Friday, March 29, 2013

Having a Life and Debating Oppression

Okay, so I kind of promised a review on Offside by Bianca Sommerland the other day and realized that it's now Friday and I haven't even finished the book yet. Apparently I have a life that takes me away from reading smutty books. Also, a preliminary comment on Offside - it didn't pull me in like I expected it to and I was able to put it down without too much regret. That made me very sad, cause I thought it would blow me away from the start. However, now that I'm really in the thick of it, I'm liking it much more.

Alright, oppression discussions. Kitty Thomas writes dark erotica and I enjoyed some of her books. Some were a bit too dark for me, which is saying a lot. Anyway, Kitty Thomas writes a blog and I decided to take a peek. I made a comment ... agreeing with her on a point well made and then Kitty replied and I replied back and somehow I find myself in the middle of a debate on feminism and oppression. More accurately, debating whether Western women were ever oppressed. Umm, yes they were. In some case, still are.

I'm not sure if I want to post all this on my blog, cause that would be all political and I am not usually into that. However, when someone says to me that Western women were never oppressed it makes me pause. I get that there are some radical feminist schools of thought out there that go beyond the pale of reasonable. Yes, there are feminists who believe that men are the enemy. I think that's pretty crazy. Obviously, men as a group are not evil. Duh. And yes, I realize there are evil women out there. Ann Coulter anyone? But let's not pretend that having no agency, no or less access to education, to jobs that pay enough to support oneself (+family) that is also respectable, often not having a say in who to marry (if you're lucky it's not your rapist) is not oppressive....

I kind of didn't want to argue with Kitty Thomas. Cause she's Kitty Thomas. She's an author. I kind of like her. I was agreeing with her until she said that Western women weren't oppressed. Ever. I'm not going to write a feminist essay here. Not now anyway. But in light of all the rape talk recently, I'll post my response to one of Kitty Thomas' comments: "Though… I am kind of curious… if “women” as a group have been oppressed by “men” as a group… why was rape a crime in EVERY civilized culture. (And it doesn’t matter what the reasons were and if you think those reasons were sexist. The point is… every civilized culture has said rape=bad). "

Define civilized culture. If you mean the West in general, let's say Europe and North America from the fall of Rome to modern day. And let's define rape - are you talking about stranger attacks woman in an alley? Yes, that was generally frowned upon. However, if we define rape as non consensual sex of any kind between a man who wants it and a woman who doesn't then the waters get much more murky.

Up until the 1800s (and really this continued on as tradition for a while after as well in certain areas), a woman who was victim to a rape was often made to marry her rapist. It's a Christian thing - here's where you can reference it in the bible: Deuteronomy 22:28-29 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days." Umm, I'm not sure that's a punishment that fits the crime for the rapist. And the rape victim is now stuck with her rapist... she's being punished here too. I’m not sure how anyone could argue that she's not in a position of weakness, that she's not being oppressed.

From Wikipedia: "Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992 and United Nations Populations Fund, 2000a). Factoring in unreported rapes, about 5% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. One of six U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape. More than a quarter of college age women report having experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14."

If we are, in fact, so protected from rape and if it is really viewed as a horrid crime, then why is it so under-reported? Why are women afraid to come forward? Even in our modern day "civilized" US.

Why is it that when women do come forward, whether about so called violent rape or so called acquaintance rape, is the first question whether she’s lying or how she provoked the attack?

Why, if rape is something we're supposed to be protected from, does a prominent public figure running for office feel comfortable differentiating between "legitimate rape" and ... do we need to go there? Just read this: 

Yes - there was a strong public reaction to this. However, the sentiment still exists, as proven by Todd Akin. And if Todd Akin isn't enough for you, then you can look up Richard Mourdock. Thankfully, they weren't elected to office, but let's face the fact that they say things that are pretty oppressive.  And the officials who have been elected have on several occasions attempted to redefine rape as if unless a stranger grabs a woman in an alley and has his way with her on the pavement then it’s just not rape enough.

These are the facts that make many women feel like they are oppressed and they are not safe.

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