Last week, someone posted this little gem on Facebook:
Since last Friday, 1, 366 people "liked" this, and 2,772 people "shared" it with their friends. Of course, there were a few dozen people, myself included, who expressed responses ranging from disagreement to horror. But it seems like a drop in the bucket. A few people who felt strongly enough to say "No. It is not okay to compare a woman wearing a tank-top/bikini/whatever-screams-"immodest"-to you, to a pig rolling around in shit," versus the thousands of people voicing their approval, including many who advised the people dissenting to "calm down," "get a life," and most disturbingly "It's interesting. It's not unlike someone deliberately dangling fresh meat in front of a pack of starving wolves, and then getting mad at them, and condemning any of them that run up to take a bite."
At least in the original post, the women were still alive, acting/being pigs maybe, but alive. However, look how quickly the women were turned into "fresh meat." I'm most angered by the violent undertones of these kinds of comments. If you dress immodestly, you deserve to get attention from "pigs," you deserve to be "bitten" by "starving wolves." You deserve to be sexually assaulted. Many of the women who "liked" the post promised to use this in a future Young Women's lesson.
The excuse that this is just "Mormon Culture" and not "doctrine" isn't true either. In his April 2005 Conference address, Dallin H. Oaks compared immodest women to pornography."And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you."
Pigs. Fresh meat. Pornography. I'm not resorting to hyperbole to say that this breaks my heart. That it makes me want to take Clara and run in the opposite direction of whatever church tells my beautiful baby that she deserves to be mistreated, to be viewed as porn, based on what she wears. If I ever have a son, it breaks my heart to think he will be taught that this is how he treats women. That he himself is a "pig" or a "starving wolf" who cannot control his own thoughts or actions. It kills me that this is the world I am raising my daughter in, and yes, it kills me that many people around me don't understand.
I will not stop saying this: There is no such thing as "good" patriarchy. The church isn't the "exception" because once a year we tell women they are incredible. Everyone is hurt by inequality, everyone is hurt by patriarchy.
Thoughts like this will lead to violence against women. When we reduce women to objects, it is easy to hurt them. It is easy to justify hurting them, especially if they fight back. What right does pornography have to fight back? What right does the fresh meat have to refuse to be eaten?
A few weeks ago Anita Saarkeesian launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a series of videos about the way women are portrayed in video games. In response, she received threats of death, rape, and bodily harm. Her quote in response? “I have been running a web series on YouTube for a few years now that both deals with questions of sexism in the media and also has ‘feminist’ in the title, so I’m certainly no stranger to some level of harassment...I knew that delving into video games might provoke a bit of a misogynist backlash … [but] this level of organized and sustained harassment, vitriol, threats of violence and sexual assault in response to a project that hasn't even been made yet is very telling."
We live in a world where people who identify as feminist are used to being harassed for their beliefs. We live in a world where hundreds of people will threaten to kill you if you dare to question a misogynistic social norm. If they don't threaten to kill you, maybe they will threaten to excommunicate you.
The only good news? After posting about her harassment, she received over $120,000 in financial support for her project. Her initial goal was $6,000. We have allies, but we need to be willing to talk about the problem.
This is not the post I wanted to write today. I had a happy post about ways I see the church and society changing, the way women are changing our own destiny, the way the world will be better for Clara than it was for me. I believe that. But I also believe it isn't happening fast enough. It should have been better for me. It should have been better for you. Yesterday.
Anita Saarkeesian article.