Sunday, July 07, 2013

How we 'Other' Sexual Assault to Ignore our own Norms of Abuse

The Guardian (UK)
Sanaa Saeed
July 7, 2013.
Is rape used to bully women out of the public forum in Tahrir? Yes. But does Egypt have a monopoly of sexual violence? No
The culture of sexual violence and harrassment, in Egypt, has received considerable media attention, often highlighting the efforts of groups such as Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault, HarassMap and Tahrir Bodyguard as people-powered initiatives tackling sexual violence and harassment head-on. Despite this, it is apparently still difficult to have an honest discussion over why it happens.

On 5 July, US author Joyce Carol Oates (whom I know primarily from her having never written this) decided to join in with the sea of insta-Egypt Twitter experts and opined:
Despite the brevity of "Oatesgate", the rhetorical question of a well-respected literary figure highlights popular characterizations of sexual violence and harassment when it takes place elsewhere. Rarely does sexual violence and harassment in our own societies – as it is perpetrated, prosecuted and cultured – allow the sort of cultural reductionism that seems to come with ease when sexual violence is associated with "the other".
When a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern is brutally gang-raped and beaten in Delhi, we speak of "India's woman problem"; when an incapacitated 16-year-old student is raped, photographed and filmed for six hours by peers – who share the images on social media – the incident is treated as an isolated act of unfortunate deviance and not part and parcel of a larger endemic culture that normalizes rape and the appropriation of women's bodies as public property.

Child groomers of Muslim and South Asian backgrounds become cultural ambassadors raised on a steady diet of "savage" notions of sex embedded in anti-white biases and misogyny. Revered coaches and university administrations hiding decades of child sex abuse, on the other hand, become their own victims.

Thus there are no protests, no calls of a "woman problem", no "natural" inquiries into the predominant religion when a country has ranked 13th in the world for rape, 10th for rapes per capita (pdf) and where 26,000 military service members reported sexual assault in 2012 alone. There are no popular anthropological undertakings by stiff-haired anchors of the inner secrets and dark forces of American culture, religion and society. No white American woman asks why the white American male hates "us".
 Read the rest here.
Comment: It is so convenient for the West to pretend that Muslims and Islam are predisposed to misogyny, rape, and violence against women.

It helps those who still think it is their duty to save the savages from themselves to believe they actually have the moral high ground.

This article punches holes in that nonsense.


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