Women losing ground regarding rights and fair treatment has snowballed into an avalanche. Each time a new story comes out, I start to mentally outline a blog post, but before I can get to my computer, another one comes out, and my article wouldn’t complete without it. Bang, bang, boom,at rapid-fire pace this is happening, until I just can’t. And then I can’t figure out what to say through my fury and hurt.
This morning, as I lay in bed with my iPhone, reading yet another article on mistreatment of women, it started to come together. I realized what it was that I couldn’t put my finger on, and it’s something that needs to change…
For years now, I have been as vocal as I can be about women losing rights and our society defending abusers, idolizing fictional characters who no one would want their daughters to date, making heroes out of men killing women for not giving sex (while blaming women, of course), and the horrid “I don’t need feminism” movement. I’m just one voice out there, screaming by myself, being drowned out my misogynists and more voices screaming back that “Not all men are like that!” We know. But that misses the point.
The second-class treatment of women has been simmering. For many years, we have been told not to wear skirts if we don’t want to be raped. We have been told not to get drunk if we don’t want to be rape. We have been told that being raped is our fault. We must have done something to deserve it, or to mislead someone. We women have been fighting this, but not making any headway in a society where women are put on trial for being raped, where having sex before makes us suspect in our own rapes, where victim-blaming has become an expected part of life, where not being a virgin means you can’t be raped, where our looks can make or break us. We’re expected to shut the hell up and blend in with the scenery.
We have been fighting for a while to have paycheck fairness through an act appropriately called the Paycheck Fairness Act. Unfortunately the Lilly Ledbetter Act didn’t eliminate the intentional pay gap. How could it have any real-world impact when our own senate has repeatedly struck down the Paycheck Fairness Act, in essence supporting paying women less because of what we have between our legs?
We’ve been fighting, but in the end, we’re beating the proverbial dead horse.
Oh, did you know that it’s legal to take photos of women’s private parts in public without their consent in Texas, where judges decided that a ban on doing this to us is unconstitutional. At least Massachusetts threw out its temporary legalization of this violation of women’s rights. What happened in Texas was no big deal at all.
Anyway, along came Gamergate. A couple weeks ago, I posted about this, so don’t need to rehash it. But even before Gamergate, Anita Sarkeesian had received death threats and been forced from her home for her own safety. Bomb-threats were a blip on the radar of public consciousness. It took the threat of a gun in a gun-shy society for things to explode, and for the general public to have to face what’s happening. Women are essentially being driven offline for safety.
Since then, Shoshana B. Roberts recorded how many times she was catcalled and commented in inappropriately in New York over a ten-hour period. The comments and calls came at an average rate of once every ten minutes. She promptly started receiving death threats.
Since then, there’s been complaining about California’s affirmative-consent law, claims that this law is meant to scare men, and even claims that this law “will ruin good sex for women.” We’ve been told this law is bad for us. If you’ve managed to miss this law, allow me to sum it up: You must get actual consent to have sex with someone. In California, “she didn’t say no” no longer cuts it. That defense has been used to protect rapists who raped unconscious women, and women who are scared can freeze up and be too frightened to say no. But now actual affirmative consent muse be obtained. And somehow this is a bad thing….
With Halloween upon us, women are expected to dress sexy. Today’s little princesses, Minions, and zombies, will be expected to put their bodies on display for sexual gratification not too long from now.
It goes on and on and on.
This morning I sent my husband a text stating that I felt like crying. He went into our room, where I was still reading an article, and he asked what was wrong. I blurted out not understanding why this country wants a group to hate and oppress. As LGBT people are gaining marriage rights, so rises the hatred and oppression of women. It seems there has to be someone to hate. That there must be hate, hurts. I’ve been very vocal about LGBT rights for years, and thrilled with the progress made there. I’ve been furious over institutionalized racism. I’m absolutely baffled about why our society has to replace whichever group is making progress with someone else to lash out at.
