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Welcome gentle readers. Today I ask of thee but a kernel of patience whilst I set up the topic at hand.
Religion and Patriarchy actively conspire against the female half of humanity. We have to look no further than Christian Patriarchy over here and Islamic Fundamentalism over there to see the corrosive effects of religion on females (and everyone else). We’ve missed talking about a segment of the world religious community that, despite a different set of ooga-booga beliefs, shockingly manages to codify and practice misogyny with great aplomb.
Orthodox Judaism. And behold yet another goldmine of misogyny in which to revel in! (?) Let’s take a peek at a small sample of what we are talking about:
“During the 1970s feminist critics began to expose the absence of women’s voices within the male-dominated structures promoted by Judaism’s exclusively male-authored texts. Feminists also strove to reconstruct the lost voices of women, trying to recover evidence of women’s history and self-understanding that would allow a more diversified picture of the multiple Judaisms that have flourished throughout the Jewish past. While Judaism traditionally defines itself as a divinely revealed religion, its beliefs and practices have been interpreted and regulated almost exclusively by male authorities until the modern period. Feminist analysis has pointed out that men have created the legal systems articulated in the Mishnah, Talmud, and codes of Jewish law, and acted as supreme arbiters of its interpretation by reserving the rabbinate for men. Courts of Jewish law were historically run by male rabbis, and women were excluded as witnesses in most court cases. In rabbinic law, men may contract a marriage or divorce a wife, but women can neither acquire a husband nor divorce him. Women enter into rabbinic discourse as objects of discussion, when their ritual purity, sexual control, or marital status impinges upon men’s lives.
Many Jewish feminists have suggested that the insistence on overwhelmingly male imagery for God was a deliberate effort to strengthen the male-dominated institutional arrangements of Jewish life and undergird male authority over women in the religious and societal realms. As a result, feminist analysis views Jewish texts with suspicion for their collusion with societal patriarchy in silencing women’s voices, or, even worse, as creating patriarchal oppression and endowing it with the aura of divine sanction. At the same time, some feminists have culled biblical and rabbinic texts to find counter-patriarchal traditions that support principles of justice and equality, or voices of trickster women seeking to correct halakhic inequities (Pardes; Adler). Even as D. Setel argued that the prophet Hosea’s metaphor of Israel as God’s adulterous wife was pornographic, R. Adler noted that God’s reunion with the adulterous Israel, which violates Deuteronomic law (20:4) mandating a husband’s divorce of an adulterous wife, might be understood as a “constructive violation” of Jewish law – “the metaphor that preserves the covenant breaks the law” (Adler, 163–64).”
I gave up with the highlighting and bolding after the whole “objects of discussion” malarkey (lobe blown). Anyhow, now with a little background established we can talk about the Hunger Games.
First and foremost if you are experiencing Domestic Violence in Alberta check out these numbers from the Human Services branch of the Alberta Government:
“Talk to trained staff over the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in more than 170 languages. Chat anonymously online with staff from noon to 8:00 p.m., daily. Chat FAQ.
Family Violence Info Line 310‑1818 Begin chat
Bullying Helpline 1‑888‑456‑2323 Begin chat
Child Abuse Hotline 1‑800‑387‑5437″
The good news is that Deborah Drever, an Independent MLA representing Calgary-Bow, has tabled a private members bill that would make it easier for women to break a lease early to get them out of direct contact with their abusive partner.
“Drever’s Bill 204 would amend the Residential Tenancies Act to allow domestic violence victims to break a lease early and without penalty. If a person can demonstrate they or their children are in danger, they can receive a signed certificate from a list of professionals — such as a judge, nurse, police officer or social worker — compelling the landlord to terminate the lease. The law would also effectively allow a victim to remove an abuser’s name from a lease.”
Anything will help out the DV situation in Alberta as we have one of the highest incidence rates in the nation.
“Alberta ranks among the worst provinces for domestic violence. According to the most recent Statistics Canada report, there were 10,045 cases of intimate partner violence in Alberta in 2013 — a rate of 623 per 100,000 people and more than twice the national rate.”
That is a pretty terrible number, but it gets worse.
