Naw. Just completely Naw. I’ve tended to agree with almost everything you’ve said in the past, to the extent I’ve been able to understand it without a master’s degree. But this? Fuck that shit. You, Ophelia, and Murdock are all simply wrong. I see in your slimy sounding reply to comment 6 that you’re referring debate about the morality of this to Murdock’s site, so I won’t waste your time with my reasoning, but the fact you three see no problem with this shows a shocking lack of empathy. Basically, you’re so into the activist message (a fine thing to be) that you’ve let yourself be completely blind to the harm this kind of thing can cause.
So Murdock can’t use facebook now. Boo fucking hoo. It ain’t the only social media in the world, and sometimes fuckups deserve consequences. Many people who would otherwise be in agreement about almost everything you guys stand for will not go to bat for this one. Consider it, if you’re willing.
So what’s this about?
Basically? Some people think
1. The lack of trigger warnings on a facebook post about “Virgin Checking” in Africa.
2. The subsequent banning of the poster
3. The usage of the photograph
Needless to say? There are TW here with regards t this topic (again).
There is the notion that this was all unnecessary and in general portrayed “Africa” in a bad light.
But this smacks of three things.
1. While Trigger Warnings are important to some it isn’t to most people. And unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a trigger warning. I have PTSD myself courtesy of being nearly blown up. I am terrified of explosions. It’s Diwali at the moment in India and if I were in the UK it would be Guy Fawkes night soonish.
I cannot demand they go away. I have had to make my peace with fireworks. I cannot force others to make peace with their triggers but frankly? If you are planning to fight for “truth, justice and a boiled egg” then you are going to have to learn to take things in your stride.
I have had to treat acid victims, mutilations, burns. I have seen murders, road traffic accidents and even a damn shark attack. And in this all I have to say this.
If you really want to make a change to everyone else rather than simply feel shocked and appalled over photos then I am afraid you need to have a thick skin. If you cannot? Then this isn’t for you. If you are going to break down and cry at every dead child then what use are you in helping? If you cannot roll with punches. To try and do social justice of the sort Acharya was trying to do with trigger warnings is laughable.
Because real life work doesn’t come with trigger warnings. I cannot tell the people I am around that I fear explosions. So I pretend to be scared of the big bangs to make children laugh. I also go light fireworks myself. Why? Because it builds bridges. If you cannot face down that which scares you and triggers your PTSD then why on earth are you calling yourself social justice?
Or it is it only white people’s worries that you bleed for? Steubenvilles and Rebecca Watsons? I am afraid the problem here is you are telling us to not tell our stories. Acharya S does nothing different to what I do except I am generally good about TW because others want to see them.
However if a topic upsets me then there is a button to close the screen. There are however no buttons for those who actually have to deal with these things. While a person horribly injured in an accident is traumatising to look at, I cannot turn him away lest I retch out my breakfast. I must tough it out. If we are discussing social justice then remember those who actually fight this issue.
Remember, I put TW on my posts because I understand that some of my readers have to deal with PTSD. Others don’t because they don’t realise so. Or don’t see how something could be triggering. One cannot expect the entire world to avoid using fireworks and balloons for my benefit.
2. Yes, boo hoo she lost Facebook. I lost it too. It’s a big “problem” when you have a blog and have a group of friends who actively stay in touch with you through that medium. Imagine if someone nicked your phone. That’s the issue. It was also hypocritical. Facebook errs on the side of caution. It’s easier to satiate the group of people who are horrified at nudity than to deal with people irritated at cultural practices that are bad. Sad and irritating but ultimately fixable.
3. The usage of photos of people having terrible things happen to them is the very basis of journalism. Writing about it is also the basis of it.
From where I am sat, I am horrified because Murdock/Acharya has not written anything different from me. The practice of virginity testing in Africa is found in a variety of cultures. It is prevalent even in the UK where the NHS has done around a 100 Hymenorraphy or reconstruction of the hymen SOLELY for women to pass a virginity test in their culture.
And if you think we should stop talking about it then I am afraid then it’s only social justice for the people who are in western nations.
You are bringing anthropology into charity work. Which is just pitifully wringing your hands refusing to stop people from doing bad things as long as those bad things are justified by culture or religion.
It’s like the goodness gracious me sketch where the white woman in charge of a women’s shelter refuses to intervene in a husband trying to murder his wife because they are Asian and this is a cultural issue and it’s not her place to say that it is bad.
Well bull biscuits to that!
You don’t want to see terrible things. You have the luxury of not seeing these terrible things. Others really do not have such a luxury. The people living there for starters have to live with this sort of thing.
The practice of virginity testing is seen in a lot of cultures. An inordinate amount of emphasis is made on virgins and the honour of women with regards to virginity and it’s an idea older than the Bible.
