Why America Hates Women: fighting the internal war

Welcome to 2012, when marvelous things can be achieved—just watch how we go back in time, and back on the great strides women have made.

A few days ago, the inquiry into the Obama administration’s decision to guarantee access to contraception services and other preventative health care free of charge began.  Yet, all of the people testifying at the hearing were men.  When the issue was raised, the Chairman refused to include a female witness.

Shouldn’t women be making decisions about their own bodies? What century are we in, where we don’t let women speak about their own rights? How can men speak for our problems?

Yes, they ultimately did let two women testify.  But that doesn’t change the fact that women were excluded in the first place. Moreover, they excluded from those testifying a Catholic woman who represents the view of most Catholics, which is that Obama’s compromise was reasonable.

What does Santorum’s chief financial backer have to say on the matter? Cross your legs!

Excuse me?

What else? I’m glad you asked.  Apparently, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is now a partisan issue.  First authorized in 1994 by Clinton, it has since been reauthorized with overwhelming support, that is, until this year.  The legislation received no GOP support, though it was sponsored and cosponsored by senators from both parties.

The legislation aims to improve the response to violence against women, including domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault.  According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than three women are murdered by boyfriends and husbands each day.

This issue is still relevant, and should have the full support of those representing the people of this country.  The main objection: victims can’t be discriminated against based on sexual orientation or background.

So, violence against women is O.K. for certain individuals, but not others?  Please explain this to me, because as a human being, I can’t make the same distinction.

Do YOU think there can be too many victims???

Stay strong,

Rosie

FemiFail: No one should be tweeted like this…

I was horrified and beyond disgusted when I heard how some Chris Brown fans reacted to Chris Brown’s return to the Grammys…They actually were asking him to beat them, yes beat them, via tweets, among other social media outlets.

It doesn’t matter how sexy you think someone is.  No one should be O.K. with violence against women.  No one should ‘like the way it hurts.’  This goes back to my earlier ‘Love the Way You Lie?‘ post, but, when did beating someone you love become acceptable???! Because as far as I am concerned, it never has been, and never will be.

To see some of the actual tweets, click here.

Women, you are above this.

Stay strong,

Rosie

Love the Way You Lie?

Besides the way certain music videos visually portray women and men alike, like the ones below, what about the words behind the music?  Yes, both men and women are objectified in music videos.  But for the most part, when it comes to the lyrics of songs, there is a certain kind of message being sent to girls and women.  Earlier this year, my roommate and I decided that we would be truly badass.  We would start a female hip-hop/rap group, and would be the envy and awe of all our peers when we presented how BAMF we were.  This is not a joke.  We took this endeavor extremely seriously, even signing up for a break-dancing and hip-hop course, to show how hard-core about this we were. (This course, by the way, is still rocking our socks, and everyone who can, should definitely try to hip-hop/break dancing!!!)  We proudly told our friends about our new goal, but they just laughed and shook their heads.

First, we decided we would learn the lyrics to some already existing rap/hip-hop songs, to get a feel for the rhythm and performing.  At the time my roommate was obsessed with the song “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna.  I was fairly familiar with the song, and liked the beat and chorus of it, so I was ready to learn the song with her.  This was the first time we both had actually paid attention to the lyrics.  But, not until we had gotten to the last verse did the words “Next time I’m pissed I’ll lay my fist at the drywall” and “I know I’m a liar if she ever tries to fuckin’ leave again I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire” slap us both in the face.  The song “Love the Way You Lie” isn’t just about simple relationship problems, it is about violence in relationships.

I was horrified that we had spent the last three hours memorizing the first half of the lyrics of this song, never mind the fact that we had heard this song numerous times before without having had caught its subliminal message.  I do think the intent behind the song may have been good, as the song certainly does draw attention to the issue of violence against women who are in abusive relationships.  Yet, the way in which it does so is, in my opinion, completely inappropriate.  If you focus on what the lyrics are literally saying, what kind of message does this song send?  Besides the repeated, “I love the way you lie,” Rihanna also sings “I like the way it hurts.”  So basically, the message to me as a woman, or even to men, is that it is acceptable to abuse and hurt women repeatedly, because they love the way men lie and like the way it hurts.  This is a form of victim blaming—no normal women thoroughly enjoys being lied to or hurt, especially by someone they love.  The song is telling me, and other women, to submit to men, and shows us an example where the woman doesn’t stand up for herself.  Furthermore, the music video makes sexual abuse appear…sexy?  Either way, this girl does NOT love the way the media lies to females about what role they should play in society.  Who is to say women can’t be empowered??

