Newsflash: Women Are Not In A Competition For Human Rights
Here’s an idea: If you hear about a horrific injustice perpetrated against girls and women, try not to use that story as a weapon to silence other women who are fighting their own battles against violence and discrimination.
When a South Korean ferry capsizes and hundreds die do you see media pundits tweeting that the victims of boat crashes in the U.S. should stop talking and take a hard look at what a really terrible disaster looks like? When prisoners in Egypt die, do they say to those raped or shackled while giving birth in U.S. jails, “See, those prisoners over there have it really bad”? When members of the LGTBQ community in Russia are brutally assaulted, do you hear people say to those here, “Now those people, they have something to complain about”?
But, women? Well, like you, everyone’s an expert on exactly what level of misogyny and violence is acceptable. You sound like media pundit Tom Bevan who recently tweeted: “Real war on women: Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by own family for marrying the man she loved.” Within hours of Bevan’s tweet, journalist David Frum shared the sad and enraging news about two Dalit girls, gang-raped, who hanged themselves from a tree: “The next time somebody talks about ‘misogyny in American society,’ forward them this.”
What are you, six?
This is a “stock” formulation, a knee-jerk response for many people, especially conservatives. There are people suffering far more violence and social ills elsewhere, always, and we should think about that. But, it’s immediately insulting because it implies that those protesting violence and talking about sexism in the United States (and the rest of the developed world) are too stupid to understand that there is a spectrum of violence.
Your statement ignores the glaring fact that the spectrum we live with, globally, is one where women aresubject to gender-based violence. There is nowhere that this is not true. Everywhere, we face the political, legislative, and legal regulation of our bodies and reproduction in ways men don’t and we live, daily, with the real and abiding costs of avoiding or living with violence perpetrated almost exclusively by men. Many men apparently still doubt this, even after millions of women tell them that it’s true.
Last week this commentary was more visible because in the days since Elliot Rodger’s killing spree the trending of #YesAllWomen catalyzed unprecedented media conversations about gender and misogyny. Quick as a flash the Misogynistic Theory of Women’s Relative Rights made its rote appearance: Women “here” are so much “better off” than women “over there.” Pick your “here,” “better,” and “over there.”
Women are not in a competition for female human rights.
The implication is that we, “here,” are supposed to be comforted that two girls were raped and hanged themselves in India. Do more men in India, per capita, throw acid on women than men in the United States douse them in gas and light them on fire? Every woman on a South African women’s soccer team has been raped, isn’t it better that on our national team chances are only two or three? I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is a “reasonable” and “balanced” thing to suggest. What is the point of this equation other than to put on display the sexist notion that women’s safety and rights are relative and contingent on other women’s lack of safety and rights? What is it about the notion of non-negotiable rights, human rights, for women, that is so hard to understand?
In case it’s not clear, this is what that way of phrasing says to the people who work to end this violence:
Comparing women’s security and freedom in this way does nothing useful or helpful at all. Instead, it demonstrates an inability to consider privilege and power when it comes to matters involving women.
Have a nice day.
fr iend!! !!!
im coming friend
im here i love u
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