*Warning The Video That Is Attached Is Extremely Violent, Viewer Discretion is Advised*
This past week I’ve had two different conversations with two different groups of people about the life of Transgenders, and the difficultly that they face in our society. Our society, as a whole, still views them as abnormal and more often than not makes no commitments to help make their lives easier. For those of you who may not know a person who identifies as Transgender is someone who feels that their gender identity (man or woman) does not match their biological sex (male or female). The degree to which each individual person decides to handle this discrepancy varies some are fine with simply dressing and acting like the gender they feel, some take hormones to get their body to realign, and a small few go through surgery to physically make their body line with their identity. It is all dependent upon that individual person and how they see themselves and what makes them the most comfortable. As my inner feminist incessantly reminds me feminism is about equality for ALL people so during both of these conversations I had that inner desire and obligation to remind those that I was with how difficult it can be to live in our society as someone who breaks a norm.
TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of rape/ sexual assault.
In my last post, I explained that the way a person dresses doesn’t indicate anyone’s right to touch them, and why this notion is so instrumental in contributing to rape culture. As the second post in my series about rape culture, I wanted to explore the concept of rape jokes.
A rape joke is any kind of joke that expects the audience to laugh because a person is being raped, chased, harassed, or otherwise violated. Now, it seems fairly simple to expect that no one would find jokes like this funny. We see rape as a repulsive thing, so why would anyone laugh at it? As it turns out, the answer is a little more complicated than whether or not we find rape abominable.
TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of rape/ sexual assault.
Due to the recent publicity of the Steubenville rape case (and the horrific way it has been handled in the media), I have decided to write a blog series about rape culture to better explain how it is upsetting yet unsurprising that this rape happened, and that it is being addressed so callously in the media (as Hannah Graces articulates so well). In this series, we will explore what rape culture is, and the qualities that define ours as one.
There are certain rules that women abide by to remain safe. Some were taught to us, and some have been learned and internalized. As women, we know to never walk alone at night, in an alley, or to our cars. We know that we must always carry our keys in our fists, to check the back seats before getting in the car, and to always lock the door as soon as we’re inside. We’re taught not to wear anything too revealing, so as not to give anyone the wrong idea; not to put our drinks down, lest someone have the opportunity to slip something in them; and to never leave without our friends, because if someone abducts one of us, at least there will be someone to call the police. Continue reading
“I was always interested in social change but never actually did anything about it.” ~ Ben Rattray
I’m returning for one last installment of the Millennium trilogy posts. Again without spoilers, I will explore author Stieg Larsson’s explosive series with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. In the final installment, we find Lisbeth Salander detained and falsely accused of several brutal murders. While she shamelessly admits to vigilante crimes she did commit, journalist and friend Mikael Blomkvisk uses his investigative ability to secure solid supporting evidence to her guiltlessness. In trying to prove her innocence, Blomkvist unknowingly unravels Lisbeth’s neglected past of being under the care of the Swedish government for her “mental impairment,” giving way to Larsson’s critique of global legislation protecting women, and activism towards change.
With the recent publicity regarding the UNC student who has spoken out about her sexual assault, there has been a spotlight on the way that the University has handled her attack, and the consequent discussion that she had led about it. Because she hasn’t used the name of her attacker in her public outcry, it is difficult to imagine why she is being threatened with expulsion for intimidating her nameless attacker. This is a particularly harmful form of victim-blaming, which not only makes victims of sexual assault feel powerless to face an attacker with whom they still have to share a space with, such as a campus environment, but also discourages victims from speaking out when they are assaulted.
It is absolutely true that accusations of sexual assault should never be taken lightly- by those who hear them, or by those who make them. However, it seems that we are culturally attached to this idea that someone accused of sexual assault is the victim of slander until proven otherwise. Though I adamantly believe that no one should be accused of an action they were not responsible for, I ask you to take a look at the statistics before you accuse a victim of crying wolf. According to rainn.org, 54% of cases of rape and sexual assault go completely unreported. Of the cases that are reported, 97% of offenders are NEVER convicted. Already, the odds are intimidatingly stacked against the victim who wants to speak out about his or her assault. There is also a note-worthy stigma facing men who speak up about being assaulted, shaming them for being queer and therefore emasculated for being a victim of a sexual crime. Continue reading
Fire is contradicting in almost every sense. While it brings warmth and comfort, it can also be destructive and deadly. Historically, fire was a sign for life and sustenance. Being so difficult to capture in its early discovery, fire was often sacred and used in ceremonies to appease Gods of all religions. Today fire is dangerous, often associated with wrath and pain. Fire is also figuratively seen as power, strength and will. A more befitting word couldn’t have been used to entitle Steig Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire; a novel that’s deadly to the core, but oh so delightful to behold.
