There is such a plethora of anti-women crap to chose from right now I don’t even know where to begin. I just have to turn on my computer to hear about some idiot saying something ignorant, misinformed, or just plain cruel. There’s this guy for example, who thinks comedy consists of threatening to gang rape a woman, or publicly inducing shame by sneaking up on women and “lightly touching their stomachs.” He makes sure that you know it should be non-consensual, unexpected, and as embarrassing as possible for the intended victim. Then there’s always aspirin between the knees guy, or Rush Limbaugh’s comments towards Sandra Fluke. And more recently there is Todd Akin’s comment about “legitimate rape.” By the way Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, pens a beautiful and very well written open letter to Mr. Akin. I highly recommend that you check it out.
With all this potential blog fodder how do I even know where to start? The more I think about it the more I just find myself exhausted. I can’t live my whole life angry. It is good to be angry, and righteously so, at injustice. You cannot let it consume you though. There will always be ignorant people who either do not understand what is like to be a woman, or what it is like to be raped, abused, controlled, and taken advantage of. I can explain the cycles of abuse till I’m blue in the face. I can say that no one is responsible for anyone else’s actions, or a woman should be able to dance naked on a table and not be raped or taken advantage of all I want. There are always going to be people who don’t get it. There are always going to be people who will argue with me and I’ve hit my limit. I’ve hit my rape and abuse limit. My bullshit meter is in overdrive and I’m not the only one. So, as I temporarily put aside the idiots who do not understand the complexities of rape, abuse, and domestic violence let’s find something else to be indignant about.
Back in April, Anchorage Alaska rejected Proposition 5, a gay rights initiative that would have created a law protecting residents from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This law and one’s like it are aimed mainly to protect the LGBTQ community. This is a community that many people still fear. They are misunderstood and have gross stereotypes still attached to them. People who do not fit into gender norms are seen as predatory, threatening, and grotesque. The following “vote no” ads focus on the transgender piece, portraying them as dangerous to be around children and as having ulterior motives:
These ads portray transgender people as laughable, unsightly, and in all honesty, stereotypically. They are people to fear and keep our children away from. This is historically true of people that are not like us. People that are different are ostracized and demeaned. In particular there is a fear that they will prey on children.
“Ads that raise fears about transvestites teaching in the classroom have been used since the 1970s during ballot measure campaigns, and the Religious Right has been raising concerns about transgender women in women’s bathrooms since the late 1980s. These two ads from the Anchorage Proposition 5 campaign are among the newest additions to the long tradition of ads that rely on stereotypes of LGBT individuals as predatory, dangerous to have around children, and having ulterior motives.” – Amy L. Stone
The conversation goes from being about rights of the LGBTQ community to the comfort of cisgendered and cissexual individuals. Somehow every conversation becomes about making the “normal” people safe and comfortable. This is what it means to be privileged. Think about it. I will never be second guessed if I walk into a daycare. I may a sexual predator but because I look “normal” no one questions my motives. I can take a child into the bathroom regardless of its gender. People will not be wondering in the back of their heads if I’m a pervert.
Working in what is called a “low barrier” women’s shelter I see this all the time. Anyone who identifies as a woman and is over the age of 18 can access the shelter’s services. The number one question I get asked when I explain this is, “what about transgendered women?” The related questions include things like, aren’t I worried that a man will dress up like a woman just to access services or to prey on the “real women”? At first I found this an exciting opportunity to educate the people I talked to. Now it just annoys me. Let’s face it, discrimination and misunderstanding are alive and well.
**Something I’ve learned about blogging is that readers tend not to click on links. I would encourage you to do so this time and check out some of the articles I’ve linked to in this entry. It’s good stuff. Read Ms. Ensler’s letter at the very least.