Women Haven’t Come Far Enough

stop violence against womenstop violence against womenWe’ve all heard the horrid stories of how commonplace rape is in India.  We saw the news articles about that young medical student who was so cruelly tortured and then tossed onto the pavement and left to die.  We read about how long it takes to prosecute a rapist in India – often 10 to 14 years.   We are sincere and solid in our condemnation on this heinous attack but often we think, that’s “over there” and it’s not like that here where I live.  And it’s not, but that’s not the end of the story.

In India, the government says they are doing all they can to fast track this one case but since that rape of the medical student there have been several other rapes, one of a  young school girl of only 12.  The opinion seems to be that any women walking around at night are fair game.  The medical student went to a movie escorted by a male friend.  One person interviewed said she shouldn’t have been out at night because only men had that right. India seems so far away from my home in Australia.

When violence against women occurs in Muslim countries, we think that there’s nothing we can do because their religion teaches them that men are better than women and women are to be beaten by their husbands if their wives don’t do as they are told.   The Qur’an states that men are the maintainers of women and if they don’t have sex with their husbands or if they want to leave it’s perfectly okay to beat them.  Beatings are appropriate and necessary to keep women in their place.  Not all Muslim men beat their wives, let me be clear about this, but Islam permits it. It’s not a crime to beat your wife under Islamic law. As long as a major religion says beating your wife is okay, what chance do women there have?

A bit closer to home at our nearest neighbour in Indonesia, a candidate for the Indonesian Supreme Court (maybe I should type that twice for emphasis) was being interviewed this week by politicians to determine his suitability for the position.  When asked if the death penalty should be given for rape, he joked that it should not because rape victims enjoy the rape as much as the perpetrator.  It’s okay to pick your teeth up off the floor now.

We look at the issues in India and we think, “many poorly educated men, improperly taught about the rights of women,” and we can understand where they’re coming from even while condemning their actions.  The jerk in Indonesia going for the top legal job in the country is well educated and well respected.  What does that say about how the upper levels of government there feel about women?  To them women are not equal to a man, they have few rights and are on this planet to serve men.  That’s how I view this.

Now back home in Australia.  A heavily pregnant woman and her husband and child went to a car park last week so they could pick up some potting mix.  The woman was really tired so she stayed in the car while her husband and little boy went into the shop.  While sitting her her car she heard a man shout and then she saw a woman running past her car.  Following the woman was a man that looked really angry and yelling, “Get back here,” and raising his fist.

Another woman saw the incident and she got out of her car and along with the pregnant woman tried to break up the fight – the man had grabbed his wife by the throat and had thrown her to the ground.  The perp saw the women coming after him and dragged his beaten wife into his car and drove away.

You might be thinking that these women are to be praised for trying to help and you’d be right but that’s not the whole story.  Standing around watching the guy beat his wife were several men who seemed to be watching the show as if that was a personal problem and none of their business.  The man owned the wife, right?   He can do what he wants with her and it’s none of our business, right?

Where do these notions come from and what do we as a nation have to do in order to change this culture?  It’s no wonder women are paid less than men for the same work when the assumption by men is that we are somehow worth less.  Violence against women is preventable but it will take all of us to do our part.

We women need to do more to assert our equality.





Sexual Politics

sexual politicsI was talking with an old friend from the states yesterday and he’s convinced that all the problems over there started 40 years ago when women decided they should be equal to men in every way.  “Feminism has taken over the political process,” he said.

He went on to say that “men used to talk about real issues and now everything is an attack on masculinity, marriage and the family.”

All I could think of in reply was, “huh? What planet are you on?” but of course I didn’t say that.  I went to university with this guy so we’ve known each other for a very long time.  He thinks that feminism is the cause of all problems everywhere in the world. “Women used to know their place,” he said.

Okay, that’s where I couldn’t hold my tongue (or fingers) any longer.  While I was crafting my clever response, he said, “Feminism isn’t a reform movement, it’s a revolution.”  As if that’s a bad thing.

happier with a hooverI began by saying, “How can you say that women should stay in their place so that men can be happy running the show?  From my perspective you’ve done a pretty shit job of it over there for quite some time.  One war after another, poverty running rife, …  ”  It went on and on and his reply?

“It’s all because Obama is president, he’s allowing all these women to take our country over.”

My eyes started coming out of my head.

“These women?  As if women haven’t been in the United States for a very long time?” I said, “You make no comment on anything I said, only to reply that the current President is the ruination of all and seriously, he’s a man.  Does being black put him in the same category of not knowing his place as women?”

I was so pissed off that I just wanted to smack him in the nose but that’s not what polite society accepts as conversation, plus he is 10,000 miles away.  I decided I needed to leave the conversation so I told him that I’d had enough of the bully mentality as it had been pretty full on here in Australia this week.

He replied, “Yeah, I saw that on the news.  That woman of yours needs to shut the fuck up and accept that men are not going to like her being in power because that’s against the social order – read the Bible.”

I loved the Prime Minster’s response in Parliament the other day.  She spoke for me.  As a woman who’s worked in businesses dominated by men, I know how it feels to be left out of the company sponsored upper management bonding events like deep sea fishing, golf afternoons, etc.  “Oh you don’t want to go with a bunch of smelly men,” one guy said to me once.

There’s never a time that I thought women were better than men but I’ve always known we are equal and have a right to be treated as such.  If men like my now former friend and others like him think women are going to step back from the fight for equality, they’d be wrong.

women hit things

See?  women aren’t as good as men.  We hit things.  Why men don’t get that we’re sick of this crap, I can’t fathom.  Far from spoiling things for them, including women will make the world a much better place for everyone.