Wednesday, March 30, 2011
In war, rape is often used a tactic to control, scare and threaten. There are many accounts of men being raped by other men in war, but the use of rape against the female population in war is more often and widely spread. Throughout history there are many documented accounts of mass rapes of women by soldiers, mercenaries and civilian men. The rape of Nanking, the genocide in Rwanda, and the Bosnian War are just a few of the most famous examples for rape being used as a war tactic. Today, this disgusting strategy for domination continues. On Saturday March 26, 2011 a Libyan woman struggled to tell her horrific story of rape to western reporters. She managed to get into the Rixos Hotel in Libya, where many reporters are staying, but was later dragged out by Colonel Qaddafi’s security forces.
The Libyan woman’s name is Eman al-Obeidy. There is little known about her, other than the few things that she managed to tell reporters. She told reporters, she was raped by fifteen different men and that, “I was tied up, and they defecated and urinated on me” (Kirkpatrick 1). She said that she was a native of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Qaddafi militia held her for two days before she managed to escape. Obeidy was tortured by these men, and says that she is not the only one. She yelled that her friends were still being held. It is terrifying to imagine what horrors these men are inflicting on those Obeidy left behind.
Obeidy went to the Rixos hotel specifically looking for news reporters because she believes, “there is no media coverage outside” (Kirkpatrick 1). This could be an example of the Libyan government trying to control the press. This is another tactic often used in war. In war torn areas journalists are often at risk of violence, or are not allowed to go to certain places. Governments do want their despicable practices to be exposed to the world. Charles Clover of The Financial Times tried to help Obeidy when security forces were trying to her to leave. He was treated roughly, and later told to leave—the Libyan government claimed that his reports were inaccurate. It can be assumed, however; that the inaccuracy was not in his reports; rather they lay in how the Libyan government treats their civilians.
Obeidy struggled with security forces for almost an hour. This clip shows part of her struggle: http://bcove.me/l67y7ho0. According to The New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick, Libyan forces treated her better than they would have if reporters had not been present. If a woman being forcibly dragged away is considered an example of less force, one wonders what goes on where journalists are not allowed to go. Both Libyan security forces and restaurant staff tried to apprehend Obeidy. In the video, one waitress throws a coat over her head, while another waiter tries to push the press back. Weapons were reportedly brandished about—a knife and a revolver were brought out when trying to control Obeidy. No one was seriously injured, but one wonders if that would be the case if not for the western reporters? Would anyone even know her story?
Eventually, Obeidy was forced into a white car and driven away. According to Musa Ibrahim, a Libyan government spokesman, “she appeared to be drunk and mentally ill” (Kirkpatrick 2). It is clear that the Libyan government is trying to discredit Obeidy’s account of the horrors inflicted on her by their militia. Discrediting rape victims is another common tactic used against women and men. While this case occurred in Libya during a time of war, discrediting rape victims is tried throughout the world. In the United States, rape victims are often accused of lying. Many a defendant has stated, “She wanted it.” One would hope that the rape victims would be believed before the rape defendants, but sadly this is not always the case. Who knows what explanations Obeidy’s rapists told themselves? Rape is never justified.
The fate of Obeidy is not known. Khalid Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said that she would be “treated in accordance with the law” (Kirkpatrick 2). If the government controls the militiamen who raped and tortured Obeidy, it does not reflect well on what she is going through at the hands of the government now.
Eman al-Obeidy is one of many rape victims. She suffered at the hands of her government, the same government sworn to protect her rights. Rape is used in war to intimidate. Obeidy says that she has no fear now; she only wants her story told so that other can know what is occurring in Libya. Her cry for help is not for herself; it is for the innocent living in Libya in this time of fear. The brutality of the Libyan government is a reminder of the cruelty that humans will inflict on other humans in order to stay in power. Obeidy’s bravery is not wasted, however, her story of terror appeared all over the news. Hopefully, this abuse will not be treated lightly, and she will not join the ranks of the millions of women raped and then forgotten in war.
Kirkpatrick, David D. “Libyan Woman Stuggles to Tell Media of Her Rape.” The New York Times. 26 March 2011.
