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It’s a good day for the ladies

One of the most frustrating arguments I encounter when talking about feminism is the various double standards. Women are portrayed as the passive recipients of actions, and yet are the ones who must take responsibility for their marginalization (either by “grow(ing) a pair”, “get(ting) a sense of humour”, or not “dress(ing) like a total whore”). There is rarely the corrolary pressure put on men to moderate their (our) behaviour, at least not by non-feminists. Of course when feminists do say “hey guys, don’t do that”, they (we) get piled on for being a castration-hungry horde of groupthinkers who are just trying to get laid (if you’re a straight man) or who just need to get laid (if you’re not).

Not too long ago, I talked about an experience I had when I was doing undergrad orientation, where the women in my residence were taught a number of ways to safeguard themselves against date rape. Oddly (or, rather, not oddly at all), there were no accompanying instructions for the guys. Safeguarding people from date rape was a ‘victim-only’ responsibility. In that same post, I lauded a program that is seeking to shift the conversation away from that kind of blame-based advice and toward a “personal responsibility” *twitch* model. The idea seems to be picking up steam in some unlikely places.

South Africa mini-skirt march in protest over attacks

Hundreds of South Africans have marched in Johannesburg to protest over an assault on two women who were attacked for wearing mini-skirts. Some of those in the crowd wore mini-skirts and carried placards which read: “We love our minis”. The two women were attacked at a Johannesburg rank for minibus taxis in December, allegedly by waiting drivers. The organisers said they wanted to end “patriarchal views still entrenched in parts of South Africa’s society”.

I don’t know how many of you participated in last year’s Slut Walk, but the South African event certainly seems to bear a striking resemblance. It is women refusing to be relegated to a role where they are robbed of their agency but made the victims of discrimination. While Johannesburg is certainly not the epicentre of the worst kinds of misogynistic assault and abuse that South Africa has become known for, it is definitely a place where this kind of movement can gain some real traction. The eyes of the world are fixed on South Africa’s attitudes towards women’s rights, and in that kind of climate a strong pro-feminist statement like this one can have reach that far exceeds something like SlutWalk.

Indonesia salary policy ‘to address cheating husbands’

A new government policy in northern Indonesia will enable wives of civil servants to have direct access to their husbands’ salaries, officials say. The Gorontalo provincial government in Sulawesi will be transferring the pay of married civil servants to their wives’ bank accounts from March. The move is aimed at curbing extra-marital affairs, spokesman Rudi Iriawan told the BBC.

One of the hallmarks of patriarchial societies is a climate in which women do not control their own finances. In an egalitarian society, married couples exert joint influence over the household money, regardless of who earns it. That model of marriage is based around the idea that both members* are equal partners and make joint decisions. While each person may have some money that is entirely theirs to dispose of, the point is that decisions that affect both parties must be made by both parties. Societies that are patriarchal (or, alternatively, matriarchal) will see this balance skewed strongly to one sex. This has the consequence (intended or otherwise) of giving more than simple financial power to that sex. By stripping one partner of the ability to exact consequences for breaches of trust, or, to leave the relationship if it becomes abusive, patriarchal systems makes marriage a de facto slavery contract (which, by the way, is what “traditional marriage” really means).

Now I am no fan of Indonesia in general, but I recognize that most of the crazy shit happens in Aceh province as opposed to the country as a whole. By putting financial control in the hands of women, Gorontalo province is helping to counteract the prevailing misogyny in the culture at large. The trick, of course, will be to ensure that men whose wives control the finances don’t enact the same kind of abuse that this policy is intended to counteract. While this policy will empower women, it is not really a step in the direction of promoting egalitarian attitudes. That being said, it may have the positive effect of giving women a louder voice in Indonesian society.

I gotta tell you: I’m enjoying this ‘good news week‘ thing a lot. And I’m not done yet!

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*Assuming, of course, that we are sticking to a two-partner model of marriage.

Comments

  1. Tualha says

    Oddly (or, rather, not oddly at all), there were no accompanying instructions for the guys. Safeguarding people from date rape was a ‘victim-only’ responsibility.

