?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Violences · Against · Women


freedom . fear . loathing

Recent Entries · Archive · Friends · Profile

* * *
I've come into my feminism the past several months, and spend a lot of time discussing and educating on violence against women and rape culture through my podcast.

I've talked victim blaming, slut shaming, VAWA and more. Please check it out if you like ipmNation.com/noboundaries

and I look forward to adding to the discussion!

btw, tonight I talk about the lovely biological female anatomy 10:30pm ipmNation.com/noboundaries

* * *
If you find these entries intriguing and would like to turn this into more of a community dialogue, please join the group and post what you think and find if relevant. Thanks to everyone who helped, commented, and inspired this! Props to Dr.B for making this a possibility.
* * *
* * *
Self inflicted violence comes in many forms. It is easily recognized that cutting into one's skin is causing physical harm and can lead to death, but so too can unhealthy dieting, drug abuse and neglect in care. The psychic damage it can cause is the most dangerous. If one doesn't value their life, then they might neglect nutrition, or smoke, or abuse drugs, etc, because they are not concerned with their lives ending sooner than they could. So things like unhealthy habits that they are aware of, could be attempts at prolonged suicide, where one is not even fully constant consciously awareness of the decision, but made it already and has accepted it and moved on, aware of it but purposefully ignoring it.

The following is a clip from Margaret Cho's performance "I'm the One That I Want," which I think illustrates this point very well.

If you want to skip the joke that doesn't have to do with the subject matter here, wait for it to buffer all the way and skip the first half. This is the end of her show where she ties together many of the experiences she's been through that she explained through the show. She was a star of a sitcom where she played herself but was told that she needed to lose weight; her show was cancelled so she felt she was a failure; she experienced racism throughout her life; a producer was going to make her screenplay a movie if she slept with him, and she met with him and he attacked her. If you want to see some of the background (specifically on the violent effects of the pressure on her to lose weight) before you watch the end, see the last two clips before you watch this one.




from earlier in the show when she explains how pressure to lose weight affected her:
(with the first one, it starts about halfway in if you want to skip ahead)





* * *
Understanding Violence Against Women
edited by Nancy A. Crowell and Ann W. Burgess
  

Sourcebook on Violence Against Women
edited by Claire M. Renzetti, Jeffry L. Edleson, and Raquel Kennedy Bergen
  

Running from the Rescuers: New U.S. Crusades
Against Sex Trafficking and the Rhetoric of Abolition
Gretchen Soderlund
  

Defining Violence
edited by Hannah Bradby
  

Gender, Race, and Nation: A Global Perspective
Vanaja Dhruvarajan and Jill Vickers
  

Securing Afghan Women: Neocolonialism, Epistemic Violence, and the Rhetoric of the Veil
Kevin J. Ayotte and Mary E. Husain
  

The Violent Matrix: A Study of Structural, Interpersonal,
and Intrapersonal Violence Among a Sample of Poor Women
Susan E. James, Janice Johnson, Chitra Raghavan, Tessa Lemos,
Michele Barakett, and Diana Woolis
  

Tragic Kingdom
Just a Girl 
No Doubt
  

www.dictionary.com 
  

www.wikipedia.com 
  

North Texas Daily
www.ntdaily.com 
  

Rethinking Violence Against Women
edited by R. Emerson Dobash and Russell P. Dobash
  

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls
Mary Pipher
  

No Woman's Land
directed by Charlene Hughes & Lena Glover
  

Unifem
www.unifem.org
  

Amnesty International
www.amnesty.org
  

The War Against Women
Marilyn French
  

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women
Susan Faludi
  

Never Too Thin: Why Women are at War with Their Bodies
Roberta Pollack Seid
  

The Will to Violence: The Politics of Personal Behavior 
Susanne Kappeler:

  

Women of Juarez & Senorita Extraviada graphics http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2002/senoritaextraviada/getinvolved.html
you can get these graphics inspired by the film to put on your websites to spread awareness of it, as well as see more resources for things that could be done.
  

