Wednesday, March 08, 2006

And now, something a little different

Today is Blog Against Sexism Day. I'm not entirely sure who decided that (the blogger I just linked to?), nor do I particularly care, since I think it's a fine idea to turn some of the razor-sharp minds in the blogosphere to combat the issue of sexism.

As the cantankerous Twisty Faster has noted, it isn't that hard to find some sexism in your daily life:

All you have to do for inspiration is turn on any TV or open any magazine or go to any movie or walk through any department store or observe through narrowed eyes any boyfriend or read any Hemingway story, then count the ways in which your oppression is fetishized.

I'm not sure I understand the part about oppressing my fetishism (or is it fetishizing my oppression?), but yeah. What she said.

If you think it's that tough to find egregious examples of sexism in our supposedly more enlightened age (hah!), you'd better think again. There seems to be no shortage of ijits trying to fuck women over, literally, figuratively or both. Here, for your collective outrage, are a few examples I've stumbled across in the last month or so.

We begin with this legal decision from Italy. Reuters, as reported by the New York Times, brings us this lovely tidbit in which an Italian court held that whether an incest victim is a virgin or not is a mitigating factor in the trial of the accused.

ITALY: NONVIRGINITY LESSENS SEX ABUSE CHARGE, COURT SAYS Sexually abusing a teenager is a less serious crime if the girl is not a virgin, Italy's highest court said in a ruling. The court ruled in favor of a man who forced his 14-year-old stepdaughter to have oral sex with him and appealed a prison sentence of 40 months, arguing that the fact that the girl had had sex with other men should have been taken into consideration at his trial as a mitigating factor. The court agreed, saying that because of the victim's previous sexual experiences, her "personality, from a sexual point of view," was more developed and that therefore the damage to her was less than if she had been a virgin. The decision, which drew a barrage of criticism, opened the way for the stepfather to get a lighter sentence.

I hope I don't have to point out to you, dear readers, how absurd and how offensive this is. I suppose it would make a great pro-abstinence poster for anti-abortion groups to hand out (instead of condoms, which -- unlike abstinence posters -- would in fact be likely to make abortion less frequent): "Choose Abstinence. So when your mother's dirtbag husband sexually abuses you, he gets the maximum sentence possible." Because everyone knows that slutty little teenage girls who aren't virgins just aren't that traumatized when they're abused by their nasty-ass pedophile stepfathers.

Or about the hue and cry over a vaccine for cervical cancer recently released. Fifteen years of studies show the vaccine is "100 per cent effective in protecting women against infection with four strains of human papilloma virus that together cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers." Why should we balk at giving a vaccine to women that, essentially, reduce cervical cancer rates by 70 percent?

Because the vaccine is most effective when administered to preteen girls, and the mere fact of administering it might somehow (pay special attention to the dubious causality this embraces) encourage young girls to have sex, since they know that having post-vaccination sex will no longer expose them to the virus that causes cervical cancer. In other words, let's raise a girl/woman's risk of contracting cervical cancer in order to eliminate the mere possibility (based on no evidence and some pretty offensive assumptions about young women and sexuality) that some vaccine she gets when she's still playing with Barbie dolls might turn her into a slut.

How about the judge in Illinois who tried to force a woman, testifying at the trial of her (I suppose I have to say alleged?) gang rapists, to watch a twenty-minute videotape of the rape? The judge tried to hold her in contempt of court for refusing to watch it. Even though it would add nothing to her testimony since she was unconscious at the time the rape and therefore couldn't testify as to anything that happened during that twenty minute time period. And of course, the defendants were claiming it was consensual: what gal wouldn't want to bask in the pleasure of her unconsciousness while multiple assholes fuck her, another asshole write obscenities on her legs with marker, and kind-hearted observers spit on her?

And last but certainly not least, let's consider for a brief moment the nasty trend toward plastic surgery directed at women's genitalia. Yes, it is possible to spend several thousand dollars getting yourself a designer vaginer. Some goofy woman in Texas actually paid $5000 to a plastic surgeon to give her a new "hymen." That way her dorky husband could have the "thrill" of deflowering her all over again. Now don't get me wrong: if you live in an oppressive Islamist society and you're gonna get killed if your husband doesn't find a hymen on your wedding night, maybe a hymenoplasty is justified. (Query, however, why someone with $5000 wouldn't just move the hell out of there and skip the new hymen.) But just to give your husband the dubious thrill of pretending the woman he's been with for all these years is a virgin? (Not to mention giving yourself the pain of having your cherry popped again.) Don't stop there, though; I'm sure your porn-watching husband would want you to consult with Dr. Fuckwad [not his real name], a plastic surgeon specializing in "the aesthetic surgical enhancement of the vulvar structures, labia minora, labia majora, mons pubis, perineum, introitus, hymen." You can get "Augmentation Labioplasty," in which fat from other parts of your body is removed via liposuction and inserted into your labia, to make them look as plump as Lisa Rinna's lips. Or perenioplasty, to "provide a youthful and aesthetically appealing vulva" -- because everyone knows how nasty and ugly those vulva are.

All right, I'm starting to depress myself.

Don't be sexist. I mean it.

When you see someone else being sexist, kick ass and take names.

And for God's sake, don't waste $5000 on some dopey rehymenization process. Buy a lifetime supply (unless you're Kathy, in which case it's more like a year's supply but that's okay because she makes such beee-yoo-tiful things) of Koigu instead. Sheesh.

If you'd like to surf some of the other blogs who've pledged to post about sexism today, visit Vegan Kid's page.


Unknown said...

I find this task of not being sexist virtually impossible, and I hesitate saying this, as it will sound somewhat like blaming the victim, but here goes.

