March 22, 2014

Know What's Funny?

You've probably seen them: the shirts in banner ads reading

"D.A.D.D.
Dads Against Daughters Dating
Shoot the first one, and word will spread!"

It gets a bit less humourous when you see someone who did just that.  Heck, it's not like it hasn't happened before, plus who knows how many times in fiction!  More disappointing than the shooting are the people - almost exclusively men - who leap to defend the choice those two men made.  Heat of the moment, arguments preceeded the shootings, the girls were to young, etc.  The guys who are jumping into the argument aren't intimately involved with either case, and they have some emotional distance.  So what about the arguments are they making?

The first is obvious; the second I would certainly hope was the case; the third is the most telling.  In the latest case, she was 16 and her boyfriend 17.  Depends on who you are, of course: some think so, others don't.  But more importantly is the idea that her dad is 'protecting' her.

Protecting her from what?

North America as a whole has a wee bit of a problem with the issue of sexuality: a big chunk of that is going to have come from how the nations were founded.  Roman Catholic stricture or Protestant Puritan censure is hardly going to lead to the hedonistic freedoms you might think.  There was some leavening in the mix provided by the folks who were here at the time, but the indigenous tribes were pretty much culturally steamrolled within a century (though echoes remain).

"What was she wearing" is still a common question in the public forums even after it had been expressly banned in rape cases.  Think that's not all about controlling women's sexuality?  Fair enough, it could  indeed be about something else, but it'll be kind of difficult to explain how priorities can be screwed up enough that hundreds of thousands of rape kits can go untested.

If they are there, why do they go untested?  The kits were used - the incredibly invasive prodecure was done, and samples were collected.  But a decision somewhere along the way was made to put the budgets into other fields, leaving a massive backlog of the best tools we have to catch rapists - a crime that has one of the highest levels of mulitples (same perpetrator repeats the same crime) of any violent criminal activity.

Why?

There are excuses, but there is a reason why those excuses are thought to be acceptable, and it isn't often mentioned.  Or mentioned at all that I've ever seen.

Embarrassment.

The idea - the myth - is that men are responsible for women's sexuality.  Men have cast themselves in the role of the Protectors of Innocence and Virtue (or at least of Nookie).  That a woman could  be raped is seen as a failure to somehow guard them and it leads to two responses: either foot/budget shuffling and looking anywhere else, or sudden hyper-vigilantism.  Both are highly visible, and neither is the response of someone willing to accept responsibility.

That the foot shuffling is being pointed out now is a good thing: blaming the woman for getting raped has finally gotten some pushback in recent years with laws limiting past history being used in court cases, and "she was there, so she must have wanted it" becoming less and less acceptable, making you wonder why it ever was...

But there has been less condemnation of the hyper-vigilantism than there should be.  Some of the most extreme variants have been mocked, and deservedly so: seriously, if "Purity Balls" where the father pledges to take responsibilty for his daughter's virginity doesn't creep you the hell out, I don't want to know what does.

Outside the obvious, though, there are other sides to these defenders-o'-the-gates that isn't as explicitly stated.  On March 25th, the Supreme Court is going to hear from widespread tchotchke specialists Hobby Lobby.  You've heard about that case, I'm sure: they are owned by religious fundamentalists who don't want to be forced to pay for employees abortions, right?

Close.

They actually don't want any of their female employees to get any birth control or women's specialist clinic visits at all.  Not "we don't want to pay for it"; they're saying "we don't want them to have it".  There are four specific types of birth control the owners of Hobby Lobby want no part of because of their belief they athey are actually causing abortions by stopping fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb, which seems straightforward enough.  After all, if the US government can reach a comprimise with Catholic owned and run institutions then a business shouldn't be a problem: just have the female employees sign the same piece of paper saying that those will be paid for by the insurance company rather than the employer.

Except, no.

The clauses Hobby Lobby (and co-plaintiff Conestoga Wood Specialties) wants to be exempted from include clinic visits, education, and counseling.  They do not want those methods of birth control even mentioned during any doctor visits because then they would be 'morally liable' for the woman's decisions.

To be clear: penis pumps, implants, and boner pills are covered in many medical plans (including federal ones like Medicare and the Affordable Care Act) without background checks, marital status conditions, or employer's say-so.  The ONLY reason for that discrepancy and obvious hypocracy is that men are men and women aren't.

Women who want sex are evil.  Wanton.  Reckless.  And clearly, they have to be forced into 'good' (celibate) behaviour for their own protection.  The same line of reasoning is repeatedly applied to sex education in schools or sex on in movies: Save the Children (and Women)!

Again, save them from what?

What's being protested against isn't promiscuity; though some few of the more honest complainers will say so, they simply don't know any better.  What is being protested is the possibility that women can be responsible for their own sexuality without men's help.  That women may not need a bodyguard for their bodies, and would frankly rather be left to make their decisions about who's doing what to them (and when) all on their own.

Oh, and the case of the dad who killed Johran McCormick because his daughter snuck him into her room that night?  There's religious precedent for the father's act... but he killed the wrong person:

Deuteronomy 22: 20-21 - If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.

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posted by Erin Butler at 3:23 pm

2 Comments:

Blogger M@ said...

Funny thing about Deuteronomy 22: 20-21, isn't it -- that sounds just like an honour killing, like what dem brown guys is always doing.

8:44 am  
Blogger Erin Butler said...

Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day!

...Course, no one told these guys that their clocks are all digital: when they're stopped, they go blank.

10:30 am  

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