women throughout the centuries. I'm sure our New Feminist President MUST have said something about it and I just missed it. Or it could be all Sarah Palin's fault...

Re-reading your post brought me almost to tears. It could have been written today, for as little as things have been addressed and CHANGE! been implemented in the past 2 years.

Just waiting for someone in the administration to realize the importance of Women's History Month to their spin on Health Care "Reform". Maybe I've missed their using women to get what they want?

My cynicism is showing today!

LOVED the link you sent re: Montserrat. What's a pesky little volcano when you're surrounded by all that beauty!

Mary Ellen said...

Great post, Rev. Amy!

I'm always baffled by the so-called "woman's lib" groups who had chosen to pile on Hillary and Sarah Palin in the last election. In fact, they are still piling on Sarah Palin.

Not to mention, I continue to see "progressives" who have small blogs, putting up photo-shopped pics of Sarah Palin that depict her as a slut. "progressives" who claim they are with the party of the "big tent" who welcomes long as it isn't a woman who thinks she can run for President, that is.

Oh..and the young girl, Chelsea King, who was just murdered, lived for 10 years in the town I live and went to the high school that my first two daughters went. When I saw that story, it made me wonder why it is that men who can rape a young girl and try to kill her can get away with only serving five years and any woman who kills her husband who was abusing her--and has been abusing her for years, gets an automatic life sentence?

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

SF, you aren't alone - I haven't heard a thing abt it being Women's History Month, either. No little 30 second spot inbetween shows or anything (like they had for Black History Month). Nothing. Nary a word. One would scarcely know it.

I admit, when I watched that trailer for "Polytechnique," I started crying. This man gunned them down BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN. That is the very definition of misogyny, isn't it?

And yes, nothing has changed. I think things have gotten worse in the past few years. Men now know they can say whatever they want to abt women, and honestly, pretty much do whatever they want. What kind of society thinks it is okay for a man to serve only 5 yrs of an 11 yr sentence for sexually assaulting a child? What's the point of having experts testify and then completely disregard what they say? More importantly, WHY did the prison system completely ignore the warnings abt this man who is suspected of killing this young woman?

What does it say abt us?

HUGE SHIFT - glad you liked the link! Isn't it gorgeous? Very temperate, the beaches are not at all crowded (as in, if you go to the beach, you might be the only one there!). Where people are allowed to live now is completely safe, but you can do a tour of the volcano area! Perfect! We should go check it out together, and get Mary Ellen to come along and give her a break from the snow! :-)

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Mary Ellen, when I reposted this back in Nov. of 2008, I mentioned the treatment of Sarah Palin. It is remarkable how women treat her, never mind the men (though she received a very warm welcome on Leno the other night - like Hillary, when people see her without it being filtered through the "Progressives," like that feminist, Olbermann (oh, dear - I may throw up), or elected Democrats, they find that she is pretty quick witted, and downright funny. Oh, and REAL. She is a real person. What a concept. (Just like with Hillary - when people actually listen to her, see her, they realize that the Dems and the right wingers painted a picture of her so false as to be laughable, except it did so much damage.)

Anyway - yes, it is shocking that women treat her the way they do after all she has accomplished. You'd think she would be someone held up as a role model for young women, whether one agrees with her politics or not. She is a self made woman, who rose to one of only 50 positions in the entire country. That's pretty remarkable, and enjoyed extremely high approval ratings, too - the highest in the land.

But no. Not in the Land of Misogyny and Women Will Not Be Free. Blech.

Mary Ellen, that is pretty intense abt the school King attended and your daughters, too. Wow.

And you are so right abt the difference in sentences handed out to men who brutally attack women, raping and killing them, and women who defend themselves against their batterers. I worked with women who did just that - defended themselves. After they had tried other lawful remedies, I might add. It was truly their last resort, not their first, either them or their abusive partner.

How dare they save themselves?? I mean, they are only women after all, right?

Grrrrrr. Makes me furious.

Thanks, ME, and SF, for the GREAT comments!!

So, ME - come to Montserrat with us! Think of the fun discussions we could have out on the veranda! :-)

Anonymous said...

Count me in for the Montserrat trip. Seriously! Wouldn't be able to do it before summer, but after that, I'm there! C'mon, Mary Ellen, it would be SO much fun!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

LOL - excellent! Suzy and I were JUST talking abt this on our way home from dinner a little while ago! I was saying how much fun it would be to go with you and Mary Ellen, extolling the many virtues of Montserrat - I think it would be a blast! :-D