Monday, June 28, 2010

men in haiti

Haiti has long been a place of unspeakable sadness and despair and the earthquake at the beginning of this year was like pouring gasoline onto a bonfire.

This article in the NY Times about a 22 year old woman who was kidnapped and raped was pretty horrific. And the worst part is this is not an isolated incident, but a commonplace one, especially after the earthquake. It seems that in these awful situations where people are not just uncertain about their future but clawing for dear life just to stay alive, to find food and a place to sleep, aggression is abundant. Women feel the brunt of the abuse.

Men are left to deal with the feeling and weight of hopelessness and with no power or patience to find a way out of the rubble. They are desperate, depressed and angry. They are not supposed to cry or feel in need of help. They are supposed to take care of their family and themselves. And that desperation is what leads them to the torture and abuse of women, to take out all the anger the world has thrust against them and redirect it at a less powerful group.

This is absolutely not right, it's still completely despicable and wrong. Women need help, but I think this shows that men need help, too. I don't want to excuse these men in any way, but I do think this should make us think critically about the expectations we have for men that appropriate this type of behavior. We have to treat the symptoms AND the disease itself, otherwise we'll just keep treating the symptoms over and over and over...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

be careful

Be careful!
Take care of yourself!
Be safe!

I know these are all well-intentioned warnings and I hear them all the time when I go out for the night or for a trip from people I love and who I know care about me. But lately I've started to wonder if maybe these phrases of advice are traps for women. We often find ourselves in damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't situations, maybe this is another one of those, albeit a subliminal one.

Maybe this seems extreme, but let me explain myself.

As a woman, there are many things to consider when you leave the house.

Where are you going? What are you wearing? Who will be there? Is the area safe?

We carry the burden of the expectation of knowing the answers to all of these questions and more when we leave our front door. So if we leave unprepared and something bad happens, it becomes our fault. The world is dangerous. Men are dangerous. This is understood. We should have known better. We shouldn't have worn that. We shouldn't have been out alone that late. We shouldn't have...

Let's look at 2 situations -
Situation 1 - A girl is going to a party where she doesn't really know anyone. She goes and ends up drinking a lot and passes out. She is raped. Is it her fault?

Situation 2 - A girl is going to a party where she doesn't really know anyone. She drinks one drink and starts talking to a guy at the party for a long time. They go upstairs to make out. They are naked and almost ready to have sex. She changes her mind and says "No! I can't do this." The guy ignores her protest thinking she is playing hard-to-get. She is raped. Is it her fault?

I would venture to say many people would say "yes," it is her fault in both situations.

Two situations, one in which a woman loses control of her own body through being unconscious, another in which a woman is in coherent control of her own body but is taken advantage of anyhow.

When we tell women to be careful, when we give them numerous ways of protecting themselves, the proper way to hold your keys when walking alone so as to attack anyone who threatens you, anti-rape condoms, all of these things.

Do they help women? Sure. But we are missing the point.

The responsibility of rape should not lie on the shoulders of women. By constantly warning women we are simultaneously excusing men. It allows people to ask when terrible things happen to women "why did she stay with him if he was abusing her?" "what was she wearing?" "why did she drink so much?" "why did she go alone?"
Instead of asking the most important fucking question of all, why did he do that to her?

We need to stop the issue of sexual violence at the source, not just treat the symptoms.

I'm not saying that women should drop their inhibitions at all times. Clearly we are not there yet and I doubt any society could ever be there, for men or women. But I do think we absolutely need to start giving these warnings and suggestions to men instead of just women.

Be careful of your actions towards women, don't take advantage of them.
Take care of yourself and the people around you.
Be safe and aware of how you treat other people.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This picture has made my week so far. Here's hoping it does the same for you.

A little inspiration, perhaps? If nothing else...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

screw that, eat more

Hey! Hey! Come look at how ironic this Urban Outfitters shirt is.

The model's expression just seems to scream (or indifferently whisper) "oooooo, I'm seething with hollowed emptiness about this statement being made here."

Anorexia is a big fucking deal. The irony of an underweight girl wearing a shirt saying "Eat Less" is not funny, just fucking insensitive. Girls are already reminded on a constant basis to eat less, be thinner, lose weight. I don't find it funny to put a girl in this shirt and parade her around as some sort of hegemonic symbol to shame girls who don't fit this near-impossible standard.

So Urban Outfitters can go fuck itself.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the douchebag statisticians at the university of phoenix

I was riding home on the metro yesterday and happened to notice an ad for the University of Phoenix.

Above the ad was a giant question asking - What percentage of the students at the University of Phoenix are female? Among the choices there were the following:

A. 73% (too high, could never be)
B. 67% (seems high, but more feasible)
C. 1% (haha! wouldn't THAT be funny??)

The answer was in the ad you see above - 67%.

The part that really seemed to infuriate me, though, was the insinuation of women as minorities.

The University of Phoenix is proud to be the #1 university for conferring master's degrees to minorities.

Are you SHITTING me?

No offense to those disenfranchised ethnic groups who mark "other" instead of white on all of their government forms and are judged unfairly as a result. That sucks, too. But women have always made up half of the population and yet, somehow, we are considered minorities, making up less than the majority of the population. (Maybe I haven't done my homework and the stats in every country for thousands of years has always been 51% male, 49% female, but I fucking doubt it.)

For the past several years women have been leaving men in the dust in college and university enrollment. The University of Phoenix is not the only establishment bringing in women at a rate greater than 50%. Their target base is women, I get it, but maybe they should be smarter when marketing to the women they're trying to recruit into their program. Hopefully the next generation of marketers will be a majority of women and they will be smart enough to realize that we are not minorities and never have been.