The F Word: Feminism in Jeopardy
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner
  

Women and Globalization
edited by Delia D. Aguilar and Anne E. Lacsamana
  

UNT FMLA's Candle Light Vigil for women subject to unsafe abortions
Blair Butler
  

Behind Every Choice is a Story
Gloria Feldt
  

A Question of Choice
Sarah Weddington
  

The Rosie Jimenez Project pamplet
  

Sex and Destiny
Germaine Greer
  

Violence and Gender Relations: Theories and Interventions
edited by Barbara Fawcett, Brid Featherstone, Jeff Hearn and Christine Toft
("Women and Violence: Commonalitites and Diversities by Jalma Hanner
  

Quotes about clients of the Texas Equal Access Fund by Gretchen Dyer
  

Sex Selective Abortion in India
Fred Arnold, Sunita Kishor, T. K. Roy
  

Evidence mounts for sex-selective abortion in Asia.
SB. Westley 
  

Fat Click
Ashley Hardinger
  

The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women
Naomi Wolf
  

Women and Dieting Culture: Inside a Commercial Weight Loss Group
Kandi Stinson
  

Killing Us Softly 3
Jean Kilbourne www.jeankilbourne.com
  

When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies
Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter
  

Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics 
George Ritzer
  

Femicide in Global Perspective 
edited by Diana Russell and Roberta Harmes

* * *
* * *
There is no simple solution to the complex problems of violence(s) against women. However, it is extremely important to work to figure them out and act on them to end it. 




EQUALITY

The most overarching solution that should be pretty obvious, is what feminism strives for. Equality between women and men. Working for equality, thus, is working toward an end to violence against women. Get involved in your local feminist organizations, raise awareness about inequality, raise your own awareness, take women's studies classes, join and promote campaigns for equality and the end of violence against women. 

UNT FMLA www.fmlaunt.org and/or www.myspace.com/fmlaunt 

VDay
www.vday.org and http://www.myspace.com/vmunt  
Want to help out with the UNT campus campaign? Make a painting for the art show, sign up to volunteer, table at an event, come to stitchn'bitches to make merchandise, spread the word. Through this campaign awareness about violence against women across nations is raised. All proceeds go toward organizations dedicated to ending violence against women and helping those affected by it.





SUPPORT WOMEN AFFECTED BY VIOLENCE

Support local shelters and their efforts to help women and children in the area flee and heal from violence, as well as raise money for their aid, and awareness to the community. Though some argue this doesn't prevent roots of violence, it can help stop violences from continuing.
http://www.dcfof.com/volunteer.asp



       


END POVERTY

One of the largest areas equality would help end violence against women is poverty, since it is a cause of much vulnerability.

“In the end, the most effective way to correct the post-divorce inequities between the sexes is simple: correct pay inequality in the work force. If the wage gap were wiped out between the sexes, a federal advisory council concluded in 1982, on half of female-headed households would be instantly lifted out of poverty. “The dramatic increase in women working is the best kind of insurance against this vulnerability,” Duncan says, observing that women’s access to better-paying jobs saved a lot of divorced women from a far worse living standard. And that access, he points out, “is largely a product of the womens’ movement”(Faludi 25).

If women didn't have to deal with poverty, they wouldn't be forced into positions where they have to choose what they wouldn't if they had real freedom. This includes staying with violent partners, working in terrible conditions where they're highly vulnerable to harm and violence, and (in some cases) having abortions, among other things.



          


CHANGE MASCULINITY

Another solution that keeps resurfacing in my mind is the extreme necessity of a radical change in the way men are socialized. This seems to be where real hope lies. Men commit an overwhelming majority of violence, on women and men. If we end violence committed by men, most violence against women will end. Perhaps, violence, period, would end.
How do we do this? Though small, some movement toward this end has started. There are organizations and campaigns dedicated to it. We can support and spread the word about these. We can volunteer to raise awareness about it. We can volunteer to mentor and talk to boys about it. Though culture is a very touchy thing to mess with, if this change could take place world-wide, it would be revolutionary.



Locally, you can get involved with UNT's Men Against Violence - http://orgs.unt.edu/mav/

Please visit this site http://www.stopviolence.com/domviol/menagainst.htm for more links on resources for the movement to end men's violence.

 




PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

Don't be neglectful of violence. Don't perpetuate hate or violence. Do something when you see that it is going on if you can. Don't laugh at or make jokes that make light of violence against women. Don't laugh at or make sexist jokes. Talk to people you know. Spread the word.




                   
HOLD GOVERNMENT & AUTHORITIES RESPONSIBLE

Pressure authority to enforce policy already in place that would end violence against and help women affected by violence.
Lobby for policy that would better serve to protect women and prevent violence against them.
Pressure authority to join organizations and contracts that do this. Start or sign a petition for the US to sign CEDAW.
Support groups that work toward this.

http://www.womenwarpeace.org/ 

http://www.amnesty.org/

                    


Amnesty International's recommendations for Juarez:

- The federal, state and municipal authorities must publicly recognize and condemn the abductions and murders of women in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua and stress the dignity of the victims and the legitimacy of the relatives' efforts to obtain truth, justice and reparations.

