November 28, 2004

What is feminism?

Rape makes me ill. Just reading this summary makes my stomach twist and my blood boil, makes me want to scream and pick up a two-by-four and proceed to beat every man who has done this to a woman until they couldn't even be recognized by matching dental records.

I'm not being facetious. Those of you who know me personally know I'm quite the serious pacifist. But that all vanishes in face the rape. Every violent instinct I possess has been redirected towards someone who is, I think, so vile as to not even deserve to be considered human. As one comment to this piece says, rape is a crime against humanity, meaning it is a crime against every human when it is committed.

I find rape so appalling just because of the way it symbolizes the oppression of women: the victim is violently reduced to an object of sexual gratification and, in wartime, a de-individuated appendage of the enemy's community. The men who raped these women; the man who date-raped a friend of mine, drugging a fourteen-year-old's beer so she was awake but couldn't move, not even to scream; the man who drug another fourteen-year-old into the back of his van and left her in a ditch by the side of the road; these men do not deserve to be treated as persons after the way they have denied personhood to their victims, even though they were simply treating women the way societies all over the world have treated women up until this past century.

So what is feminism? Feminism is being appalled by rape, and the daily gender inequality which it represents and is born of. Feminism is recognizing that the value of a person, what is important in their life, should be decided by the free choices they make for themselves, not by what shape their genitals are, and other people think that means. Feminism is about justice, and is the antithesis of rape.

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