Thursday, September 03, 2015

Disappointing Girls

We start disappointing girls before they are born. The baby shower filled with little pink items is where it all begins. The pink faucet continues to flow after the girl child is born. It’s challenging to buy baby clothes or little girl clothes that aren’t pink, don’t mention princesses, and don’t sport any glitter. Also: boys AND girls wear blue. Boys do not wear pink.

Girls get girl toys. They get dolls. They get kitchens. They get all things Disney princess. They get pink bicycles. They may be referred to as “Daddy’s little princess.” Their brother will be called, “the little man.” The focus is always on appearance. Boys are Big or Strong. Girls are Petite, Cute, and Beautiful. They learn to be sweet. They learn to sit down and act like a little lady. Pink is the color of lowered expectations.

The way to judge the importance of a thing is by who engages in it. Girls and women do not play football, though women’s tax dollars go toward building huge arenas that persons of their gender will never be allowed to use.  Women are not allowed to participate in military combat. Boys and men do not participate in beauty contests.

Girls are judged, harshly, on their looks for their whole lives. As women, they will be told by strangers to smile. When men are not smiling, it’s obviously because they are thinking important thoughts. When women are not smiling, it’s because they are bitches.

Our little pinkettes go forward into a world where women are not equal. All of the major religions teach that women are lesser beings. Ole Adam laid the blame on Eve the moment he had the opportunity. These teachings have had a definite trickle down effect. As a result, women are still oppressed in most countries in the world. In some countries crude surgeries are done on women’s genitals. In others, men determine the rights of women, including their right to bodily autonomy.

We may bemoan the dearth of women in the fields of science and math, but in a world where boys are Smart and girls are Pretty it’s really no surprise that girls are pushed toward traditional girl/woman fields. Women who enter fields that have been dominated by men do not get a warm welcome. If they are lucky, they are bullied and demeaned. If they are not, they are beaten, raped, and sometimes murdered, as we see in the US military.

In the 1970’s, feminists began to push back against the traditional attitudes about the crime of rape. They began the first rape crisis centers. They pushed back against the routine legal and societal blaming of women for their own rapes. Things got a little better. Like everything else, that improvement is starting to recede. Constant vigilance is the price of any gains made by women. 

Historically, women have been regarded as chattel or as plunder. This really hasn’t changed, as we saw in the recent trial of a young man accused of rape at St. Paul’s School in Concord. This elite private school has a tradition known as the “Senior Salute” where boys compete to “score” with as many girls as they can before graduation. Tradition is defined as an established pattern of behavior, a social custom, or cultural continuity. When the administrators at St. Paul’s tell us that they knew nothing of this, they are almost certainly lying through their expensively maintained teeth. The boys kept lists, shared them, and named names. It was all about keeping score.

The young man was accused and the girl was put on trial. The jury found that she didn’t resist enough. Even though 4 of his friends testified against him, even though there was physical evidence, she was found questionable because she didn’t march immediately to the police station to demand justice. Like many rape victims, she was confused and emotional after being raped by someone she knew. The media coverage of the case was abhorrent – particularly the live tweeting by reporters from inside the courtroom. I seldom praise the Union Leader newspaper, but they refused to publish the victim’s name. Other publications were not so principled. The behavior of the media is something that should concern us locally, given that Nate Kibby goes on trial early next year

There’s a lot of lip service about how seriously we take the crime of rape. The fact that there are thousands of rape kits languishing untested in police stations around the country gives lie to any pretense of seriousness. The libertea crowd tells us that women need to carry guns to protect themselves. They are using women to justify their desire to eliminate all restrictions on gun ownership. In NH the libertea legislators routinely vote against domestic violence bills, because a domestic violence conviction means that a guy would lose his guns. If women started shooting men on a regular basis, they’d change their tune about female gun ownership in a big hurry.

We aren’t interested in teaching boys and men not to rape. Rape is part and parcel of male privilege in our society. It’s up to girls and women not to be provocatively dressed, not to be in any situation that might be construed as “asking for it,” and above all, in the event of a rape to behave in a textbook manner. 

Saint Paul’s School turned a blind eye to the rape culture on their campus. As a result, the future captains of industry have learned that girls/women are disposable plunder. The girls of St. Paul’s have learned that they are - at best - a fungible commodity. The rest of us have learned, once again, why girls and women do not report their rapes. We start disappointing girls before they are born.

This was published as an op-ed in the 9-4-2015 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper 


Dick Getty said...

Provide women with guns and training, and the boys (real men don't rape) will learn soon enough!

susanthe said...

Thanks for proving the point, Dick. It should not be the job of women to stop rapists. Boys and men need to stop raping.

shane said...

After reading many of your commentaries I have come to one conclusion and no judgments. We need a government that is much more localized and less of a generic monstrosity that has no concerns but those of special interest and the all mighty $. Only people at the local level can care, help one another and govern effectively.