- The state and federal authorities must ensure that prompt, thorough, effective, coordinated and impartial investigations into all cases of abduction and murder of women in Chihuahua state are carried out and given the necessary resources.

- The federal government must urgently address society's demand regarding who has jurisdiction to investigate the abductions and deaths of women in Chihuahua state so that effective, quick and thorough investigations backed up with resources, experts and the full cooperation of all other authorities can take place.

- The State must establish an urgent search mechanism so that, in the event that a woman is reported missing, a criminal investigation can be opened under the supervision of a judge with full powers to determine the whereabouts of the missing person and to follow up any relevant leads in order to determine whether an offence has been committed.

- Any negligence, failure to act, complicity or tolerance on the part of state officials in connection with the abductions and murders of women in Chihuahua state must be investigated and punished. Any state official suspected of committing serious human rights abuses such as torture or covering up abductions must be removed from his or her post pending the outcome of an impartial investigation.

- The federal, state and municipal must allocate sufficient resources to improving public safety in the state and preventing violence against women in the community, including by installing lighting and setting up security patrols.

- The Mexican State must ensure that the maquilas meet their legal obligations to their employees, with special emphasis on the physical, sexual and mental wellbeing of the female workers.

- The authorities must ensure that, in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, defenders of women's rights and relatives' associations who are working to put an end to violence against women can carry out their legitimate work without fear of reprisals and with the full cooperation of the authorities.

- The authorities must implement the international recommendations addressed to Mexico since 1998 by the Special Rapporteurs of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations, as well as by the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, all of whom have studied the cases of the women from Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua.

- The authorities must implement the international recommendations addressed to Mexico since 1998 by the Special Rapporteurs of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations, as well as by the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, all of whom have studied the cases of the women from Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua.

Above from

http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR410272003



* * *
* * *

“The definition of a problem determines the solution that are considered” (Defining Violence 1).

The Governor of the state of Chihuahua in Mexico said recently that international attention on the situation in Ciudad Juarez is damaging the city's public image. The purpose of Reyes Baeza's comments is unclear, but such statements in the past have had the effect of undermining families and local NGOs seeking justice.
To say that it is international concern, and not the situation in the region, that is damaging the city's image is very clearly wrong-headed. Ciudad Juarez has a reputation for violence and brutality against women -- not because of international concern -- but because of the reality and the institutional failures to deal effectively with this reality. http://news.amnesty.org/index/ENGAMR410072005
 
in the first few years after the abductions and murders began, the authorities displayed open discrimination towards the women and their families in their public statements. On more than one occasion the women themselves were blamed for their own abduction or murder because of the way they dressed or because they worked in bars at night. A few years later, in February 1999, the former State Public Prosecutor, Arturo González Rascón, was still maintaining that "Women with a nightlife who go out very late and come into contact with drinkers are at risk. It's hard to go out on the street when it's raining and not get wet".(2)
http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR410272003


------------------------------------------------------

“The literature on rape prevention includes strategies for rape avoidance and rape resistance, which are considered by some—particularly in the criminal justice field—to be prevention through reduction of opportunity. Rape avoidance entails strategies to be used by women to minimize their risk of sexual assault. These strategies include avoiding dangerous situations, not going out alone at night, keeping doors and windows closed and locked, and other precautions to be taken by women. Although these avoidance techniques may reduce a woman’s risk of being sexually assaulted by a stranger, it is not clear they would reduce acquaintance attacks (Koss and Harcey, 1991). These strategies are also criticized as restricting women’s activities and as potentially placing the blame on women who are sexually assaulted for not taking adequate precautions (Brodyaga et al., 1975, as cited in Koss and Harvey, 1991). The extent to which a woman chooses to use any particular avoidance strategy may depend on the importance she attaches to the perceived costs and benefits of the strategy (Furby et al., 1991). An emphasis on rape avoidance may actually increase the fear of rape (Koss and Harvey, 1991). Furthermore, avoidance strategies may do little to lower the overall rate of sexual assault; they may simply displace the assault from one potential victim to another." (Crowel et al., 98)


Wheels get squeaky when something’s wrong with them- they rust or are out of line, something is missing or damaged or destroyed. They get that way because of neglect, misuse, or accident. It would be ridiculous to assert that the cause of the problem that’s making the wheel squeak was the noise itself. But that’s what people do every time they blame survivors of rape or violence or sexual harassment and those that stand up for them.

