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feminism shouldn't just be about rape

(150 Posts)
tvmum1976 Mon 23-May-11 22:03:34

controversial topic. I've written a blog about it and wonder what people think?

tvmum1976 Mon 23-May-11 22:03:56

sorry- forgot to post the link:

DirtyMartini Mon 23-May-11 22:06:40

confused who said feminism was "just about rape"?

tvmum1976 Mon 23-May-11 22:21:29

no one, but I do think it has become the defining issue of feminist activism in recent years. Certainly the one you hear most about.

Prolesworth Mon 23-May-11 22:27:33

Message withdrawn

DirtyMartini Mon 23-May-11 22:31:50

Really? I don't think that's true at all.

It just sounds like a sweeping, kind of meaningless statement. Sorry, but that's how it strikes me.

DirtyMartini Mon 23-May-11 22:32:52

I'm not out for a ruck, btw, I just think that it's an odd statement & odd thread title.


BooyHoo Mon 23-May-11 22:34:34

of course it's not just abour rape. I'd like to see your information that suggests it is. have you had a look down the feminism topic lately? as far as i know most of the threads aren't about rape

K999 Mon 23-May-11 22:35:22

I'm no expert on this and as a lurker on the feminism threads, even I wouldn't say that feminism is all about rape. confused

AyeRobot Mon 23-May-11 22:58:23

You got a free pass for your first blog promotion thread. I think you might not be so lucky this time.

After this last week, I think perhaps there should be a year where feminists did only focus on rape. I've always loved the idea of having one day where all previously unreported rapes are reported to the police. The system would implode.

tvmum1976 Tue 24-May-11 13:16:09

you are right, i overstated my argument in the headline. what i was trying to say was that it seems as though rape is by far the most prominent issue in modern feminism. of the 30 threads displayed on my browser in this topic, 15 of them are about rape in some form. That is half of all discussion on this one issue. I am not saying for one second that it isn't a hugely important topic (please don't misconstrue this as that...)
My problem with its prominence as an issue is that it casts women as victims and men as predators, old school gender roles. I feel as though there is so much work still to be done on equality in general, and this one issue is the only feminist issue that isn't ridiculed in the press.
I wanted people to read the blog as I think it's an important topic and is worthy of discussion, whether you agree with me or not. It wasn't just to promote it- it was a topic i've been thinking about for a while, I wrote out my views in detail there and didn't want to repeat them all here. But I take your point.

steamedtreaclesponge Tue 24-May-11 13:18:42

The thing is, women are normally the victims of rape. Many more women are raped than men. It's not about 'old-school' gender roles, it's just what happens.

tvmum1976 Tue 24-May-11 13:25:47

but many many more men (over twice as many) are the victims of violent crime than women, but yet young men walk the streets confidently and women are scared to go out. When I was young (in the seventies) it seemed that feminism was all about equality and instilling confidence in women (I am woman hear me roar...I am strong, I am invincible..) now it seems more about fear. Just a thought...

Penthesileia Tue 24-May-11 13:25:47

You're gunning at the wrong target, tv. Stick by wrong end. As you yourself say in your blog, it's the most noticeable feminist issue IN THE PRESS. That is, the press which is obsessed with women's bodies, salaciousness, etc. etc. Everything the press loves to make rape about (rather than the male abuse of power and male violence against women...).

For people who consider themselves feminists, it is not the only issue. Recent discussion or events I have been involved in with regard to feminism have covered:

- wage disparity, and women's underperformance in the workplace; glass ceiling, etc.
- international feminism - poverty of women world-wide; women do most of the work for virtually none of the pay, own virtually none of the world's resources, etc;
- sexualisation/pornification of culture
- maternity services (at home and worldwide)
- and yes, rape and other forms of male violence against women.


Penthesileia Tue 24-May-11 13:28:53

And you're treading a fine line, it seems to me, between condemning a culture which makes women fearful, and actually seeming to blame women for being victims of it...

And it's not true, by the way, that young men are unafraid to go out. I teach a lot of young men, and many of them express anxiety about their personal safety.

charitygirl Tue 24-May-11 13:31:14

Bullshit. The (mainly liberal) feminist that gets most coverage in public policy and the media is about representation and treatment in the highest echelons of industry and commerce, the gender pay gap, and public services (including mat rights). Male violence against women is rarely discussed in terms of a systemic practice, but as abhorrent, isolated incidents. I agree that 'worthy men' like to pay lip service to the idea that they are horrified by rape etc, but they never say we like in a rape culture do they?

You don't think Slutwalk got so much coverage because it was about rape do you??

Penthesileia Tue 24-May-11 13:36:57

Yes, you're spot on, charitygirl. Rape gets coverage in the press, but not as a feminist issue. In fact, the Clarke debacle is an interesting example of rape being discussed in feminist terms at all.

It's interesting though - the feminist issues you cite as getting press coverage tend to do so in an almost entirely negative way, don't they? So that Harriet Harman (or Harperson as I think I've seen some refer to her) becomes a poster-girl for political correctness gorn mad, etc.

tvmum1976 Tue 24-May-11 13:37:15

thanks for that list- interesting. I agree that it's a question of perception. I'm certainly not blaming women for being victims of rape- I'm not quite sure how you got that idea from what I have written but very very far from what I am saying. (or perhaps I have misunderstood what you meant.)

