Women's Issues: STOP RAPE!

"Morality over manners, substance over ceremony, character and reason over custom and force, respect over love, esteem over flattery." --Mary Wollstonecraft, 1792. Vindication of the Rights of Women

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  1. How many women in the US are sexually abused? raped? battered?
  2. What about verbal slurs? Can’t women take a joke?
  3. Do women meet the attributes of adulthood? Adults are self-reliant, independent, assertive, and self-assured. Some surveys show many women are: submissive, passive, nurturing, placating, and dependent.
  4. What’s so insulting about calling women "girls", "honey", and "babe"?
  5. What is a feminist?
  6. Why are feminists so aggressive?
  7. Aren’t most feminists lesbians?
  8. Why are women less interested in sex than men?
  9. Do women nurture too much?
  10. What are some statistics involving women in the workplace?

"An English professor wrote the words: "Woman without her man is nothing" on the blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly. The men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing." The women wrote: "Woman! Without her, man is nothing."

How many women in the US are sexually abused? raped? battered?

Millions! And even a greater number of women are attacked verbally, instilling oppression, fear, anger, and low self-esteem. How many men are abused, raped and battered? A considerable amount, but still a small fraction compared to the number of women. Personal safety is still a major cultural problem for women. We know most statistics consistently claim 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused or raped in her lifetime.

That’s probably a conservative statistic. How many women will be battered? There are statistics that show 1/2 of marriages will experience some form of domestic violence (fear, intimidation, threats, or physical harm). That doesn’t account for violence in dating relationships. This is something women face all the time. While much of the country focuses its concern on violence in the streets, we also need to remember women are victimized in or around their homes.

"A black man walking down a street in a white neighborhood, knows the fear of unprovoked attack. A white man walking down the street in certain black neighborhoods, knows that same fear. A woman walking down any street in any neighborhood has to face that same fear, even her own street. Even her own neighborhood. She has to face that same fear because she is always in someone else’s territory". Deanne Thompson said that about 25 years ago, and it’s still true. Violence isn’t just about numbers, it’s about the fearful life women have to live. Women are always in someone else’s territory, this is a male dominated society, and it shapes the way we think and act towards women, and how women act and react towards others.

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What about verbal slurs? Can’t women take a joke?

The verbal abuse women encounter in their lifetime is unparalleled by all other forms of oppression. Women are harassed while driving, taking walks, going to a corner store, almost anywhere when they are alone or with other women. Why should women feel safe? Men’s perceived social superiority and social control over women is flaunted, and forced shamefully upon them. Women can’t even glance at a man at a stoplight without fear of what often turns into a sexual innuendo, "What are you looking at? Want some?". It’s a shame our society has formed such an oppressive culture over women. Women are playful, caring, intelligent creatures. 3,500 years of oppression has many people consciously and/or unconsciously believing women are inferior, to be treated disrespectfully.

The fearful, flinching, defensive nature seen so often in women isn’t funny, it hurts. Jokes and slurs, no matter how fun or harmless they seem to you, are shameful and embarrassing reminders to women of their overall social disrespect. Women are made to feel terrified to fight back. There are unspoken messages (threats of violence) sent when someone uses slurs and oppressive remarks. Some men report they’ve been raised to respect women, and would never lay a hand on them, but physical abuse isn’t nearly as oppressive as verbal slurs. Many people reap the unhealthy benefits of feeling strong and powerful placing women below them. There isn’t a woman alive who hasn’t felt the fear and frustration of oppression. It does exist; believe it. "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." --William James.

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Do women meet the attributes of adulthood? Adults are self-reliant, independent, assertive, and self-assured. Some surveys show many women are: submissive, passive, nurturing, placating, and dependent.

The definition of adulthood is more reflective of what we see in men and not seen as widely in women. Our culture encourages women to be dependent on men; forming the belief that women need men to survive. However, in the last 20 years, more women have entered sports in junior high and high school. Organized sports in general promote healthy development of adult attributes; sports help us to develop self assuredness and self-reliance. Women who get outside jobs during high school also tend to develop assertiveness more often than women who don’t. These are a couple of ways women have the opportunity to develop a healthy adulthood, but until the society at large (not just television specials), starts truly appreciating and supporting women for their assertiveness, and self-assuredness, it will continue to be tough.

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What’s so insulting about calling women "girls", "honey", and "babe"?

Would you call a man a boy? We all know what equivalent language is, i.e. ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, waitress and waiter, men and women. These terms are used to refer to both genders equally; they’re social and psychological equivalents. However, in our culture, we continue to refer to grown women as girls and grown men as men? If you haven’t noticed, listen to people like news and radio broadcasters. Jay Leno, from The Tonight Show, introduces his female guests as such "my next guest, a beautiful and talented girl".

A majority of the time, people refer to full grown women as girls. It’s not that they mean harm, are malicious, or disrespecting women. Not at all. Jay Leno is probably an excellent example of someone who is pro women’s rights. The point is women have been oppressed (viewed and/or referred to as less) for so many years, this kind of language has become common and natural, like using good grammar. It’s hard to catch yourself calling women girls. Try it. This kind of unequivalent language becomes an unconscious psychological put-down, furthering the stagnancy of women’s full equality.