 

Rape whistles cause rape like fire extinguishers cause fire.


------------------------------------------------------

Recently, researchers have come up with a memory pill to help victims of violence by lessening the harshness of their memory.

video
http://cbs5.com/video/?id=14409@kpix.dayport.com

accompanying article http://cbs5.com/30minutes/local_story_174200318.html

article

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2004/03.18/01-ptsd.html 

This doesn't work to help stop any problem, but many argue it may make the harm done by rape, assaults, and other traumas less outrageous.

-------------------------------------------------------

These "solutions" are not going to stop violence against women.

* * *
* * *

“The total figure of women who die unnecessarily—felled not by disease or accident, but by men’s purposeful policy—cannot be estimated. If this figure referred to a religious, ethnic, or racial group, we would be using the term “genocide.” What can we call this?” (French 118)

 

Femicide is the killing of females by males because they are female (Russell 3). Femicides are the most extreme form of misogynist violence against women. (7). There is a popular conception that woman killing is a private or pathological matter. “When men murder women or girls, the power dynamics of misogyny and/or sexism are almost always involved (3). “Femicide is on the extreme end of a continuum of the sexist terrorization of women and girls. Rape, torture, mutilation, sexual slavery, incestuous and extrafamilial child sexual abuse, physical and emotional battery, and serious cases of sexual harassment are also on this continuum. Whenever these forms of sexist terrorism result in death, they become femicides” (4).

 

20 states in the U.S. have passed legislation that criminalizes hate crimes based on gender and/or sexual orientation, but misogynist murder of women haven’t been prosecuted as a hate crime (4).

 

There are countless examples of femicide. The women of Juarez are one. Most of the entries in this blog are aspects of violence and misogyny that could end in femicide. This word and subject needs to be in the consciousness feminists and popular discourse.





For more on femicide, pick up Femicide in Global Perspective edited by Diana Russell and Roberta Harmes, available at the UNT library

* * *



“The beauty industry may seem the most superficial of the cultural institutions participating in the backlash, but its impact on women was, in many respects, the most intimately destructive—to both female bodies and minds” (Faludi 203).

 

“The contemporary ravages of the beauty backlash are destroying women physically and depleting us psychologically” (Wolf 19).

 

Women’s sense of self, and their relationship to themselves, is extremely intimate and private. When women commit violence on themselves it is usually caused by psychological problems. Women and girls internalize misogyny and standards of femininity that can be very harmful. When affected by a violence, psychological trauma can happen and depression can result. Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and self-destructive behavior. For the remainder of this entry I’m going to refer to the phenomena surrounding the extreme value of women’s appearance, their relationship with themselves, and the problematic representations of them, as “body image.” It’s a complex issue and could use a better word because of all that it encompasses; however there isn’t one I have come across, except “this phenomena” which is just as abstract.

 

It breaks my heart when women question themselves because of their appearance. It’s such a depressing thought. I didn’t get the job, I was ignored, she said no, he broke up with me, they didn’t like me. Was it because I’m fat? And what’s even sadder is that it’s possible that the answer could be yes. And that shouldn’t be. “Negative attitudes are related to negative behavior, which can profoundly restrict the life chances of those who are overweight. In a review of the literature, Cash and Roy (1999) find substantial evidence that overweight people encounter frequent discrimination in education, the labor force, housing, and treatment by others” (Stinson 5).

 

I think one of the worst cases of the effects of body image that I’ve seen was a woman who had actually attempted suicide and had problems with being suicidal because she was so miserable because of how she was treated and felt about herself for being fat. How can anyone miss that there’s something fundamentally fucked up in society when women are suicidal because of fat? 

This affects adolescent girls disproportionately, because of puberty. "Cross-culturally, from birth, girls have 10-15 percent more fat than boys. At puberty, male fat-to-muscle ration decreases as the femal ration increases" (Wolf 192). That fat is part of women's bodies makes fat hatred an aspect of misogyny. "Generally girls have strong bodies when they enter puberty. But these bodies soften and spread out in ways that our culture calls fat. Just at the point that their bodies are becoming rounder, girls are told that thin is beautiful, even imperative. Girls hate the required gym classes in which other girls talk about their fat thighs and stomachs. One girl told me of showering next to an eighty-five-pound danver who was on a radical diet. For the first time in her life she looked at her body and was displeased. One client talked about wishing she could cut off the roll of fat around her waist."" (Pipher 55)

 

Representation, invisibility, and messages, in our culture, from other people, industries and the media, help make up this phenomenon. Representation can cause vulnerability to harm, and is extremely important in this subject.

