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buzzfeed:

Everything you wanted to know about transgender people but were afraid to ask. 

Wonderful summary !

(via lacigreen)

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WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP RAPE CULTURE?

What should we understand from what happened in Steubenville :

It showed how much work there is left in terms of sexual freedom and equality.

Two points I would like to develop here :

1) the definition of rape itself and thus corollary of consent. As you might know, the GIfs above  come from the awesome Laci Green’s tumblr (if you don’t know her yet, run people, run ! Or just click here or there). She explains that consent is not if there is a “no”. Consent is defined by a “yes”. This is actually the definition the European Court of Human Rights gave.

It’s thus a very broad definition but yet precise enough. It also embraces marital rape. Being married doesn’t mean that you lost rights over your body. You don’t owe sex to anyone, even to your husband / wife / partner. 

This definition of consent is also interesting on another aspect. Unlike general beliefs, most of rapes are not violent nor committed by strangers attacking you in the streets. Very often, the victim knows it abuser (family, partner, friend of friends…) which can add a kind of “social pressure” to the already terrible situation of rape and abuse. In case of pressure, it can make it harder for the pressured to say “no”. And even if the victim manages to express her / his “no”, this “no” will not necessarily be taken seriously. Why?

  • it can be explained by the fact that sexual violence is still glamorized (you can watch Jean Kilbourne’s videos about women’s representation in advertisement to get an idea : Killing Us Softly)
  • but also by the fact that we still expect women (who represent most rape’s victimes) to repress their sexuality. We expect from women to reject sexual offers made to them. Their “no” can thus be understood as a formal or conventional “no”. It shouldn’t. Women just like everybody else should be free to take on their sexuality and freely decide how to dispose of their own body. A fully comfortable yes or a respected yes, without pressure in both cases. If we define consent as the presence of a “yes”, we overcome a few challenges.

2) What particularly stroke me in the Steubenville case is how no one there seemed to realize the gravity of the situation. Yes, clearly, it is a rape. How can that be a debate? Penetrating several times someone that is asleep / passed out (no matter why, alcohol involved or not), how can it be perceived as normal and result of consent? It brings us back to the problematic representations of rape. Thinking of rape as something physically violent committed by a stranger doesn’t match the reality. And concretely, it has consequences. A witness in Steubenville, after being worried about the victim’s health (she was passed out), just left. “Why didn’t he try to stop the rape nor denounced it?” was he asked in Court. He answered that he didn’t know it was rape, because he thought rape was necessarily violent. And the victim wasn’t reacting or debatting herself, she was passive (of course because she was PASSED OUT!).

About that, passive victims, even if they’re conscious (not asleep or passed out) are still victims. Many of them, when sharing their stories, explain that they protect themselves by detaching themselves from what’s happening. They detach themselves from their body, as a protection mechanism. Re appropriating their bodies afterwards is often difficult and takes time. The victim is still detached as a way to stay far away from that traumatizing experience. But also because her / his body has become an object, it has been used by someone else.

The other big issue about how rape is depicted is that it doesn’t help victims to talk. Since this narrative doesn’t apply to reality in most cases (but only to a minority of rapes), many victims can’t identify themselves as such. If there is no narrative based on the reality to help the victims, they have to do all by themselves : undo the stereotypes about rape, prove their honesty and the truth of their aggression. How can you get yourself back together if you always have to demonstrate that you have been abused, even if you knew the rapist / abuser? Some victims deny themselves as victims because their story doesn’t look like what is commonly thought of to be rape. If laws have more or less caught up their lateness, mentalities and representations are still lagging behind.

Talking about rape as they really exist would firstly be reminding how common they are. It would mean realizing that statistically, everyone knows at least one woman that has been raped. It would mean understanding that men too are victims of rape. It would mean stopping to question the victim’s word rather than the presumed abuser’s. It would mean stopping to talk about rape as something that isn’t a big deal. On the other hand, we should stop depicting rapes as very rare and rapists as monsters. We’re not talking about a few people only, but about a large number of rapists. No, they are not fundamentally monsters, they are above all made by our society…that still carries on a rape culture.

The definition of rape itself must be part of young education. Progress will come from a better education and a stricter application of laws on that topic. But medias too have to follow the movement, since they play such a great role in diffusing norms and representations. 

(Source : liamgotmoney, via lacigreen)

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lacigreen:

can this be common sense yet

Unfortunately, need to be claimed over and over !

lacigreen:

can this be common sense yet

Unfortunately, need to be claimed over and over !

