The Misogynistic Ego

so-if-the-cat-has-got-your-tongue-theres-no-need-for-dismay-just-summon-up-this-word-and-then-youve-got-a-lot-to-say-supercalifragilisticexpial

Monday night (September 26, 2016) was another historical moment for the United States when the first woman took the stage in a presidential debate as the nominee of a major political party, against the nominee of an opposing party. Well, these historical moments are not as relished as, perhaps, they should be simply because there are so many of them. Everything Hillary accomplishes and does from here forward constitutes new steps into uncharted territories. Everything is a first. So, I am taking this brief moment to recognize this and appreciate it. Whether you agree with Hillary or not politically, it does not change the historical significance we witness every day.

It should also be no surprise to anyone that I, or this little unknown blog, endorses and supports Hillary Clinton in her endeavor to seek the White House. Since this is a woman’s advocacy site, many may assume this is why I support Hillary, because she is a woman. This assumption, however, is not true. While I love to see women breaking barriers and demanding equality, I would not support any person to lead our country unless they represent the best option available. You see, this site does not promote women over anyone else. It promotes equality among all people, because only when everyone is equal, do women have equality. Because of this ideology and goal, it would be counter-productive to hold a female candidate to any different standard than a male counterpart. As long as women are held to a different standard, there is no equality. If I supported a lesser candidate because she is female, I would be a working part of the misogynistic culture I abhor. Why? Because if I were to prop up a lesser candidate simply because she is a woman, then I would be grading her on a curve, saying that because she is a woman, we shouldn’t expect as much, she is not as capable, so we should judge her based on what we think women are capable of achieving, rather than what we believe a candidate should be capable of accomplishing without regard to their sex.

This is no different than what we have witnessed day in and day out as misogynists suggest women are not as capable. Secretary Clinton’s accomplishments have been dismissed as largely attributable to men around her rather than her own ingenuity. Her failures and even the shortcomings of others, are attributed to her inability as a person and as a woman to make difficult decisions with clarity and logic.

Monday night’s debate was further evidence of the misogyny Hillary Clinton has been forced to face throughout a long career in different venues of public service. In fact, the debate was a snapshot of what strong women are dealing with every single day and of the patriarchal society we have silently built.

Sure, we love to point fingers at other countries where women have no rights at all, but forget we are not far removed from a similar time ourselves. Women have been guaranteed the right to vote in our country for less than a century. Women were discouraged to have careers and the opportunities for those who wished to were extremely limited. It was only out of the necessity of World War II that women emerged en masse into the workforce. Inspired by their new self-reliance, they refused to leave. But women were fired from jobs to make room for returning soldiers. Their work was certainly good enough to keep everything going, but not good enough if there was a man who could do it half as well. Women were expected to go back home, give up independence and become happy, meek housewives again.

Some did. We boasted television programming to portray this perfect lifestyle. Magazines targeted at women gave advice on how to be a better support for a husband, how to make him happier and reduce his stress. Over and over again, it was intimated that a woman’s happiness is in making her husband happy and taking care of the home. Do you think this propaganda against women and to influence women during the 1950’s was an accident? Women became entirely too powerful and independent while the men were off at war. They learned they were capable of running the machines -it wasn’t nearly as difficult as the men made it sound- that they were capable of doing home repairs, of plowing a field, of driving a truck, of working in a factory. They learned they really didn’t need men to do these things for them. Women could be self-reliant and still raise their children. When the men came home, they expected women to be thankful and miserable from all their hard work, gladly handing that back. Instead, as women retreated from the workforce, making way for men to take their places, they felt empty. They felt loss. They had worked at the factory and come home and made dinner for their children and helped them with homework and cleaned the house, then woke up early the next morning, made breakfast, got the kids off to school and went back to work again. They had done their job and their husband’s, too. Suddenly they were expected go back to doing their job and then pamper their husband when he came home, as though what he did was more meaningful.

