Print

Print


telenaut wrote on 10/16/06 11:19 AM:

> Here's grist for the mill from today's paper of record:


Here pasted for your no-account pleasure:

Op-Ed Columnist
  Why Aren¹t We Shocked?

By BOB HERBERT
Published: October 16, 2006

³Who needs a brain when you have these?²
‹ message on an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt for young women

In the recent shootings at an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania and a
large public high school in Colorado, the killers went out of their way to
separate the girls from the boys, and then deliberately attacked only the
girls.

Ten girls were shot and five killed at the Amish school. One girl was killed
and a number of others were molested in the Colorado attack.

In the widespread coverage that followed these crimes, very little was made
of the fact that only girls were targeted. Imagine if a gunman had gone into
a school, separated the kids up on the basis of race or religion, and then
shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews.

There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first
recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind
of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection.
And the attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime.

None of that occurred because these were just girls, and we have become so
accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence
against females is more or less to be expected. Stories about the rape,
murder and mutilation of women and girls are staples of the news, as
familiar to us as weather forecasts. The startling aspect of the
Pennsylvania attack was that this terrible thing happened at a school in
Amish country, not that it happened to girls.

The disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous treatment of women is so
pervasive and so mainstream that it has just about lost its ability to
shock. Guys at sporting events and other public venues have shown no qualms
about raising an insistent chant to nearby women to show their breasts. An
ad for a major long-distance telephone carrier shows three apparently naked
women holding a billing statement from a competitor. The text asks, ³When
was the last time you got screwed?²

An ad for Clinique moisturizing lotion shows a woman¹s face with the lotion
spattered across it to simulate the climactic shot of a porn video.

We have a problem. Staggering amounts of violence are unleashed on women
every day, and there is no escaping the fact that in the most sensational
stories, large segments of the population are titillated by that violence.
We¹ve been watching the sexualized image of the murdered 6-year-old JonBenet
Ramsey for 10 years. JonBenet is dead. Her mother is dead. And we¹re still
watching the video of this poor child prancing in lipstick and high heels.

What have we learned since then? That there¹s big money to be made from
thongs, spandex tops and sexy makeovers for little girls. In a misogynistic
culture, it¹s never too early to drill into the minds of girls that what
really matters is their appearance and their ability to please men sexually.

A girl or woman is sexually assaulted every couple of minutes or so in the
U.S. The number of seriously battered wives and girlfriends is far beyond
the ability of any agency to count. We¹re all implicated in this carnage
because the relentless violence against women and girls is linked at its
core to the wider society¹s casual willingness to dehumanize women and
girls, to see them first and foremost as sexual vessels ‹ objects ‹ and
never, ever as the equals of men.

³Once you dehumanize somebody, everything is possible,² said Taina
Bien-Aimé, executive director of the women¹s advocacy group Equality Now.

That was never clearer than in some of the extreme forms of pornography that
have spread like nuclear waste across mainstream America. Forget the
embarrassed, inhibited raincoat crowd of the old days. Now Mr. Solid Citizen
can come home, log on to this $7 billion mega-industry and get his kicks
watching real women being beaten and sexually assaulted on Web sites with
names like ³Ravished Bride² and ³Rough Sex ‹ Where Whores Get Owned.²

Then, of course, there¹s gangsta rap, and the video games where the players
themselves get to maul and molest women, the rise of pimp culture (the
Academy Award-winning song this year was ³It¹s Hard Out Here for a Pimp²),
and on and on.

You¹re deluded if you think this is all about fun and games. It¹s all part
of a devastating continuum of misogyny that at its farthest extreme touches
down in places like the one-room Amish schoolhouse in normally quiet Nickel
Mines, Pa.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SkiVt-L is brought to you by the University of Vermont.

To unsubscribe, visit http://list.uvm.edu/archives/skivt-l.html