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makesexnormal:


My daughter and I work to “make sex normal” by appearing in a terrific film called “Let’s Talk About Sex.”  We’ve also written blogs extolling the virtues of mother/daughter open communication regarding sex and sexuality: 

I (Elizabeth) teach classes in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oregon and am the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex and the editor of American Sexual Histories.  Leah is a senior at Harvard and has been a youth advocate in high school and college for teen sexual and reproductive health.

- Elizabeth Reis and Leah Reis-Dennis

 
How do you make sex normal? Email a photo & caption to MakeSexNormal@gmail.com or submit online via Tumblr.

makesexnormal:

My daughter and I work to “make sex normal” by appearing in a terrific film called “Let’s Talk About Sex.”  We’ve also written blogs extolling the virtues of mother/daughter open communication regarding sex and sexuality: 
I (Elizabeth) teach classes in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oregon and am the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex and the editor of American Sexual Histories.  Leah is a senior at Harvard and has been a youth advocate in high school and college for teen sexual and reproductive health.
- Elizabeth Reis and Leah Reis-Dennis
 
How do you make sex normal? Email a photo & caption to MakeSexNormal@gmail.com or submit online via Tumblr.

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Translation : “If you are a woman, to dispose freely of your body, it’s better to be a man”

Translation : “If you are a woman, to dispose freely of your body, it’s better to be a man”

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What does it mean to be a feminist?

I won’t address here the usual stereotypes about feminism (lesbian, angry…) but I will try to think about what it means to be a feminist in a broad way.

I came across a post by Shadow’s Crescent that made a very good point : being a woman and being in favor of equal rights is not enough to make you a feminist. And yet that’s a very common idea. Of course, it is quite practical to challenge the cliches I evoked right above. The idea here is to say that being a feminist doesn’t (necessarily) make you radical, hysterical or whatever feminists are still called today. Feminism is not a bad word, it just means that you believe in equality. Ok, that’s a pretty good point, hard to oppose. But unfortunately I think it’s more complicated than that. Feminism is deeply intersectional. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

To me, feminism should help women all over the world to be empowered and free in many different ways. Feminism should not reproduce the oppressions women have to face. Feminism should un-pressure women from what have been imposed on them because of their sex, sexual orientation, gender, class, race, age and so on. Feminism can’t be unique, because there is no unique woman. Feminism has to be inclusive to the point of including men. They are also concerned by more gender equality.

Shadow’s Crescent shows the limit of the “woman + equality” definition of feminism, because women are often defined by their sex and not gender. In other words, it excludes all the people identifying as women but who do not actually have female genitalia. And what about intersex people? Of course, it also leave men identifying as feminist on the side.

Here are my favorite passages of Shadow’s Crescent post :

"A racist woman is not a feminist; she doesn’t care about helping women, just the women who look like her and can buy the same things she can. A transphobic woman is not a feminist; she is overly concerned with policing the bodies and expressions of others. A woman against reproductive rights — to use bell hook’s own example, and an issue close to your heart — is not a feminist; she prioritizes her dogma or her disgust over the bodies of others. An ableist woman is not a feminist; she holds some Platonic ideal of what a physically or mentally “whole” person should be and tries to force the world to fit inside it. […] There are women of color, lesbians, trans* women, poor women, fat women, disabled women, neuroatypical women, asexual women, genderqueer women, genderfluid women…”

Sooo… what does it mean in the end? You can’t be feminist if you’re excluding some categories of women because they don’t match your criteria. That’s discrimination. Basically what feminism is fighting against.

The only space where your freedom is limitless is yourself. You can live and express your feminism the way you want as long as you don’t impose it on other people. I don’t think this intersectional dimension of feminism is too radical, I think it forms one of its fundamental principles. If you want to fight against inequality, you can’t choose to reproduce other kind of discrimination.

Everyone is welcome to complete this definition of feminism or give her/his/hir own !

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Today is a big day.

The 57th UN Commission on the status of Women agreed on a final text. But it was not easy. Why? Ask Vatican, Iran and Russia. They wanted to erase paragraph #7 of the draft :

"The Commission urges States to strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls and to refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination as set out in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women”

to see the whole text here. Too progressive for you, religion? Too bad, it passed!

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The Commission also promotes access to safe legal abortion for all women. 

Anyway, let’s not dream too much about what it will mean in terms of change, but we’re on the right path, folks !

I hope the topic of this first post is only the beginning of progress towards more gender equality.