Swapping misogyny for mental illness in explanations for violence against women (particularly when the explanations are a clear-cut as the Elliot Rodger case) is nothing more than excuse-making. It’s inaccurate and it prevents a criminal justice system from dealing with violence. It also covers up the extreme misogyny that women experience every day and that they’re taught to re-frame (“it was my fault”), ignore (“he says he won’t do it again”), and forgive (“he’s really sorry”). We need to call this spade a spade. On Feminist Times:
An actor called him a lunatic, and newspapers and magazines called him a madman and deranged. And while it may have been tempting to use these words to describe the young man who killed six people because of his arrogant attitude of entitlement to women, Elliott Rodger’s videos and manifesto made clear that his problem was not his mental health, but rather his unbridled misogyny.
Using mental health slurs to describe people who are violent or objectionable is not only inaccurate, it also promotes stigma and damaging attitudes towards people with mental health problems. This is why describing rapists and murderers as crazy, psychos or nutters is dangerous as well as lazy.
It is these attitudes that prevent people with mental health diagnoses from getting on with their lives. They cause people in a leafy Sheffield suburb to actively object to a charity-run crisis housein their backyard on their street. The resulting prejudice prevents us from getting jobs and causes people to fear and loathe us. It makes people avoid seeking treatment because they are so afraid of the stigma that comes alongside the ‘mentally ill’ label. As an anonymous contributor to Fementalists wrote:
“For those of us who are mentally ill, however, it stays with us, stabs at us. Whenever we hear this kind of thing we’re getting the message we’re not to be accepted as we are, that we’re bad, wrong, to be mocked, or worse, dangerous. To me, it’s a constant message sent by society that we are unwelcome in it.”
Rest: Feminist Times.
I’d like to really show what I believe the men want to see: violence against women. Men get off behind that because they get even with the women they can’t have.
- Bill Margold – Pornographer
Piece by Emma-Li Thompson on antipornography.org.
I think this one is a no-brainer for anyone who’s seen or read any of Rodger’s views – he hated women. Anyone who says a group of people should be rounded up in concentration camps hates that group of people. Come on now. His own words make clear that this hatred played a part in his decision to attack others. How he arrived at this and rationalised it or how his mental health played a part is a whole other can of worms, and we don’t know enough right now to get into that. We may never.
(It’s worth noting that he also killed and injured men – perhaps women were a scapegoat for his resentment of society as whole or feelings of failure, as is pretty typical of hate crimes. If so, how women came to be the focus is still interesting and relevant, and important. Someone’s own perception of their motivation is not necessarily the whole story, but it’s a place to start. But I digress, and I begin to speculate as I said I would try not to, so let’s move on.)
What’s putting me and plenty of other women of my acquaintance through the emotional wringer in the wake of this story is that although this is horrifying, there is something we recognise in it. It’s shocking, but not surprising – no, that’s not quite the word. It’s not unfamiliar. Men getting angry and aggressive because they didn’t get what they want from women is something that threatens, hurts and kills women every day. For me and other women I’ve been talking to today, Rodger’s words bring back memories of being on the receiving end of an aggrieved sense of entitlement, and turn up to 11 our sense of having had a fucking lucky escape. To paraphrase Margaret Atwood, men are afraid women will reject them; women are afraid men will kill them, and this is why, writ large.
Rest: effie perine.
Excerpt from an excellent post from someone who works with violent offenders every day. Rodger’s problems were not about mental health (convenient as it is for the detractors to badge them as such and, therefore, defend him). He said himself felt entitled to women and hated them for not complying. What exactly is unclear about that misogyny?
Also, you should read Effie’s speech at Durham Women Rising. It’s transcribed here.
These are just a tiny selection of the thousands of stories that poured in when I started the hashtag #Grabbed on Twitter to document experiences of being touched, grabbed and groped without consent.
Within a few hours, according to the International Business Times, the hashtag had been used more than 6,000 times. By that evening it was the top trending topic in the UK.
As suggested by the overwhelming number of personal testimonies that flooded in, the experience of being touched in a sexual way without your consent is devastatingly common.
Rest: guardian: Too many women are touched, grabbed and groped without consent
I’ve watched my abusive ex continue to thrive in his community — join all the boards, the parent-teacher groups, spearhead community initiatives. What a guy! And hey, he didn’t abuse you, so WHO’S TO SAY. And who cares when there’s progressive work to be done! Real progressive work. Work that matters. Not just the girl shit. They’re all crazy anyway — the girls.
So keep starting your startups and having your protests and your meetings and keep writing your articles and having your very important discussions about climate change and poverty and union politics and Donald Sterling is such a racist, isn’t he. We’ll all support you, I guess, because we have no other choice. Because where do we go? Where is our community? Where is our Next Top Progressive Website? Where’s our Jacobin? When we launch it will we get profiled in The New York Times?
