Misogyny must end

The statistics are staggering. Around the world there are millions of victims of sexual assaults, honour killings, gender-selective abortions, date rapes, female infanticide, and misogyny* in all its manifestations.

I am one of the more fortunate of my gender. I live in a safe place, with a loving partner and male friends who are gentle souls.

But vulnerability is a woman’s inheritance. My Kelowna, BC, neighbourhood is safe, but friends still occasionally question my walking alone at night. The distance is never far—the few blocks from a friend’s home or a nearby theatre. I feel completely at ease, but I know if I were assaulted many would say I was at fault for being on my own after dark.

The message that women are always at risk has followed me from my early years. A pedophile turned up in my hometown of Twin Falls, Idaho. Until he was caught in the act, he would hang out at the movie theatre on Saturday mornings and try to persuade young girls to come with him.

Later I was a dorm monitor at the University of Idaho, kind of an untrained counselor and rule enforcer. One night a resident knocked on my door. She’d been raped by a fellow student. He’d offered her a ride home after a friendly conversation at the student union. She begged me not to call the police. We both knew she’d be blamed.

Another student confided her rape-caused pregnancy. Her cerebral palsy made her attractive to a particularly perverse kind of male, one who didn’t give a fig about her as a human being. He just wanted the bragging rights that came with assaulting a woman whose constant motion made her different.

I’ve experienced my own string of minor assaults. None approached the horrors friends have confided over the years, but they’ve all temporarily derailed my sense of safety.

This has been on my mind today because of an article I read about women in Delhi planning a “SlutWalk” to draw attention to the increase in attacks on women. They got the idea from Canadians. In January 2011 a Toronto police officer suggested to students and staff at Osgoode Hall Law School they could avoid being attacked if they didn’t dress like sluts, as if rapists only prey on women whose sexy dress drives them wild. The students staged a SlutWalk because, as they say on their Web site, “No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.”

The world is desperately in need of connection and compassion, of tenderness and love. What we don’t need is hatred of women just because we are women. Misogyny must end and with it the kind of mentality that accepts other kinds of hatred such as poverty for the many and wealth for the few, the destruction of the environment, stereotyping and prejudice, and horrors perpetrated on animals.

We live on an extraordinarily beautiful and generous planet. It’s time we showed our gratitude.

*misogyny – hatred of women
Photo credit: Woman sitting on beach at sunset by Sam Mugraby, Photos8.com

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6 comments for “Misogyny must end

  1. June 16, 2011 at 9:00 am

    My pleasure to drop by this award-winning blog! Yes, this is an important subject. The sociologist in me recognizes the dynamics of power that are the backdrop for the lack of respect for women world-wide. Tolle, in fact, who lives in your wonderful country, speaks about this imbalance of power between males and females and how this has led to many of the problems in our world today. He points out that we must regain the energy and outlook considered “female” if we are to save our planet. And again, I’m reminded of the role of “ego” in all of this. Tolle has also written at length about the role of ego in most of the unfortunate things happening in our world. Ego is fascinating to study. According to him, ego is simply our minds geared toward self-preservation and has nothing to do with our spiritual dimension which is beyond ego and mind. Minds love controversy, conflict, and polarization of thought. Yet, our spirits crave the peace of acceptance, compassion, and wholeness. Let’s hope for our continued spiritual evolution … in fact, let’s pray for it. Thanks, Cathryn. Well done, my friend! –Daisy

  2. June 18, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    A friend and I went for a walk today, then sat in our favourite coffee shop. Our conversation flowed around the puzzling phenomenon of hatred of the feminine. It affects all of us as well as the planet. You beautifully articulate Tolle’s teachings about our need to regain the balance of female and male. Our spirits do, indeed “crave the peace of acceptance, compassion, and wholeness”. Working toward that end underlies what both of us do. Your words will send me back to Tolle for a refresher.

  3. Tess
    June 18, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I saw a young woman’s sign at the Vancouver slut walk: “don’t tell women how to dress; tell men not to rape.” I also remember a line h back in my feminist youth about a man leaving a bank and getting robbed would not get scolded for hanging out a bank and advertising that he had money.

  4. June 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Hah! I can count on you for going to the heart of the matter quickly. Beautifully said!

  5. June 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I think speaking up about misogyny as you’re doing here is vital if we’re going to see any changes in society. Too often the subject is buried or hidden, like that student who was afraid to report her rape.

    One thing that has changed I’ve noticed is that the police now take the crime far more seriously than in the past. When a women in her eighties who weighed less than 100 lbs was raped in our street next door, the neighborhood swarmed with detectives and uniformed cops for days and a blurred photo of him was pasted everywhere. Within a few days they had that guy behind bars.

    Good for you speaking up on a subject that seems to embarrass many into silence.

  6. June 27, 2011 at 10:58 am

    It’s heartening to read the police response to the rape of the elderly woman, though sad to know of her trauma.

    Things have changed for the better since 1969, when the El Paso Public Library denied me a library card because I refused to get my husband’s signature on the application. But we have a long way to go before women can walk through the world with the same sense of ease and entitlement as men.

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