Thursday, April 7, 2011

Follow Up: “Against Our Will” (Brownmiller) and “Mapping the Margins” (Crenshaw)

Both of the readings deal with the issue of violence being used against women as a weapon to control them. Brownmiller explains how rape is used to generate fear. Women grow up hearing tales of terror of "girls" being raped. She writes about many of the myths that go along with rape. Women are taught to fear men, but also told that men are the only ones who can protect them from being raped. So there is a fear and also a dependence on men. Then there is the myth that “All women want to be raped” (313) which is just ridiculous. Reading this article I could hardly believe that anyone actually thinks that women want to be raped. If a woman wanted it, then it would not be rape—it would be consensual sex. Something that really made me angry in this article was the defense that is used for rape. Saying that the woman was a tease is not a reason for rape. I cannot believe that this excuse actually justifies rape to some people.The fact that it does, scares me, which in a way exemplifies how I, too, have been taught to have a great fear of rape.

In Crenshaw’s article she discussed rape and violence against women too, but she focused on women of color. She, like Brownmiller, looked at the link between patriarchy and racism. She argued that there is not enough done to reach out to women who are victims of rape or other violent acts. The politics that she discussed in regards to how victims are treated was awful. She brought up the example of Anita Hill (and like Susan Douglas) explained how Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment were treated unfairly because she was a woman accusing a powerful man. There are many issues when trying to help rape victims (such as a language barrier), but politics should not be one of them. One example in the article really shocked me. It was the discussion of what Shahrazad Ali wrote in her book. She actually encouraged black men to dominate the females in their lives, and to use force sometimes. (Never enough to seriously injure them, but some physical violence is just fine). It surprised me that a woman wrote that. I guess I just thought as a woman she would be more sympathetic to her own sex. If not sympathetic than at least more understanding than she is.

Both of these articles discussed the need for feminists to change how women are treated, and to do something to stop the rape cycle. Neither article really addressed what men should do though. Other than obviously not rape, where do men fit in this fight? Brownmiller accused all men of benefiting and participating in the rape cycle, so what should these men do? I know that my dad would be horrified and upset if I told him that I believed because he was a man that he participates “in a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear…” (Brownmiller 312). If just by being male makes you part of the process, how can a man win?

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