“Embed Player” Channel 4 News. http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid69900095001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAEabvr4~,Wtd2HT-p_VhJQ6tgdykx3j23oh1YN- 2U&bctid=857700396001.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Follow Up: “Leading By Example: My Mother’s Resilience and Power in the Fight against Poverty” and “The Lady and the Tramp”
Eang gives a beautiful view of her mother in this story. She tells how her mother fights for her children. The story begins with saying that Eang’s family fled Cambodia from the regime. She explains how, before her family was able to leave, her mother used a machete to get food her children. (From this point on I knew that her mother was impressive.) Her article continues with her family moving to Philadelphia. America is far from perfect for Eang, though. She is sexually abused, her family is poor, and she experiences racism. Eang writes that by the time she was eight years old, she was working full time doing manual labor (picking blueberries) when she was not at school. Eventually, Eang goes to college. She says how her family is so surprised by her and her sisters attending colleges because it is not what good Cambodian women do.
Throughout her story, Eang’s mother is her rock. Her mother works tirelessly to protect and care for her children. When the welfare law changes, she attends school while also working. Sometimes her children would not see her for a week, but she made time to be with them. It is clear that her children drive her forward. When Eang speaks about going to college she says how it was her mother who encouraged and pushed her. Her mother does not believe in the stereotypes that Cambodian women are meant to follow. She wants her daughters to be strong, independent women. Without knowing what it means to be a feminist, it sounds like Eang’s mother is the definition of one.
“The Lady and the Tramp” – Gwendolyn Mink
This article addresses the injustices that face poor single mothers and the challenges of the welfare system. Mink writes how she, and the other women in the Women’s Committee, is mobilized to not speak for the poor single mothers, but with them; what is the poor women’s fight, it every women’s fight. She goes on to write about the Personal Responsibility Act, and how it is unjust. Mink believes that women do not take up the welfare call because many feminists are white, middleclass women, who do not have to deal with the welfare system.
A big issue that Mink has with the Personal Responsibility Act is that this law distinguishes poor single mothers as a separate caste—a group that is subject to a different system of law. She thinks that welfare is a necessary part of equality for women because it gives support for those working within the home. For the most part, women who are work within the house are seen as women who do no work. Housekeepers, maids, and nannies are all paid to do work, that women who work in the home are not paid for.
An issue for the welfare system that Mink suggests is the stereotype of the welfare woman. The welfare woman is lazy, promiscuous, and unintelligent. She could get enough money to support her family if she just worked hard enough. There is also a racial part of the welfare woman (she is not normally white). Mink argues that poor single women on welfare are the victims. She wants feminists to unite for these women, and to work with them. Since money is the way to become powerful in American society, these women need money. The welfare system is flawed because it suggests that you must work, and ignores the work that goes into raising a family. There is a gender divide that should be addressed, and poor single women are just one part of the divide.
The New York Times recently ran a story about an Indian man and woman who, seeking alone time together, met in a private spot off the beaten path of the suburb of Ghaziabad outside New Delhi. All they wanted was a moment of solitude, but what they got was shockingly different. Five drunk, young, men from a nearby farming village approached the couple. The men proceeded to gang rape the young woman and beat and rob the young man of his laptop and cell phone. This general animosity and cultural clash between the people of the city and the people of the villages has been generating a lot of tension in India. The incidence of rape has increased dramatically in the past 30 years. Although there are speculations as to why this has occurred, the widely held belief is that it is a result of a clash between “old and new India” and their vastly different cultural standpoints (Polgreen, 1). The underlying cultural tensions in the area are clearly running high at the detriment of young women.
The statistics of rape in India are most definitely shocking. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) the incidence of rape has increased by 700% since they started keeping track in 1971. As a point of comparison, all other crimes have only grown 300% since the NCRB began keeping track in 1953 (Gandhi, 1). This means that the number of rapes a day has grown from seven to 53 in only 40 years (Gandhi, 1). Clearly something has changed to make these numbers jump so drastically in such a short period of time. The major city of India, New Delhi, is under especially close scrutiny. Nearly one fourth of all the rapes reported in the cities of India in 2009 were in New Delhi (Harikrishnan, 1). Although all these statistics are incredibly disturbing, the most disheartening figure has to be that 85% of women in the capital felt unsafe and feared being sexually harassed, according to a survey by the United Nations in 2010 (Harikrishan, 1). This should never be the case and reflects incredibly poorly on the government, law enforcement, and bureaucracy of New Delhi.