 

This problem has some of its roots in capitalism. Body image is overwhelmingly used to sell things to women. “The formula the industry has counted on for many years—aggravating women’s low self-esteem and high anxiety about a “feminine” appearance—has always served them well. American women, according to surveys by the Kinsey Institute, have more negative feelings about their bodies that women in any other culture studied” (Faludi 202).

 

TV not only sends messages that perpetuate the phenomena obliviously or subliminally—they do it straight & outright –and over and over again and condensed- in commercials- which are constantly repeated. LOSE WEIGHT NOW! LOSE INCHES! SO EASY! MELT FAT! GETTING THINNER IS THE POINT OF YOUR LIFE! YOUR VALUE IS BASED ON HOW THIN YOU ARE! HATE YOURSELF MORE! IT WILL MAKE YOU BUY! BUY BUY BUY! KEEP BUYING! DON’T STOP! YOU’RE STILL FAT! TAKE THIS PILL!

 

Research by Harvard Medical School found that teenage girls in Fiji had an increase of using vomiting to control their weight by FIVE TIMES after television was introduced to the island 1. There is no denying the fundamental impact that cultural and media images and standards has on young women. Very similar to this, in Bangladesh, sky rocketing rates of eating disorders manifested after 18 months of satellite TV from US went from miniscule to 80% of girls under 15. The state got rid of satellite and the eating disorders went away. (Lecture notes, Berger 2006)

 

Naomi Wolf explains that a danger of not adhering to the strict beauty standards is invisibility. “Few can bear being treated as if they are invisible” (Wolf 259).

 

Watch some of the following clip to understand more about representation and the effects it has on women and violence against them.

 

 

 


Much of the harm caused in this area is Epistemic.

 

In many of the books available on the problem of the strict standard of beauty and the implication of it to women, explain how popular discourse equates it with health. They all conclude with overwhelming evidence that health does not equal beauty or thinness, and most ascertain that "when poor health is correlated to fatness in women, it is due to chronic dietying and the emotional stress of self-hatred" (Wolf 187). It is just one more institution that perpetuates the oppression and hatred of women’s bodies. Body image has been perpetuated by many institutions, even religion. In at least one diet book that looked at it through a religious lens, fat was equated with sin. “It explained that “ ‘God really made us all thin, except for the glandular cases, and that if our bodies really are to be temples of the Holy Spirit, we had best get them down to the size God intended.’ Associations between godliness and control of appetite were hardly new: Gluttony had been regarded as one of the Seven Deadly Sins since Early Christianity. What was radically new was that the “sin” had shifted from appetite to body size itself. Fatness was a worse sin than gluttony. Indeed, the glutton who stayed thin did not seem gluttonous. The idea that God had intended everyone to be a certain size—thin—allowed weight-loss efforts to be viewed as a holy quest, a fulfillment of God’s design” (Pollack Seid 107).

 

The pressure to be thin has become intense. Pipher attributes this to three things:

moving away from communities of primary relationships in which people know each other to cities full of secondary relationships. In a community of primary relationships, appearance is only one of many dimensions that define people… In a city of strangers, appearance is the only dimension available for the rapid assessment of others. Thus it becomes incredibly important in defining value. Secondly, the omnipresent media consistently portrays desirable women as thin, thirdly, even as real women grow heavier, models and beautiful women are portrayed as thinner… Girls compare their own bodies to our cultural ideals and find them wanting. Dieting and dissatisfaction with bodies have become normal reactions to puberty. Girls developed eating disorders when our culture developed a standard of beauty that they couldn’t obtain by being healthy. When unnatural thinness became attractive, girls did unnatural things to be thin…. Not only do girls dislike their bodies, they often loathe their fat. They have been culturally conditioned to hate their bodies, which are after all themselves… the social desirability research in psychology documents our prejudices against he unattractive, particularly the obese, who are the social lepers of our culture… By age five, children select pictures of thin people when asked to identify good-looking others… Studies report than on any given day in America, half our teenage girls are dieting and that one in five young women has an eating disorder… Eight million women have eating disorders in America (Pipher 183-185).

 

“This phenomena propels women to diet and to spend their lives in the futile quest for power through physical transformation. It causes women to focus on their bodies at the expense of their lives. And it makes women resist the incontrovertible evidence that dieting is futile and dangerous.” (Hirschmann x).