“The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters recent annual report showed that while 10,205 women and children found haven at provincial shelters between April 2014 and March 2015, nearly twice that number — 19,251 — were turned away for lack of space.”
This is a unacceptable state of affairs and this bill goes a small way in fixing what is a much larger problem in our society today. Maria Fitzpatrick, also an MLA, spoke of her experience with her abusive husband and the lack of support she had in dealing with this life threatening situation.
“Fitzpatrick told the house that at one point during her troubled nine-year marriage to her ex-husband, who has since died, she awoke to find he had pointed a gun to the back of her head.
She recalled hearing the clicking sound of the hammer as the trigger was pulled, and his hysterical laughter as she realized there were no bullets in the gun.
She said he threatened her that the next time, there would be bullets.
“He beat me. He raped me,” she told the silent assembly.
He told her he would kill their daughters first, in order to see her pain, and then he would kill her.
“I knew it would be just a matter of time before he followed through on these threats”
No one should have to experience this sort torture – especially nine years of it. Why didn’t she just leave? Is the question so often asked of women in DV situations, you see the thing is she did leave three times…
Through the course of their marriage, she said she suffered broken bones, black eyes, sexual assault and two miscarriages as a result of the abuse.
“Three times I left with my kids,” she said. “Twice I went to shelters. Twice I was forced to return or live on the street. Both times I returned and the violence got worse and the threats, which he could have carried out at any time, became more frequent and more intimidating.”
The supports are not there for women and the justice system is of little assistance. Look how helpful the police and judge were in Fitzpatrick’s situation.
“After the incident with the gun, she called police and her husband was finally arrested and a restraining order put in place. But there was no peace.
“I called the police 16 times in two weeks before he was arrested again. Not so much for assaulting me but because he broke the restraining order.”
Eventually, he was sentenced to a year in jail but was released immediately because of the amount of time he had spent on remand.
“He turned and as he was leaving the courtroom, he said he would kill me,” she recalled.
“I asked the judge how could he let him go, and the judge said to me it’s a marital issue, get a divorce and leave. He proceeded then to give me a lecture on how much it was going to cost to keep him in jail.
“When I returned to my house, he was there, holding my children and my mother-in-law at the point of a gun. At the end of a four-hour ordeal, his mother rose and asked God to help us, and he ran from the house.”
I can’t even… When is it ever okay to classify domestic abuse as just a ‘marital issue’? And such completely naive advice – as if just leaving, with three children, is a walk in the fracking park. Ms. Fitzpatrick says it best:
“My support for this bill comes from the middle of this experience and this trap, a trap that was intentionally or unintentionally supported by society,” said Fitzpatrick. “Silence, blame, guilt and little to no support grew this injustice for decades, if not centuries.
“This should never have happened to me or these situations to anybody else. “
Let’s get this bill passed Alberta MLA’s. It is but one small step in addressing a very large problem in our society today.
Yet I still hear people everday proclaiming that we are ‘done’ with feminism and that ‘for all intensive purposes’ the sexes are treated equally in society.
Horsefeathers to those notions, I say.
I would suggest that you go read the full article by Rebecca Reilly-Cooper on politics.co.uk right now, as it describes the situation facing many feminists today. Increasingly there is no debate, there is only complete acceptance of a set of views or you’re marginalized. This is not a rational give or take situation, but rather an inquisitional drive for purity.
But I skip ahead – The article is about Germaine Greer deciding not to speak at Cardiff University because of concerns over her personal safety and the resulting fallout surrounding the event.
“In a Newsnight interview with Kirsty Wark, Greer remained characteristically uncompromising. Among the many things she said during that interview, the focus has been on two statements which directly echo Melhuish’s complaints: “I don’t think that post-operative transgender men, ie MtoF transgender people, are women” and “it is simply not true that intersexual people suffer in a way that other people don’t suffer” (given the context, it’s reasonable to assume she was referring to transgender as opposed to intersex people here).