One theory for this extreme rise in rape is that more and more women are beginning to work in the cities. New Delhi is one of the fastest growing cities in India and this year alone its economy is expected to grow 9 percent (Polgreen, 2). The workforce has almost doubled in the past 15 years to accommodate this growth which means that many more women are now working outside the home (Polgreen, 2). This phenomenon is a shock to traditional Indians who are used to women staying home and taking on a more conventional role. A leading women’s rights activist, Ranjana Kumari, said “There is a lot of tension between the people who are traditional in their mind-set and the city that is changing so quickly. Men are not used to seeing so many women in the country occupying public spaces,” (Polgreen, 2). Many men are extremely uncomfortable and hostile towards this new arrangement, and have taken out their resentment through aggression. This is an especially common sentiment in the villages and more rural towns outside of the city. These men are used to seeing their women covered, modest, and meek. In Raispur, the village where the rapists were from, women “live hemmed-in lives, covering their faces with shawls in front of strangers and seldom roaming beyond the village,” (Polgreen, 3). Thus, the women of the city, who are independent, self-reliant, and most likely less modest, are seen as a personal affront to the traditional culture. Their modern Western values are a threat to the traditional culture that men, like the inhabitants of Raispur, are accustomed to.
However, the major difficulties of stopping violence against women are the pervading cultural norms that continue to hem women in. Although they are becoming increasingly modern, Indian women can’t seem to shake certain customs that are imbedded in their lives from childhood. There is a certain amount of shame associated with rape in Indian culture. Many women see it as the ultimate destruction of their honor. This allows men to rape women without very much likelihood of punishment. Deputy police commissioner in New Dehli, Dhaliwal, says “They have no doubt they will get away with it,” because of the cultural norms instilled in Indian women to see rape as shameful rather than inherently wrong (Polgreen, 2). The girl who was raped in the New York Times article refused to help with the investigation because, according to her, “The police will not be able to restore my honor,”(Polgreen, 4). Because of this type of attitude among women, Mr. Dhaliwal estimates that only one in 10 rape cases is actually reported (Polgreen, 4). Along with that issue are the problems of bureaucracy in India. Even when women do report the crime, the process of going to trial for a rape case can be so frustrating and intimidating for the victim that they decide to drop the case (Dhoundial, 1). This could be why the conviction rate for rape is only 27%, a shockingly low number considering the frequency with which it occurs (Dhoundial, 1). The government will need to take serious action if it has any hope of increasing the number of convictions and decreasing the incidence of rape.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
In “A General Strike” I thought that a really good point was made. When men go on strike, they go on it for themselves, not for women. Women are always home doing housework, who goes on strike for them? I do think that most marriages are more equal now, but that does not take away from the fact that housework is linked to women. In “Maid to Order”, Ehrenreich makes the point that maids are mostly female. I wonder where this link with housework started? How did our ancestors decide what is feminine and what is masculine? In some ways I feel like it was just luck of the draw.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Three blonde women, animated into bobble heads, dance around the Playboy mansion. They have perfectly curved bodies, smooth, unblemished skin, and platinum blonde hair that many girls would kill for. Their practiced smiles are glued to their faces as a rapidly aging Hugh Hefner joins the crowd. This is the visual stimulation as the opening credits for “The Girls Next Door” are shown. “The Girls Next Door” is a reality television show that first aired in 2005. It chronicles the lives of Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson. It follows the girls through their daily lives within the house, the fabulous parties they attend, the work they do outside of the mansion, and their relationships with Hugh Hefner. The girls are interviewed on a regular basis to make comments about their plans and previous events. Thus, the viewers get an ongoing commentary and an up-close view of the dynamics in the Playboy mansion. Although it is an extremely entertaining show, the message it sends isn’t exactly encouraging. “The Girls Next Door” encourages and exemplifies the theory of enlightened sexism and feminism, enforces a strict form of patriarchy, and pits women against one another, which allows this practice of oppressing women to continue.
