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Nov 27 2005

Good Morning, Patriarchy!

Just some of the repellent news spilling out of my Fuck The Patriarchy inbox this morning:

Melbourne parents are fattening up their four-year-old boys in order to give them an advantage in schoolyard rumbles. 4-year-old girls, however, are still required to be miniscule, in preparation for a lifetime of shrinking invisibility.

Meanwhile, in India it’s Child Brides! 15% of girls are married by the age of ten. There are programs afoot to change "the mindset" of the rural cultures who enjoy enslaving prepubescent girls. Health officials believe that the legal age ought to be 18 for girls, and 21 for boys, with no reason given for the disparity, althought we can certainly guess.

More child brides, this time in sub-Saharan Africa, where they are popularly used to repay debts. "Beatrice Kitamula, 19, was forced to marry her wealthy neighbor, now 63, five years ago because her father owed another man a cow."

Remember that "what about the men!?" dude who is all upset that more women than men are graduating from college? He can rest easy. A UNICEF report shows that, globally, girls are overwhelmingly denied access to even a primary education, thus ensuring the future of women’s illiteracy, poverty, cow-equivalence, and child-briditude.

CellargirlsMeanwhile, if you are a vulgar, depraved swine, you can buy a human woman for £1,400 in Romania, for use as a receptacle for your incontinence.

33 comments

  1. wordgirl

    Ahh…it’s just business as usual here on Planet Earth!

  2. Ms Kate

    Historically, the early bride stuff is a traditionalist community response to encroaching modernism and all the freedom it affords women in particular, but both genders in reality. From the “settled” Irish Tinkers to the Hmong and backward and sideways, parents fearing family shame in environments where their traditional values are clashing with adolescent escape will marry them off younger and younger to the point of absurdity.

    While boys are often married off early too, it is more common to pair a periadolescent girl with an older male (usually not way old, but 18 or so) for reasons of economics if nothing else.

    Just because it is both classic and predictable does not make it right. It also does not make it any less actionable when a 13 year old southeast asian girl in a northeast US industrial city turns up at the ER with pregnancy complications and all the relatives lack clue when her 20 year old “husband” is chucked in jail and several other responsible adults are thrown in after him.

  3. curiousgyrl

    It impresses me how “sexy” the picture of frightened and starving young women is. Of course it is obvious, but sometimes i forget; your first and last tidbits are related. one important type of Sexy in our version of the patriarchy looks like a pubescent girl after undergoing torture. In order to be sexy, we are supposed to do this to ouselves.

    I cant upload photos here, but a 5 min perusal of google turned up many such images. I simply searched for “model.”

  4. yankee transplant

    Thanks for keeping our guard up, Twisty. Hope you’re feeling physically pretty well!

  5. nina

    Twisty, now I think you’re trying to get us all puking.

  6. CafeSiren

    I read the last article, and as a professional medievalist, I have to disagree with the authors’ calling this “medieval” slavery. The Middle Ages weren’t no picnic for women, for sure, but this sex-slaves-in-a-cellar thing is way beyond anything I’ve ever read about in my own dear M.A.

    You’ve come a long way, baby. ((heavy sigh))

    My implulse is to say that this is an aberration, an exception to the rule of progress for women; that the fact that these women are kept in cellars means that patriarchy has, literally, had to go underground to survive. But then I realize that the sick fucks who enslave these women wouldn’t do it if there weren’t a booming market for it. And *those* sick fucks (the paying customers) are walking around free, probably sleeping well at night, thank you very much.

  7. mythago

    “Beatrice Kitamula, 19, was forced to marry her wealthy neighbor, now 63, five years ago because her father owed another man a cow.”

    I’m trying to make a clever play on the buying a cow when you can get the milk for free thing, but it’s just not coming.

  8. TimT

    If I ever have kids, and one of those kids is a girl, then I’m going to do fight against prejudice by feeding her a cup of warm bacon lard every morning. Hey, it’s only fair.

  9. joy

    Notice how nowhere in the article did it mention the fact that clearly there’s a market, i.e. male consumer demand, for trafficked girls in the oh-so-enlightened UK? It was all about the victimized girls and the brave police officers who saved them and the ruthless Albanians who trafficked them. Nothing about the ordinary British guys who are clearly willing to pay to have sex with girls who’ve been shipped in from Eastern Europe.

  10. bitchphd

    Apparently prostitution isn’t the only option for young women in Eastern Europe–there’s also being used to pimp the game of chess.

  11. The Fat Lady Sings

    I used to think I would see complete equality for women by the time I shuffled off this mortal coil. Not going to happen, I fear. At least, I don’t see it coming to fruition in the next 40 years. In many ways we seem to be going backwards. America used to stand for global equality; and countries knew they had to tow the line regarding human rights violations or they would be off the handout list.