Aren’t convinced? Take for instance the song “Just the way you are” by Bruno Mars. While I will admit that in this song Mars does, on the surface, sing empowering words of praise and support directed at women ( i.e.‘Cause you’re amazing/
Just the way you are’), at the same time, do women really need someone to tell them that they are amazing?  Are women so insecure that we require a man’s reassurance? How many times have you heard a girl ask if she looks fat?  A boy? For those of you who are now thinking that I am being too harsh on Mars, and that he really just wanted to sing a nice song: do you hear many songs from a female singer telling a man how amazing and beautiful he is? Just the way he is?? Or does that sound a little ridiculous to you?  Why don’t men need reassurance as well?  The truth is because women also DON’T need reassurance. We don’t need the media, or anyone to influence our self-esteem—so why let the media continue to lie to us?

A few days ago, my roommate again was telling me about how much she dreads the upcoming Valentine’s Day.  She isn’t the first one to tell me how inadequate she feels because she doesn’t have a boyfriend.  But why should anyone be made to feel worth less than what they actually are? No Hallmark holiday should influence a person’s sense of self-worth.  Yet, it’s come to this, hasn’t it?

I don’t have a solution. And, I obviously can’t control the media. But there is still a choice for all of the women out there, isn’t there? You can certainly sing along with your friends to a catchy song, ignoring the lyrics. But, you can also take a stand, and call out the lies the media perpetuates. Don’t let others determine who you are for you.

And please, if nothing else, stop second-guessing yourself!! If someone compliments you, don’t hesitate for even a second to accept it! Girl, you ARE amazing, so stop acting like it might be otherwise!

What do you think? Do you know of other songs like this?

Peace,

Rosie

Abortion–the common ground.

Okay, everybody ready for a hot-button issue? I am! But you all need to promise to get into this conversation and comment on this post and send us e-mails and like us on Facebook and share this with your friends and ask them about it. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about abortion as a woman, as a feminist, as someone who doesn’t want a kid yet but (maybe?) wants to have sex, as a person…

I struggle with this a lot. And I’m guessing you do too. So you better have your fingers and keyboard at the ready!

I think a good place to start would be the arguments I’ve heard about abortion in the past:

–A woman has the right to abort a pregnancy if she wants, and nobody else’s moral or religious ideals can take away that right.

–An abortion stops a beating heart. A woman’s “right to choose” violates that unborn person’s right to live.

–What about in instances of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life? Should a woman’s safety or mental health be the put on the line for the sake of a fetus that may or may not survive (especially in instances where the mother’s life is in danger)?

–If someone really doesn’t want the child, they can put it up for adoption.

–If abortion is illegal, some women will still abort pregnancies on their own, which is really dangerous and harms both mother and fetus. Nobody wins.

–What about people who abort fetuses because of its gender or because it will be born with Down’s syndrome or a serious defect? Isn’t that discrimination? Isn’t that human rights abuse?

–Children are expensive. Should low-income or young mothers have the option to abort a pregnancy that they can’t take care of?

–I don’t like abortion when it’s used as birth control. Once is one thing, but regularly is not okay.

–What about a woman’s emotional health? Unwanted pregnancies can be shameful, and if a woman doesn’t have the means or isn’t old enough to care for a child, motherhood can put her under stress that impairs her ability to care for a child.

–Women can also go through emotional trauma after an abortion and after putting a child up for adoption.

–About half of all fertilized eggs do not implant to the wall of the uterus and the female body menstruates them away. Are those fertilized eggs also considered human life? What do we do about them? Are miscarriages a form of child neglect or abuse? What are the implications of defining life at conception? Will we eventually define eggs and sperm as invaluable potential human lives which shouldn’t be wasted?

–Abortion goes against my religious or moral beliefs–and even though I understand that people’s situations are different from mine, and that my beliefs shouldn’t dictate what other people do, I feel like this is different. (this is the category I usually fit into)

Phew. It really doesn’t seem like there’s any common ground, is there?

So a person like me, who does not see abortion as a good option, but doesn’t want to institute laws that violate another person’s rights for what I believe is sort of left in the dust. As a feminist, there’s also pressure to support women’s rights. But there are also women out there who oppose abortion. Does that mean religious people, people who see abortion as amoral, and people who oppose abortion can’t be feminist? Where do men fit into this? Can men have an opinion or any sort of active role in the process? Does this mean that I’m not a feminist?

What I’ve come to realize is that this fight about abortion is more about politics and political divisions than it is about human rights, either for women or for fetuses. People who don’t think abortion is the right answer and people who believe a woman has the right to do what she wants are not to be reconciled, at least not in the near future. If we take a cue from the current group of people in Congress and on the Republican primary ballot, we know that yelling and digging our heels in the ground on issues like this doesn’t get us anywhere.

So maybe we should turn away from this issue and look at other ones instead, ones that don’t raise moral questions, and ones that don’t ostracize whole groups of feminists.

