When will our anecdotes start counting?

The common belief in the Western world, at least on the surface, is that women have more-or-less (whatever that means) achieved equality with men. We can go to work, choose our own intimate partners, get divorced, take birth control pills, and we have basic on-paper legal rights.

Yet everywhere I turn, I see stories of women being harassed at work, abused at home, telling their stories of rape and violence, and telling the truth about what the daily lives of most Western women are still like, in reality, not on paper.

As a radfem, I understand this reality, and know it to be true. However, much of Western society would like to ignore it. So, how long is it going to take for these women’s stories to mean something?

How many women have to be raped, beaten, murdered, and abused, harassed, and generally treated like garbage before we accept that the ultimate goals of feminism are far from being fully realized?

How many people have to believe their stories to turn the tide? How many have to care?

Today, 4 American women will be murdered by a male partner. Today, at least 360 American women will be raped. Today, more than 1500 American women will be beaten by a male partner.

While you are reading this, somewhere in this country, a woman is being raped. Right now.

If that’s freedom, I can’t see it. If that’s equality, I can’t see it.

MRAs like to argue that men also suffer these abuses. They certainly do. Often at the hands of other men, not women. Most sexual abuse committed against men and boys is perpetrated by another male.

So, the situation begs the question: why are men so violent, toward women and toward each other?

I’d say, It’s the Patriarchy, Stupid.

And here’s a disturbing statistic from Men Against Sexual Violence: 2/3 of college men report that they would consider raping a woman if they thought they could get away with it.

Regardless of all of the available information (of which I have shared very little here), the same myths about sexual violence that have existed since Biblical times are still prevalent in Western culture. Women lie, seduce men and then claim rape, falsely accuse men of rape whenever we get a chance, and regret sexual activity after the fact and cry rape to cover our tracks. Married women can’t be raped by our husbands, and prostitutes can never claim rape. A woman who is dressed provocatively is asking for it. Sex-workers are asking for it. Drunk or otherwise intoxicated women are asking for it. Passed out women are asking for it. Women walking down a dark street at night are just asking for it.

But we’ve achieved freedom and equality. No one wants to believe that sexual violence and our acceptance of it is one of the primary control mechanisms the entire world uses to keep us in our place.

No one wants to listen to the horrifying stories of our mothers, sisters, and daughters, because it’s easier to just go on believing that the oppression of women in the Western world is a thing of the past. It’s easier to go on believing that women lock their car doors as soon as they hit the seat, and check the back for unwelcome guests because we are neurotic and living in unnecessary fear than it is to accept that we every reason to fear male violence.

We have every reason to fear it.

We live in fear out of necessity, not a desire to “play the victim” as is so often said. We live in fear, and act as such, because if we don’t, and we go out for a walk down that dark street late at night, and we get raped, it was our fault for putting ourselves in such an obviously dangerous situation.

It’s not the rapist’s fault. It’s not the rape-accepting culture’s fault.

It’s our fault. Your fault. My fault.

How can anyone live like that? If we act out of self-preservation, we are living in fear and mocked for it. If we do not live in fear, we are responsible for any violence done to us.

During the abolition movement, the personal stories of slaves were used to make the public understand the horrors of slavery. During the civil rights movement, the first-hand accounts of the oppressed were instrumental in raising public consciousness. In all ground-up revolutionary movements in history, the anecdotal information provided by the oppressed has been of major importance.

When will ours start counting?

~ by theunrelentingrevolutionaryoptimist on August 23, 2007.

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