An Open Letter about Feminism to My Brothers

Dear Brother,

My Dad encouraged me to speak out.  He was a feminist!

My Dad encouraged me to speak out. He was a feminist!

I write to you today because I realize how uncomfortable you have been of lately. The Third Wave of Feminism (as it is being dubbed) is blooming (and praise be for it), and you are hearing women speak out about rape cultures, feminism, wage inequality, and the fact that the glass ceiling has not, no matter what PR spinners wish to say, broken. And because of social media, this third wave of feminism is loud, louder then even the first or second wave of feminism.  Women have a large medium to play with and they are using it.  But,  I see your discomfort on Facebook, on Twitter, and other social media outlets.  Many of you are feeling attacked and I am deeply sorry for this.

Please do not feel we are attacking you! We are NOT! We are attacking a system.  Many of our brothers stand with us and also reject a system that objectifies women, promoting the idea of the female as a means to an end. Many of our brothers object to a rape culture.  But what we have to say may make you uncomfortable.  When I talk about my rape, I am NOT blaming you, unless you were the one who did it and trust me, I would not be FB friends with you if that was the case!

Rather, it is important to understand something my dear brother: for decades we were asked to be silent about sexual abuse, assault and gender inequality.  And if we weren’t silent, we were threatened or attacked. Every woman in my immediate family, and yes we have all been sexually assaulted and raped, were threatened for speaking out one way or another: threatened by our attacker and by society at large. You see, this is something you don’t talk about in good company.

Nicolas Mollet, Rape, Events.

It’s like politics or religion, keep your mouth shut. That was the standard. If you did speak out, even your family could punish you for your transgression. Police force, school officials, and other authorities in our culture told us to be quiet.  And if we weren’t quiet we were more often than not, blamed for our attacks. Just like we are often blamed for encouraging an environment in which cat calls are generated: “you asked for it because you dressed like a slut.”

1920s competition

But the idea of dressing like a slut has been so subjective throughout time, and yet it still haunts us women: we exposed our ankles, we were sluts. We exposed a bit of shoulder, we were sluts. We allowed our breasts to be held up in a bra, we were sluts. We took our bra off, we were sluts. We exposed our legs in hot weather, we were sluts. We wear yoga pants, covering our bare legs, we are sluts. You see, this attitude, over time, has bubbled in the cauldron.  And the Cauldron is about ready to explode.

But should you feel threatened by this? No, my dear brother. Not unless you are contributing to the culture, you should not feel threatened by it.  But sadly many of you do. I know because I’ve had conversations with you over Facebook, on twitter, and face-to-face. I have been told that we need to get rid of the word “feminism” because it means that we hate men and are actively into male bashing. What we hate, dear brother, is a disgusting cultural norm that must be revised, but we don’t hate you. Why should we hate our counterpart?

Mabel Capper and Suffragettes with Petition

Feminism was never defined by feminists as male bashing; a matter of fact, feminism defined as a way for women to bash her fellow male counterpart was created by people, men and women alike, who wanted the status quo of gender relationships to be maintained. Why?  One reason was economics.  Consider the recession of the 1970s, and the fact that women coming into the employment market threatened men who were losing their jobs. You see, not unlike today, a corporation could hire part-time female workers for a lot less money than they were charging their male counterparts. Hell, they could hire a woman full time and still pay her less for doing the exact same job as her male counterpart. As men were laid-off from their jobs, a new market niche open, one for women, and many families were desperate for those women to go in and take those part-time jobs. But this should not be understood as male bashing feminism. It was survival.

I don’t want to give you a history lesson, but I do want to encourage you to go out and get a history lesson about feminism, my dear brother. The thing is this, people were feeling threatened, and a PR campaign was created in proclaimed that only lesbians, and male haters, were said to be feminist. The good woman, rejected feminism. This is the same bullshit that we are seeing today with the #IDon’tNeedFeminism and #WomenAgainstFeminism movement that is occurring in reaction to the third wave of feminism. Yes, history is repeating itself. And the sad thing is, most of these men and women who are part of this movement, don’t understand what feminism is. They also don’t understand that they are acting against their own self interest by rejecting feminism.

Gender Equality

So what does feminism mean? It means simply this: that men and women enjoy equal rights. These equal rights are to be understood as being enjoyed in the political realm, the economic round, the social realm, in short – in life. Equality. We ask for no more. We don’t want to rise above man, we don’t want to smash man, we don’t want to be better than men. We want equality and we want justice. Equality does not exist between the sexes presently, and it cannot exist if we continue to encourage and and nurture a culture norm that sees women as objects. That’s the truth.

My dear brothers, please do not feel threatened by the stories that you are hearing women share about their rapes and sexual assaults, about the economic inequality that they are suffering, or the fact that they feel ignored in this world. They are not blaming “you;” that is, unless you have done something to be blamed for. Rather, they are blaming a cultural norm that has gone wrong, and they are asking you, dear brother, to stand with them. I am asking you to stand with me!  I need you!  I need your voice and your conviction.  I need you to be willing to question your assumptions about gender relationships. I need you to speak out when you have been treated badly as well. But above all, I need you to stand with me. I am not asking you to sit in the sidelines. Fight with us and help us make a better world.