    Now, thanks to an administration who promotes Iraq’s new constitution despite its exclusion of women, and who seems to value profit over life; those countries in the world (including our own) who consider a woman as less than a cow feel free to indulge their misogyny without restriction. America will still foot the bill – as long at that country puts money in Bush or any of his cabal’s pockets – all will be forgiven. You all think its bad now? Just wait till the theocracy crowd gains more of a foothold than Kansas. Bye-bye women’s anything – the American Taliban will see to that!

    And Twisty – I do hope you are feeling a bit better. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way. Inadequate – I know; I wish I could offer something better.

  12. Sophie

    Just found this one : http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1652163,00.html

    If women show talent in a game that’s supposed to be based on intellectual skills, you should send them back to where they belong by judging them on their looks, of course, of course…

  13. jc.

    Prostitution is one lucrative criminal economy and human abuse (don´t forget male
    prostitution and exploitation) that could simply be eliminated by the customer just bysaying no, yet millions and millions and millions and millions of “normal” “honest” “responsible” men citizens of the world find nothing repulsive (well maybe they do, the whole sex is dirty religious enhancement thing perhaps) and strange about purchasing another human being. I can recognise many things and impulses foreign to my own (up until now) practices and morals but this I just honestly do not get and not just morally. C´mon assholes if you can`t find a sexual partner then masturbate or take a cold shower instead for christ´s sake!
    As normal consumers we´re already complicit in a daily international web of exploitation, crime and death of other human beings that is hard to easily recognise and not participate, in but the moral responsibilities and implications of prostitution is a no brainer. “Pretty Woman” give me a break.

  14. laughingmuse

    As to the last part of your righteous ire, Twisty, all I can think is, O God, O God….

    Some people wear the modern clothing and are techno-sophisticated, but are worse than what they would consider the “lowest” animals in reality.

    I can’t even think straight past that one.

    And CafeSiren, right on with the M.A. thing.

  15. laughingmuse

    p.s.

    Fuck the Patriarchy.

  16. Kelley

    Fat Lady, I’m completely in accord with your opinion. The growth of the wing-nut, evangelical American Taliban, and the concomitant implications for women’s rights terrifies me. Not to mention it pisses me off so badly I can’t sleep at night. So my question is, what the hell are we all going to do about it? I donate to various causes, including MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood and Naral. I sign petitions and contact my so-called representatives at all levels of government. I called/wrote/e-mailed Target, and told them to go fuck themselves. I quit going to my own physician because they denied me emergency contraception (bad move, since I’m an attorney).

    I’m so frustrated I can’t see straight. Despite all the work, all the donations, all the discussion, the forces of logic seem to be failing miserably. What the hell is happening here?? Does anyone have any suggestions on what else I can do???!!!

  17. AndiF

    Kelley,

    The most important thing we can do is to work to educate young girls about their rights and choices. I grew up in the 50′s with all its limitations for girls and women but I also had an aunt who made sure I understood my worth and that I didn’t have to let those limitations define me. So when I discovered feminism in the 60′s, it made perfect sense to me.

    Young girls get so many mixed messages about their place in the world; it can make a real difference in their lives when they get a clear message from someone that they trust.

  18. Kelley

    Andif,

    I agree. The young girl I have in mind is my own young niece, Kate Marie. My terribly deluded sister (who was brilliant, and gave up a graduate degree in biology to get married because her now-husband was afraid she would meet someone else in the “real world”, choke, choke) claims that upon giving said niece a tea set, she immediately took to it, pretending to “serve” her parents tea. Likewise the fact that she puts a doll to her own breast to nurse it (all at the tender age of two). My sister, (who was once an intelligent woman, having co-authored a research article as a mere sophomore in college) offers this as “proof” (despite knowing full well that anecdote is not proof) that there is no such thing as “social gender-role conditioning” and that gender roles are somehow innate. Ever looking to spread the good news, I pointed out that, au contraire, she was conditioned every day by watching her mother as primary caretaker, her female babysitters as caretakers, and the fact that the nursery staff in her church is comprised of exclusively females. Not to mention the fact she observes new mothers in said nursery breast-feeding their own children. What my sister failed to notice is that my niece is just as interested in her aquarium (marine biologist in the making?), her brother’s toys, and anything to do with animals (veterinarian, perhaps?). My plan is to gradually introduce her to feminist theory as she ages, in the hope that she will learn to think for herself.

    My earlier point, however, was that since women’s rights are being so utterly gutted, there may not be any rights and choices left for my niece. It could all be moot. How do we turn the tide? Nothing seems to be working!!