Enlightened feminism is an idea that Susan Douglas puts forward. It essentially suggests that all of feminism’s goals have been achieved so now it is appropriate for women to focus on their appearance and pleasing men. This is exactly what “The Girls Next Door” is doing. Their lives revolve around making themselves beautiful and attractive to men. Through appointments at salons, new, revealing, clothing, and dieting to get attractive bodies, these girls make themselves the icon of male desire. Their sexuality is an especially large part of what makes them attractive to men, and according to society, since all the goals of feminism have been reached, it’s perfectly alright to flaunt their heightened female sexuality. The film clip of the Fourth of July is particularly revealing, as far as this phenomenon. All the women are scantily clad is tiny bikinis (some even less) and are expected and praised for exhibiting themselves like a work of art for the many men at the party. Their power is specifically in making men want them, even if it is only based on physical appearance.
Although it is not shown in either of these clips, another goal that the girls desperately want to achieve is the opportunity to pose in Playboy magazine. Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends are not playmates, and therefore have never before been in the magazine. It is an especially significant goal to Bridget who has always dreamed of being a Playmate herself. The fact that this is such a steadfast aspiration of these girls implies that they believe it would bring them power. They see their bodies as marketable objects that serve the purpose of raising them to the level of men. If men desire their bodies, then they have a certain hold over them. Although I’m not sure if Bridget thinks so deeply about the subject, the underlying message, especially for young girls watching the show, is that having a hot body and being willing to show it brings women power.
However, while watching the show, it becomes very clear that these girls are not in power. Hugh Hefner is responsible for the wealth and livelihood of Holly, Bridget and Kendra. The girls live in his home, eat his food, and hang on his arms. They don’t seem to have serious career interests, while Hefner runs a company. In choosing to be his girlfriend and have the privileges the girls do, there are also strict rules put in place. The girls have a curfew and are expected to be in by 9 pm every night. They are not allowed to date other people and are not allowed to do overnights anywhere else, which seems odd considering that Hefner has 3 girlfriends himself. It is surprising that there are so many restrictions imposed on women who are apparently in control of their own bodies and lives now that feminisms work is over. Patriarchy is a system that is very obviously the ideology of the Playboy mansion. The girlfriends allow Hefner to have an incredible amount of control over their lives in order to be a third his girlfriend. The girls are also always portrayed as ornamental objects, and seem to mainly be for Hefner’s entertainment. As far as the progress of feminism, the Playboy mansion seems to be a Mormon commune accidentally placed in the 1900’s.
Shows like “The Girls Next Door” also foster a certain type of sentiment in the viewers. When we watch reality television that portrays women the way “The Girls Next Door” does, we seem to categorize women into two groups. There are women like the ones we are watching on television (Holly, Bridget, and Kendra) and there are us, the viewers. We elevate ourselves above them because according to us they are slutty, uneducated, dumb blondes. We put ourselves in what Douglas refers to as the “Smart Club.” However, by elevating ourselves we are degrading a different type of woman. In its essence, by putting down other women we are playing into a system that makes women look bad as a whole. In this way, we contribute to the system of patriarchy that women are trying so hard to fight. If women are subjugating other women to a lower threshold, then it is hypocritical to be upset that men do it as well.
“The Girls Next Door,” although incredibly riveting and addicting television, is a step in the wrong direction for feminism. It implies that power is gained through exploiting our bodies and acting stupid so that men can feel good about themselves. We trick ourselves into thinking we have the power in this dynamic, but how powerful can a woman possibly be when she is willing to share her boyfriend with two other women? Until we can face this problem of enlightened feminism directly, and publicly denounce these images and stereotypes instead of watching them out of interest, we will make no progress.