I work with a lot of young men as well and have found that they seem generally more confident about this issue than women, but perhaps that is just bluster and what you are hearing is closer to the real story.

I don't buy into the idea that male violence against women in this country is any more a systematic practice than any violence against anyone. It's not say, like 'gay bashing' or racially motivated violence ie violence with a stated intent.

Penthesileia Tue 24-May-11 13:43:18

What I meant, tv, was that it is a difficult path to tread correctly, exhorting women not to be victims, or not to present themselves as victims. Don't you see that's a bit arse over tit?

I think that there is a lot of bluster amongst young men - of course there is! It is how men are "meant" to behave - all brave and shit...

But, as I said, many of my students, who perhaps are a more reflective bunch - I dunno - will, if pressed, admit that they worry about their personal physical safety. And not surprisingly - given some of the horror stories I've heard from them.

BooyHoo Tue 24-May-11 13:44:05

"It's not say, like 'gay bashing' or racially motivated violence ie violence with a stated intent."

no it is gender motivated. i.e; based on the fact that the victim is female. that makes it a feminist issue. are you saying you don't think sexism is the same as racism or homophobia? beating someone up becasue tehy are female is as bad as beating someone up because they are gay. an attcker might not say "it was cause she's a women" but listen to their language when they abuse women "slut" "bitch" "slag" etc. none of those words are used to describe men.

Penthesileia Tue 24-May-11 13:46:27

tv - you wrote: "It's not say, like 'gay bashing' or racially motivated violence ie violence with a stated intent."

Errr, exactly. That's why is is more "systematic"; it is so much part of the system that it doesn't even warrant special attention, is not even seen to be "violence with a stated intent" by someone who self-identifies as a feminist.

Penthesileia Tue 24-May-11 13:47:02

Sorry: why IT is...

SybilBeddows Tue 24-May-11 13:50:38

Naomi Wolf said all that in Fire With Fire back in the early 90s and it wasn't very convincing then.

I read your blog post and found it a bit shallow, sorry.

the reason feminists go on so much about violence and particularly sexual violence is that it affects a huge number of women and it is a pretty serious human rights abuse. I got reradicalised partly as a result of workplace equality issues and partly gender stereotyping of children, but having actively started to read more and look at the feminist campaigning that was going on, it became clear to me that even though I personally had never experienced serious sexual assault, eye-watering numbers of women do and until that is dealt with we will never have anything like equality. Being discriminated at work is bad, being violently raped is worse IMHO.

Getting overconcerned with the fact that this casts us as victims and deciding that we therefore need to stop putting so much energy into this issue seems a bit like letting the tail wag the dog. You can't go around saying 'We are women, hear us roar!' while ignoring the 6% rape conviction rate.

I also had big problems with your throwaway remarks on the London Feminist Network (with which I have no connection, in case you're wondering).
At the time I understand members of the LFN were pretty unhappy about the fact that their campaigning and activism was reduced by the programme makers to some footage of them arguing about lentil salad and quiche when they were organising their conference. I'm surprised you didn't see through that tbh - pretty much any organisation (including highly effective ones) could be made to look trivial and ineffectual by picking out a bit of random arguing from a meeting. The fact that a year later they were organising one of the biggest conferences on feminism ever (and it was incredibly successful and inspiring, just ask some of the many women on here who went to it) shows they can make stuff happen.
The fact that you had never heard of them just makes you appear a bit ill-informed, sorry. I don't know how much you know about the current resurgence of feminist activism (perhaps not much?) but there are Feminist Networks getting moving all over the country at the moment. Sometimes they win on specific issues, sometimes they lose, but when they lose it is often down to the vested interests rather than them being in any way raggletaggle (Bristol Feminists and the Hooters campaign is an example of one that is very impressively run but hasn't yet achieved its objective.) It also (again, you should be aware of this) reflects the way that the press is incredibly selective on its reporting on feminism: Slutwalks are getting plenty of media attention, the MWR marches, despite being huge, are pretty much ignored by the press. The press likes pretty feminists, generally, who are willing to take their clothes off.

I'm going to say something now that sounds patronising but I will say it anyway. You write very well and wittily with some insight. But you need to think harder about what you are saying because otherwise you are just going to produce superficial recaps of arguments that have already been made many times before.
You can go down the 'saying slightly extreme things to wind people up and start a fight' route but there are plenty of places on the internet where people do that stuff already. Just writing well isn't enough - you need to say something worth saying as well. There are several posters I can think of on here who don't write particularly well at all but whose posts we all look out for because they have insight and wisdom.
If you want to write a good feminist blog you should work out more carefully what it's going to be about; perhaps you have some area of expertise (the media?) on which your contributions are going to be more well-informed or thoughtful than a random person's.

good luck.

tvmum1976 Tue 24-May-11 13:51:41

HI Booy-
want to respond to your point- very interesting. Someone's just arrived at the door so it will have to wait til later.

charitygirl Tue 24-May-11 13:53:34

You;re right pen - I suppose I mean that the feninist voices in the media and government (such as they are) tend to stick to 'liberal' issues to do with employment and legal rights. They are usually excruciatingly careful not to criticise men in any way, and never mention the 'patriarchy' (whether because they don't themselves believe in it, or because they have decided that tactically it is better not to invite further derision I don't know).

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