In the business world, and in my knitting world, women often abdicate authority to me on many issues. I blame this on how the majority of people act as if men are more competent or hold more authority on most things.

How do you combat that? Tell co-workers to get a grip on themselves and make a decision? I almost said tell co-workers to "get a pair," so even our stupid expressions for expressing authority are sexist.

I'm a mess, but I promise to try today to search out and destroy any sexism I see today.

Carol said...

Well, Joe, admitting you have a problem is the first step in overcoming it.

If all men were only as sexist as you, the world would be a much better place, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Great post today (I was one of those marchers in the '60's though I never burned my bra)
How about the judge up here in Canada some years ago who said that a 2 year girl had "asked" for her father to rape her since she was sexually aware?
Or the judge who upheld that "no" didn't always mean "no".
Joe, some of those women are just too butt arse lazy to make a decision. Others have been raised that way "ask your father", "here I better help you with that", "let me figure that out for you sweetie".etc etc.
I was one of the lucky ones. My Pop said the only thing I couldn't do as a girl was to provide the sperm to make babies. Anything else was fair game, but I should remember I was never going to big and strong (genes and health) so to pick my battles. But when you spend years of your childhood with people saying stuff like, "why go to college, you'll just get married anyway" etc. it has an effect.
my 2 cents.
Barb B.

Anonymous said...

One of the saddest aspects of the long history of sexism is that so many young women still buy into the "dumb is sexy" mode of thought.
And after playing dumb for so long and giving up striving...they become dummies.
Fatuous and incompetent are not sexy at all.

Anonymous said...

Great post. The stuff on rehymenisation made me so sad. I really feel that the women who have it and the men who encourage them to do so are missing the point. Losing one's virginity is surely far more about the psychological impact of the act. The women involved cannot magically "unknow" what they know about sex, no matter how tightened up they may have been. There is a brilliant passage about this in Marge Piercy's "Braided Lives" in which the character Stephanie pretends to virginity with every new lover. The narrator character (who is in love with the same man) asks how Stephanie must have felt, playing the innocent in his arms. Sexual innocence cannot be surgically recreated.

Anonymous said...

As the mama of two lovely teen girls, I want to add on to your list my outrage at WOMEN in this culture who are showing my kids how to use their tits and arses to get ahead. Madonna, Britney Spears, and their ilk have done much harm to the girls coming of age today. And what kind of crappy message was just delivered to women when "its Hard out Here for a Pimp" is the song of the year? What the fuck is that about? And women were singing that song. WHAT???

Ok, I will say one nice thing. YAY to Dove for their commercials showing regular girls. Last week the commercial with the zaftig black teenager in her underwear was on and my little one turned to me and said, "I love that commercial".


Anonymous said...

Liza, my dear, yesterday's NY Times quoted Itzhak Perleman as saying he thinks "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" is a very good song.
And deserved to win an Oscar.
Bleh. Meh. Feh. Ptooey.

Anonymous said...

What's he smokin?

the hanged man said...

That's funny - I was going to blog about sexism today before I even knew that it was "Blog Against Sexism" day. However, I ended up blogging about a religious hypocrite instead.

Mr. Contrary that I am, I've been reading The Koran for Lent. I think our government and media give us a deliberately distorted view of Islam and to remedy this I wanted to go straight to the source. I wasn't too far into the book when I started getting that sinking feeling..."oh, it is as bad as they say." Any holy book that lays down the rules for menstruation before it states that killing is forbidden isn't a holy book for me. The Koran also decrees specific laws regarding the distribution of property after someone's death. Guess what? No matter what, female relatives of the deceased always get half of what the male heirs inherit.


Gail said...

In that Illinois case, the guy on trial was actually acquitted. I guess the Jury decided that they saw "consent" on the video.

Only the guy holding the camera was convicted of anything, and that was for child porn. The other folks who were participating all got off scott free.

Anonymous said...


I found I blame the patriarchy through the links on your sidebar, Thank you. It is now one of only two non knitting blogs that I frequent.

I like it when bloggers go off topic for something important.

Good post.

I am in a female dominated department with many intelligent, feisty, capable women yet the promoted posts are all filled by men! And the boss makes openly sexist remarks. No, we are not equal by a long way.


Holly @Home said...

The hymen thing seems not to be new ...ever seen the film "Wings of a Dove" ..Merton ( played by Linus roache ) a journalist campaigns aginst a Member of The Royal College of Physicians who sews up girls and sends them back out on the street..that is approx.1905 ......and some stupid bi+** pays for it . Holly.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with what you're saying, but just have to point out that it wasn't 'some goofy woman in the UK', but someone from San Antonio, Texas... Good old USA strikes again!

Carol said...

Thank you, Anonymous, duly noted and corrected. The reason I assumed it was a Brit was because the link I saw was in a UK newspaper -- I do not have any stereotypical ideas about women in the UK feeling genitalia shame or always being goofy. I would have called the woman in question goofy no matter where she lived. But mea culpa for my sloppy reading; as a lawyer, I should know better.

And if I've offended any of my UK readers, please accept my sincere apology. I'm a longstanding Anglophile and have no desire to offend.

SeeMe said...

Sorry to be tardy to the party, but I've been lookin' through your archives, and I just HAD to comment on this.

"And for God's sake, don't waste $5000 on some dopey rehymenization process. Buy a lifetime supply (unless you're Kathy, in which case it's more like a year's supply but that's okay because she makes such beee-yoo-tiful things) of Koigu instead. Sheesh."

The first time I read this, I didn't see the 'of Koigu' part. So I thought you were cracking a joke about a lifetime supply of hymens would only last this poor Kathy dame a year...

I've got a filthy mind.