Most people talking about abortion agree that if a woman’s life is in danger, abortion should be an available option. If you don’t think that’s a good reason for abortion to be available, I’d like to hear why, because I can’t really think of one. If a woman could die from carrying or birthing a baby, she should be able to talk with her doctor (and partner, if present) and decide how she wants to handle the situation.

Okay. So now we’re left with some other serious problems, including instances of rape, general unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, people who are too young to care for a child, people who can’t afford children, etc. These are cases that are all unique and I don’t think it’s right to pass sweeping judgement or try to pass laws that will impact all of them. So we’ll work through them one by one.

If a woman is raped, and she becomes pregnant, should she have to go through nine months of pregnancy (which involves a lot of attention and questions and could mean re-living the rape every single day, to put it really simply) and then the grieving process that can follow an adoption or completely change her life around to raise the child? Does she deserve that? If she’s a victim of rape, will she get child support from the perpetrator? But then I wonder about the child, and you hear stories of mothers and the children they gave up after being raped, and the joy and closure they can experience, not to mention the life that child gets to live. So should the victim be able to have that abortion? It’s a difficult question, and I’ve never had an answer.

I still don’t have an answer to that, but here’s my solution. What if we left the abortion question alone, and instead worked to eliminate those rapes in the first place? Rape will always happen, because the world isn’t perfect, but it happens in our world way more than it should. As you’ll see on this blog and all over the internet, violence against women is so normal in our society that rape is not taken as seriously as it should be. We can all say that we are against rape, right? So let’s work to end rape. Educate people about what it is. Inform people about their rights and the consequences of rape. Work to silence the voices that objectify women and blame victims of rape. If the number of rapes in our society goes down, so will the number of pregnancies resulting from rapes. That will limit the number of abortions on that front.

Okay, so what about people who can’t afford medical bills or childcare? Or just don’t want a kid right now? You can work to make health and childcare more affordable, but I’m not going to have that debate in this post (it’s already pretty long!). So I’m going to say, let’s try to eliminate those unwanted pregnancies to begin with. If they never happen, it’s not an issue. That means giving people more access to birth control and sexual health education. Modern condoms, if used properly and with enough lubrication (usually more than the natural stuff than the bodies involved produce naturally), are becoming more and more effective on their own.

Of course, if you want to have full-penetration sex and not get pregnant, it’s always best to use medical birth control in addition, but that’s not an option for everyone.

First, some people object to medical birth control. I’m trying to be as inclusive as possible here, so that means we need to find an alternative route. People are never going to stop having sex–and they shouldn’t…it feels good and it’s good for you–so they need options. I think that the best course of action is to make all types of birth control as available and affordable as possible, and if you have issues with pre/extramarital sex and don’t believe birth control is a good option, have that conversation with your kids and let everyone else and their kids make their own choices.

Also, adequate sex ed is important too. There are sooooo many myths surrounding pregnancy and birth control just because there’s a lack of scientific communication (really, ask any sexual health educator, and they’ll tell you the comic at the right isn’t far from the truth). Sex ed isn’t going to encourage kids have sex: those that weren’t planning on it will likely still wait, and those that were thinking about it anyway (or already engaging in it) are going to do it safely. Education means that people understand that non-penetration sex (including manual, oral, anal, etc.) won’t cause pregnancy and can feel just as good if partners communicate. Moreover, kids and young adults need information to make their own decisions eventually–that’s part of growing up.

Unplanned pregnancies will always still occur, though, so if we’re trying to limit the number of abortions on that front, what else can we do? In many circles, an extramarital pregnancy means many negative and harmful labels are cast upon the mother–irresponsible, sinful, lustful, promiscuous, etc–and some women get abortions so that they don’t have to deal with all of that. It’s a little counter-intuitive, though, to discourage abortions but simultaneously treat single moms so poorly. I think that eliminating the negative impressions and labels that surround single parenthood would decrease the number of abortions because single or extramarital parents might not feel so ostracized.

And, of course, many unplanned pregnancies are carried full-term, so we don’t need to worry about those.

Whatever you think about abortions, I think that putting all your money behind the abortion fight might not be the best approach. Negative connotations about single parenthood, a lack of education about sex, and rampant rape are bigger issues that we should cope with first. I’m not saying abortion isn’t an issue, I’m saying that focusing on it alone ignores the big picture. People should have rights in America. The funny thing is, people already have the right to not be raped, the right to be a single parent without negative social repercussions, and the right to honest and scientific sex education. So maybe we should work to protect and enforce the rights people already have, be proactive instead of reactive, and unite against problems that affect all of us rather than divide over issues that don’t. If we approach the abortion issue this way, eventually the abortions that occur will only occur as acts of true need, and that’s what we want anyway, right?

