Social justice advocate and political analyst Zerlina Maxwell has been the focus of the past couple of weeks’ round of woman-hating, with a lavish extra helping of racism, for much of the USA. On the Fox network’s talk show Hannity, Maxwell was asked for her response to the suggestion that women should carry guns to protect themselves from rapists. This is what she said:
“I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I?don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’tt tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.”
The relevant clip from the show can be found on Zerlina’s own post describing the incident, on Feministing. Also, here are follow-up posts from Racialicious and Feministe.
When Boganette brought down the wrath of the net upon her head, she could not possibly have known that would be the result of her simple tweet asking Stephen Fry to clarify what he had just said. When Anita Sarkeesian set up her Kickstarter to get her videos on gaming made, her previous experiences with pop culture analysis probably gave her a sense of what might happen, though its breadth and intensity surprised her. When Zerlina made her statements on a popular television show, with a wide audience, she must have known that she would be hit, in response, with stuff that no person should have to deal with, but she said it anyway, because it needed to be said. Because it was the right thing to do.
Mega-tons of abuse, threats and general bile have since been dumped on her in the hope of forcing her to fall silent, and Maxwell’s response is to assure us all that she intends to keep making noise:
“I’m certainly taking steps to protect my emotional health, but I will not be quiet. Because I refuse to be bullied into silence. The whole entire point of why I went on Fox to talk about this issue that I am so passionate about is because so many women are afraid to talk about it. That’s because they are blamed and shamed into silence, and I refuse – I refuse – to be silenced.” (From her subsequent article in Ebony)
In doing this she is working from the playbook of history’s greatest agents of civil rights activism. She also tweets like Evel Knievel jumps cars.
This post is a huge thank you to her, and a declaration of unreserved support.
Categories: gender & feminism, media, social justice
All this seems particularly relevant to me personally at the moment, because two women have been attacked in my suburb this past week, and the media/police are telling women that they need to be more careful.
The thing that pisses me off most is this ‘women need to be more careful’ idea – even though a) we ARE careful, and b) it paints the idea that if we are attacked or raped, we obviously weren’t careful enough, and c) most rapes and assaults are committed by people we know, in our own homes.
Actually, I kind of posted my own tirade on this, if it’s ok for me to share: http://alifeunexamined.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/when-will-be-stop-being-told-to-be-more-careful/
I’d just like to note, as I always try to remember that I should do, that it’s still 20% of rapes that do involve a stranger rapist. It’s important that when we (rightly) fulminate at the misplaced advice to women as to how to protect themselves (which of course is overwhelmingly inaccurate for protection against stranger rapes anyway) that we don’t simultaneously erase the experiences of rape victims who were attacked by rapists who were absolute strangers to them.
I can’t get your links to boganette to work. It looks like it has been moved or removed?
Sorry, Arcadia, I should have explained in the post. Boganette took her blog down almost two years ago, so I just linked to the mention of the incident on ours. Basically what happened was Stephen Fry said something doofusy about women not liking sex, Boganette sent him a tweet asking if he was quoted correctly, he retweeted it, and she proceeded to get clobbered by the full ranks of the misogynist subset of Fry’s fans.
Thanks for the reminder, TT, I’ll definitely make a note of it. Out of interest, where did you get the 20% stats? I’ve been digging around the internet for a while trying to find some recent ones, everything I’ve found so far seems to be a bit older.
The 20% number can be found here: http://www.aic.gov.au/documents/0/B/6/%7B0B619F44-B18B-47B4-9B59-F87BA643CBAA%7Dfacts11.pdf It’s from 2010.
I went at checked this out of curiousity because it’s much higher than for most of the UK studies, which show stranger rape at between 3 and 8%. But, it does appear to be similar to numbers reported from the US. I’m guessing that police stats will show a higher rate of stranger rape than other bodies, however, as most rapes aren’t reported, and it seems likely that women raped by those they know are less likely to report. So these discrepencies might be due to that (or just geographical variation of course).
None of this takes away from tigtog’s point, of course!
I realised recently I’m broken in what might be one of the few ways that could have prevented me from being a victim of a Steubenville-style rape (a rape which is “set up” by having a designated victim in the vicinity of a group of people who have been taught to think they’re immune to normal social rules). I’d spent so long being bullied by my age peers, and receiving no support from anyone about it, that by the time I was of high school age, any outreach toward me by the “popular people” in my age group would have been regarded with extreme caution, not to say paranoia. I would have been looking for the catch, looking for the flaw, expecting to be set up.
But I’m broken, and even by about the age of fourteen, I knew I was broken. My paranoia comes along with crippling levels of depression and anxiety (the depression seems to be permanent, the anxiety comes because I have to know what I’m being paranoid about) and makes it very difficult for me to function in society, because I genuinely do not trust other people at all. Oddly enough, I’ve never been raped, either.
Clearly this is the way all women should be. After all, it works to prevent rape!
From the depths of my misery, I LOATHE the pompous fools who think this way.
Thanks Feminist Avatar! That’s immensely useful. That is indeed a significant discrepancy between Australia/rest of the world – figures I found for the US were much lower. Interesting indeed.