Women have been searching for equality since the mid 1800’s, by differing degrees, not always even seeing the true inequality of their place in the world, but the emergence of feminism in the 1960’s and 1970’s was a direct result of the conflict women and girls felt from the propaganda campaigns of the 1950’s in attempts to push women back into the patriarch and stereotypical female roles of society. Women were told what they could and could not be, but they had glimpsed a moment which said otherwise, a moment which suggested they were not weak, but strong and capable. In that, dreams began to change from quietly encouraging their husband to achieve great things, to wondering what greatness lay dormant within themselves. Suddenly, their happiness mattered.

One of those little girls who dreamed of achieving incredible things was Hillary Rodham, the upper middle class daughter of a man who made draperies and window blinds and a woman he had met some years earlier as she applied for work at a textile factory. At the age of thirteen, excited by the prospects of the United States sending astronauts to space, Hillary sent a letter to NASA, ready to volunteer, wondering what to do to become an astronaut. Hillary will be the first to tell you, regardless of sex, she would not have made the cut because she was not particularly athletic nor did she have the best eyesight, but those were not the reasons she was rejected. She received a letter stating that women could not become astronauts. It was the first time in her life she had considered something great she would like to achieve, but was told no, only because she was a girl. Because she was female. It was an obstacle she could not overcome. A gender roadblock. It would not have mattered if she had been an excellent athlete with perfect vision and top of her class, she was excluded because she was not the right gender. It hurt. The attitude was that women could not be strong enough, smart enough or capable enough to aspire to the same greatness as a man.

She is still fighting that attitude today, fifty-five years later. Only this time, she’s telling the old men to just hide and watch. With patience Job could only pray for Monday night, Hillary endured interruption after interruption, fifty-one of them, in fact, from her bloviating Republican male counterpart. In typical misogynist fashion, Donald Trump interrupted and attempted to talk over her repeatedly, but became increasingly agitated and annoyed when he was interrupted and asked to stay on topic to the question, or interrupted to ask him to refrain from his interruption. Donald Trump went on a long dialogue regarding Clinton’s “stamina” and how she didn’t have the stamina to be president. Whatever that was supposed to mean. Yes, well, we actually do know what that was supposed to mean. Saying a woman does not have stamina compared to an overweight, elderly man who can’t stop sniffling is just another way of trying to tie into that embedded idea that women are weaker and you cannot trust them to be strong. Feeling he was losing ground against an intelligent woman, he resorted to making up incidents where he claimed to have witnessed, from behind a curtain, erratic behavior and an angry fit from Hillary. The suggestion is that strong women are just bitter and angry and hostile and volatile. Therefore, you can’t possibly trust a strong woman to keep her cool and a level head.  But that is exactly what she did. Despite the bigoted antics of Donald Trump, Hillary laughed him off as the village idiot. He attempted to double down on strong women being mean and vindictive, capable of any cruelty by charging her with running”mean” ads against him. Donald Trump, of all the people in the world, the champion of Twitter Fight Night, had the audacity to pretend to be victimized by Hillary Clinton’s “meanness.”

While I only needed to hear Trump open his mouth once to know he would be the worst possible president our country could ever sink to, had I been on the fence at all as to how I would vote, it would have been solidified Monday night. Not because Hillary Clinton is a woman. Not because she has had to work harder and live up to twice the standard of any man. Not because the man standing at the opposite podium was a complete buffoon who seemed to measure his success by not picking his nose on national television. Instead, because she gave logical, thoughtful answers leveled with knowledge and depth of understanding. Because she was unflappable even when faced with outright fraudulent allegations. Because she answered questions with more than long winded soundbites deplete of knowledge or meaning or substance. Because she never once stooped to something undignified. Leveling a factual and relevant charge against your opponent is not name calling and it is not mean. It is holding them accountable for their words and actions and not allowing them to misrepresent or deny what they have done or said.

Hillary Clinton was neither mean nor hostile. She was every bit a diplomat, but unwavering as a strong leader should be. She withstood the onslaught of misogyny, all the way to the end and beyond where Donald Trump had the audacity to pat her back repeatedly, another act of dominance not unlike interrupting women, but this one more physical.

