Thursday, April 4, 2013

Feminism VS. the Patriarchy: Examining Rape, Sexual Assault, and Gender Violence

There are many misguided people who think that women use feminism as a medium to express their hatred for men. People who think that the goal of feminism is to wage a war on men. This is not true and I am so tired of having to explain this to people. We live in a patriarchal society, where women are dominated by men on a daily basis in various realms: sexuality, the household, male-on-female violence (rape culture & victim blaming), paid employment, cultural institutions, and the state. Misogyny, coupled with sexism, run rampant in our communities, and consequently women are silenced and subordinated, and women-identified values are denigrated. What does this mean or look like, some people may ask?

            Rape, sexual assault, and gender violence are not only women’s issues because sexual violence happens to people, not genders. However, a majority of women experience sexual assault, and these numbers grow dangerously larger within already marginalized communities. Did you know that one out of every three women worldwide will be physically, sexually, or otherwise abused during her lifetime with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries? Not only do we live in a society where "one sex" (MALE) is thought to be intrinsically superior to a person of the "other sex" (FEMALE), social constructs of gender, male and female, are the ONLY types of gender identity that are seen as "real" or "valid". Did you know that trans women, especially trans women of color, are the most vulnerable to police brutality and violence? Trans women of color are often involved in or presumed to be involved in the sex work industry; it is in and around these places that these women are often assaulted. Systems of oppression like racism, laws like the criminalization of sex work, economic forces like poverty and gentrification are forces at play when it comes to violence against trans women.

So now: instead of pointing women out as cruel/hateful and “out to get men”, what can men (PEOPLE) do to support women and the fight against rape, sexual assault, and gender violence? Sexualized violence against women does not just affect women. It affects the people who care about them, their families, their friends, their coworkers, and their communities. Join the movement to end the violence; join the feminist movement!  Feminists are people, not genders, who recognize the validity of women’s own interpretations of their lived experience and needs and acknowledge the values women publicly claim as their won in assessing their societal status relative to men; they exhibit consciousness and awareness of, discomfort at, or even anger over institutionalized injustice or inequity toward women as a group by men as a group in a given society; AND they advocate the eliminating of that injustice by challenging, through efforts to alter prevailing ideas and/or social institutions and practices, the power, force, or authority that upholds male prerogatives in that particular culture. Patriarchy, rather than rape culture, causes rape. And yes, feminism may seek to inherently undermine (and destroy) the patriarchy and I’m crossing my fingers that sooner than later, it will. This isn't about a war on men, it's a war on the patriarchy, rape culture, misogny, and sexism. 

 Sources read~~~~

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