08 January 2007

even in gender-based crime, misogyny goes un-remarked-upon

my sister is pretty awesome, and for christmas she gave me a subscription to bitch magazine. this is great because i can rarely bring myself to pay the five whole dollars for a single issue, and never can bring myself to buy an entire year's subscription of anything. anyway, i was reading the winter 2006/07 issue this afternoon and one of the shorter articles before the features reminded me of one of my own posts from a while back (and related op-ed by bob herbert).

since i am so bad about writing what i really want to write about, i am going to focus on this for now. i'm posting the piece; read it if you like. it centers on two things i tried to mention before: (1) that these should have been widely recognized as hate crimes and they were not, except at feminist blogs; and (2) that the role for men who do recognize and call out gender-based violence when they see it is pretty complicated, because as women and activists we* are grateful to find comprehension and support, and yet we also wish we could be heard without male interpreters. andi zeisler writes:
[Mike] Hendricks, in his October 6 column, noted that he’d found only one article on the Amish school massacre that described it as a hate crime, and pointed out that “Had [Roberts] singled out and shot 10 black men or 10 Jews or 10 gays or 10 of almost any other group, we’d be calling it a hate crime, whether it fit the legal definition or not.” Instead, he noted, the press was mostly concerned with whether Roberts had a beef with the Amish.
it's not so much these particular school killings that i am stuck on, but rather the sense i keep getting that nobody even ever thinks about violence against women. they don't think about it -- it's just normal background noise to the million other things that happen to "people". (people who are not women, is what that means.) lest you think that we should simply chalk it up to people's tendency not to think about things that don't happen to them, here's a short blog post (by stan goff for huffington post), which you definitely should read, about men's attitudes toward rape, which are then complicated by men's attitudes toward rape of men. the men in question -- i don't know them, they're just commenters on an npr report about incarceration -- make dubious claims of exceptionalism for prison rape, of how "no, rape is much worse for a man"; to me the various rationales for that claim really stink of sexism so pervasive that it's in the air we breathe and most of us just don't smell it. from goff's commentary:

I note in the metafilter discussion how the men try to find anything to make this different than what happens to women... women are not locked up by the state... rape doesn't generally happen "in the ass"... and on and on and on. The avoidance is visceral, desperate. I can't be a "catcher"! We have to stop PRISON rape... oh yeah, and all other rape, too. (as an afterthought) [...]

And if we want to get to the root of homophobia, then we have to understand that the behavioral expectations that underwrite it are based fundamentally on women's subordination. [...]

What does it tell us that men's most terrified reaction to the idea of prison is the fear that women experience all the time? What does it tell us that the worst punishment is to be made like a woman?

really, give it a quick read.


*(obviously, i find this "we" thing complicated too, but that doesn't need too much explaining.)

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