  19. AndiF

    My earlier point, however, was that since women’s rights are being so utterly gutted, there may not be any rights and choices left for my niece. It could all be moot. How do we turn the tide? Nothing seems to be working!!

    I think this is how you turn the tide — by making sure that there are many, many young women who will not accept the denial of their rights and choices. If you look at the voting percentages and then look at the number of young women who do not even vote, you will see that we could make a real difference in who gets elected at local, state, and federal levels if we could get more young women to be aware of and concerned about their rights.

  20. Kelley

    Hmmm. I can wrap my brain around that. Wrapping my brain around anything these days is an accomplishment in and of itself, given the assinine swing to the right our country/government has taken lately. In fact, it makes the role of happily unmarried, somewhat off-balance aunt all the more relishing.

    I’m still concerned about the immediate future, though. With the 2006 elections looming, it seems we are unable to break the stranglehold of the religious right on the executive and legislative branches of the government. It’s rapidly becoming a theocracy (hello, “Lemmon” test, anyone?) There are violations of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause everywhere, but no one seems to care. The level of apathy is astouding. I hate to say it, but I truly fear the upcoming elections will not help much. Not unless the centrist majority gets off its collective lazy behind (Which isn’t likely to happen since most people are too busy standing in line for the latest gaming system too worry about their civil liberties).

  21. Rene

    Speaking of pervs who enjoy fucking enslaved third-world children, I just read in the newspaper yesterday that Gary Glitter has been arrested in Vietnam for having sex with 12-year-olds. When will the NFL stop financing his pedotourism by playing that stupid song of his before every game? Without the royalties from that gig, he’d probably be just another washed-up English sicko; now he’s a washed-up English sicko who’s rich enough to rape little girls and get away with it.

    Rene

  22. The Fat Lady Sings

    Kelly – I also do everything you mentioned – and see precious little results. It is frustrating – especially when you see so many women and girls falling by the wayside. As Andif said, perhaps all we can do is lead by example. Inadequate, I agree; but there is no other alternative that I can see. It depresses me, frankly – this dismissal of woman in general prompted me to blog about it, as has Twisty – but all that does is spotlight the problem. You are in a profession that can greatly affect women’s lives. Perhaps you could consider speaking to High School and even Junior High or Elementary classes about just what it is you do. Most schools have career days; and open lectures are always welcome. I think a few boys could use the exposure as well. Perhaps listening to you might offer up an alternate view of women. Just a suggestion – like you, I feel as if I should be doing more, but am fresh out of ideas.

  23. Anonymous

    I wish men had to be rich before paying to rape children, but brown-skinned young life is very cheap these days. I used to work for a dickwad who took 4-5 trips to Thailand every year and brought back silver trinkets for us employees exclaiming, “Everything’s so cheap there!” as he handed them out.

    FYI, 25% of prostitution tourists to SE Asia are American men.

  24. curiousgyrl

    I’m glad somebody somehwere on the blogosphere is asking ‘what can we do?’ besides call/write/whine/donate/do things as indidviduals.

    I dont know the right answer. but I take issue with the idea that the best thing we can do is raise little feminists. My feminist mama raised me. I’m a feminist. What f*cking good does that do me? Granted, when I’m raped, at least I know what it is.

    No, the implicit idea there is that all we can do is our little individual behaviors until there are MORE feminists who can actually get together to DO something, presumably something political, and actually turn the situation around.

    To that I say, why wait? We, and your niece, could be doing something right now. We could be building new feminist organizations or joining existing ones. We could be holding meetings and actions. We could be electing feminist candidates. We coul be ….well–what? what do yall think?

    The right built its grassroots base by getting regular people like you and me, only godbaggish, to go and harass women at thier local abortion clinic/gynocologists office. This got people involved and made them feel like they are part of something. This simple step is the reason that old-whats-her-face didn’t make it on the supreme court, becuase SHE ISN’T MISOGYNISTIC AND RIGHTWING ENOUGH. What can we do that is like that–accessible to regular feminists all over the country that can build effective political power?