    It does seem to me that the prospective victims have much more reason to pay attention. They have a hell of a lot more to lose. From what I’ve read, a lot (most?) of the would-be perpetrators know perfectly well what they’re doing and don’t care.

    I suppose there’s some benefit in educating the non-rapist males to not encourage it and to use “frown power” and such to discourage it; but I would think the attackers would simply avoid those guys from then on.

  2. ischemgeek says

    Not too long ago, I talked about an experience I had when I was doing undergrad orientation, where the women in my residence were taught a number of ways to safeguard themselves against date rape. Oddly (or, rather, not oddly at all), there were no accompanying instructions for the guys. Safeguarding people from date rape was a ‘victim-only’ responsibility.

    Reminds me of a conversation I had with my father about bullying this weekend. Cliff’s notes version: Dad is under the misimpression that if bullying victims were to just punch every bully in the face, they’d stop being bullied. He knows this because he punched the one kid who tried to bully him when he was younger and that kid stopped.

    I told him that ignoring the fact that in most cases that I experienced, it just plain doesn’t work (though I admit that I don’t have the hard data and have no way of getting the hard data as I don’t have access to social sciences journals), and ignoring the fact that it’s impractical in many cases (such as when the victim is at a size disadvantage or has physical limitations), such an attitude puts the blame on the victim rather than the victimizer and is therefore inherently wrong. The fault lies with the wrong-doer, not the victim.

  3. Skeptiverse says

    I suppose there’s some benefit in educating the non-rapist males to not encourage it and to use “frown power” and such to discourage it; but I would think the attackers would simply avoid those guys from then on.

    I disagree that the education of the males is as in-effective as your post suggests. While i agree that it is not likely to change the attitudes and behaviours of a potential rapist. If that potential rapist is aware that every other male on campus is educated on the risks and is vigilant then their actual and percieved opportunites to rape someone are severely reduced.

  4. Ashiikankwe says

    Lol @ Tualha…so there are ‘rapist-males’ and ‘not-my-fault-males,’ and the latter category will never have to learn how consent works? Just comes naturally to people who aren’t born ‘rapist-males’!

    /sarcasm

  5. F says

    The Indonesia thing sounds a bit patriarchal in itself. The patriarchy is just putting behavioral enforcement into the hands of the wives of civil servants.

    Maybe the effect will be better than the intent, but it still seems wrong. Why not simply enforce equal access to money under the law to mandatory joint accounts for all married people? I won’t claim to grok the culture, but it sounds like replacing bad behavior with another bad system. Government should be more responsive to the complaints of women on an individual basis rather than taking this lazy one-size-fits-all (civil servants) measure.

  6. lordshipmayhem says

    The only training the perpetrators of rape needs is a thwack upside the head by someone yelling at them, “No means NO!”

    Any competent Marine Corps drill instructor should be able to perform this miracle of training in oh, about an hour. Anyone still a perpetrator after this, is Too Stupid To Live, and should be handed an M-67 model Darwin Award, pin separately.

  7. pengray says

    Apart from teaching them to discourage expressions of rape culture, there’s also the possibility of teaching them to look out for people – to keep an eye on their drinks when they notice them going to the loo, to step in when they see someone being pressured, that kind of thing. In many situations, the actions of rapist and the victim are not the only ones that can change the outcome.

  8. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    As to the question of whether educating men about rape prevention could be effective, consider for a moment that in anonymous surveys of men in their 20s, 12% of them admitted to raping someone, but only if you didn’t assign the label “rape” to the act, but rather just described it. I.e., “Have you ever forced someone to have sex with you when they didn’t want to by using threats of violence,” and so on. The fact that these men don’t CALL it rape even as they are committing rape suggests that there is indeed a segment of the male population that is committing rape without realizing it, and could be persuaded to stop doing it with some education.

  9. Sally says

    Maybe prevention tips on “how to avoid being accused of rape” would catch their attention.

    Some ideas:
    Don’t rape.
    If you’re not sure ask.
    Don’t have sex with someone who’s drunk.
    Don’t have sex with someone who will regret it later.
    Don’t shame women for having had sex.
    Don’t have sex with someone who hates you.

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