That's someone's sister/daughter/wife ?

(28 Posts)
bronteheights Sun 15-Jun-14 10:16:51

Hi ... Ive never started a thread before but I'm a longtime lurker! I hope I manage to make sense. It occurred to me the other day that when women (or men) are trying to get someone to understand the impact or ethics of porn/prostitution/stripping/sexual violence etc they often say something along the lines of 'how would you feel if it was your daughter/wife/mother?' I understand that the intention of this is to make the person consider the humanity of those involved BUT doesn't it actually do the opposite? It's as though only women that fit into their own patriarchal familial structures count. I find it disturbing that some men seem to only think of their own females as humans so unless someone references them and makes a link they fail to see hideous acts against women who are strangers as repellent. It's even worse when someone says 'that's someone's daughter/mother'? Yes; they're also a PERSON! Why do we have to give them value through their relationships with other people? What if they aren't someone's daughter? Don't they matter anymore? Is it fine for an orphan to make a living as a prostitute? As long as she isn't someone else's daughter, wife or mother?

I don't know why it annoys me but when someone says it I feel a bit miffed. I sort of feel like I'm defined by my relationship to those around me by extension. And I feel sad for those being described as 'someone's daughter' because I see them as belonging to themselves and of inherent worth and value.

I hope that makes some sense... It's hard to articulate how I feel about it. Not sure if I'm seeing something that isn't really there!

Bluestocking Sun 15-Jun-14 10:19:03

I completely agree, and I know many other women and men who do too. Don't think "she's someone's daughter/sister/wife", just think "she's someone". That's what matters.

MrsMcEnroe Sun 15-Jun-14 10:20:48

Totally agree with both of you!

bronteheights Sun 15-Jun-14 10:22:03

So glad it isn't just me over thinking things!

lornemalvo Sun 15-Jun-14 10:30:04

If they only said 'that's someone's daughter etc' it would suggest the speaker felt that women needed humanised but I have thought to myself 'that is someone's son' when a man has enraged me and made me want to be rude to him. I use it to remind myself that even the most annoying adult is just someone's lovely baby grown up and I wouldn't want anyone being careless with the feelings of my babies whether they are grown or not.

lornemalvo Sun 15-Jun-14 10:35:06

Also, I never once used the phrase in my head until I became a mother and began worrying about my LOs all the time. I worry slightly more about my DS as he is more sensitive than my DDs. So to me it is not a sexist thought. I cannot vouch for how others use it though.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Sun 15-Jun-14 11:40:01

I do agree, but equally I think it's a useful device for humanising people, so it's a puzzler. There's a quote, which I shall proceed to misquote, about how one person drowned in a lake in your village is a tragedy whilst 1000 people killed in a landslide in China is news.

I think it is human to only appreciate horror when you can personalise it. So to that extent, it's a useful device. It can also expose Madonna/whore thinking.

For men and prostitution, it can be instructive to ask them to imagine they were being paid to give blow jobs or be penetrated.

HazleNutt Sun 15-Jun-14 14:28:07

It's like when you say "I have a boyfriend" instead of "i'm not interested". Because a man is more likely to respect another man's "property" than care about your thoughts or feelings.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Sun 15-Jun-14 14:32:46

I like that pic Hazle

StewiesBack Sun 15-Jun-14 14:57:25

I agree too. There's also an implicit message of victim blaming: women who get abused who aren't "property" are responsible for the abuse for not behaving appropriately as property

I agree also. Like the person isn't human enough on their own and also that they don't have their own experiences, only that it would cause pain to someone male important if they were to be harmed.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Sun 15-Jun-14 17:25:13

But I do think it can be a helpful practical device, similar to how it can be to recast a sexist sentence as a racist one, to bring home to people what they are saying.

FartyMcGhee Mon 16-Jun-14 15:06:21

Absolutely love that poster, I have seen it on facebook and also see a few men come to a realisation as a result of it. It's a really powerful image and it made me think.

FartyMcGhee Mon 16-Jun-14 15:07:19

and it might be better if there was a poster with a rapist on it saying 'he's someone's son/father/husband' etc.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Mon 16-Jun-14 16:46:25

I agree with you OP. But if in reality it stops one man in his tracks and it does make him think, and it stops one woman fromm being assaulted or verbally abused.. it's probably worth it as well? Maybe continue to use it in conjunction with memes like the one above?