 

In 2005, a woman named Terri Schiavo received much public attention over the controversy over her situation. She had suffered from bulimia, which caused healthy problems that caused her to fall into a vegetative state for 14 years, in which she was kept alive with a feeding tube. Her husband fought to let her die, and her parents fought to keep her alive. “We see the role that patriarchy, compulsory heterosexuality, and the heterosexual imaginary played in Teri Schiavo’s life and fate. We see a woman’s body to which both her husband and her parents claimed ownership. And we discover that her life was fatefully shaped by her desire to conform to the patriarchally inspired heterosexual imaginary of the beautiful—read “thin”—woman who marries and lives happily ever after. The pursuit of this goal left to her fatal eating disorder. She had understood that what she as a woman had to offer was a thin body—even if it killed her” (Ritzer 212).

 

The side effects of body image is harm to women in multiple areas, largely psychic, but also physical. Below are Mary Pipher’s explanation of the eating disorders bulimia and anorexia.

 

“Bulimia is the most common eating disorder in young women. It starts as a strategy to control weight, but soon it develops a life of its own. Life for bulimic young women becomes a relentless preoccupation with eating, purging and weight. Pleasure is replaced by despair, frenzy and guilt. Like all addictions, bulimia is a compulsive, self-destructive and progressive disorder. Bingeing and purging are the addictive behaviors; food is the narcotic.

Over time young women with bulimia are at risk for serious health problems: Often they have dental problems, esophageal tears, gastrointestinal problems and sometimes dangerous electrolytic imbalances that can trigger heart attacks…” (Pipher 169)

 

“Anorexia is a problem of Western civilization, a problem for the prosperous. It is, to quote Peter Rowen, a question of “being thirsty in the ran.” Anorexia is both the result of and a protest against the cultural rule that young women must be beautiful. In the beginning, a young woman strives to be thin and beautiful, but after a time, anorexia takes on a life of its own. By her behavior an anorexic girl tells the world: “Look, see how thin I am, even thinner than you wanted me to be. You can’t make me eat more. I am in control of my fate, even if my fate is starving.” Once entrenched, anorexia is among the most difficult disorders to treat. Of all the psychiatric illnesses, it has the highest fatality rate. .. The word “anorexia” implies an absence of hunger, but in fact anorexic girls are constantly hungry. They are as obsessed with food as any starving people. They have many of the physical symptoms of starvation—their bellies are distended, their hair dull and brittle, their periods stop and they are weak and vulnerable to infections. They also have the psychological characteristics of the starving. They are depressed, irritable, pessimistic, apathetic and preoccupied with food.” (Pipher 174)

 

Naomi Wolf writes about the extreme dangers of the implications of Surgical Age to women in this environment of extreme valuing of appearance. “A woman in a shelter for battered women once described her legs to me as “all one bruise, like they were covered with purplish tights.” … a woman who had had liposuction used a similar image. What needs to be explored are not the mutilations, but the atmosphere we now inhabit that makes them make no difference” (Wolf 251-252).

 

“Following the orders of the 80’s beauty doctors made many women literally ill. Antiwrinkle treatments exposed them to carcinogens. Acid face peels burned their skin. Silicone injections left painful deformities. “Cosmetic” liposuction caused severe complications, infections, and even death. Internalized, the decade’s beauty dictates played a role in exacerbating and epidemic of eating disorders. And the beauty industry helped to deepen the psychic isolation that so many women felt in the ‘80s, by reinforcing the representation of women’s problems as purely personal ills, unrelated to social pressures and curable only to the degree that the individual woman succeeded in fitting the universal standard—by physically changing herself” (Faludi 203).

 

“As long as young women are spending time worrying about externally defined standards of beauty, their mental energy, and time, are being taken away from creating political change, and electoral action, to break the external, mainly unattainable, standards that confine” (Rowe-Finkbeiner 71).

 

“ ‘Beauty’s’ pain is trivial since it is assumed that women freely choose it. That conviction is what keeps people from seeing that what the Surgical Age is doing to women is human rights abuse. The hunger, the nausea, and surgical invasions of the beauty backlash are political weapons. Through them, a widespread political torture is taking place among us. When a class of people is denied food, or forced to vomit regularly, or repeatedly cut open and stitched together to no medical purpose, we call it toruture. Are women less hungry, less bloody, if we act as our own torturers? (Wolf 257)

 

 

 

1. “Sharp Rise in Eating Disorders in Fiji Follows Arrival of TV,” Harvard Medical School Office of Public Affairs News Release, May 17, 1999; http://www.hms.harvard.edu/news/releases/599bodyimage.html  

