(Warning: some rape trigger material)

THE cold and the rain did not deter a group of two hundred or so dedicated SlutWalkers from meeting at Town Hall on June 13th. The SlutWalk protests were retaliations against comments made by a Toronto police officer, who, at a crime prevention forum, suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”. This comment is dangerous for a number of reasons. Firstly, not only does it blame the victim for instigating their own sexual assault, it also implies that women who dress in a “slutty manner” should expect to be assaulted. Why? Because apparently, wearing a short skirt and a low cut top means you’re “asking for it” – asking for rape that is.

Furthermore, studies have suggested that due to the perpetuation of rape culture and myths (I will go on to explain them a bit later), women who are victims of sexual assaults are less likely to report their rapes to police in fear of being blamed and “slut-shamed”. In turn, the perpetrators are excused from their behaviour and will continue to assault with a sense of impunity.

Now some readers may be rolling their eyes at this. They may think it’s an exaggeration. For you, I present a court case that led to a man accused of rape being acquitted based on the women wearing “skinny leg” jeans. I kid you not. Early last year in Australia 23-year-old Nicholas Eugenio Gonzalez was accused of both the vaginal and anal rape of a 24-year-old woman. Gonzalez claimed it was consensual despite the “compelling medical evidence” which suggested that the woman had been sexually assaulted.

The jury was not convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Nicholas Gonzalez raped a woman who had been wearing skinny legs. Apparently the woman’s jeans were so “tight” that they must have been removed by her and therefore the sex was consensual. Indeed, during the trial the jury sent a note to the judge asking for “how exactly Nick took off her jeans”. The jury was sceptical whether “those kind of jeans can be removed without any sort of collaboration”. Many young women who do wear skinny jeans can tell you that indeed, the jeans can be taken off without help. And it is possibly in this case, that she did help remove her jeans but half-way through she changed her mind and said “No”. No means no – even is she says yes at the start then reconsiders.

One of the chants during the SlutWalk protests epitomises what I just have said “Yes means yes, no means no, however we dress, wherever we go!” The media and society warn women to prevent their own rapes by “dressing appropriately”, “stop being teases!”, “not to get drunk” “not to walk home alone at night”. Now, there is nothing wrong in taking preventative measures, however, the onus and focus should be on those that commit the crimes. We should aim to annihilate the rape culture in society and teach men (and women, I guess) not to rape, not to assault, not to attack in the first place.

Rape myths keep the “rape culture” alive and kicking. Rape myths are exactly that – myths. Completely and blatantly false. These myths exist for many reason some include “inherited structural conditions, gender role expectations, and the fundamental exercise of power in a patriarchal society”. I have already mentioned a few rape myths some others are further discussed at this website such as “women secretly fantasize getting raped”, “there is no rape in marriage” and “men can’t get raped”. I urge readers to familiarise themselves with these so next time they hear these myths; they can call “bullshit” and hit them with the facts.

The SlutWalk, as well as focusing on discontinuing the rape culture that is perpetuated by society and the media, also aimed to reclaim the world “Slut”. Now, I’m sceptical if this is possible. The word itself is a pejorative and has negative connotations of a person with “loose” sexual morals and who is regarded to be sexually promiscuous. The term is usually applied to women as an insult. Professor Gail Dines and Melinda Tankard Reist have suggested that the word is “beyond redemption” due to their belief that the world is devised from the “Madonna/whore” dichotomy. My interview with SlutWalk protester, Megan McKenzie provided similar insight, however she was less cynical, stating cautiously that “it would take a long time, and many generations to reclaim a word [with such negative connotations]”.

Though the turn out was small in comparison to the protests held in Canada, Britain and the U.S, SlutWalk Sydney has made an impression. And this is why activism is crucial in instigating social justice and progressive change. Fighting for change is no easy feat and it doesn’t happen over night. However, it is worth it. Women who protested for suffrage and rights over their bodies only achieved what we now take for granted with passion, dedication and sacrifice. This is why I am so glad to have experienced SlutWalk Sydney. A collective struggle will incite progress and change, and I want to be a part of it.

A great Youtube video which compiles the best bits of the event.
Sydney SlutWalk 13 June 2011

- Sadaf Hakimi


This was so inspiring to read.

Originally posted by Tahera Nassrat @ Voice of Afghanistan > Check out the site, it has some great posts!

