Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Feminism, Rape Culture, and One Misinformed Youtube Vlog

Once again, we discover another form of media discussing a rather touchy and controversial topic; this time in the form of a YouTube video. So the young woman in the video, “Declare War on Feminism: The Body, Sex & Rape”, makes some valid points concerning the ideals of what she refers to as “modern western feminism”. However, this young lady also seems to be rather misinformed about the true nature of feminism, and consequently makes invalid and inappropriate generalizations.
She begins with a very idealistic idea – that real women’s issues are not really women’s issues, but human issues. And that’s a nice sentiment, but unfortunately, the world we live in doesn’t seem to understand nor accept idealistic notions. We have to separate ideas in order for the general public to understand what we want to say. She goes on to discuss the objectification of both men and women – which absolutely exists in our society. Point for YouTube woman. But, when prompted with a question of why women are objectified more, she simply says “Women are more beautiful”. Really? That sounds like an opinion, rather than a statement of fact. Plenty of people would not agree with that – personally, I think the word ‘beautiful’ is super subjective, and it means something different to each and every person. How can she make a blanket statement like that and expect it to be valid in itself? She also says, “Looking perfect is something that’s driven by women themselves”, and says that the media simply engages that. To an extent, I can agree. But, it’s vicious circle phenomenon –what came first, women wanting to be perfectly beautiful or the media advocating it? What came first, the chicken or the egg? It’s an age-old question that can’t be answered – all we know is that they both exist and they have this cyclical relationship. I couldn’t tell you the root of the problem, but I know that we would have to change how the media portrays both men and women (because men also have an ideal they “must” live up to as well), and learn how to find inner peace to accept ourselves the way we are.
Rape. “Rape is a horrible, violent act that destroys the spirit of the individual it’s perpetrated against”. I have paraphrased that a little bit, but that’s the gist of how the young woman defines rape. I think that’s an appropriate definition that is simple enough for everyone to understand. She only discusses male on female rape, which is fine, but know that anybody is capable of raping anybody, regardless of gender.  She says rape is when a female is coerced, forced, drugged, intentionally intoxicated by a male into having sex. That’s a pretty complete definition, so I think she at least understands the basic idea of rape. However, she discusses what happens if both parties are drunk – they were having fun, and then one of them, (in her case she says the female), feels dirty in the morning. Is it rape? She doesn’t think so, and personally, I don’t even know for sure. I can understand gray areas concerning this type of situation. But, she derails her own opinions on rape when she claims there is no rape culture. She might have a different idea of what a rape culture is, because she believes a rape culture exists in Africa and the Middle East. I don’t know what she means by this, because she doesn’t explain herself. The problem is, she isn’t very clear when she talks about this issue – does she mean physical rape happens more in those areas? I don’t know, and she doesn’t elaborate on the matter. She also says rape, like other crimes, is on the decline in the western world, and claims that the 1 in 3 women being raped statistic is incorrect. Once again, we have no idea where she is getting her information from, and if those sources are valid. Statistics can be very tricky in that they can be worded or shown to make people see a different truth than the real one. Basically, this young woman has strong opinions on feminist issues but doesn’t let us in on where she gathered her information, thereby making a lot of her statements less viable as truthful. It’s not like I think she’s making stuff up, but I don’t believe much of what she says due to the lack of concrete evidence.
I want to go back to an idea that underlies the whole video – the issues she discusses are the issues feminists care about. First of all, not all feminists are women, which she seems to neglect in her video. Also, there are as many types of feminists as there are people. Feminism is another one of those terms that has lost its true meaning over time, and now means something different to each and every person. Maybe feminism doesn’t even have one true single meaning – maybe that’s a generalization in itself. Personally, I’d like to think and I believe that feminism is true equality for both genders, to the point where gender is not the first thing that comes to mind when applying for a job, having certain hobbies, behaving in one way or another, and when engaging in other societal activities.  Many different types of feminists focus on different issues – yes some feminists value the issue of looking perfect, some value the issue of objectification, and some value doubles standards concerning sex and the body. Some feminists value all of these and more. It’s hard to generalize an issue that the general public may or may not completely understand.
            I think her real issue with feminism is that to her, it doesn’t seem to deal with hands- on issues, and focuses on complaining about society. I can see why she believes that – it does seem like certain groups of feminists do a lot of whining. This young woman wants to be pro-active in stopping things like rape: no male guards at female prisons, arm women with guns (I don’t agree and think that men should be taught not to rape instead of having this violent tension between the genders), empowering women in third world countries where rape is rampant, and more. She even calls out angry bloggers for blogging about these issues, instead of doing something like volunteering at a women’s shelter. Oh, the irony. Here I am, semi-angrily (and I wouldn’t even say that angry at all) blogging in response to her about these issues, when maybe I should be doing something more pro-active. But, this is where I disagree with her. So physically, right at this very moment, I can’t be at a women’s shelter, or promoting legislation to remove male guards from female guards, etc. This is a technologically-inclined society- I’m going to use the internet as a resource to spread the word about issues I feel passionate about. Then, when I have available time, I will do something more tangible about it – because I care, and there are various ways to demonstrate that, including the internet, physical volunteering, or just even talking about it.

Guest Contributor: Theresa Mcguinness

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