So I support Clinton because this is the demeanor I have witnessed repeatedly. She has had to work twice as hard to get half the recognition yet does it with grace and professionalism. But in the end, I simply feel safer entrusting our country to her than I ever could to someone like Donald Trump. So I support Hillary Rodham Clinton, and I would endorse her if I felt remotely important enough to be endorsing anyone. She had a boxing match against the biggest misogynist ego the RNC could offer up and she knocked him out. Here is hoping she can win the title match in November.

We are One Woman, One World.

 

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Rape Culture Isn’t Political. It is Inexcusable and Unacceptable.

Misogyny in the United States takes many forms. We usually think of it as angry and belittling. Those instances are blatant, but they are not the source of the problem. Open hostility towards women requires something far more subtle to gain the acceptance of what should be an advanced society. How does this happen? How does it wheedle its way into our brains?   Well, sad as it may seem, it is frequently disguised in chivalry, though chivalry itself is a mark of great respect and not belittlement. There is a significant difference between doing something for a person out of your respect for them versus doing the same thing because you think they are too incompetent to do it on their own. In this latter manner, the guise of chivalry has been used to make women feel weaker and dependent on men. This is typically the most benign, undetected form of misogyny in our culture, though its undermining effect on the psyche of both men and women is significant. We teach men they should render aid and, likewise, teach women they should expect it, without teaching why. Thus, the psyche fills in the blanks and accepts: Men must do this because they are stronger and women must accept because they are weaker. Yes, yes. I know. This segment is about rape culture, so why I am sitting here tapping my keys on about chivalry?  Well, because this is where it starts.

Before anyone gets all worked up, I am not saying chivalry is wrong. I am not suggesting the world should do away with it. What I am suggesting, however, is that our culture has forgotten what it is. Chivalry is, yes, in one aspect, someone who is stronger protecting another, who is weaker, from offense or harm. In this manner, any strong person who defends someone else is chivalrous. That is not the aspect of chivalry I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ‘treat women like ladies” aspect. I’m talking about the opening doors, ladies first, pulling out chairs, carrying objects, paying for meals and movies and all of that. I am talking about an expectation of men to provide these things and women to accept them without either understanding why. We are quick to apply these conditions on society, on both men and women and condemn those who do not accept these social norms. But when a boy asks why he should open the door for a woman, what do you tell him? Because it is polite? Because it is good manners? Because that is how you should treat a lady? And when a girl asks why men hold doors open, what do we tell them? He is being polite? He is being a gentleman? He is supposed to?

We have come to a point of teaching actions without reason. Why? I think because we become so lost in performing the ceremony, we forgot its purpose. These actions should be out of respect and appreciation for a person. They should be small acts of goodwill to our fellow humans, some small token of sacrifice or inconvenience we accept on ourselves to make someone else’s life fractionally easier. The idea behind the Random Acts of Kindness movement exemplifies what chivalry should be. However, because we have failed to teach respect along with actions, our cultural psyche has adapted to fill in those blanks. Instead of respect and appreciation, the undermining motivation has changed, to a large extent, to perpetuate the idea: Men must provide these services because women are weaker and need their help and women must accept for the same reason. This false chivalry, while quiet and almost unnoticed, has played an enormous role in perpetuating misogyny in its uglier forms because it has created a subconscious acceptance between the roles of men and women and the hierarchy of control. In the absence of teaching why (respect, humility and sacrifice to honor someone), we have taught instead that men are strong and women are weak. It also creates the illusion that women must be the idea of a lady and if they do not conform to this, then they are undeserving of respect. And this, my friends and fellow humans, is the root of rape culture and victim blaming: false ideas of chivalry which place a unique burden on women to deserve respect.

