I haven’t had the stomach to write about the horrific Indian gang rape that left a woman dead, but this NYT op/ed by Sohaila Abdulali is worth a read. My favorite part:
Rape is horrible. But it is not horrible for all the reasons that have been drilled into the heads of Indian women. It is horrible because you are violated, you are scared, someone else takes control of your body and hurts you in the most intimate way. It is not horrible because you lose your “virtue.” It is not horrible because your father and your brother are dishonored. I reject the notion that my virtue is located in my vagina, just as I reject the notion that men’s brains are in their genitals.
And over at the American Prospect, E.J. Graff fleshes that idea out fully: A purity culture that situates women’s virtue in their vaginas is a rape culture.
Since Susan Brownmiller first wrote Against Our Will—the landmark feminist reconceptualization of rape—feminists have worked on clarifying the fact that rape is less about sex than it is about rage and power. Too many people still conceive of rape as a man’s overwhelming urge to enjoy the body of a woman who has provoked him by being attractive and within reach. As is true in many “traditional” cultures, much of India still imagines that the violation was one against her chastity, as Aswini Anburajan writes at Buzzfeed. But conceiving it as primarily a sexual violation places the burden on women to protect their bodies’ purity. It means that the question that gets asked is this one: Why was she out so late at night, provoking men into rage by being openly female?
But seen from a woman’s own point of view, rape is quite different: It’s punishment for daring to exist as an independent being, for one’s own purposes, not for others’ use. Sexual assault is a form of brutalization based, quite simply, on the idea that women have no place in the world except the place that a man assigns them—and that men should be free to patrol women’s lives, threatening them if they dare step into view. It is fully in keeping with bride-burnings, acid attacks, street harassment, and sex-selective abortions that delete women before they are born.
Similar Posts (automatically generated):
- The Wedding, culture, and my Indian identity by One Brown Woman June 25, 2007
- The Problem With Purity by Jill August 24, 2012
- Rape Just Ain’t What It Used To Be by Jill February 14, 2008
- Sexual Trafficking of Native American Women is Widespread by Cara December 22, 2009
- Bad Sex by EG January 5, 2015