26 September 2011
Post 429: Shame the Devil
So I ended up reading yet another novelization of a woman's life shortly after The Maid. This one was significantly better; although it still contained some fawning, there was a decent balance and other, less favorable viewpoints were occasionally added to give a more rounded picture.
One of the main themes in this book was the ability for a woman's reputation to be so easily ruined through rumor, especially considering that the reputation of men is fairly safe from scrutiny. This is one of the things that hasn't changed in the past 200 years, despite all of the advances women have made. This is probably the one area that has not changed at all, and likely one of the things holding us back the most, because our reputations as women still matter for some reason.
The fact that women are still judged by their sexual history, or even presumed sexual history, means that every single woman is a victim of rumor-mongering at some point in her life. Not only that, but we are more open to being attacked than men, because it is expected. How often do you hear news stories of teenage boys having their naked photos texted around school? I haven't heard of one, and probably not because teenage boys are too shy about their bodies. For one thing boys do not have as much pressure placed on them to take those photos in the first place; if they do take the photos and send them on, it would seem that their girlfriends have a better understanding that those photos are private and sharing them would be a breach of trust. I do not think this is because girls and women are "more moral" than men, but because men are still under the impression, however subconscious, that if they are given access to a woman's body in ANY way, they continue to have access to it until it comes under the purview of some other man.
You can see this line of thinking in what the internet thinks is funny through various websites, more commonly on the Icanhascheezburger split offs (they frequently show up in Demotivational Posters*). Currently there is a trend of posting pictures of unconscious women with the caption, "Dear Diary: Jackpot." That these pictures are so prolific is evidence that a number of "men" are dickless scumbags and have no concept of respect. Those same "men" will probably also call me a humorless bitch, but I sincerely doubt they would think it was funny if there were pictures of them on the internet with their pants around their ankles and a much more muscular man positioned behind them to look like they were being raped. It wouldn't matter whether or not it happened, those images would be available and people would look at the person photographed differently.
That all men, or even other women, have to do is imply that a woman is promiscuous to open her up to attacks is something we all need to work on. How often have you heard that Jenny slept her way to the top and automatically believed it? Or that Tom divorced Mary for having an affair? Or Jane appeared in Playboy? How have you judged these fictional women? Are they women you would want to associate with? What about if I told you that Jenny was pressured by her boss and worked in a corporate culture that ignores sexual harassment? Or that Jenny was finally going to be promoted over a man, and Bob who is an entitled slack ass make an "off-hand comment" that quickly turned into a rumor? What if Mary only had an affair because after 15 years of a loveless marriage, she fell in love with her best friend Grace and didn't know how to come out? Or that Tom had been having affairs for years, and Mary, left at home for so long, finally found comfort and companionship elsewhere? And so what if Jane appeared in Playboy? Maybe it was the only way she could pay for college, or her grandmother's medical bills.
The point is that women are so much more readily judged for their sexual habits then men, and people are more willing to believe that they are guilty of "offenses" against "normative" sexual behavior, whereas we are still somewhat inclined to give men the benefit of a doubt. We are more likely to check facts with the source, even though that source might be a big Liar McLiar pants. That women still live well or die poorly by their reputations (via job, friend, and partner options) is something we ought to be far more ashamed of than any woman actually "guilty" of having sex with an entire football team.
My review can be found at Goodreads.
LibsNote: Copy provided via publicist.
*It's definitely demotivating, but at this point the whole concept behind Demotivational Posters has been completely bastardized. Dear internet, you are doing it wrong.