Rape, Rebellion & Responsibility

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Gracie's on her monthly rag rant, which includes news, her views, and a five point plan.

In Forget About A Race Riot: Is There Cause For A Gender Riot? Content Black Woman points out the reasons why her name, at least for that post, is pure irony.

In the post, she points to the horrific crimes committed upon women and their children ~ and I insist you read it. You have to in order to understand what we're talking about here.

The crimes are disgusting, but the disparity between what happens when the victims are white & wealthy and when they are neither white nor wealthy is even more so. The little value placed on the victims in the media in terms of air time and print inches shows just how poor the market value is for a poor woman with darker skin.

Content Black Woman said, "Shame on the major media outlets, legislators, women organizations like NOW and Black women organizations who haven't spoken up and out about the shameful incident that took place in Florida back in June." And I too have to wonder where our leaders are... If Not NOW... Then who? And when?

But this news media silence also silently points to the question of just how much value the white woman and her two white daughters really have...

All three white females were murdered, while the Hispanic woman and child survived. The one family with a wealthy white male to complain is the squeaky wheel, receiving the grease of media attention (and, I dare to say, justice) while the survivors, who seemingly have no outraged male to beat upon his chest, receive no such attentions. Is the media attention not only because those murdered were white, but because what we're really talking about here is a man's loss?

Women, I ask you: Is our value still that of possession?

If you think I am cynical, bitchy, or just a plain old feminazi, consider this: A man convicted of drugging, sexually assaulting and enabling other men to sexually assault a female minor ~ one who also fled from arrest ~ is given just six months sentencing.

The story goes that this male made a deal, a plea down from the potential sentence of life in prison for rape and object sexual penetration for cooperation with investigators regarding charges against the other men involved in assaulting the victim. However, at the time of his sentencing hearing, he still had not provided any useful information. Like An Inconvenient Reality says, "And you shall know me by the hair pulling and head banging".

You could argue that these are just a few cases, a few stories, across our vast country. OK, let's look at larger messages then.

This summer an episode of the F/X drama Rescue Me had the show's main character (Tommy Gavin, played by Denis Leary, who is also the series co-creator) respond to his estranged wife's talking back with rape. Rape she deserved; rape she enjoyed.

Unlike the horrific crime in Florida, at least one women's group commented on this atrocity. Sara K. Gould, the president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, not describes but decries the BS for what it is: "The incontrovertible fact is that women already feel disempowered to tell their truths around sexual violence, and by creating a fictional world in which Tommy Gavin can leave the scene of his crime with a grin on his face and without accountability required of him by his community of firefighters, the creators of Rescue Me have, in their own way, done violence to women once again."

But how did these writers and producers dare to create a scenario in which rape "is understood to be a reasonable male response to acts of female insubordination"? Gould again responds:

"If we are shocked by the inability of the show's creators to produce anything approaching a realistic view of the effect of rape on women and communities, it might help to remember that of the eleven executives in charge of production (from writers to directors to producers) listed on the show's website, just one -- one -- is a woman. And in the executive suites at the networks -- where the real decisions get made about what makes it onto the air and what doesn't -- a similar lack of female perspective is often at play."

Some folks have snickered at the simplistic signs and billboards in Monrovia, Liberia. Taken Tuesday, June 5, 2007, by the AP's Rebecca Blackwell, the billboards encourage women who have been raped to seek treatment because, "Rape was so prevalent during the civil war that many have come to see it as a petty offense, a lesser crime when compared with other atrocities such as cutting out a man's heart and eating it."

Monrovian Rape Billboard

But I ask you, if we can have television shows which do not even consider a man raping his wife to be a crime, how can we play the 'civilized' card?

Why do men still have more value than women? It's a very simple question, with a very simple answer: Women have less value than men because men have said so.

Men have said so with their laws, their courts, their institutions. It's like we are the children, they the parents ~ and by God, if we're going to live under their roof we'll live by their rules!

But if men have said so, we women have not rebelled. Not enough.

We've rebelled before. We did so as individuals ~ and we did so in groups. Like any roommates, we women didn't always agree; we had our disagreements, our fights. But we did our best to focus on what we were doing: Trying to live together, building better days. And there was no shame in our banding together as women to do this ~ after all, men have been doing it for centuries.

It's time, again, to rebel; to tell "Daddy" that we aren't kids, or pets, and that we demand to be treated like adults, equals.

Here's the Five Point Plan:

1) We must be willing to form, join, and lead groups to ensure that we are working together towards goals that matter.

2) We need to yell when our leaders seem to be ignoring issues which matter to women.

3) When they do speak out, we need to not only listen but add our voices and our actions. (Hint: Write and complain to Rescue Me, F/X, and their advertisers.)

4) We need to give our sisters a hand up whenever we can. Maybe she will get there ahead of you ~ or even instead of you. But with more women in positions of influence and power we can avoid situations where a group of men with their gluttonous appetite to hoard privilege can wield and perpetuate their power not only over the one (or few) females in the room, but over all of us.

5) And we need to teach our children to do the same.

 

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