More Than A Bank Account
IndentAccording to Western society, women today have everything they want; they can vote, have any job, and marry whom they please. Sexism no longer exists…right? Many people would like to think this, but in today’s society there are many implicit and explicit examples of sexism. As Susan Douglas explains in her novel Enlightened Sexism, sexism today says that women are equal to men in every way, as well as telling women that the route to power is though their bodies, sexuality, and attire. Enlightened sexism reveals how sexism is still rampant, but no longer considered a serious issue. The media has fully adopted enlightened sexism. An example of this is the ad by Natan Jewelers . The ad has a man kneeling to a woman with a closed ring box; the woman’s legs are closed. In the next picture, the man opens the box to reveal a diamond ring; the woman’s legs are now spread open. This ad by Natan Jewelers demonstrates the sexism that still exists in today’s society and that blatant sexism sells. Women are still seen as inferior in terms of gender, race and power.
IndentGender is very important in this ad. The man in the ad is barely seen. The woman is the focus as, “girls and women are three times as likely as men to be sexually objectified to sell products in ads” (Douglass 182). The woman’s legs are thin and shapely, which is seen as attractive in Western culture. The ad does not just demonstrate how appearance is central in a woman, but also how apparently driven women are to get married. Before the woman in the ad sees the ring, she is not interested in sex. Now that she is going to be married, however, she is open to having sex. The ad, like many other media images, shows the “hailing of the pitiable helpless, self-absorbed, marriage-obsessed Bridget Jones as the epitome of millennial womanhood” (Douglas 115). This ad relays the sexist message that marriage is essential to women- so important that they will even have sex for it. As Paula Ettelbrick points out, “marriage defines certain relationships as more valid than others” (306). Being committed in a relationship does not equal marriage. Thus every woman must strive to find a man to marry her so her life can now be complete. Enlightened sexism sells the idea that marriage is the end goal for every woman. So Natan Jewelers uses this message and translate it into how vital it is to get that diamond ring. Natan Jewelers has a theme with its advertising. An engagement ring instantly changes how a woman sees the male. In each ad, the man is instantly more attractive (attractive enough to have sex with now!). Some more examples of their ads:
IndentYet, there is also another theme: race. The people displayed in Natan Jewelers ads are all white. In the ad with the man asking the woman to marry him, their faces are hidden, but their race is apparent. In fact, race is one of the few intelligible things about the people in the ad. So why are the people in this ad only white? Well according to enlightened sexism, African American women do not care about their marriages as much as white women do (Douglass 151). This ad is catered to wealthy, white people. If other races are less likely to be able to afford a Natan Jewelers’ engagement ring or less likely to get married, why have ads displaying their marriages? This is just one of the media’s messages to society regarding women. Douglas jokes about what the media now tells society as fact: “African American women are lazy, threatening, have a chip on their should, are not marriage material…” (208). Race along with sexism, is seen as unimportant today. Race and sex should not matter, so they do not. If only it were that easy.
IndentThe power that marriage gives is considerable. Ettelbrick writes, “marriage provides the ultimate form of acceptance for personal intimate relationships in our society, and gives those who marry an insider status of the most powerful kind” (306). Being married has many benefits, such as tax breaks. Who gets to decide when to marry? Why the man of course! A woman asking a man to marry her? Hilarious! Or even more shocking same-sex marriage! Natan Jewelers has a man proposing because this is what American culture says is correct. This ad is representing the double standard for men and women. The man has the power in the ad’s relationship because he is the only one who can pop that all-important question. What is made worse in this ad is that the man seems to only be proposing to the woman so that he can have sex with her. According to Natan Jewelers, people do not get married because they are in love. Instead, men propose to women because they want sex. Natan Jewelers exemplifies Douglas’s point when writing about advertising in the 21st century, “the rampant return to the often degrading sexual objectification of women” (155). The power play displayed in Natan Jewelers’ ad is said to be a joke, but the fact is that it is the truth.
