I am currently consumed with gendered rage. Perhaps you too have been bewildered about the rape and assault of the journalist Lara Logan in Egypt. Perhaps you have felt pommeled by the same message coming across any kind of writing about sexual assault. There's the classic "She should have been more careful." The Julian Assange- business gives life to the always charming "Was it 'rape' or was it rape-rape?" There are the speculations over someone's sexual history, attractiveness, motives. A victim's motives. It really does make me rather sick.
I can't express myself properly on the subject because there is something utterly debilitating about that creeping sense that society, to varying degrees and shades of consistency, is up against you. I can't quite decide whether I should go out and punch people or just curl up in a blanket and cry. Neither seems a satisfactory option.
So I direct you to places where people have said it better, provided more context and been more direct. I am hoping I can nudge The Slightly Disgruntled Scientist and Laurie of Fieldnotes from Fairy Land to weigh in this as well: I know they have thought about the issue a lot and have challenged people and organisations on their attitudes to sexual assault before.
In What Not to Say About Lara Logan Mary Elizabeth Williams talks about how quickly commentary on Logan's ordeal turned to her attractiveness or even resentment over the attention she would get over the assault. 'Cause what's rape but a savvy career move?
In Unspoken Judith Matloff talks about how common sexual assault of journalists is, and how hidden. The rapists are colleagues, guards, translators, the local police: people whose support is essential to the job getting done. Women don't report assaults because they don't want their employers to see them as a liability. 'Cause what's rape but an HR paperwork nightmare?
In Time to end the idle smear of Assange's Swedish accusers Michael Brull makes the radical suggestion that "Those who make an accusation of rape should not be subject to scurrilous public attack, to derision, to trivialisation and so on. They should be given the same presumptions of innocence as anyone else." I touched on this earlier here, and I'm glad the argument lives.
If you want to look at less traumatic marginalisation of women, you can read about New York Times' not-so flattering article about a one-day conference for "mommy bloggers", or women who run parenting-oriented blogs, Honey, Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Too Busy Building My Brand. PhD in Parenting outlines the article and links to many responses, who take issue either with women's professional blogging being cast as a (child-neglecting) hobby, or the belittling attitude towards the writing work of women more generally and mothers more specifically.
Next time someone tells me they're not a feminist, I'll throw off my blanket, punch them in the face and ask them two questions:
"What's wrong with you?"