Friday, February 10, 2012

FEATURE - Totally and severely off-topic.

This post has absolutely nothing to do with video games
and may, in fact, make you very, 
very uncomfortable. 

So.  Burqas, "sluts", and sexual violence.

I live in Canada, where there is an ongoing public discussion about whether or not Burqas and Niqabs should be allowed in workplaces/banks/anywhere that security is a concern.  When I'm reading a MacLeans or a newspaper piece about Muslim culture in Canada (we get a few "honor killings" up here - eugh), for some reason my mind always goes to the stories I would read about the experiences of women in their birth countries - Afghanistan, mostly, because that's where a lot of Canadian troops were, and still are, stationed after 9/11.

Did you know Canadians are supposedly the best snipers in the world?  Anyway...

What pisses me off most are the tales of how women are treated.  Being killed for wanting to attend school, for example - but the most disgusting stories involve sexual violence - and those are, horrifyingly, the most common.  A woman in a small village is raped by a half-dozen men.  The men suffer no punishment for - or even acknowledgement of - their crime, and the woman is outcast as a wanton whore.

"If only she'd been fully swathed in her Burqa!  She wouldn't have been raped if she hadn't been showing so much juicy female skin!  She was asking for it!"


Now, we can sit here on our North American High Horses and cluck our tongues about how backwards these Muslum savages are, or we can join them and hang our heads in shame because we have pulled some similarly insane shit in our day - and by "our day" I mean all the fucking time.  Here's one from my home province, for example.
"Rhodes and a friend met the 26-year-old woman and her girlfriend earlier that night outside a bar under what the judge called "inviting circumstances." [Judge] Dewar specifically noted the women were wearing tube tops with no bra, high heels and plenty of makeup." 
They made their intentions publicly known that they wanted to party," said Dewar. He said the women spoke of going swimming in a nearby lake that night "notwithstanding the fact neither of them had a bathing suit."
So prominent, educated people in our society can be this idiotic.  But don't think you Americans - or the common, uneducated masses - are any better!  Here's one from Texas last year.
"Among them is, if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?"
That 11-year-old girl began receiving threats from her community, because - among the twenty eight men and teens who gang-raped her over the course of Thanksgiving 2010 - there were some "star athlete"s and children of prominent community members.
“It’s just destroyed our community ... These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives."
Oh, those poor boys.  That girl was eleven.  She did not invite it upon herself.  They had a choice.

There is a profound and hideous irony, here.  We tacitly accept such terrible and disgusting treatment of women because there is, as the core of this, a terrible and disgusting assumption being made about the mental and emotional capacity of men.  The belief that we cannot be at once thoughtful, caring human beings and sexual beings.  The concept that a man has no choice than to attack any female who may be viewed as an efficient sexual conquest.  The concept that a man is, therefor, not responsible for said attack - because, what, we're too fucking stupid or horny to view a woman as anything but a sheath for a sword?

Bull.  Shit.

I had a conversation with my younger brother on this topic - he's a rather well-read fellow - and he pointed out that, to a degree, in-the-heat-of-the-moment, idiotic decisions have been actively bred into humanity.  Success and stupid decisions often go hand in hand.  Rape was likely very common in the hundreds of thousands/millions of years it took our species to develop - and the past thirty-thousand years haven't done much to remove the programming of a man as the sexually dominant aggressor, any more than it has removed our intolerance of dairy.

There is an argument, then, that men are governed entirely by our schlongs, and you ladies had best stow the tank tops and invest in some turtlenecks, lest our mighty members wrench control away from our brains and force their way into you.

There's an argument - to be sure - but not one I agree with.  I have been in countless circumstances of sexual invitation and consciously - mindfully - chosen to avoid it, until it takes place within an environment and relationship that I would deem healthy.  I have that power, and I submit to you that all men, in fact, do - if they choose it.

I'm going to leave you with the quote that gave me the impetus to write this - a few paragraphs from a fellow named Hugo Schwyzer, who perfectly crystallizes my position on the subject when discussing Toronto's first-ever SlutWalk - a yearly march in protest of violence against women - better than I ever could.
"There are so many things that trouble me about the obsession with regulating women’s bodies. But as a man, I am particularly exasperated at the assumption that lies beneath the insistence on modesty: the myth that men cannot control themselves. As feminists often point out, the real “man-haters” are those who promote modest dress for women out of the belief that men lack self-control. There is nothing more contemptuous than the suggestion that those of us with penises and Y chromosomes are prisoners of our biology, liable to rape or commit infidelity at the first sign of cleavage. The myth of male weakness sells us woefully, heartbreakingly short.

I honor SlutWalk for many reasons. But I appreciate one assumption that the organizers made in particular. Though what constitutes “slutty” clothing is obviously open to debate, SlutWalkers believe in men’s capacity to do two things at once: be aroused by what we see while honoring the humanity of the woman whose body attracts our eye. The most pernicious of all lies about men is that because of our make-up, lust and empathy can’t coexist within us. If you want kind and compassionate men who will respect women’s boundaries, the myth suggests, those women will have to conceal the parts of themselves that will turn men bestial and irresponsible.

We present women with a brutal binary: hide your sexuality and be respected; show your sexuality and be slut-shamed, harassed, or worse. But if ever there were a false dichotomy, rooted in ignorance about male identity, male biology, and male potential, this is it. While none of us want to live in a culture where women are compelled to display those parts of themselves they’d like to keep private, none of us should settle for living in a society where women are compelled to conceal those parts of themselves they’d occasionally like to display.

Men rape and harass not because of biological imperative but because of cultural permission. To paraphrase George W. Bush, we treat men with the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Of course, the real price for those low expectations is paid by women, who become responsible for managing and redirecting what we refuse to expect men to manage for themselves."

TL:DR - we are responsible for our own actions.


  1. Despite being well off-course as to your usual subject matter, this was quite a good read. I'm glad you posted this, it perfectly cements my thoughts as to the current injustices against women living not just in the Middle East, but around the world as well. Sometimes, it seems, this kind of stuff becomes accepted among people more and more each day.

    It's sickening. Why can't people just act with reason?

  2. Thanks! To be honest I'm amazed I got a comment on this one. I was like 'ohhhh everyone's going to hate this."