Emancipation was supposed to be enough. ‘Separate but equal’s supposed to be enough. Brown v. Board of Education was supposed to be enough. The Civil Rights/Voting Acts were supposed to be enough. Affirmative action was supposed to be enough. A black president is supposed to be enough. Yet, here we are, facing mass incarceration, food insecurity, chronic unemployment, the erosion of the social safety net, income inequality, housing discrimination, police brutality and the seemingly unending deaths of our young people at the hands of police and armed vigilantes. Pardon the ‘profound gloom.’
What some call depression or pessimism, I would call impatience and rage. Our impatience and rage is what has produced progress. That we are still impatient and angry reflects not black people’s failing but how far America still has to go. My question/challenge to white people who claim to be on the side of equality and justice: when will you get just as angry that these things have been done in your name? — Mychal Denzel Smith, "The Function of Black Rage" (via ethiopienne)
The number of “get me out of here” tactics women have developed and shared to help each other escape from overly-insistent-to-borderline-predatory dudes in public places should probably be enough evidence of the existence of rape culture all on its own.
I especially like how, in the majority of cases, you don’t have to verbally communicate what your signals are to other women. I’ve had women I didn’t even know come save me. Literally every woman recognizes the “Dear god, help me” facial expression, and knows exactly what they should do. We don’t get a handbook for this. We don’t have a sit-down nail polish party where we talk about a standardized woman code for preventing creepers. It’s just part of being a woman.
BUT LOL RAPE CULTURE DOESN’T EXIST.
Yup. I’ve definitely taken strangers by the arm and pulled her aside to go, “Oh my GOD it’s you! How ARE YOU?!? It’s been so long!” and then been like “hey I could overhear that guy who wouldn’t leave you alone so I figured I’d give you an out” and then see their VISIBLY RELIEVED expressions. This is part of girl code, because rape culture is that pervasive.
I once had a girl sit on my lap and say “hey baby” after she witnessed a guy (who was easily 20+ years older than me) hitting on me and harassing me for my number even after I told him I was taken. After he got up and left she asked if I was okay. I couldn’t thank her enough times, I even bought her a drink.
We have done this. In fact, we are this. Because we are asexual and we don’t like alcohol so we never drink, we have gone with friends to parties/places where our sole job was to keep an eye out for everyone and be the permanent ‘aggressive man-sheild.’ Not one of our female friends has ever questioned this or found it all strange. In fact, often once they realized we were willing to do it, it would be pre-arranged. Every guy friend we ever did this in front of or tried to explain to looked flabbergasted. They had no idea that this was a) an intentional thing, b) a planned ahead thing, or c) universal.
Rape culture is the fact that every woman understands this. Male privilege is the fact that no guy on earth seems to know or understand.
I’ve been asked to pretend to be my friend’s girlfriend every time we go out at night, just because she wears clothes that show off her curves and guys won’t leave her alone. They only back off when I put my arm around her and act as if we’re together romantically, and sometimes not even then.
i once ran interference for a friend, only to receive the unwanted advances myself. he wouldn’t back off until my (male) friend literally wrapped me up in his arms and acted as if he was my S.O.
It happens online too. A guy I know started Facebook-stalking me after a recent interaction, and my roommate immediately got on Facebook and told him she was my girlfriend. He thankfully backed off after that.
I can’t count the number of times I have pretended to be somebody’s girlfriend or sister in a bar when a guy wouldn’t leave her alone. Both with friends and strangers.
After reading these, I feel like taking a shower. Because I’m the designated driver pretty much every time, not being a big fan of alcohol, but I rarely, if ever, intervene. And yeah, I’m small and pretty physically weak, but I could put my foot down verbally if it came down to it. I’m just too scared.
You’re probably scared of confronting the guys. And you should be. That’s what this whole post is about. Rape culture is so prevalent and socially accepted as the rule of the land that if someone confronts a guy and tells him directly to back off, someone is getting hurt. That’s why all of the testimonies here are examples of how to deflect. How women all learn methods of pulling a woman away from a situation with a guy who isn’t allowing her to say no, by making up some lie that will get the guy to let her go without sending him into a rage and deciding to teach you both a lesson about knowing your place and submitting to rape culture. Men are dangerous in these situations because all of society backs them up as just a nice guy who deserves a chance, and vilifies any woman who refuses to give him a chance. Women are not allowed to say no. So other women have to rescue the women saying no and pull them away with some made up excuse. Otherwise the situation will escalate and the ones who get hurt are always the women.
Women absolutely have to learn rescue tactics for each other, but it’s kind of funny how we describe really obvious facial expressions and body language as “secret signals.” The reality is that women telegraph disinterest in these aggressive men, making it super obvious, but men choose to ignore it. Total strangers who are just sitting nearby or happen to glance their way will be able to see that the woman isn’t interested, but the guy making the advances is somehow oblivious? Unlikely.
Anonymous asked: to what extent is it okay to use ideas from people that exhibit oppressive behavior, conscious or otherwise? like if someone is racist but has other ideas on sexism that seem good. should they be rejected wholesale
This kinda depends on your theory of knowledge and/or truth.
but here is how i approach this:
fact one: there are no perfect people.
i had a white supremacist friend who *loved* to remind me all the time that Nina Simone was homophobic (i don’t actually know if this is true) because he knew that she is my favourite singer/pianist/musician.
whatever. if she was, i don’t care.
i tend to make my decisions on a case by case basis. because it really depends on the person.
it also depends on the exact idea. and how important the oppressive element is to the overall theory.
like. any given white ppfem’s theories about gender are (and everything else, for that matter) invalid because white supremacy is so fundamental to their overall theory.
but take a thinker like Franz Fanon. I haven’t read everything by him (yet) but in what I’ve read, it is pretty clear that none of his stuff is directly about Black trans women. some ppl i know do indeed consider this to be transmisogynist. i can understand why. and if we concede this point, it is pretty clear to me that this is an error more of omission than commission. i can make historical allowances for something like this.
i guess part of what i’m saying here, is that given the way oppression works that anyone not impacted by a type of oppression is, by default, participating. i gauge it based on whether or not their participation is passive or active.
that is one way.
but not the only because omission can also become erasure. another way to view this is to look at the consequences. while all oppressive behaviour has negative consequences, if omission leads to erasure, then it actually stops being a ‘passive’ form of oppression. This is something a lot of white feminism is guilty of. and it has serious and devastating consequences for woc.
last, i’m sort of interested in this framing. because part of what you say requires viewing types of oppression as ‘single issues.’
how much value can the words of a racist have re: sexism?
are not woc targets of sexism.
if the person is racist, then it is unlikely that their ‘beneficial’ views on sexism actually, you know, benefit woc.
and if the views are, in fact, omitting, erasing, oppressing a fairly substantive group within the larger group where the ‘good’ stuff is applicable…
is it actually that good?
tl:dr; it is a tough question and everyone’s mileage varies. as long as you never try to minimize or dismiss the oppressive aspects of a person’s ideas/thoughts/actions, you should be fine wherever you decide to draw the line.