Mahalo,
R

Statement from the President on the House Passage of the Violence Against Women Act | The White House

WAVA - PassageStatement from the President on the House Passage of the Violence Against Women Act | The White House.

The Violence Against Women Act is one of those acts that should’ve been a no-brainer. This bill should have been passed immediately in order to protect women, no matter the woman’s background.  I am amazed and the amount of people who voted against it …. glad they were the minority. Thank goodness the VAWA finally passed the House of representatives. It breaks me heart to see how much we must fight for simple justice and equality.

Rebecca

New Delhi Gang Rape Victim Partly To Blame For Brutal Attack, Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma Suggests

Here we go again:

“Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady,” Sharma said. “Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.”

via New Delhi Gang Rape Victim Partly To Blame For Brutal Attack, Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma Suggests.

Please take the time to read this article by Huffington Post writer Meredith Bennett-Smith.  You know, I am sorry to have to keep posting about rape, slut-shaming, and victim blaming. Honestly, I would much rather talk about the progress I’m making on my new vision board, the process of writing, or the fact that I was lucky enough to have been cast in the play Harvey. But, the world keeps throwing these issues in my lap, over and over and over again.

I feel that we are at a pivotal point in our history: the world is waking up to the horrific and negative rhetoric surrounding victim blaming and shut shaming. The reality about violence against women, a global epidemic, is finally becoming a global magnified discussion – thanks, in no little part, to social media. In the end, this New Delhi lawyer looks like an asshole with his absurd rationale (see quote above). Please read and write about this issue. The more people talk about it, the more we can change things. R

Pro-Life Dry Cleaner Puts Anti-Abortion Message on Coat Hangers

Irony at it’s best.  A Pro-Life Dry Cleaner Puts Anti-Abortion Message on Coat Hangers. I guess these folks are terribly unaware of the realities and the relationship between wire hangers an abortion when abortion is made illegal.   Here is a great article from The Atlantic that spells it out:

Consider the Coat Hanger by Rebecca J. Rosen

Gender Pay Inequality is Alive & Well Ladies

I got an e-mail today from the AAUW (American Association of University Women) regarding equal pay in the US. This email  reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a dear friend, someone who is about my age, regarding the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Like many women I have met throughout my lifetime, my friend assumed that the ERA had passed years ago. Indeed, she was shocked and dismayed to learn that it had still not passed, this reasonable amendment that was first introduced to the public in 1923.
I have even spoke to some women who feel that passing the ERA is not all that pertinent in today’s society. The argument runs along these lines:

  •  Women can work the same jobs as men today.
  •  If a woman wants to have dildo, hell she can go out and buy one.
  • Women are really not discriminated against in our modern society.
  • Heck, I know some men who stay home with the kids, while the woman goes out and works!

But the truth is simple; there is no true quality between the sexes in the US. We may be closer, but closer is not destroying the so called “glass ceiling.” Women continue to be treated as second-class citizens (you are a slut if you use birth control is just one in a long string of examples I could bring to the table), and women’s rights as a full and equal citizen in the United States continues to be challenged. This can be seen through many facets of life, but especially through an economic lens.

The AAUA’s forum “The Simple Truth about the Pay Gap” presents compelling information regarding both race and gender pay gap inequality realities in the United States. Since we are a country that treasures profit, and equates success with one’s financial bottom line, the findings regarding pay inequality is staggering. It is important to note these pay gap statistics take into consideration job performance.  That is to say, the job comparison ratio assumes that both parties, male and female, perform the same job equally well. What was found was that women earn approximately 77% of what her male counterpart makes for performing the same job. If you happen to be a woman of color, such as a black woman (70% of a man’s paycheck) or a Hispanic woman (61% of a man’s pay check), you will struggle more seriously in our society, demonstrating that genderism and racism are alive and well and kicking our collective female asses.

Please take a moment to read this information regarding state-by-state wages, this is a chart that compares gender pay (Note: this is a PDF File, and the information was gathered by the US Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey Data). Here are some highlights regarding gender pay inequality, 2010 numbers:

  •  Gender equality in the realm of pay does not exist in any state in the United States.
  •  Washington, D.C. offers the best earnings ratio, with women earning 91% of a males’ paycheck for the same job (Men: $ 61,381 VS Women: $56, 127).
  •  I was personally surprised to find that the rather conservative state of Arizona (82%) does a better job with pay quality than the overall liberal state of Washington, which falls into the 77% category.
  •  Wyoming has the biggest problem with offering paid quality to the female gender, coming in at 64%. Wyoming was closely followed by Louisiana and Utah, both in the 60 percentile.

To add fuel to this fire, Bloomberg found that the best way for a woman to make equal or better money then her male counterpart was to open a shoe shinning business, since all other business in and around wall street paid women substantially less, and could justify this reality logically:

The six jobs with the largest gender gap in pay and at least 10,000 men and 10,000 women were in the Wall Street-heavy financial sector: insurance agents, managers, clerks, securities sales agents, personal advisers and other specialists. Advanced- degree professions proved no better predictors of equality. Female doctors made 63 cents for every $1 earned by male physicians and surgeons, the data show. Female chief executives earned 74 cents for every $1 made by male counterparts.