Oh. No. We don’t get one. We aren’t serious enough. It’s just women’s issues after all. Not Serious Politics. Oh. Because you still want your buddies and your porn and your class of women to fuck and ogle and to listen to your fucking baby-child emotions and to comfort you and support you and be there for you while you work through your fucking damage even though we had to work through ours all on our own. When is it our turn? When will you listen to us?
We’ll keep telling you our stories. Because we keep thinking you’ll care. We keep hoping that this time you’ll believe us. That this time you’ll get it.
- Meghan Murphy on Here’s what I want from progressives (some fucking solidarity) – Feminist Current.
It’s difficult to describe what it feels like to be cat called if it has never happened to you. You feel sick and exposed. You feel violated, worthless, and degraded. You feel as though your intellect and your personality have been entirely squished, flattened and run over by a truck. All of the accomplishments you’ve made in life – in school, at work, in relationships – they don’t matter. You are not a human.
If when you walk by a group of teenage boys or the classic group of construction workers and “please don’t say anything, please don’t say anything” runs through your mind, you’ve experienced one cat call too many (quite literally, one cat call is too many). It begins to creep into your life to the point where good, genuine compliments from trustworthy people can feel cheap.
- Laura Anderson (her twitter and her blog)
Caption: The fairytale never said anything about Prince Charming using sex as a weapon to exert his power over the beautiful princess, or demanding it from her even when she said no.
Not Happily Ever After” Campaign Shows Disturbing Twists In Fairytale Endings
“Not Happily Every After” is a new campaign launched on May 8th in Ireland, featuring this uncomfortable and eye-catching image.
The venture is a joint project between Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Women’s Aid, after a recent survey that found that 6% of women in Ireland reported experiencing sexual violence within relationships. The campaign aims to highlight that sexual violence can and often is experienced within intimate relationships, at the hands of violent partners. Shockingly in Ireland, marital rape was not criminalized until 1990 (in the USA it was criminalized state-by-state in the 1970′s). Given the very recent nature of the change in law, it is not surprising that women refrain from speaking out, or remain uneducated about the nature of sexual violence from intimate partners. [Rest on bust.]
Really important stuff. Wonder if this is the first, concerted campaign to address intimate partner violence and abuse in Ireland?
Jan Dark on the challenge of overcoming female social conditioning and standing up to abuse from not just men, but other women. On the F-Word:
Since time immemorial, women have been taught that male violence and abuse are inevitable; we are expected to learn to either avoid it or live with it. Male violence against women and girls is so normalised that decades on from the beginning of the second wave, feminists’ voices are still not being heard. When our voices are heard, rather than being listened to, we experience a backlash.
The first ‘speak out session’ within the anti-rape movement in the USA took place in New York in January 1971. Over 300 women attended and at least 30 courageously spoke of their experiences of male sexual violence in front of a mixed audience. Some were subjected to verbal and physical abuse from the men present (including being urinated on) when they disclosed. Not surprisingly, a consequence was the recognition for the need for women-only spaces. How much has changed? Very little. Fast forward to the digital age and the abuse also happens online. What has changed is that is our women-only spaces and services are constantly under threat from male intrusion. [Rest.]
A follow-up to this - Rape Culture is Very Real; We Are Not Hysterical – is this: We’re Not “Hysterical” for Talking About Rape Culture (bust):
Why does rape happen?
Because a rapist chooses to rape someone. Because someone felt so entitled to sex, they didn’t care whether their selected partner was able or willing to consent. No one is disagreeing there. But why does that choice happen? Where does that sense of entitlement come from?
If you ask RAINN or TIME magazine, they wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. Or, perhaps, they would say it doesn’t matter why. Earlier this month, RAINN—the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization—wrote recommendations for a White House task force on sexual assault that included a line about how in recent years, there has been an “unfortunate trend towards blaming ‘rape culture’” for sexual violence on college campuses. “While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime,” read the recommendations. TIME followed up with an article announcing, “It’s time to end ‘rape culture’ hysteria.”
If you ask me though, or many people working to end sexual violence, we’d tell you that the choice to commit rape happens because we live in a world that supports and condones non-consensual sex in many ways every day. We live in a culture that makes sex a zero-sum game—something women are expected to perform, and then protect. Something men are expected to relentlessly desire, and then take.
The theory of rape culture gives us a way to understand why sexual violence happens. It tasks us not with pointing fingers at false problems, but with working together to change our society.
We may very well live in a culture were almost everyone—outwardly, at least—agrees that rape is wrong. But we also live in a culture that doesn’t understand, on a very basic level, what rape really is. And apparently, one of the best-known anti-sexual violence organizations doesn’t have the ability to understand the nuance of why that’s true. [Rest.]