And there are those who think this is exploitative.
Sure it’s exploitative. It’s putting up an invasive and pointless procedure online for all and sundry to see. We should not put up such a photo.
Instead we should not provide any photos about the events and experiences we have lest someone be exploited by their presence in the photo. We should not punctuate our arguments with visual evidence. How dare we depict starving children in Somalia! We are giving Johannesburg a bad name!
That’s not how photo journalism works. You inform people about an issue and if you have photos you put them up. I lost my camera hence the rather lean looking blog but the last things that came out of my camera were photos of the Indian Rape Protests. Where people’s anger and rage and sorrow were exploited to show the rest of the world what Indian women were fighting for.
Pornographic? No. It’s not. From a purely anthopological viewpoint it is a cultural practice. From a reportive viewpoint it is evidence for a practice. You think breasts are somehow sexualised? That’s your cultural sensitivity. Many cultures across the world don’t consider women to be “topless” and breasts are just things that feed babies. It is us who sexualised them. They would consider us to be grotesque weirdoes and ashamed of something that is part of being a woman. No it was not pornographic.
Rape? I have heard the term “Birth Rape” being used before. Or the rape of a woman by a doctor when the doctor performs things considered basic and gynaecologically sound. While I think consent is important in medicine I think that in emergencies consent should be assumed. Otherwise the entire field of Emergency and Trauma medicine are buggered.
What it is, is a tragedy. It is a tragedy that young girls are being needlessly tested for a hymen. It is a crying shame. It’s their culture? So what? Not all of culture is good. Do you think Sati was good? Or the Caste System? No? Then if we can discuss those things why can’t we discuss such a pointless and widespread practice as “Virgin Testing”?
II am sure you will call this mansplainin or whatever. But frankly?
Only one of us is actually doing society any justice here. Sure, call me whitewashed. Other Indians do that. I have been called coconut way too many times for it to hurt from white people (Brown on the Outside, White on the inside) but you know what? Not all ideas have the same worth. And some cultural ideas are good.
For every stance for women’s equality I stand for I point out that India has as many female engineers as male ones. Why? Maths is not hard for girls in India. For all that culture of discrimination India is more progressive in some ways than the UK or the USA to its women. We can criticise the USA for it’s treatment of women planning to go into science or mathematics, yet we are suddenly not allowed to criticise vast parts of rural African culture?
And I will point out that the practice of infundibulation or the suturing shut of the vagina except for a small hole to allow urine and menstrual fluid out is linked to virginity. This is a practice that in many parts of Africa is linked to Female Genital Mutilation. Still don’t want to talk about it? What about in the Middle East and Pakistan’s Pashtun regions where a lack of virginity or a hymen can mean death? Still don’t want to talk about it?
And in this entire discussion of the tragedy of these virgin checks we seem to have become more enthralled by the validity of photojournalism and whether or not a photo should be taken despite the good it can do.
For those who think otherwise? The amount of good such photos do if used carefully and sensibly helps. It raises awareness, it raises consciousness and it makes a noise and gets people trying to change things both locally and internationally.
And if you are going “OMG NUDE CHILDREN” then you aren’t bloody getting the point. If the nudity of children is what gets your goat more than the fact that women are effectively being reduced to hymens then you aren’t helping anyone.
Maybe Acharya was wrong in posting uncensored photos but here is the thing. Who is she helping by censoring it? Are we so naive to think that a blurred out breast is somehow not a breast? Do you know what it sounds like?
Good heavens! This practice is primitive and barbaric, please cover up the young girls! There are women and paedophiles about.
Equating this with the Steubenville rape does neither the victim of Steubenville nor of this practice any good.
And that’s the point. Photographs do some good. They change public perceptions and attitudes.
I point out Phan Thi Kim Phuc. AKA The Napalm Girl. A photograph that destroyed the public perception that the USA were heroes in VIetnam and made people realise the human cost of war.
Her photos changed the world. A naked burning child. Had the photographer not taken the shot first and not shown the world the horror of napalm we would probably have never banned napalm and the Vietnam war would have continued long after and with a greater death toll. In a way that photo saved more young girls. If you think it’s porn then shame on you because only a sick mind would consider a young girl being burned alive as porn.
And there in lies my answer. Photos are powerful and speak volumes. Take the shot first then help because it will do more good than not taking the shot, not helping and not discussing the problem.
Virgin testing is a social, cultural and religious problem. There is naught wrong with criticising such a problem. There is however something wrong with sanitising the practice so that it fits our tastes so that then and only then may we criticise it. It is laughable to a medic that people are actually more irritated about breasts than the practice.
If that is the case then do you really think you are helping?