I think I’ve mentioned a time or two that I’m really into politics. I’ve tried to refrain from allowing this blog to become a political soapbox and, for the most part, I think I’ve succeeded.
That being said, last week, I had a friend post something on their Facebook that completely caught me off guard and was deeply offensive and I’m feeling the need to vent a bit and share my thoughts about it.
Now, I’m no stranger to debate. I have a whole slew of extended family that are super religious and conservative. I think it’s important to be able to conduct honest discourse and try to find the commonalities and compromise on issues wherever possible.
I knew this person from way back during my raver days, between the ages of 22-26 or so, and it’s been quite a long time since I’ve really had a chance to talk to him or hang out. Apparently, he’s made quite a lot of changes since those party days.
He got married, has had two young daughters and became very religious. All well and good, I say. He seems happy and content with where his life is and I’m glad for him.
However, this is what he posted the other day:
He captioned this with the comment, “I guess asking women to keep their legs together is just asking too much nowadays.”
It’s amazing how much I’m flabbergasted that someone I know could actually produce this kind of tripe for thought. It’s utterly astounding to me how people can STILL fucking think like this in this day and age.
Let’s break down all the reasons why this pisses me off, shall we?
First of all, setting aside the fact there is absolutely nothing wrong with women having sex, why is he only pinging on women here? WOMEN have to keep their legs together? Did he miss the biology lesson where it was explained that sex takes (at least) TWO people?
Why should we be mentioning women’s need to keep their legs closed without ALSO mentioning that men should be keeping their dicks in their pants?
Secondly, if you actually look at that infograph, it not only mentions free birth control, but it also says annual checkups and wellness visits (such as pap smears) will be paid for. Mind you, this is a man with two young daughters. Even if they NEVER have sex, they are still going to have all the same femal reproductive organs such as ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervices.
Why on earth would he want them to be discriminated against by the health insurers, and made to pay more, simply because of their gender? They’re still going to need annual visits and pap smears, and preventative care.
If his daughters had crooked teeth, he’d want them to get braces, right? How is this any different? As a parent, he should want ALL of his daughter’s health and well-being to be taken care of.
Besides that, they are probably not going to grow up to become nuns. So, even if he teaches them abstinence until marriage (and assuming they actually follow that philosophy,) they will eventually have sex. I’m assuming he would like to have grandbabies one day. If so, then his daughters receiving benefits as new moms would also be a good thing.
When I brought up these points in my comments to him, he came back with the response, “ladies should be ladies,” and that he was, “going to raise his daughters right and make sure they know to be ladies and not sluts on stripper poles or in rapper videos.”
Yes, that’s actually a quote.
I told him he was taking two very different extremes and there were plenty of degrees in the middle. That women didn’t have to be virgins to be a lady. Sure, as a female I believe in being confident, having high standards, and self-control. However, just because a woman chooses to have sex, doesn’t automatically make her a slut, either.
Why does he (and so many others) have this double standard when it comes to having sex? I asked him whether or not he was a virgin when HE got married. Not that I actually wanted him to answer that kind of personal question on a public forum such as Facebook, but that he should take that factor into account when he considers his perspective.
And, again, why is responsibility of sex placed all at the woman’s feet here? Where is the expectation that men should also have an ability to practice self-control? This kind of gender biased perspective of sexuality is the exact same reason women in Saudi Arabia have to wear burqas.
His response was that, “he wasn’t going to take it that far.” Sure, ok, HE may not take it that far, but who’s to say someone else wouldn’t? In fact, there are MANY men who HAVE taken it that far.
Believe it or not, there are whole countries that say men can’t control their sexual urges and baser instincts and shouldn’t be held responsible for themselves if they see a woman’s hair, face, or figure. They claim it is up to women not to give too much temptation for men, and that they should be covered to help protect their mens’ morality.
Well, I call bullshit on that.
This gender biased sense of sexuality is also exactly the kind of thinking that enables rape culture. Think about it. How many classes or informational meetings have you heard about for women that talk about how they can help prevent the risk of rape or assault?
Every woman I’ve ever known has been told, don’t walk by yourself at night, don’t put yourself in bad positions, watch your drink when you go to a bar or a house party, etc, etc.
Every woman I know has been taught to watch who may be following them, to check the reflections in the shop windows when walking down a street, or to be on guard when on public transportation.
Every woman I know has been the subject of catcalls, honking, whistling, jeering and leering. Street harassment is so prevalent that there’s actually a website called, ihollaback, with testimonials from women around the world about it.
Yeah, it sucks and isn’t right but, it’s a reality that pretty much any woman around the world can relate to.
Think about how many times you’ve heard about classes or informational meetings for men talking about what NOT to do. Sure, a good mom will teach her son to walk a girl to her car, or make sure she’s in the house after dropping her off from a date but the general social discourse just isn’t there.
In fact, our society has a long habit of objectifying women and their sexuality. There was a recent article even written about the differences in the type of photography we saw covering women Olympians that discussed it.
For most societies, sexual responsibility is on the woman to not put herself in a position where a man would be able to assualt or rape her. Furthermore, when things like that happen, then the first questions to inevitably arise are, “Well, what was she wearing? Had she been drinking? Who was she with? What was she doing?”
It doesn’t matter what she was wearing, she didn’t deserved to be assaulted! It doesn’t matter if she’d had a few drinks, she didn’t deserve to be raped! Too bad, our initial questions are very rarely directed towards the men and their lack of control and sense of humanity.
I’m not sure, dear readers, if you may think I’ve digressed. Perhaps, you think I’m hyperbolizing or blowing this one facebook comment or post out of proportion. I’m certainly not insinuating that my friend would EVER do anything such as assault or rape someone.
However, comments like these, mindsets like these, gender biased viewpoints on sexuality and creating an atmosphere that slut shames women who choose to be sexually active, all contribute to a society that enables this kind of behavior.
It’s bad enough that we’ve seen a slew of new legislation diminishing womens’ rights to get an abortion, get honest doctor’s reports, being forced to have vaginal probes on unnecessary procedures (aka: state sponsored rape), penalties for using birth control as contraception by their health insurers, or women being required to tell their employers why they’re on birth control. We are at a point in this country where there has been a systematic war being waged on women’s sexuality and- dare I say- equality.
Comments and attitudes like these are especially relevant considering the recent announcement that Paul Ryan will be Mitt Romney’s running mate. This is the same Paul Ryan that would ban common forms of birth control, end funding for Planned Parenthood, end a woman’s right to choose (even in cases of rape and incest,) and even voted AGAINST the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. (Which, incidentally, doesn’t have anything to do with women and sexuality, but simply says a woman doing the same work should get paid the same as a man.)
Check out this video clip talking about some of the fertility issues in this election cycle. It’s a bit older and was during the Republican primary, so you’ll hear a few references to Newt Gingrich, however a lot of the points are going to be on the ballot this November. The more relevant points start at 1:01. The tl;dr version starts at 7:20.
My friend can be conservative and choose to raise his daughters to wait to become sexually active until getting married. Good luck to him. I hope that works out for them. However, that still doesn’t mean all women should have to pay higher health insurance premiums for basic health services.
Women and men everywhere need to start standing up and engaging in conversations that push back against these unfair, discriminatory views on women’s sexuality. Even when it’s on Facebook. Especially if it’s with a friend. I truly believe these interactions have the power to help shape our national discourse and have consequences.
As for my friend, he ended up taking down his post. I’m not sure if I managed to sway his opinion or not, but at least I can say I didn’t stand idly by while he tried to deem what was acceptable behavior from me and all women.