Don’t read the Time article unless you are particularly strong of stomach.
I think I can speak for many people when I say reading the Time article “It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria” by Caroline Kitchens felt like a punch of fire to the stomach. Reducing a traumatic and life-altering crime like rape to “hysterics” is harmful and dangerous on so many levels, not to mention it is just plain insulting.
Hysteria. Hmmm, where have we heard that term before?
The term “hysteria” is defined as a state in which emotions (such as fear or anxiety) are so strong that individuals or groups of people behave in uncontrolled and irrational ways.
As women we are constantly being told that we are in hysterics. When we speak out about an injustice, suddenly we are “hysterical,” “crazy,” “bossy,” or the ol’ standby, “a bitch.” The concept of Female Hysteria goes back to Ancient Greece, with the “wandering womb,” which reappeared in the late 1800s as a so-called mental illness. Although Female Hysteria is no longer a recognized mental illness, the ideology behind the idea has not gone away, but has become more implicit. We are still getting told to shut up and take a chill pill, insinuating women are hysterical and therefore cannot be taken seriously. [Rest.]
This is an interesting study published in the journal of Feminist Criminology recently. It’s the about the extent to which rape myths are accepted (i.e. rape is normalised and excused) if individuals subscribe to a “just world belief” whereby people “get what they deserve”. It’s a grim outlook, particularly in relation to rape, and it is a disgusting way to excuse rape (or, worse, argue that someone deserved to be raped) but as the study indicates, it is prevalent (though not necessarily as clear-cut as it first appears). I have the full PDF, by the way, if anyone wants it.
Feminist Criminology, July 2013 issue.
Abstract: Rape myth acceptance which are false beliefs regarding the incidence of sexual assault, and are more prevalent among males, may influence how victims are treated. Acceptance of the just world belief (JWB), which argues that individuals believe that people get what they deserve, may be a predictor of rape myth acceptance. The present study examined the relationship among gender, belief in a just world, and rape myth acceptance. Findings suggest that while gender remained a significant predictor of rape myth acceptance the relationship between just world belief and rape myth acceptance was more complicated than hypothesized.
From findings: These findings may be understood through several possible explanations. First, gender, especially in the context of rape myth acceptance, remains a significant predictor because of society’s insistence on the normalization of sexual violence due to patriarchal attitudes toward the construction of gender (Schwartz & DeKeseredy, 1997). Second, it is possible that victim blaming, even within the context of rape myths, needs to be separated out as victim blaming-self versus victim blaming-other. Third, it is also possible that JWB is a unidimensional construct and JWB-other is unnecessary. [Link to PDF.]
As a culture we have incredibly low standards for male behaviour. If we want to change this, we need to raise the bar considerably. As women, we are grateful if the men in our lives do not kill, beat, rape or other wise molest us. If those of us who have male partners are treated kindly by them they are thought of as ‘good men’. If they assist with the rearing of their children and are kind to them and help provide for them they are deemed ‘great fathers’. If they listen to us, support us, denounce prostitution and pornography, engage somewhat with feminism, and try to be accountable for their mistakes, they are seen as ‘exceptional’. We consistently compare the men in our lives to the worst of their kind and not the best. We are happy with mediocrity and not excellence. I look forward to the day when we all, women and men, will expect these these things and not view them as exceptional. I look forward to the day when men expect these things of themselves and we as women demand them. I look forward to the day that men do not expect a standing ovation for behaving like human beings. This is the culture I hope we can cultivate in DGR.
- DGRWomensCaucus, facebook (via zeeblebum)
According to multiple left-wing Swedish news sources, the group of feminists were attacked at 1am, leaving a “Reclaim the Night” demonstration on March 9th. It is unknown exactly how many individuals were involved in the attack, but six were taken to the hospital. Of the six, two were attackers and four were victims. The attack took place in central Malmo, in a square known as the heart of the multicultural and left wing district of Malmo.
In a recently confirmed update, which reads like a sensational fiction thriller, Police in Malmo have confirmed that Nazis are behind the attack.
The three men in custody are “known Nazis holding membership with the svenskarnes parti (Swedes party), a party that claims that ‘only people who belong to the western genetic and cultural heritage… should be Swedish citizens.’” It is obvious that this was a planned attack, and is similar to the Nazi attack at an anti- fascist demonstration in Stockholm, less than 3 months ago, which also lead to serious injuries and a murder investigation. [Rest.]
(Images courtesy of Facebook and Sydsvenskan.)
Caption: Here’s George Zimmerman – whose only claim to fame is killing an unarmed black teen–signing autographs at a gun show. @JustinWolfers.