    Okay. Enough ranting. But much as I love the blognation, this is my biggest beef–I dont think people DO anything after getting all fired up here…

  25. Kelley

    FatLady,

    The bar association in my state does have a program for speaking to young people, but it is geared for recruiting future lawyers. I daresay they would quickly “dis-invite” me to speak were I to address my comments to the young ladies (which I would). However, that’s not to say I can’t do it on my own. The frustrating problem remains is that I have to fight my own family, who are either to stupid (geez, I hope not) or to lazy to try to comprehend the serious issues women in this country fact. Couple the growing insidious influence of the religious nutjobs, and their insistence upon making their patriarchal little mythology the law of the land, with the general political apathy in this country, and you see my cause for concern/sleeplessness/uncontrolled rage. After the theft of the 2004 elections, I sent repeated missives to not only the Democratic Party, but to MoveOn.org, asking basically the following questions:

    What happened?
    Why did it happen?
    Why aren’t you screaming/jumping up and down/challenging the election/contacting every foreign new agency on the planet about the second instance of election theft involving W?
    Where is your fucking spine? (although not in that exact language)

    I got no response. They completely ignored me. This despite my campaign contributions, responses to their petition drives, etc. What it boils down to is this: No matter how hard I fight, not even the grass-roots organizations seem to share my concern. Am I just being miffed and petulant to want answers to extrodinarily important questions?

    It seems no matter what I do, it’s not enough. (Of course, that could be cause the right-wing nutjobs are cheating.) I’ll never give up, of course, but I’m constantly frustrated. What else can I do???

  26. Kelley

    Twisty,

    What I actually meant to do today was send you good wishes and a picture of my gorgeous (nearly hairless) Cornish Rex cat, Minka, to prove that bald is indeed beautiful. Guess who forgot to bring her flashcard to work to upload said picture? I promise the picture tomorrow. Just don’t show it to Bertie. He’ll think you’re cheating on him :)

  27. curiousgyrl

    Move On is not a grassroots organization. it is a listserve. They dont have The dems …well, I wont state the obvious.

    A grassroots organization is something we at the grassroots have to build.

  28. curiousgyrl

    Move On is not a grassroots organization. it is a listserve. They dont have elections or officers or any of that=why would they care about petition signers concerns?

    The dems …well, I wont state the obvious.

    A grassroots organization is something we at the grassroots have to build.

  29. Anonymous

    sorry for the double trouble

  30. mythago

    My feminist mama raised me. I’m a feminist. What f*cking good does that do me?

    It means you don’t assist the patriarchy in your own oppression by doing the work for them, and you don’t shit on other women to please the guys, either. It means that you use the money and power you have instead of believing you don’t deserve either.

  31. Christopher

    There are two reasons for voter apathy that I rarely see addressed in progressive blogs:

    1. Many times the candidates don’t seem that different. Remember how Gore worked hard to make himself sound exactly like Bush? And how John Kerry was against gay marriage? If gay rights are important to you, and (To use a segragation era equivalent) you have a choice between the guy who thinks Blacks shouldn’t go to school and the guy who thinks blacks should have their own segregated schools, then you might just refrain from voting at all.

    2. We proles work hard for not a lot of money. I work 8 and one half hour days and my daily commute totals 4 and one half hours.

    That tends not to leave me a huge amount of free time. Now, I’m lucky enough not to have a lot of responsibilities, but if I had kids it would be a freaking nightmare.

    When most of your day is spent working a crap job, and stressing over the fact that you don’t have enough time to spend with your kids or enough money to afford school supplies and you might be getting sick but you really need to work overtime to get the bills paid… Well, the last thing you want to do with your free time is spend time researching a bunch of new crises you can’t really deal with.

    I wish sometimes that progressives would work harder to make joining the cause easier; For example, I keep hearing about how we need to do something about Darfur, but nobody ever specifies what, exactly, we should do. Do I just write up my Senator and say “I demand that you do something about Darfur”? Do I need to be more specific? Should I donate to a charity? How do I know they’re legit?

    You can find the answers to these questions yourself, but like I said, it’s hard for a person who lives a stress filled life to go out and deliberately seek out additional stressors.

    Well, these are my thoughts, anyway.

  32. curiousgyrl

    Thanks yall for responding. I think this is importat stuff.

    Of course I didnt mean Id rather not be a feminist or not have a feminist mama. But me being nice other women and personally standing up for myself is no strategy for protecting the few rights I have as a woman–reproductive, for example– or for gaining me any more (like an assumption of basic respect as a human). The rights we have were won through collective political action–and I don’t mostly mean voting.

    Which brings me to christopher. You are right that people work to fuckinig much and that is a big problem.

    BUT its not an explanation of apathy around the issues that are important to us. Plenty–or atleast enough–proles have been participating in the rightwing grassroots movement for the last 20 years to put those guys in power.

    I think the reason our team is apathetic is we dont know the answer to “what can we do?” beyond individual and usually symbolic actions.

  33. peacebug

    I note that the prison sentences for convicted people traffickers are, uhm, generally shorter than for drug traffickers.

    so one concrete thing we can do – in england or america or canada – is demand tougher sentences for this crime. and continue to shine a light on it and its manifestations. I find it criminal that the cellar girls would be returned home with no real support given to them to ensure they’re not kidnapped all over again.

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