Sometimes I want to leave this place and go away. I want to restart my life somewhere else. I want to be in a place where I will not get caught by frustration this often, where happiness and tranquility will replace the sadness that presses my heart. I want to be in a place where I will feel freedom and liberty in the air. There are people here that tell me Afghanistan is not where I should have been born in. They tell me to go far away from here because this country cannot tolerate a liberated woman. But I know freeing me from this country does not mean freeing my soul and heart from it. By leaving this country I will leave myself and letting a big part of struggle forever or die.
I remind myself that this is a struggle zone. I remind myself that if I stay here and fight this war of being a woman and remaining a woman the generation after me will not have to go through what I am going through.
Today I am fighting for my femininity so that tomorrow my daughter will not have to live through discrimination and suppression. This country makes me have a love-hate relationship with it. It forces me feel weak and frustrated at times. But this is my home. It is my duty to fight. It is my generation¹s duty to struggle and pave the way for the next generation. I must remember that this country also gives me pride, it gives me challenges and achievements, it gives me victory at end.
I have gone a long way to find myself and appreciate myself as a woman in this male dominant society. I have managed to give a feminine definition for myself, in a society where everything is defined by men. The change I see in myself makes believe in change in others. But the change must happen in the minds of every Afghan woman.
Sometimes as I talk to Afghan women, I feel that I am talking to men inside women’s bodies. This makes me angry. A woman who is ashamed of talking about her monthly period is not a woman. A woman’s monthly period is the one of the most feminine experiences she goes through. But even that has a male dominant definition. A woman while having her monthly period finds herself dirty and ugly. She feels unaccepted and outcast. She is abandoned from talking about what she goes through. Women here must redefine this experience which they go through. They must be respected for going through this experience and understood they should not be ashamed of it.
I face and deal with men in women’s bodies on daily basis. Men that think they are women and suppress womanhood. Here I confront women who are ashamed of their bodies, women that hate their bodies, women that think their body makes them vulnerable, women that burn up their own bodies in flames of fire and curse themselves for being born a woman. Even they themselves cannot appreciate their own femininity, because their sexuality is defined by men. There is nothing feminine in the way they are defined by men. These women believe their bodies are to please men. These women believe in sexual relationships only men have the right to be satisfied.
These women believe that their bodies are tools for men’s pleasure and they are to be passive and tools. No one asks them if they enjoy sexual intercourse or not. No one asks them what position they like better. No one asks them what they want during sexual intercourse. In this sexual game the goal to be achieved is to please men. And after wards the woman’s task is to grow the product of that in her womb, give birth to it and raise it all unwillingly.
What makes these men in women’s bodies trustworthy and respectable is their hymens. These women have the sacred duty of taking care of their hymen from childhood till the night they are raped by a man who has no respect for their own self but rather trusts them for their hymen. These women believe by taking care of their hymen they are taking care of their pride, their self respect, their chastity and proving their faithfulness to their husbands. There is no one to ask why only women must prove their virginity?
What is chastity? What is pride? What is self respect? How do you prove a man’s pride, self respect and faithfulness? Why do we bring up our daughters teaching them that their bodies are to be kept and protected because they belong to men? Women here must grow up thinking of their bodies as their own properties. How women treat their body relates to them only. Every woman must explore every part of her body because her body belongs to her and only her.
Every woman must love and her appreciate her own body. Thinking of our bodies as properties of men turns us in to material and is one of the most major manners through which we are suppressed. Freedom means liberation from the limitations we as women have accepted to live with. We must free our own bodies and reclaim them from men.
I must remain here and fight these male dominant views and thoughts that suppress women here. I must not allow these male dominant views define the identity of a woman and womanhood. This society is in need of women who liberate their minds, souls and bodies. This society is in need of women who alter this male dominant society to a society where everyone is respected and appreciated. I must remain here to re-establish the thoughts and languages that entitle a liberated woman a Fahesha (prostitute) or Ghar numai (a whore, a slut), or at least to attempt to create the male equivalent of these thoughts and words. I will stay here to at least confront people with this question: How do you measure a man’s virginity?
Voice:  Zubaida Akbar

Hey everyone :)

I’m just throwing ideas around at the moment, but I’m hoping to make a short video/ad awareness campaign regarding domestic violence in time for White Ribbon Day (25 Novemeber). I’m working on the script at the moment and I’ll update soon, regarding what’s what!

Watch this space!

Other links: http://www.vday.org/home


Here are a few links that you should look into and read.

‘Worse than the Taliban’

‘Bachabaze’

◊ ‘Rape victims in the Congo’

‘Rape by Deception’

‘Slut Shaming’ (Carla Bruni, Iranian Press)


What makes a person a feminist?

Does hating men, becoming a lesbian, not shaving your legs and burning your bra constitute to you being a feminist? Frankly, no.

This belief is a misconception. And a rather clever one at that.  Feminism as a social movement has always been feared by patriarchal control, hence why it is often represented in an negative light by the media in hope to discourage women (and men) from embracing it wholly. The fear-mongering is clear in the following quote made by controversial Christian televangelist, Pat Robertson, who claims:

The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

These types of comments encourage people to disassociate themselves from the feminist agency. First off, what is a feminist? The dictionary definition (according to the American Heritage Dictionary) writes that a feminist is someone, male or female, who believes in social, political and economic equality between the sexes.”

What is so radical about that? What is so frightening about that?

There are some feminists who assert that men can never be feminists as they can’t really identify with the female experience and gender. This may be true to an extent, however, men can be pro-feminism (Charles Louis de Montesquieu, William Lloyd Garrison, Andrew Golis, Brian Klocke). As the definition suggests, you don’t need to be a woman to be a feminist. You just need to value equality and have egalitarian principles.

It is essential for men to a part of the movement, if feminism truly wants to “attain the goal of liberating women” men must be included in this collective struggle.

Link: http://www.nomas.org/node/122

Sadaf Hakimi


Hey Hi Hello

06Aug10

This is just a start up post to let ya’ll know what kind of blog this is. I came up with starting a blog that discusses issues such as gender and feminism and the media.

I want to show that feminism is still relevant in today’s context and how sexism impacts not just women, but men also.  And what else is that a lot of young women these days don’t want to associate themselves with feminism considering it as ‘outdated’. This blog is aimed to update you with the latest news that is gender related and prove otherwise!

Editors:

Sadaf

Maddy

Mira




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