Like its predecessor, the plot focuses on the two progressing storylines of its heroes, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Without any spoilers, the duo’s unrelated lives are interwoven beautifully, to finally unite in the Everest-proportioned climax and explosive cliffhanger. In this novel we find Lisbeth scornful of Blomkvist’s indiscretion, and hell-bent in shutting him out of her life for good. For Blomkvist, having restored his place in Millennium magazine, he is keenly interested in the mud raking potential a new story brought in by an aspiring journalist Dag Svensson. Dag presents several years of investigation into human trafficking and sexual violence that links many high ranking officials in government and the police force. It’s a scandal of monumental proportions that could not only set Dag on the map, but also bring Millennium up from the brink of bankruptcy. Continue reading
The conception of this post was one part luck and seven parts desperation. Last week I experienced for the first time in my life, an extreme case of writer’s block. Having gone through seven drafts of ideas, each of poor enough quality or caliber to warrant dismissal, I was at my wits end. With hours to spare before my scheduled post was about to go live, I was about to write a cop-out “what would YOU, the reader of this blog, like to read” post when I was struck with an idea. While it was suggested early on to write an article reviewing a book, I had dismissed the notion because I limited my focus to outwardly feminist books like Manifesta, of which I have not touched. However, in my sullen desperation I remembered reading about domestic and sexual abuse of women and started to think about books that may be indirectly feminist. Immediately a whirl of storyline came flooding back to me in a memory of a personal favorite series known worldwide as the Millennium trilogy.
The trilogy, consisting of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, has become legend for challenging Swedish social practices and indirectly inciting a worldwide call for reform. As I thought about it more and more, the pro-feminist lifestyle author Stieg Larsson lead, along with the message his books echoed made perfect sense to blog about and share. I realized early on though that to truly capture the narrative of these novels and accurately analyze them with a feminist perspective, I had to break it up into a series of three blog posts. Each post will be devoted to one of the Millennium novels and will focus on the events that occurred and how they mirrored Larsson’s own life. I hope to illuminate his social commentary and in the process explore the feminist implications of his final work. Let’s begin by exploring more of Larsson’s personal life before diving into his flagship novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Continue reading
Great Oden’s Raven! This week, I’ve decided to write my Feminist Lens Movie Review about the 2004 comedy, Anchorman.
But why Anchorman, you might ask? The answer is two-fold. First, I have a bunch of choices, many of which fall under the horror/action/thriller genres. Anchorman is very different in that regard. Second, despite presenting a shiny veneer of feminism and equality, the movie still contains a number of problematic elements. So grab your popcorn and bust out that Sex Panther cologne from your private stash—it’s time for another edition of the Feminist Lens.
I’ve never been one for activist groups. I remember sophomore year in high school a teacher horrified and enraged all of my friends and I at the atrocities being committed in Darfur. Under the idea we could actually end it, (yes we did actually believe we could,) we began holding awareness meetings, which turned into a club, which turned into bake sales and t-shirt sales, which then turned into benefit concerts and more. Eventually though, we all met a reality that no matter what we did, there was some other obstacle we had to climb, a constant up-hill battle that seemed to not only get steeper but more slippery as we ascended. The club eventually dissolved the following year after we lost our hope and drive in our impact.
Most recently I came across several male activist organizations that advocate stopping sexual assault of women and sexual discrimination in general. While I knew many activist groups against rape existed, I didn’t know of ones that were focused on men’s roles and reforming men. Not only did the majority of these explain the depth of injustices our patriarchal society have caused, but also the breadth in men’s ability to change the world around him for the benefit of those oppressed by the patriarchy.