Friday, August 13, 2010

But how do you bring this stuff up?

(I'm going to be talking about violence of both a physical and sexual nature. Tread carefully.)

Okay just about anyone who has any interest in gender equality knows what's going on in many parts of Africa. Violence of all sorts from rape, assault, murder and even genocide, civil unrest, chaos. Well one thing I've noticed is that the when the mainstream media talks about these events they pretty limit it to the things the men in those areas are doing to the women and children in those areas.

Now before you try to write me off as trying to make it all about teh menz let me ask you something. How do you like it when atrocities that happen to people of your demographic are largely ignored? I'm sure you have an answer for that question (especially if you consider yourself an activist for human rights). Now let me ask you something else. Do you think its fair for the atrocities that happen to people who may not be of your demographic to go largely ignored? Of course not.

When talking about this region of the world about the only thing you hear about the men and boys there is that boys are forced into military service and that men are committing atrocities against women and children. If one didn't know any better you would think that that was all that was happening over there. Well its not.

First off I want to say again that I'm not saying this in order say that women are bad. I'm not trying to "add balance", "tip the scales", or any games like that. I'm saying this because if people really want to put an end to the violence they have to take all of the crimes going on seriously rather than the current heavily gendered look the media is currently offering.

I was looking around today and saw this. The chilling part is that the first four paragraphs tell of five stories of rape with male victims (and I think its worth nothing that just like in many male against female rape stories the writer here seems to be a bit hesitant at using the word rape while recapping those events).
In November last year, we carried a heart-rending story of three women who kidnapped an 18-year-old man in Chitungwiza and forced him to be intimate with one of them. Of all the places, they chose to commit the heinous act at a cathedral in Harare's city centre.

This was followed by another story of a 15-year-old boy who was abducted by three men in Warren Park and forced to be intimate with a woman at knife-point at a secluded spot in the suburb. And only last month, a Mwenezi man was drugged and forced to be intimate with two women who had offered him a lift along the Masvingo-Ngundu road.

Before that, four women forced themselves on a 25-year-old Masvingo man at gunpoint after forcing him to drink an unknown concoction that later led him to pass out for eight hours. As if that was not enough, two women forced a 44-year-old man to be intimate with them while another man stood guard. The incident happened last Tuesday near Banket in Mashonaland West.
But I think the other language throughout the article kinda gives a tell about why people think this type of crime is so shocking.
Rape cases in Zimbabwe have always been associated with men raping women. But the kind of rape we are witnessing now baffles the mind.
That association is what's causing the bafflement now. While the majority of rapes in Zimbabwe have been male against female just like in other parts of the world (even here in the States) people have settled into the "fact" that the very definition of rape is a sexual crime that men commit against women. This is why people have such a hard time coming to terms with the fact that women can and do commit sex crimes (this also applies to most violent and physical crimes).

Truthfully I think this is a group misunderstanding here. A combination that "women don't do stuff like that", "men want sex all the time", and (most dangerous ingredient of all) people who profit from that illusion have created and maintained that "fact". The vast majority of us have fallen for that illusion but it becomes pretty clear who is really interested in tearing it down and who is interested in keeping it up. From what I can tell the people who simply refuse to acknowledge such crimes are the ones that need the illusion to stay up. Their need for it to stay up could range from profit (which could be votes, money, political power, etc...) to refusing to admit that just maybe they don't have it all figured out yet to not wanting to lose their control in the discourse. Who knows but I guess in the end it doesn't really matter why all that's important is that the illusion needs to come down if any real work is going to get done.

This is a pretty odd question:
When it appeared the police and the courts were beginning to have the upper hand in dealing with rape against women and minors, we now have this new phenomenon. What has become of some among us lately?
You know that means? That means that the gendered approach to rape isn't as effective as some have already decided it is. It doesn't do as much good hear about a rape and instantly go to thinking that it was a man that raped a woman/girl. They actually have to apply an open mind. And not to sound too cynical but maybe if they hadn't adopted that narrow "man = perp/woman = victim" gendered mindset in the first place they wouldn't be having such a hard time now.

Now back to my question in the title of the post. How does one bring this stuff up so that it gets the attention it needs without being attacked for it? Thing is people pretty much think that being a man/boy is nothing but a cake walk and being a woman/girl is nothing but an endless line of oppressive burdens so they don't know how to act when they are confronted with things like this.

But its not going away. In fact it could very well get worse since people are choosing to ignore it (sounds familiar right?) rather than deal with it.

Something's going to have to change.