You might not like these opinions very much. You might find them rude, obnoxious, blunt and hurtful. You might think it is disrespectful and unkind for Greer to openly proclaim that she does not share trans people’s perceptions of themselves and their identity. You might think she is mistaken, that trans women are in fact women, and do experience forms of discrimination and marginalisation that other groups do not share. But whatever your view about the truth of these opinions, it requires quite an argumentative leap to define them as hate speech, or to claim convincingly that merely holding and expressing such views is equivalent to inciting violence, hatred and discrimination against trans people. Crucially, Greer was explicit that she was making no statement at all on what treatment trans people ought to have. “I’m not saying that people should not be allowed to go through that procedure. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t make them a woman. It happens to be an opinion. It’s not a prohibition.” She also said that when speaking to trans women, she would “use female speech forms, as a courtesy”.
So Greer said nothing about what rights trans people ought to have or how they ought to be treated, and certainly nothing that could plausibly be interpreted as an incitement to violence. Believing that trans women are men is neither an incitement to violence, nor is it dehumanising, unless you also happen to think that men deserve violence and are not human. So the two main offences she is accused of are ones she openly admits to: not believing that transgender women are women, and not believing that transphobia – prejudice and bigotry towards transgender people – exists.
Both of these offences are solely concerned with the propositional content of Greer’s beliefs. That is, the objection is that she believes things that her opponents believe to be false, and that these beliefs are, for reasons that are never properly articulated, “dangerous”. So what Greer stands accused of is, essentially, thoughtcrime. She is guilty of holding the wrong thoughts, of believing the wrong things, of entertaining ideas and defining concepts in ways that diverge from some doctrine to which all decent people are supposed to subscribe. One must believe that trans women are women, and one must believe that trans people are subject to forms of prejudice and discrimination that others are not, and if you do not hold those beliefs, then you are by definition dangerous, a potential threat to others, and must be silenced. The possibility of reasonable disagreement on these issues is ruled out, ex hypothesi.
The response to Greer and her alleged transphobia is just one example of a creeping trend among social justice activists of an identitarian persuasion: a tendency towards ideological totalism, the attempt to determine not only what policies and actions are acceptable, but what thoughts and beliefs are, too. Contemporary identity-based social justice activism is increasingly displaying the kinds of totalising and authoritarian tactics that we usually associate with cults or quasi-religious movements which aim to control the thoughts and inner lives of their members. The doctrine of “gender identity” – the idea that people possess an essential inner gender that is independent both of their sexed body and of the social reality of being treated as a person with such a body – has rapidly been elevated to the status of quasi-religious belief, such that those who do not subscribe to it are seen as not only mistaken and misguided, but dangerous and threatening, and must therefore be silenced.”
Gender identity is all about the feels, however… strong personal feelings do not trump reality or the facts of the matter. Women, the feminist movement, and society in general will be in a great deal of trouble if they ever do.
The definitional understanding of what sexism can only take one so far. Living it, raging against it and grappling with it are in another category completely. This from the tumblr blog One Word at a Time.
“here is what sexism does. one day it’s catcalling, and you answer back because it’s not right and you want to fight back. and then the next day it’s a someome telling you to go make him a sandwitch. and for the hundreth time you explain to him all the reasons why the joke is inappropriate. and then the next day a guy at work tells you not to burden your pretty head with difficult issues, and you calmly and eloquently point out sexism to him. and then the next day the cab driver won’t stop asking you for your number. and you lie you have a boyfriend for the milionth time, because you know he won’t back off otherwise. and then the next day your boss mentions a promotion and ‘jokingly’ adds he hopes you’re not planning on having any babies any time soon. you exhale, count to ten, and smile, as you bite your tongue.
and the next day… and that’s the thing there is ALWAYS a next day, and there is always another battle. and either, you give up, either you quiet down and accept that this is how things are and settle into life; or you give into anger, you stop explaining calmly, you stop smiling, you stop answering – and you start snapping, and yelling back at the catcallers, and calling your boss a sexist asshole. if you accept it – you will be criticized – as unfeminist. if you get angry – you will be criticized – as emotional, unstable, aggressive – too manly. this is what sexism does – it makes it impossible to win if you’re a girl, or a woman, it makes your entire existance an uphill battle. and truth be told, i am getting so fucking tired. i am 23, a quarter of my life behind me, and i am already tired of educating men twice my age about what is right and appropriate. i am tired of the stares that say i am over-reacting, the replies to calm down, the polite smiles that are meant to knock me down a few pegs. i am tired of explaining to men that sexism is not this one incident, it is my entire life, my every single day. i am 23 and i am so fucking exhausted. “
So while many of us cruise along others have are having to choose which patriarchal shit sandwich to nosh on… again…
The stuff you can find on tumblr these days. I applaud the trenchant analysis of gender and what being a woman (performing femininity) is like in much of western society.