* * *
* * *
This entry is a narrative from a woman affected by many kinds of violence, and how they are compounded. There are cycles of abuse, and many women fall into them. Childhood psychological, physical, and sexual abuse and violence can and does lead to more psychological damage and intrapersonal violence, which help may be absolutely necessary to end, and when those in the place to help do not, the violence can continue and get worse due to poor "help" that perpetuates hatred. The hatred of fat people is a problem that needs a much closer look. This experience sheds light on how violences (sexual, physical, psychological, epistemic and intraviolence, to name a few) are complicated and perpetuated when authorities which are set up to help and protect do just the opposite by neglect and perpetuation of misogyny and other hatred, in this case, the hatred of fat women. This narrative is extremely personal in nature, and was collected from Ashley's own writing on it when she realized the injustice and extreme vulnerability to (if not itself) violence it caused to her. It is her story, and therefore in her words and format. There is language usage and obvious anger, so if you are easily offended beware. This is a narrative so is not put out to debate, but to exemplify the real experiences women have with of these kinds of violences.

IVE GOT IT IT HAPPENED I FELT IT ITS THERE. THE CLICK.

It’s there. That click, that fucking click that happens deep down inside of you, in a place you didn’t even know you had. It just snapped and it is feeding all my frenzy, controlling the words that debouch from my mouth, which at this point in time seems too small to convey the enormous amount of anger, rage, realization that wants to come out. I have tried, for so long I have tried to get it but it never came, it never came because I have never been this fucking angry about it. DEAR GOD IT”S THERE NOW AND EVERYONE WILL KNOW IT. You get fed up, you get sick of it, anger, you want revolution and my god you will get it if it’s the last thing you do. I felt it. I feel it. My fat click. It is here now and I’ll be damned if I don’t fucking hold on to this right now. Because, right now, this is all I have.

This is the anger I have denied myself for twenty years.

I used to be extremely, extremely depressed. It was terrible; I do not have the vocabulary to describe to you how deep my self hatred ran. I wanted to die. Please, do not take this phrase so lightly. I was 17 and I was ripping apart my flesh so badly I needed 17 staples in one cut alone. I wanted death, I wanted out, my mom had to knock a cup of bleach out of my hand, right out of my fucking hand, I was crying, and screaming, I thought she was gone and I was in her room where she kept it and I had the glass, full, to my lips and I was just crying and crying and crying and screaming and I had it inches away from my face and she walked in and she smacked it right out of my hand and started screaming at me. All I could focus on was the blood dripping down my arms from self mutilation, my mother’s words were wasted on me as the bleach crept down the wall.

 My mother tried to help out. She tried dragging me to a few counselors, but this one in particular…this fucking one counselor who accepted my free health care, she didn’t care. She didn’t care that I had ugly carved on my stomach, that my dad had kicked the shit out of me physically, but even more damaging, mentally, she didn’t care that an old man had stuck his greedy ass fingers down my pants for a year when I was FIVE YEARS OLD, she didn’t CARE because she never ASKED. There are REASONS WHY children do this to themselves. But did she fucking care? NO.  She never attempted to dig around, find out where all my self hatred and loathing sprung from. She knew. She already knew the answer to all of my problems, it was so simple. You know what she told me to do? Do you have any idea? She told me, she fucking told me, a trained counselor told me I’d have to loose weight. Loose some weight.

DO YOU UNDERFUCKINGSTAND WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

Do

You

Understand

What

Just

Happened

?

I’m over here cutting the shit out of my body, (never realizing until it was too late that people would notice, because I never considered that before. I never stopped to think that people would actually look at me, since I couldn’t even look at myself) I’m ripping my flesh apart and pouring cups of bleach and crying nonstop and screaming and taking a bat to my walls and looking up pictures of dead children and this FUCKING BITCH TELLS ME TO LOOSE SOME FUCKING GODDAMN WEIGHT.

Do you understand the extreme fat hatred of this country? Do you understand how seriously fucked up that was, and how much more fucked up I was after that? Do you understand that this all happened to me when I was a child? I was 17 and at that age, that young and impressionable age I was exposed to something much, much worse than anything that had happened prior to that. I was exposed to a prejudice in a form so sick and twisted and maniacal, so common place yet completely overlooked, that my own mother found nothing wrong with it. I was denied help. I was told that everything bad that had happened to me was in fact not the problem what so ever. The problem was my size. The real issue here was the fact that I was fat. I was denied sound mind, compassion, I was denied help because some lady didn’t like the way my chin doubled up when I cried. She couldn’t stand the roundness of my stomach. The way my boobs aren’t as high or as perky as they should be. I disgusted her. I had to change. I had to right my own wrongs and my wrongs were the disgusting shapes I made my body take.