That said, it is not the reason for rape in our country, though anything which places a subconscious hierarchy of authority in our society certainly contributes. Rape is about dominance and control over another person. It is a violent act where the only sexual aspect is that the perpetrator is aroused by the complete dominance of another human being. Rape is never about sex or being too horny to control yourself. There is no greater primal dominance than overpowering and sexually penetrating an unwilling victim. The sexual satisfaction is completely secondary to their exhilaration of power. The sex is how they dominate and humiliate, it is their weapon, not their reason. There is no place for this in civilization. We are not animals. Every person with any moral compass can agree that rape is wrong. So, here is the big question, why do we more often blame the victim than the rapist?

Yes, why is it okay to minimize the atrocious acts of a rapist against the normal actions of a victim? Maybe it is because we have failed to recognize what is normal. Our indoctrination of false chivalry has dictated who does and does not deserve respect. We say the woman should not have been drinking. Why? I would agree that anything which interferes with judgment increases your risk of suffering harm. That is a fact. But if you have a few drinks, pass out on the couch, and then someone shoots you in the head, isn’t it still murder? Was the crime less violent, less wrong, simply because you had been drinking? Were you asking to be shot in the head? If you are wearing a short skirt or dressed provocatively  and someone steals your car, is it right to blame the crime on the your apparel?

There are things every single one of us can do every single day to make ourselves safer, like being afraid to go outside our homes, drive in traffic, fly in an airplane, answer our door, walk our dogs, get in a boat, have a mixed drink or a beer, go jogging, climb the stairs, walk across the street, wear shoes with laces, climb a ladder, use fire to cook, go swimming, light a fireplace. In fact, over 700 people die every year simply from falling off their bed. There are always things we could do to be safer, but the absence of caution by a victim does not ever excuse a criminal act perpetrated against them. A woman’s clothes, drinking or even her dating habits are never responsible for another human’s decision to commit a violent crime.

Think about that. If you forgot to lock your window, does that mean it is your fault someone decided to climb through it and steal your belongings? Or abduct your child? Or kill your family? No. You are not responsible for the bad intent of another person. You may can take reasonable precaution against potential threats, but failure to do so is never justification for the unlawful and amoral actions of another human being. They make their decisions. We create the excuses criminals use for rape, and society dismissing it, by suggesting some women deserve what they get, that they deserve to be raped, dominated, controlled and humiliated. And why? Because they weren’t acting like a “lady”. Because women have been forced to bear the responsibility of the shortcomings of men. Even the dominant religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam place the burden of man’s sin on women, going so far as to blame women as the root cause of all sin on earth. Isn’t that convenient? A ready made, Biblical excuse to justify a man’s transgression because of a woman’s inherent wickedness.

But this is all hidden behind the niceties of false chivalry, where women and men are taught to place one another in a role of acceptance and dominance. Where women are taught to be a lady if they wish to be respected and men are taught to respect a lady and have disregard for women who do not conform. But that is not chivalry. We should be teaching our children to respect one another as fellow humans sharing this world, this life and this land. We should be teaching that all life deserves respect and that we should offer courtesy to someone not based on their actions or lifestyle choices, but as a reflection of our own. However, that would also require understanding what respect means, another failing in our society.

Many people confuse respect with agreement. We have learned to feign insult when someone challenges our beliefs or does not choose to believe as we do. Disagreement is not disrespect. Contempt for another person, their actions or belief is not disrespect. Abuse of someone, belittling another or seeking to insult or humiliate by degrading, misrepresenting their actions or lying is disrespect. Honesty is not disrespectful. For instance, if you act hypocritically and someone says you are a hypocrite, that is simply defining you by your actions, not being disrespectful. So, if you force yourself, sexually, on another person against their will, you are a rapist. Defining a person by their actions is not judgmental and it is not disrespectful. That said, their lifestyle choice never condones criminal behavior against them, whether you agree or not. Further, legitimate condemnation is based on the acceptance of society and its laws, not on religious choices or unique beliefs. It is based on things which are measurable by what the law provides. For example, if an unwed woman chooses to have sexual relations with someone, calling her a slut or shaming her because you do not believe in her lifestyle or agree with her free choices, or otherwise publicly condemning her, is disrespectful. Her choices have no affect on you, they are just simply a difference of opinion. You are free to disagree with the lifestyle and offer your reasoning, but shaming her because she does not agree with you, especially to the point of suggesting she deserves to be harmed, is disrespectful. And this is the rape culture in our country, and beyond. We have come to the point of freely suggesting women we do not like, do not agree with, or who we feel have challenged us, actually deserve to be raped. We have armed impulsive men who have a deep desire to dominate with ample excuses to condone their behavior. We have normalized rape and frequently treat it more as an inconvenience than a reprehensible crime.