“Why do you want to look like a man?”
I wear clothing from the men’s section of the clothing store. My leg hairs are longer than most of the hair in my head. I never wear any makeup, no matter if I’m going out to buy bread in the morning or if I’m going to a party. People often call me “sir”. Others hurl slurs at me, sometimes calling me a “dyke”, sometimes calling me a “faggot”, both showing their disapproval of my physical presentation. I see little kids asking their mothers, in whispers, if I am a boy or a girl. And people ask me all the time, why do I want to look like a man?
The answer is simple. I don’t.
And I do not look like a man.
I look like a woman who refuses to perform femininity.
My unshaven legs do not make me like a man, they’re MY legs, and MY hair, and I am a woman. My “boy’s” clothes are worn on my body, the body of a woman. My naked, unpainted face is the face of a woman. I am a woman, and this is not defined by a haircut or a choice of attire, or by lipstick or high heels, or boxer briefs and men’s deodorant worn over fuzzy unshaven armpits. There’s nothing manly about me.
I am a woman, not by choice, but by fact. Because “woman” is a reality imposed to me, from the day I was born and given a woman’s name, to the day I was six and I was told I couldn’t take off my shirt in a blazing hot summer day because one day I would have breasts, to last night when I walked home in a state of hyper-awareness, my house keys tightly clutched between my fingers, tracking the movements of every man in the dark streets.
I am a woman because, since before my own birth, when an ultrasonography picture informed my parents that I would be born with a vulva, I have been groomed to be a member of the woman class, the breeding stock class, the sex class, the lower class. I was taught to be accomodating and speak softly, to not bring attention to myself and to spare men’s feelings. I was taught that the boy who pulled my hair and threw his toy train at me, aiming for my head, probably did it because he liked me, and boys will be boys anyway. I learned that, if I did the same to him, I was a troublemaker. That my assertiveness is unladylike. That one day I would bear some man’s children, and this was pretty much destiny. That my worth was in my looks, more than in my brain. I am a woman because I was taught all these things, and I am a woman because people expect me to know these lessons by heart, and follow every one of them.
When people ask me why do I want to look like a man, what they’re actually asking is why am I not marking myself as a woman. They’re asking why do I fail to perform the role of femininity, to make myself pleasing and unthreatening to the eyes of the upper class, the man class. My mother once voiced her concerns to me, that my looks would make me a target for male violence, and she is right to be concerned. I am perceived as a member of the lower class who refuses to bear the marks and play the role imposed to me. I refuse to shave my legs to look like a pre-pubescent girl, innocent and vulnerable, or to wear shoes that force me to walk on the tips of my toes, slow and precariously balanced, and this makes men angry, because this is a counscious act of rebellion. This is me saying I am not theirs. I will not please them. I do not desire their approval or their attention. And men often get violent when we refuse to cater to them.
My choices of visual presentation make me a cautionary tale. I am the hairy, ugly, lesbian feminist, the one they warn other women about. “Don’t be like her”, they say, “or no man will ever want you”. But I don’t want them either, and I do not want to look like them, or be like them, or have anything to do with them. I want to be free from men and their bullshit standards. I want to strut around proudly, shamelessly unladylike, looking like a woman looks when she’s not covered in face paint and restrictive clothing, when she doesn’t care about pleasing men.
I do not look like a man, and nothing will ever make me look like one. I am pure, unadulterated woman. I choose myself over them, I choose women over them. If that makes them hate me, so be it. Because I am a woman, they would hate me no matter what I did.