I know that this approach might seem idealistic. But if all the people fighting the abortion fight were to pool their efforts towards a common cause, things might just get better. It’s sad that our nation is so divided that a unifying approach seems idealistic, but maybe that’s what we need. I think the one of the best parts of this approach is that it is activist-driven, rather than policy-driven. I would really rather not have a Congress dominated by men who will never understand what it’s like to be a woman in this society pass legislation that controls my or any other woman’s body, no matter how I feel about the issue at hand.

So what do you think? Now you’ve heard me out, and remember that you promised to respond! Get on it! I can’t wait!

Peace,
Annie

Girl Power? Another look at the force behind VAW

I recently read an article by Newsweek about a mother in Canada who murdered her three daughters for being too “westernized.”  The question that has been haunting me ever since is, what could bring a mother to kill her own daughters, never mind three of them.  About a week and a half ago, the Armed RevolutioKnits yarn-bombed the 5Cs to spread awareness about violence against women (VAW).  While I do hope that our tags spread awareness about VAW, as well as increased dialogue about the issue, I feel I still need to address a question that I’ve been reflecting on: If VAW is acknowledged by many to be a violation of not only women’s rights, but also human rights, what is the reasoning behind those fervently defending various forms of VAW?

VAW affects females in all spectrums, irrespective of race, age, class, beliefs, values, or region.  Furthermore, it impacts more than just the women it is committed against.  VAW harms families, communities, and even economies.  When looked at through an economic stance, VAW costs billions in terms of counseling, medical treatment, and legal costs.  Moreover, VAW is known to also hinder the economic development of a country or state, according to the World Bank.  So, the reasoning behind those still supporting VAW couldn’t be the, ‘it’s not going to affect me, why should I care’ mentality.  If you believe VAW is not going to happen to you, it probably still will, at least in the sense that because it happens to someone, it will definitely affect some part of your life, whether you realize it or not.

So, what is their reasoning?  What is the basis for their argument?  In one word: Culture.  I do agree that cultures are valuable, and should remain diverse and retain their traditions, especially in such a quickly globalizing world.  Culture is something to take ownership of, and to be proud of.  But on the other hand, can, or should, anyone be proud to have VAW as a vital tradition or custom?

This is also one of the reasons why I was so shocked that a mother would kill her own daughters.  And, this is certainly not the first time that female family members, or even non-related older women, have verbally abused, punished, or beat Muslim girls in order to pressure them to submit.  Sins can even include wearing jeans, or just talking to boys.  But women being against other women?  What could motivate this kind of act?

Asra Q. Nomani of Newsweek suggests that women who perpetuate abuse against other women grew up “suffocating under the same rigidity and dogmatism they are now trying to enforce upon the next generation.” As the abused becomes the abuser, they simply repeat what they know—not being able to see their acts as a crime.

What people often forget to realize is how culture changes, and evolves over time, as different views come to challenge sets of beliefs and customs.  I strongly believe people have the right to protect and uphold their own cultures.  But more importantly, I believe that women have the right to not be subject to violence.  When culture compromises basic human rights, things need to change.  As Beata Zpevakova clearly states in an article for Gender Across Borders, “Prenatal sex selection, child marriage, dowry–related violence, early or forced marriages, wife inheritance, sati (the burning of a widow on the funeral pyre of her husband) or maltreatment of widows are just a few of the practices that are commonly justified by culture- all of which violate a woman’s rights.”

By restricting women’s rights, you also restrict what, or rather who, women are.  What is the real motive behind VAW, justified by “culture”?  I’m starting to think “culture” is just another excuse, or façade for what the actual agenda is: keeping women in their “traditional” places: controlled, inferior, and most important, silent.

Speak out, let me know your thoughts on the issue.

Peace,

Rosie

Animals > Women ?

Some food for thought… “America has 3,800 animal shelters, but only 1,500 for battered women,” writes Schrager.  She raises an interesting point about how, in many ways, our society cares more about helping animals than people.

Why is this?

Well, in many cases, people don’t think that anyone they know is being directly affected by domestic violence—despite the studies that have indeed shown that domestic abuse occurs in all socio-economic circles.

Schrager suggests that people are less likely to donate money to support women’s shelters, because the issue of domestic abuse is not necessarily visible within our communities—it happens behind closed doors.  It is more difficult for people to give support to the “faceless,” and so instead they choose to support animal shelters.

While I do think Schrager’s article is somewhat biased, I agree with her that people shouldn’t ignore the issues of domestic violence occurring in their communities because they seem invisible.  Seen or unseen, the problem still exists, and there are women who do need help.

Personally, I think that bringing attention to violence committed against women is especially difficult.  Many people are likely to give support to an animal shelter after seeing commercials with photos of the animals, but you don’t exactly see the same type of tragic commercials for battered women. The sad truth is, most people aren’t likely to give to an organization that they don’t feel like they can relate to, unless a celebrity decides to support it as well.

If you are interested in reading the full article, visit: http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/does-one-abused-woman-100-abused-puppies

What do YOU think??

Peace,

Rosie