Although actually I really like Faty's idea of showing rapists as someone's husband/father because anytime rapist is mentioned, someone says "he's not a man, he's an animal/monster/whatever". But actually yes, he is a man just like many of the men you already know. They aren't scary men who walk around with rapist badges on.

TheSameBoat Mon 16-Jun-14 17:47:43

YANBU.

Purpleroxy Mon 16-Jun-14 18:20:03

Don't agree with you at all OP.

When men or teenage boys get involved with (say) violence and get hurt, people often say that's someone's son or brother. By your reasoning, that would be a) calling men violent and b) defining them by their relationships. But you seem only to see the women's issues arising from this type of statement, which incidentally is clearly trying to humanise the person to help people relate, rather than bashing their gender.

I think nitpicking like this over every little thing that could be twisted to be anti women actually derails feminism. It makes me consider myself not to be a feminist because I think feminism ought to be about equality of pay etc and not discriminating against women. Serious issues.

StewiesBack Mon 16-Jun-14 18:32:53

erm, how is violence against women and girls not a serious issue? <boggled>

ReallyFuckingFedUp Mon 16-Jun-14 18:35:16

You need to explain your post purpleroxie, how is it discriminating against women?

FartyMcGhee Tue 17-Jun-14 10:37:54

Purpleroxy what do you think about that poster HazleNutt posted?

There's a very valid point there isn't there? Surely you can see that it's far better to refer to women as people in their own right, as somebody, rather than according to the relationships they have with other people.

'Don't rape someone because rape is wrong, because no one should be raped'. Rather than 'don't rape them because they are someone's mum'.

you say "I think feminism ought to be about equality of pay etc and not discriminating against women. "

surely feminism covers more than just equal pay? I think I would rather be underpaid than raped.

Purpleroxy Wed 18-Jun-14 21:36:57

The poster HazleNutt posted is an attempt at reducing rape by writing a message that the author thinks may be understood by a rapist - trying to make the rapist think how he would feel if a female relative of his was raped and therefore think twice about raping someone else's sister. It's not about telling the rapist not to rape someone else's "property", it's trying to put it into a context so that he can understand the victim is a human being just like his sister because he can relate to his sister and probably wouldn't want her raped. It isn't an issue of property at all IMO, it's humanising the victim to prevent the crime.

That said, I doubt the poster is particularly effective.

Purpleroxy Wed 18-Jun-14 21:48:31

And the point re rape/violence being a serious issue - well yes of course they are serious issues, much more so than arguing over language, they are crimes and that is why the police are trying to tackle them whilst feminists argue over language which isn't discriminatory in the first place. The poster is not about property, it's trying to humanise the victim and put her into a context that the rapist can understand - a human.

FartyMcGhee Wed 18-Jun-14 22:56:38

A human in relation to someone else, rather than just a human.

Rapists don't give a fuck if their victim is someone's mother IMO.

I'd argue that examining and critiquing our use of language is valuable. well, I would

I think it is valuable because how we talk about things affects how we think and feel about them and ultimately affects how people are treated. An example: if drug use is regarded as a criminal, deviant, selfish choice, then drug users will be treated very differently by society than if addiction to drugs is regarded as a physiological and psychological condition. Same with homosexuality: look at how language and social attitudes have changed hand in hand. Potayto/potahto you say. Maybe, maybe not. Not arguing for cause and effect, just a relationship of some kind.

So while it annoys me personally that some seek to humanise women victims by constructing them as "someone's" not "someone" I see that it might do good sometimes.

But bigger picture, I don't think it's a great thing for women. A good test is how frequently men need to be humanised by the idea that they are someone's brother, father. Sometimes they do, but often it is enough that they are just a person. Everyone knows that they are important and people love them. They don't seem to require humanising in the same way that women do.

These are my thoughts: its a complex area.

Purpleroxy Thu 19-Jun-14 13:06:36

I don't think it's a good test to see how often men need to be humanised compared to women. Because the most of the crimes we are referring to have women as the victim and men as the perpetrator and it's the perpetrator that we are trying to get through to. Who incidentally is probably pretty stupid, particularly given he thinks raping people is ok.

And I would also say that the "someone's sister etc" has positive connotations as well. Ie not that she's someone's property but that she is loved and valued reciprocally.

Anyway it would be better to go into prison and talk to convicted rapists to survey what might have stopped them committing the crime.

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