IndentThe media sells the message that sexism is over. Feminism should be dead because women are equal to men. Yet if sexism does not matter, then why can the white woman only give sex in return for the favor of proposing to her? It is ironic that sexism is supposed to be dead when society is full of it. Women are told that they are equal to men, but at the same time degrading ads such as Natan Jewelers’ one profess the actual view of the media. The media professes an idea of gender equality while also printing ads, such as Natan Jeweler’s. When speaking of trying to find appropriate ads for the Ms. Magazine, Gloria Steinem writes, “that our main problem would be the imagery in the ads themselves” because, as she points out, sex sells (2). Natan Jewelers printed this ad because they believed it would be successful. So Natan Jewelers tells men that after giving an engagement ring, they get to open more than just a joint banking account. The ad is made out to be a joke, but in reality, only reveals how far women still have to go before they can really be considered equal to men.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Summary of Enloe “The Globetrotting Sneaker” and “Daughters and Generals in the Politics of the Globalized Sneaker”, and Shyam “Safe Keepers and Wage
Enloe discusses how Nike and other similar sneaker companies use woman labor to make their shoes cheap and expand their profits. She goes on to explain how governments and companies work together to create a deal. The deal is that shoe companies get to make a lot of money and the country becomes more industrialized.
Despite Nike supporting human rights and specifically women in their ads, their generosity only extends to where their profits are not hurt. When women in South Korea gathered to discuss wages, the factory managers called on troops to commit sexual harass, rape, and other horrors on the women in the name of “a control mechanism for suppressing women’s engagement in the labor movement.” Throughout the reading I found myself marveling at women’s bravery, but no more than when reading about how the same women who were harassed at their meetings, showed up to the same meeting the next week.
Enloe explains what the sneaker companies offer young women and what they offer the government of the countries where they set up factories. For the young women it is a chance to earn some income (even if it is an incredibly meager income), and for the country it allows money to be made, industrialization to occur, and their trade to increase. The sneaker companies and the governments work together to convince women that it is their patriotic duty to work in these factories. Without a change in what it means to be feminine, many women would not work in the factories.
These two chapters discuss how the women working in the factories are pitted against each other and other women looking for jobs as well. Instead of women rallying together, they are taught to distrust each other because they all want money. This reminded me of what Douglass discussed. Douglass and Enloe both write how women are taught to be mean to each other. It is not for their benefit, but for the patriarchal society’s benefit.
“Safe Keepers and Wage Earners”
Shyam discusses what issues South Asian women working in America face. A lot of the article is auto-biological. I was surprised by her parents’ support of her. Despite her traditional, patriarchal family, her parents encouraged her to get the best schooling she could. She talks about how she used to think that the patriarchal family was the only way, but still she dreamed big.
This article talks about how hard it is for South Asian women to balance having careers and their domestic duties. South Asian immigrant women have to uphold the gender roles and be successful (until their children are born). Shyam realized that for these women, they needed to know how to attain jobs so that they were not financially impaired. Her stories of the abused women not being able to leave their husbands because of financial issues are heartbreaking, and her work with them inspiring.
Shyam goes on to talk about how her own work life taught her a lot. South Asian women need to be submissive in the house, but assertive at work if they want to treated seriously. It took her a little while to figure this out, but was able to find the strength within her to do her job well. She ends the article discussing how difficult it is to “have it all.” She marvels at women who are able to balance their jobs, family, and own personal interests. I think this shows the issue facing many women today. Is having it all possible, at all?
Monday, March 7, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Follow Up: Paula Ettelbrick “Since When is Marriage a Path to Liberation?”, “Same-Sex Marriage FAQs” and Andrea Vaccaro “Soldier in a Long White Dress
Juxtaposed to the two other readings, Ettelbrick brings up the point that marriage does not mean equal. She writes how homosexuals are struggling for marriage so hard when they should realize that marriage would not make it acceptable to be gay or lesbian. This reading made me think about what it will accomplish for the gay and lesbian community if gay marriage is passed? I agree with Ettelbrick that legalizing marriage for everyone would not magically fix things, but I do think it shows a step in the right direction and the more people get use to the idea the more acceptable it will be to see same-sex marriages.
Vaccaro talks about how as a girl you look forward to your wedding. You play games, dress up your dolls, and imagine your perfect wedding. To not be able to do that because you do not fit into what society views, as love is really sad.