I admit that part of why this upsets me so much is that I have a daughter who doesn’t yet know that having a vagina means she is a second-class citizen who society sees as not deserving of the same rights as men. She’ll learn this in due course. She shouldn’t have to, but she will. All these little girls are ignorant about how they’re second-class. This is the same feeling I got about her pre-school “boyfriends” last year, two little boys who are enjoying life now, not realizing that the color of their skin makes them bad in society’s eyes. Those boys and my daughter don’t yet know that there are people who’ll oppose them dating for real in another decade. These precious children will have their innocence stripped before too much longer, because our society demands someone to hate for things we can’t control.
My husband said that this exploded with Gamergate, then went on a small rant about how calling it Gamergate is problematic because it gives the media an opening to claim all men who are into gaming are the bad guys. The last thing I expected is for my non-misogynist husband to miss the point, and it was then that I could put my finger on the underlying problem gnawing at me.
Even our good guys are defending men.
We women know that not all men are jerks, and that the men who love us are usually willing to die defending us against attack. But when it comes to us being treated as second class, there’s radio silence from the good guys. He said that gaming publications have come out against sexism. Why not leave it to who has the broadest reach?
Sometimes it can feel like one voice isn’t doing anything for a cause. He’s wrong, and I was wrong to think that my ranting about these issues can’t have an effect. If one person can open the eyes of a couple more, and those couple become vocal, then we’ve got an exponential gain. We’e making progress! We say this with LGBT rights. Grassroots groups spoke up. Gradually others started hearing, agreeing, and speaking up. As the movement grew, there was power to elect politicians who’d back equal rights, and as one thing led to another, even our highly conservative Supreme Court of the United States can no longer deny that this discrimination is illegal.
So yes, a few grassroots voices can start a movement. Unfortunately, as history has shown us time and again, the laws won’t change until the oppressed group has the support of the controlling majority. Slavery didn’t end because slaves stood up and demanded rights. It took white politicians to end it. Women didn’t get the right to vote because Suffragettes campaigned for it. We needed the men with the power to vote to vote in our favor. Ruby Bridges didn’t get to go to school because her parents demanded and end to educational segregation. It took action among white men with the power to change the laws. LGBT people didn’t start getting rights by saying there’s no good reason to deny them. Straight politicians and judges with the power had to step up.
So how can women today make much headway if the non-oppressed majority is busy defending men and leaving it to a few gaming magazines? We women can scream all we want, but we must get the message through to our politicians, who are overwhelmingly mostly straight, white Christian men. If the men in office now don’t support our rights (scroll back up and read about how the Senate struck down a proposed law banning paying women less based on gender), how can we make them listen? We’re just second class wimminz who need to get back in the kitchen. Those in charge will listen to those who they respect, in this case, other men.
Too bad those other men are busy making sure we know that not all men are sexist gaming jerks. WE KNOW. WE GET IT. Those we need to fight with us are looking at the issue the wrong way. Realistically, what’s the worst that’ll happen if some women do take the stance that all men are jerks? Nothing. Oooooh, they think men are jerks. Realistically, what’s the worst that’ll happen if men take the stance that women should subservient and give then the sex they think they’re owed, or that we should sit down and shut up? Rape threats. Rape. Terrorist threats. Murder.
We need men to stand with us and use their voices, the voices those in power are more likely to listen to, to start at the ground level and vocally oppose the treatment we are subject to. Post on Facebook. Post on Twitter. Discuss it with their friends. Get involved with petitions. Help vote out of office those who think a penis is a magic wand making some people more valuable. Do something more than silently be on our side. Make yourselves heard! Even if you can get one person to realize how harmful this is, that’s progress. Two, and the progress is exponential. If thousands of men do this, that’s going to add up. History has shown us that this is how progress toward rights ultimately happens.
But right now, even our good guys are defending men, who don’t face threats of hard. What will it take to get our good guys to defend women, who face threats of rape and death? Will it take your daughter or sister being killed by a man who thinks he’s owed something? Or will it take realizing that one voice can make a difference?
I write these blog posts knowing my direct reach isn’t vast. How many people can possibly be interested in the writing blog of an author whose platform is trying to end sexism through writing about strong women in fiction and speaking up every chance she gets? Not many. I don’t have a large readership. But even if I only move one person to take action, that’s progress. It feels like an uphill battle at times, but it’s still progress.
Will those of you reading this take a step and start speaking out?