Posts Tagged ‘Gender Essentialism

01
Aug
14

“asking for it” and other conundrums … hmmm

“Asking for it” and other conundrums … hmmm

She Tried To Be Good

I may be a little late to the party … but the issues surrounding how we think about women as objects versus as living, breathing persons that are more than sexualized gender constructions is not something that just flares up with a headline. Nor should we consider a young woman attending college an object of derision because she doesn’t cotton to waking up after a party in her sorority having been date-raped by her chem lab partner. Oh- but that would belie that swinging “co-ed” meme that still seems to underlie our dismissal of college women whose plaintive pleas for action are met with a wink and the consternation of college administrators who might actually have to take some responsibility for the conduct of students on campus.

College GirlsThe horror show that was the “Santa Barbara” mass murder outrage a couple of months ago, in that instance, the targeting of women and a few men who happened to be in the way, renewed all sorts of conversations in the popular media and elsewhere about a wide range of topics spanning from gun control to treatment of the mentally ill to the divide between men and women.

And yep, in the mind of our shooter, his lack of attractiveness to women was not *his* fault, but theirs, thus in his twisted mindset, it became a killing offense. If the headlines published in the NY Daily News were to be believed, it all stemmed from the perception of a snarky comment from a friend stated off handedly at the age of ten — and that young woman has been in fear for her life ever since.

Whoa.

What is going on here?

As a mother of a fourteen-year-old, I’ve gotten to know the bit about “slut-shaming” and other lovelies inflicted on tweens and teens by boys *and* girls for offenses as deeply embarrassing as a perceived inopportune smile, but shooting???

Oh and the sexualization of tween and teen girls is another lovely that parents and their kids contend with daily as in the, “But Mom, those are the only shorts they sell,” argument. You know the ones– they’re basically nothing more than butt flashing snippets of “distressed” denim material, and the prideful “good” Moms and Dads (myself among them), create havoc in our homes peeling our daughters out of their shorts and back into “appropriate” clothing.

Still … what is that all about. It’s okay to wear short-shorts for running (same style for men and women), but not for walking? Why not wear short-shorts on a ridiculously hot day without the expectation of some idiot somewhere saying something so wildly offensive and disgusting that one’s own mind needs an ablative scraping just to remove the memory it.

Scratch the surface, however, and that clothing argument gets to the heart of that old canard … “she is just asking for it.”

You Asked For ItA million years ago in 1970, I used to walk home from  Julia Richmond High School on East 68th Street, through Manhattan’s famed Central Park to our apartment on the Upper West Side. My favorite route was up the East Side park drive, then around the running track at the Reservoir until I reached the West Side before the last part of my trek home.

On a lovely Spring afternoon somewhere along the northern edge of the Reservoir, a man grabbed me from behind by placing me in a choke hold that lifted me off the ground. He proceeded to wheel me around and carry me several yards, my body still suspended in the air as I struggled to breathe. He then threw me into the underbrush off the main path. After sexually assaulting me, he ran away and I somehow made it out of the park, disheveled and emotionally shattered, into my mother’s arms.

While I’m not here to “testify” per se, the interesting part was me shaking my head and saying over and over through convulsions of tears, “but Mom, I’m wearing a lumber shirt over loose wide-leg jeans…” a nod to my hippy-girl style complete with long, long hair.

And there we were … my mother and I in this moment, sharing my insistence that I wasn’t “asking for it.” Or, was just being alone with my thoughts enjoying a lovely day the “signal” — much as our young “Santa Barbara Killer” figured he was right to murder women because they were at fault for not liking him.

What I find astounding is the meme of “asking for it” is as current today as it was 44 years ago. And then as now we are still buying it hook, line and sinker.

It is also incredulous to me that people actually believe a woman walking home from school, the movies, work, the grocery store, a night out with friends or the myriad of other places that mark her point of departure … is actually asking for it.

I mean, let’s get real, assault against women whether sexual or otherwise, continues on and on as a 24/7 activity in every corner of the world — including our much vaulted enlightened society. Are we really saying all these women are asking for it too?

And with the exception of a few folks (men and women alike) who explore sexual pain and suffering, trust me, women aren’t waking up and saying, “Gee, I’m going for a walk in the park, come rape me,” or “I’m going to make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, kill me if it isn’t al dente.”

I mean, pahleeze, women are continuously on the receiving end of hits, punches, slaps, broken bones, acid thrown in their faces, being set on fire, infanticide, kidnapping, sexual assault, rape and murder precisely because they are women — and if not in real life than as a daily diet of our popular culture.

Something truly has to give.

