I am calling for a new feminist movement and men, we really need your help.
Rush Limbaugh’s comments from last week still has people outraged. Though there are many men who despise him and his views on women, the fact that he is so forthright in the public eye suggests that many more of them are in agreement with his opinions. It is men like Rush who have given “feminists” a bad name and created the stereotype: that feminists are angry “man-haters.” Though he would probably deny it, it is obvious by his loose usage of the term “feminazi” that he has helped to perpetuate this hateful and outrageous stereotype. As a feminist, I have never been a man-hater nor met any feminists who were. It has been made clear by the public’s reaction to Rush’s recent rhetoric that both men and women are fed up with these unfair gender stereotypes and shamefully ignorant accusations.
I used to wonder how the public’s perception of the word “feminist” became so skewed from it’s actual definition “a person who advocates equal rights for women.” Instead of being viewed as courageous, people who dare to challenge the status quo in a country where women are still paid 20% less than what men earn in comparable positions, we are viewed with public disdain and branded man-hating rabble-rousers merely for daring to vocalize these glaring gender inequalities. Publicly, those with clout, like Rush, talk about and regard us with the same type of annoyance and irritation that they also reserve for the brave participants of the Occupy Movement.
Gymboree’s discretion last week continues to offend me. If you haven’t heard about it, some moms were in an uproar because the children’s outfitter sold a variety of Onesies in which “Smart like Daddy,” was written on the boy’s version and “Pretty like Mommy” on the girl’s. An article about the Onesies on Salon mentions some of the backlash this controversy created citing one writer’s words, “if we get hysterical over every perceived slight, we won’t get anywhere. Choose your battle, ladies.” The article on the onesies goes on to include a commenter’s response to that statement, “These moms obviously have nothing better to do.”
These moms have nothing better to do? I’ve seen what moms do and they are usually very busy people. I’m sure they have plenty of better things to do than continue to fight this uphill battle in which every step women in the US take in the direction of equality (outnumbering male enrollment in universities, even) are thrown backwards a few steps by petty, yet offensive distractions like this type of children’s-wear. I do not fault the mothers across the US who spoke out, for not wanting their daughters to grow up in a country that continues to force women into the role of sex-object at increasingly younger and younger ages. Is being valued for our intelligence too much for a woman to ask for?
A friend recently brought an article to my attention about a seasoned sexual assault detective who, after years on the job, was sexually assaulted. Aside from the irony of the victim’s profession, I read the article to see why else this story had attracted so much attention. It was not surprising to read that the officer-turned-victim experienced the same shame and anxiety that is common for most victims of sexual assault. Additionally, like 95% of sexual assault victims, the officer did not want to report the crime to the proper authorities. There was only one outlier in this story: the rape victim was an adult male.
When most people hear the term “rape victim,” the image of an adult male is not what typically comes to mind. In cases of rape, men are usually associated with assailants rather than victims. Perhaps this is because 90% of rape victims are female, and the majority of rapists are male. These statistics do not make men immune from rape, in fact, 1 in every 33 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. In the US a sexual assault occurs every 2 minutes.
Why is it that most people think of women when they hear the term “rape victim?” Is it because of statistics, or has the media and culture accepted this as the status quo? Globally there are still many cultures that shun female rape victims. Victim blaming occurs, even in modern American society. Think back to two of the most common excuses made by victim blamers and rapist sympathizers: “She was dressed provocatively,” and “She had a bad reputation.” Both excuses not only sexualize rape crimes, but place the blame of rape on the female victim’s sexuality.
Check out the rest of the article on The Huffington Post