Don’t believe me? We are living in a fundamentally misogynistic society and the proof is in our rape culture. Society keeps looking for anything else to blame for rape besides the rapist. And the real kicker here is, by creating excuses, they empower perpetrators to believe it isn’t even their fault they aren’t controlling their impulses. Every person bears their own demons. Every human being has a dark side to them, some far worse than others, but everyone has it because no one is perfect. We all have to choose between right and wrong every single day. Most people do not have such violent impulses or desires, but many people do have quick, violent or hostile tempers which they must keep in check. Most people choose to either maintain control or not. Those incapable of that choice are mentally unstable and must have treatment and/or be removed from general society for the safety of others and themselves. But the vast majority are capable of choice.  Those who choose to be a rapist are just like those who choose to commit any other crime.  In the end, it would not matter if the victim wore a bikini or a burka. The rapist would have an excuse why either made him do it.

I really wish I could say that only the rapists are to blame for the state of our culture. As if the heinous crimes are not enough, victims are further assaulted by religions who call them harlots, judges who sympathize more with the convicted felons, giving them ridiculously light sentences,  and being blamed for their violation based on what they wore, what they drank, whose house they were at, walking alone, being called a tease and even, in the event of married women, for not being willing in the first place and doing their duty. Women who are raped are dehumanized, first by the rapist, then by the legal system and, finally by society.

Rape is being used like an insult against women who challenge or push against the patriarchy.  This man, Mike Krawitz, wrote a reprehensible Facebook post

misogynist

about female journalist, Olivia Nuzzi after she shared a post about the Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump and his wife. The post read:

“Fuck. You. Olivia. I. Hope. Somebody. Rapes. You. Today. :)”

A minute later, he wrote:

“Hope. You. Get. Raped. By. A. Syrian. Refugee. :).”

For full disclosure, after receiving backlash for his comments, he stated that his account had been “hacked.” However, Nuzzi states that this man has been harassing her for over a year. She does not believe he was hacked, just trying to avoid the responsibility of his actions.

Sure, this is one man, so why is it important? Because he is a politician who was running for public office at the time. This is rape culture. This is why women are blamed when they are raped, because there is a deep seeded belief in our country that women who do not fit in the preconceived dainty box of “Lady” simply doesn’t deserve to be treated human. And why? What teaches this in our culture? What separates and defines men and women, who they should and should not be? Do we learn to respect all people or just to respect those who share our values? You see, that is the difference in chivalry and whatever this is that we have accepted in its place. There is no way to change everyone right now. But we can demand justice. We can refuse to accept scenarios like Brock Turner, Austin James Wilkerson, and Kraigen Grooms. We must be loud. We must denounce rape culture at every instance and, at the least, make it so that the people who think this way feel outnumbered. Let them hide. Show them that they will be challenged and exposed. We cannot change the way they think, but we can make it unacceptable to espouse those ideas publicly. We have to stand and say no, every time. Our resolve must be stronger than their hypocrisy. Eventually, civility and equality will become a habit in society, which is the best that we can hope for. There will always be bad people, but our desire for equality must be stronger and our inability to accept anything less must remain steadfast.

We are One Woman, One World.

 

AnnLavendar.com

AnnLavendar@annlavendar.com

 

Credit Politico for photograph and factual data. Read more: http://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2016/09/south-jersey-candidate-to-female-reporter-i-hope-you-get-raped-105182#ixzz4KNDVVfP6
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