Honey and babe are disrespectful. They make women objects.They’re put-downs when used by strangers. If the world were socially controlled by women who dominated all politics and business, were paid more, referred to men as boys, and Mrs. Leno said, "My next guest, is a muscular and talented boy", I think the shoe would feel quite different. It’s called oppression.

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What is a feminist?

Feminists believe women are an oppressed class. They believe the way to break the oppression is to liberate women. This can mean different things, from issues like equal pay and equal access to jobs, to providing child care, money and equality in the social security system. For some feminists, it might also mean changing the whole system in which men and women are brought up. It means challenging the long-lived traditional roles of men and women; enlarging and deepening what it means to be a woman, and what it means to be a man.

Other feminists don’t necessarily believe the whole system has to be challenged, but believe what’s needed is more equality in the system. Even if you don’t believe women are oppressed, or you believe women have almost as much equality and respect as men, think about that. Would you settle for most of what’s fair? Or would you want it fair for you? You have the power to help, in all of your actions. Acting responsibly is a great way to make progress and stop hindrances.

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Why are feminists so aggressive?

That’s a false image. Even today 30 years after the most recent women’s movement, when a woman acts angry or forceful, she is labeled with the "B" word by both men and women. Feminist anger towards oppression is misunderstood and regarded as aggression. It’s up to the oppressed group to decide how to battle their oppression. Whether it’s, outrage, depression, changing roles, etc.

It’s oppression on top of oppression to dictate how oppressed people should rebel. And what’s most difficult about women’s oppression, is women must live in the same house with their oppressors (unconscious and/or conscious superiors). Most feminists are responding to their own, personal oppression. They’re fighting an oppressive system, not individual men, yet people throw titles like "man-hater". Oppressed groups are going to be stifled, belittled, and picked on for their rebellion, no matter how they choose to rebel.

It’s hard for women to live with the pain of being oppressed while everyone is telling them they’re not; it’s easy to be in denial about oppression. Most women can’t face the depth of the oppression they live in, it’s too angering, painful, and if pondered, can be ultimately debilitating. Long lived oppression can have drastic effects; women’s oppression is now culturally internalized and is about 3,500 years old. Because the oppression has lasted so long, it becomes normal. The stereotypes about the oppressed group become the norm, and as a result, the oppressed group oppresses itself. In this case, men no longer have to put women down, men don’t have to control women’s sexuality, women will control it for them.

A good example ,on an international level, is female genital mutilation stretching across North Africa and into Asia. Mothers and aunts are either fully or partially responsible for the activity. Women do this to their own female children. This is also similar to slave overseers (slave managers) on plantations in the Southern US. Many of the overseers were African American slaves themselves, and controlled other African American slaves. We see this pattern continually with long time oppressed groups, where the oppressed group members begin doing the work of the oppressors. People of oppressed groups come to believe things are the way they are supposed to be.

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Aren’t most feminists lesbians?

Most feminists aren’t lesbian. And just as most women aren’t feminist, the majority of lesbians aren’t feminist. However, you might find a higher concentration of lesbian women in feminist groups than in the overall population. This probably has to do with the challenges that arise when you’re a lesbian. Being confronted by oppression more directly, challenging roles in general, unable to get out of it’s way, perhaps raises consciousness. Lesbians discover that prejudice against being a lesbian involves more than discrimination against sexual orientation; it also has to do with views about gender and gender roles; our culture dictates so much about what a woman’s sexuality and roles are supposed to be.

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Why are women less interested in sex than men?

By most surveys, women aren’t less interested in sex than men, they’re perhaps more interested in other things. This kind of statement demonstrates the misconception in our culture about human sexuality and regarding women’s sexuality.

Women have a full range of interests and behaviors just like males. Some women are very interested in engaging in sexuality and exploring much more frequently than other women, and the same goes for men. There’s a piece of folk wisdom with some research to support it: finding men reach their sexual peak, interest, and focus in their late teens/early 20’s, and women reach theirs in early 40’s. Since men are taught to like younger women and women are taught to like men their own age or older, there can be problems with sexual compatibility.

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Why are women less interested in sex than men?

Do women nurture too much?

There’s nothing wrong with nurturing, the problem is women are taught they should nurture. What happens is some women feel so obligated to nurture others their own needs get neglected. That’s the problem. Women nurturing at the expense of their own needs, or simply nurturing when they don’t want to.

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What are some statistics involving women in the workplace?

There are more women in the workplace today than ever, and they comprise a far greater percentage of the workforce; about 50%. But women make-up only a few percentage points of senior executives in the top 500 corporations. People say, well, it’s increased by 300%. But that’s because there was 1 woman, and now there are 3.

Even 30 years after the most recent women’s movement, women still make approximately 2/3 of the money men do for the same job. There are exceptions to this; in workplaces where there’s a strong union which has challenged its own sexism. In these workplaces, job descriptions are universal and used for both men and women. However, most workplaces are not unionized, and many that are unionized still have sexism. There are reports of 1/3 to 1/2 of women who say they’ve been sexually harassed on a job in some way.

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