I love how those freedom fighters on the far right attack free speech when it’s a woman doing the speaking. When a women dares to suggest that maybe instead of telling women what they should do to prevent rape, the time has come to tell men why they shouldn’t rape.
That was the central point of Zerlina Maxwell’s comments during an appearance on Fox News. The subsequent reaction by the great minds of the far right illustrates the central attitude problem that they have when it comes to women who comment on something other than recipes, shopping and make-up.
Following Zerlina’s Fox News appearance, some of those classy he man who tune in to FNC for their daily dose of right wing propaganda behaved as one might expect. Zerlina was subjected to racist comments and death threats.
She discussed the threats on The Ed Show:
Gee, I wonder what provoked these hotshots. Were they threatened because Zerlina made a valid point and did so effectively? Were they threatened by the fact that a woman made a point at all? Maybe it was the prospect that the land of the free might place blame for rape on the rapist instead of calling it a blessing or suggesting that the victim must have done something, like leave the house unescorted to deserve it.
I thought conservatives believed in personal responsibility. Why doesn’t the right wing’s definition of personal responsibility include telling men that no means no and if they refuse to accept that, they will be held accountable under the law?
If we shift the responsibility for rape from the victim to the rapist that would mean recognizing that rape violates a woman’s autonomy over her body. It would involve recognizing that rape is about the rapist wanting power over his prey, rather than about the woman’s behavior or sexuality. It would mean understanding that rape is not about what a women wears or if she has an alcoholic beverage or that she goes out in public alone.
If the onus is on women to protect themselves from rape, rather than on men learning why they shouldn’t do it, why was rape considered a “fringe benefit” of war for most of history?
Starhawk [Digest #7] has shown that throughout history, rape has been an omnipresent aspect of militarism, and to this day, basic military training establishes women as targets for sexual conquer. This endemic of sexual violence against women in conflict zones reflects an ingrained misogyny which views women as the “spoils of war.” Whether for satisfying the sexual appetites of the troops or destroying the community pride of the vanquished they are punishing women who have resisted their conquerors, or as part of an overall strategy of genocide.
Gaining recognition that rape is a war crime because it was used as a weapon against women was a long struggle. In fact, it wasn’t until the Genocidal wars in Bosnia and Rwanda, that international law reflected the reality that rape during war was used as the ultimate weapon against women. In other words, women were raped to dehumanize and objectify them. It had nothing to do with what they were wearing or what they were drinking.
If rape is strictly about sex it begs the question why did the ICTR recognize in the Akeyesu case, that it is a: a war crime b: it has several elements in common with torture c: it can be an act of genocide:
Like torture, rape is used for such purposes as intimidation, degradation, humiliation, discrimination, punishment, control or destruction of the person.” Like torture, rape is a violation of personal dignity, and … in fact constitutes torture when it is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
I realize that we are not literally at war. My point is that war illustrates the true nature of rape. It’s a crime that is about disempowering a woman or punishing her for having the audacity to believe she has a right to personal autonomy.
This is about an attitude that has been nurtured by ignoramus conservatives who see women as incubators that should be controlled by the state. The racial epithets and death threats Zerlina Maxwell experienced after her appearance on Fox confirmed that rape is not about a woman’s behavior. It’s about those men who think it’s their right to have power over women.
Whether we’re wearing potato sacks or attractive clothing when we say no, it still means no. Whether a woman drinks wine or milk, when she says no she means no. Racial epithets and death threats will never change a no to a yes nor will the GOP’s war on women. And Real men don’t rape.
Image: Athens Tribune