The fact my dad kicked the shit out of us when we were young, the whole year MY ASSISTANT KINDERGARTEN TEACEHR molested my class, anything else that might have added to my complications and hang ups – none of that mattered. Loose some weight and those things will work themselves out.

 I NEEDED HELP AND SHE, SHE TOLD ME TO LOOSE WEIGHT. I HAD SOME FUCKING REAL FUCKING PROBLEMS AND SHE TOLD ME TO STOP BEING ME, TO STOP BEING FAT. I’m so angry right now. I love me and I love my fat and how dare you, how dare you try to cure major depressive disorder with weight loss? I feel like I’ll never be able to convey my disgusts...

Fuck you, fuck you FUCK YOU I am fine the way I am. I am perfect the way I am. I am more than my weight, and my weight? It’s perfect. For me. It’s what I’m suppose to be at and by god I’m not going to bow down to some fascist standards. If you want to live your life hating your stomach or your boobs or your arm fat or your thighs, if you want to live in some shallow false reality, go right the fuck ahead, but don’t you ever, ever tell me to. Don’t you ever, ever impose your brainwashed bullshit on me.

* * *

Forced abortion, sterilization, population control policies such as China’s “one child” policy, and sex selective abortion are all denial of women’s reproductive freedom.

 

"Provisional estimates from the 2001 census of India, which showed unusually high sex ratios for young children, have sparked renewed concern about the growing use of sex-selective abortions to satisfy parental preferences for sons. According to the 1998–99 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-2), in recent years the sex ratio at birth in India has been abnormally high (107–121 males per 100 females) in 16 of India's 26 states. Data from NFHS-2 on abortions, sex ratios at birth, son preference, and the use of ultrasound and amniocentesis during pregnancy present compelling evidence of the extensive use of sex-selective abortions, particularly in Gujarat, Haryana, and Punjab. The authors estimate that in the late 1990s more than 100,000 sex-selective abortions of female fetuses were being performed annually in India. Recent efforts to expand and enforce government regulations against this practice may have some effect, but they are not likely to be completely successful without changes in the societal conditions that foster son preference." (Arnold, et. al)


"In Korea, China, and Taiwan--countries where son preference persists--the availability of prenatal screening techniques and induced abortion has produced an imbalance in the naturally occurring sex ratios of 104-107 male births for every 100 female births. Policy responses to sex-selective abortion were the focus of a 1994 International Symposium on Sex Preference for Children in the Rapidly Changing Demographic Dynamics in Asia sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund and the Government of the Republic of Korea. Modern technology (i.e., amniocentesis, ultrasound, and chorionic villi sampling) enables couples to control both family size and sex selection. According to data from the 1990 Korean Census, 80,000 female fetuses were aborted from 1986-90 as a result of son preference. In the late 1980s, the Governments of Korea, China, and India imposed bans on the use of medical technology for prenatal sex determination, but many observers maintain that regulations have served only to make the procedures clandestine and more expensive." (Westley)

"Worried by a huge burgeoning population in a country in which only a small percentage of the land is arable, in 1980 Chinese authorities limited couples to one child. Agricultural output doubled by 1986, yet- mortality rates increased--maily because the people were killing female children. The Chinese (like most people in the world) prefer boys, and baby girls were being aborted, killed at burth, or dying from neglet.The female-to-male ration declined drastically. By 1982, one village in Hupei province had 503 boys and 100 girls under the age of one. Wuhan, one of China's largest cities and so under more immediate government control, had 154 male to 100 female children under one that year...
In trying to control population growth, both the Chinese and Indian governments concentrated mainly on women, sometimes forcibly sterilizing or aborting them. One understands the need to limit population, but the form used to do so is discriminatory. This may not be immediately apparent because we are so used to state control of female reproduction. Population control can be gender neutral, as when China taxes or fines urban families for producing more than one child or industrial states penalize prolific couples indirectly by raising standards of care and the cost of providing it" (French 117).

 

This happens in many more countries around the globe.

 

Another aspect is forced abortion by employers and miscarriages caused by harsh working conditions.

 

Women must have reproductive freedom to have any freedom at all. They must have control over their bodies, not others or systems.

This issue needs to be explored more. I propose that it is violence against women to force them to have abortions, cause miscarriages with terrible conditions, or sterilize them without their consent.

* * *
* * *

Previous