Drop everything and read this article by Soraya Chemaly on a book about the link between violence against girls and women and military conflict.
If you take one idea away from the year 2012 this should be this:
“The very best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is not its level of wealth, its level of democracy, or its ethno-religious identity; the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated. What’s more, democracies with higher levels of violence against women are as insecure and unstable as nondemocracies.”
U.S.? Look at yourself in the mirror.
There is a direct relationship between the treatment of women in everyday life — in homes, on streets, at schools and work — and a nation’s propensity for engaging in war. It turns out that the security of girls and women — how safe they are in their homes, in their schools, on their streets, is the measure of the security of the state they live in. In very few countries do we have a clear and culturally evident equality in the equal value of boys and girls and in very few states are girls secure.
Consider the simplest fact that everywhere, when you want to humiliate a boy or a “real man” you accuse him of being a “girl.” If the U.S., if he’s a rookie football player, you give him a little girl’s backpack to show him his “place”; if he’s an Iraqi prisoner, you make him wear girls’ underwear to demonstrate your complete power over his body. In Afghanistan, cross-dressed dancing boys are “invisible victims” of rape. It’s a shaming tool and a cheap weapon. If you’re a boy — you understand your intrinsic superior value. If you’re a girl or a woman it’s a slap in the face every time you see it or hear it. Most of us brush it off and go about our business. But it wears away in your brain nonetheless. How can it not? It really is everywhere a subtle, backhanded reminder that your way of being is a way to denigrate and insult others.
The linguistic and actual subjugation of girls is a ubiquitous cultural meme that feeds a real and deadly harm. And, it turns out, has everything to do with war.
This is what I keep saying (except the war part, which I didn’t know). I also keep getting called a bitch and a cunt for saying it – which I think proves my point, but the bitchers and cunters think…what do they think? I don’t know. They pretend to think it doesn’t matter, but I don’t really believe them. I think they think it does matter and that’s why they do it. They want to do the kind of damage it does. Why? I don’t know. A multi-year bad mood maybe?
Sex and World Peace was written by Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett. Their findings are derived from more than 10 years of study. During this time, this group of multi-disciplinary researchers created the Womanstats Project and Database, the most comprehensive aggregation of data regarding the status of girls and women in the world. The database, which contains more than 130,000 datapoints, includes more than 375 variables for 175 countries, all of which have populations of at least 200,000 people.
What does the treatment of women have to do with a propensity for war? Soraya suggests that it has to do with how people think about difference.
I understand that there are many other intersectional factors that make up “difference” and how we define what is “other” in culture, e.g. race, class, sexual identity, religion — but, as Shirley Chisholm said, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.” The exact same thing happens to boys — only with a radically polarized set of stereotypes. The first and most profound difference, globally, remains gender.
Please think hard about what this means. Then talk about it! Then share it! Blog, Tumble, tweet, “like,” whatever. It’s a big idea with daily relevance and real and powerful consequences: Microaggression against girls and women in private, in neighborhoods, in communities is integrally connected to macroaggressive national behavior. The greater the polarization of gender in a household, the higher tolerance there is for violence and oppression and the greater the violence experienced by women and girls in those households the greater the likelihood of militarization and national violence.
All over the world, societies are experiencing cultural and political backlash against 50 years of dissolving gender polarity.
While we are the backlash against the backlash. Keep on.