What I’ve been reading – Willets, “virginity tests”, acid violence, and slut-shaming

If only I could spend all day online reading blogs, I would. I can’t, so I can only give you what I see. Recently:

  • David Willets: feminism has held back working class men (thetelegraph). This is from weeks ago, of course, but never let it be said I’m in fashion. Willets (our Universities Minister for our sins) declared recently that feminism has led to the ruination of working class men. (For those of you who don’t know what feminism is, it’s all about them women who want to wear trousers, answer their own front doors, and belch in public.) On what planet Willets resides, I do not know but let’s mention the one very glaring incongruity. Women and working class men are not, and have never been, on the opposite ends of any sociological or economic spectrum so the reason for his putting them there was lost on just about everyone.  So his argument was flawed from the start. If Willets had his way, women would be relegated to the reserve workforce again and only called upon in times of extreme need. If I ever see him, I’ll run up to him and tell him what I think of him. I’ll be able to run as I’ll be wearing trousers, you see.
  • “Virginity Tests” Forced On Egyptian Women Protesters (msmagazine). Another relatively old piece but important nonetheless. One wonders where to start with all of this. How could one’s virginity or otherwise be relevant to anything? Well it’s not, of course, and it was never intended to be. The only purpose of these “tests” has been to inflict humiliation. The women protesting in Egypt were subjected to verbal, physical and sexual abuse on many occasions and we can’t, of course,  forget about the CBS reporter who was raped during the protests.

Amnesty International is now condemning the treatment of at least 18 women who were held in military detention after being arrested during a protest on March 9 (a month after Mubarak stepped down).  The women told Amnesty International that they were beaten, given electric shocks, and subjected to strip searches while being photographed.  They were then forced to submit to “virginity tests” and told that if they were “found not to be virgins,” they could be charged with prostitution.

  • The Effort to End Acid Violence (msmagazine). This is another one that is not for the faint-hearted. If women in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia don’t do as their told, and deviate from their “expected behaviours”, they risk being attacked with acid. (Though don’t be fooled that it can’t happen elsewhere too.) The physical and health ramifications of these attacks are boundless. These women often lose their jobs, their homes (because they lose the “support” of their spouses), and fade into exclusion and poverty. While these crimes might not, apparently, be as entrenched as honour killings or public stonings, they’re still as problematic.

“This is a form of gender terrorism,” says Sital Kalantry, director of Cornell Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic. “If we [women] deviate from what’s expected of us, this is the punishment that we receive.” …The report found that women were most often attacked for refusing marriage proposals or sexual advances. The attackers believe that if they can’t “have” the victim, then no one should. Thus, they seek to “destroy what society considers to be one of the most valuable traits of a woman–her beauty.” Acid is also thrown at women for transgressing the boundaries of expected behavior, or for exercising seemingly any modicum of independence. Women have been attacked for initiating divorce proceedings or attempting to keep wages they’ve earned at a job.

  • Slut Shame: Attacking Women for Their Sex Lives (alternet). We’re still calling women sluts and we still don’t like it when they choose to have sex with whomever they please. Why? There’s a variety of reasons. One is that women’s bodies should be reserved for procreation and having sex for any other reason is some sort of crime against nature. Another is that a woman doesn’t have any right to make her own sexual choices (or any choices about what she does with her body), and that being sexual in any way is not natural or expected behaviour for women anyway. Ultimately, the piece hits the nail on the head when it says that the term “slut” is meant to put women back in their place (with their legs firmly closed), and make them ashamed of their own desires and pleasures. We wouldn’t want them enjoying themselves now, would we? All hell might break loose.
  • On a related note, abstinence-only sex education results? 150 pregnancies since august (edenfantasys). Well, if ever you needed some evidence that abstinence-only education (wherein you’re told just that you shouldn’t be at it) does. not. work. you can look to this Texas school board which, despite its commitment to such education, has had to report 150 student pregnancies since the start of the school year. Ooops! One word: contraception. Or at least make a flipping stab at it.

More later.

5 responses to “What I’ve been reading – Willets, “virginity tests”, acid violence, and slut-shaming

  1. Willetts is my MP. I’m sorry but I vote against him every single chance I get. I’ll push him off his bike next time I see him cycling through the pedestrian precinct.

  2. The thing about the utter utter utter carp that Willetts was trolling is that he obviously thinks that university places and jobs are labelled “male,” and revert naturally to men. A few women are allowed, to spice things up, but more than a few, and we’re ‘overrunning” society.

    I actually find it difficult to be coherent about the utter utter utter bilge that f***wit was spouting. And he’s the Minister for Universities!!

    • Exactly! Of course, in Willets’ mind, those jobs and university places should be reserved for men and, if there are any left over, then women may be considered. But he clearly thinks that all hell has broken loose with all the educated women around doing things that are clearly none of their concerns. May the Gods help us all!

  3. Pingback: Acid in YOUR face « tenderhooligan·

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