From the personal side, it is truly alarming to realize that yet another generation of young women in America does not feel safe at home, driving to work, at school, at work or just going for a stroll — not to mention women in uniform who live in fear not from the “enemy,” but from their fellow soldiers, sailors, and officers. (Yes, tell me please how a woman in uniform is “asking for it.”)

I could go on for a while, and wish I had a solution, other than to say, we all, men and women alike, have to shout-out enough and be done with it.

Suffice it to say, my biggest fear remains walking down the street after dark with a group of young men 14 – 23 moving towards me.

22
Mar
12

How many more people have to die before we stop?

How many more people have to die before we stop?

Trayvon Martin's parents in New York City, Photo: John Minchillo/AP

The pain is etched on the faces of Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton.

Pain no parents should ever have to suffer.

Pain no one’s parents or friends or loved ones or fellow travelers should ever have to contend with at the hands of intolerance, bigotry and ignorance.

Trayvon Martin, AP Photo/Martin Family

The truth is I’m heartsick and angry and haunted by the senselessness of this young man’s death.  And for what?  Why does a young 17-year-old with nothing but promise ahead of him have to die?  What was so overwhelmingly fearful other than a perception of “otherness” that caused George Zimmerman to pull the trigger and snuff out this boy’s life?

And there’s the rub.

Trayvon Martin is a drop in the bucket of our daily diet of ridiculous death.  Just since his death on February 26th, we’ve lived through a free-for-all of senseless violence.  And if not for the color of someone’s skin or the shape of their hoodie, than for their religion or ethnicity or sexual orientation or gender or tribal allegiance or gang membership …. and the list goes on and on and on: our collective demonization of “otherness.”

A student being escorted from the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse on Monday after a horrific shooting. Photo: Jean-Philippe Arles/ReuterOur collective unabated demonization of the "other."

Here in America, it is in our daily diet of vitriol.

And yet it doesn’t stop here. Three days ago in France, a man opened fire in front of a Jewish school in Toulouse killing a religious teacher and three children, and leaving a 17-year-old boy in serious condition.

And today, if we comb the world’s papers we will find other instances of horror.

We will find that women have been killed for so-called “honor.”  We’ll learn that young men in Iraq have been tortured to death for wearing “emo” clothing.

The question is can we rise above our fears to say enough?

Can each of us rise up and shout down hatred and bigotry long enough to have it mean something?

I’d really had the hope that the long 20th Century of war upon war upon war would somehow liberate us enough to enter a period of tolerance.

Apparently I was wrong.

All that is truly left us is our ability to shout E-N-O-U-G-H.

 

 

 

07
Jan
12

Your great-grandmother was a boxer too!

Your great-grandmother was a boxer too!

Having spent the better part of four months living and breathing women’s boxing from the perspective of gender (i. e., the only “acceptable” female boxer is a “girly-girl” boxer in pink and other such canards) — I thought it might be fun to remind folks that female boxers have been around for a LONG time.  Here are a few samples from newspaper articles published around the country in the early part of the 20th century (click on the links).

An uppercut from the fair fighter’s fist

This article from The Hartford Herald was published on May 1, 1912 and describes a 7th round knockout by Myrtle Havers, 18 over Mabel Williams, 32  in a 10-round professional fight in Saginaw, Michigan.  In declaring Havers the winner, she was also named the girls champion of Michigan.

“The two fought with eight-ounce gloves and under straight Queensbury rules.  Miss Williams, who has been known as the best woman boxer in Michigan for several years, was knocked into dreamland with a stiff uppercut after she had severely thrashed Miss Havers in the early part of the seventh round.”

This woman boxer weighs 105 and has met two champions

An article advocating women’s physical culture appeared in The Tacoma Times on November 27, 1917.  The article is about boxer Helen Hildreth.  When asked if she had ever been hit hard she replied, “Yes, but that’s part of the game. The excitement and nervous tension you are under when you are boxing makes you forget the pain of a blow almost as soon as you feel it.”

Woman boxer invites bout

Published in The Ogden Standard-Examiner on March 22, 1922, this article chronicles Elkhart, Indiana’s hope for a female boxing champion in the person of Gertrude Allison, 25 who challenged New York’s Laura Bennett to a fight!  Check out the photo in the article.  Allison is quoted as saying, “I know I can lick her!”




July 2021
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,943 other followers

Girlboxing Now! on Twitter

@Girlboxingnow

Share this blog!

Bookmark and Share
free counters
Blog Directory

Blog Stats

  • 812,857 hits

Twitter Updates

© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

%d bloggers like this: