Rarely has something made me chomp at the bit, and try and spill out on screen the anger, the sheer disgust that I feel at the rampant sexism that is being condoned and perpetuated. This week however, a combination of world events and news items have made me take to my laptop in angry defiance of a world gone mad.
It started with a video clip that surfaced of the Presidential hopeful, Mr Donald Trump. By this time, almost everyone (unless you are living under a mushroom) has heard the obnoxious and nauseating remarks he made about women, secure in his power, wealth and celebrity. This “locker room talk” had him cavalierly discussing how he could force his attentions on any woman, and not be rebuffed. This was a man who displayed zero respect for the female species, regarding them as playthings set upon earth for his consumption and entertainment. His own daughter was not spared, as he declared he would date her if she was not his offspring. A misogynistic megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur. Just what the world needs right now!
Then came the news article of Ched Evans’ acquittal. For those who are not aware of this case, Ched Evans is a footballer who was accused of rape by a 19 year old waitress. Four years ago, this inebriated woman had sex with his friend, and Ched invited himself over to this party. As per her claim, she blacked out, and had no recollection of giving consent to this menage a trois. At first, sympathy lay with her, and Ched was prosecuted. On appeal, however, this conviction was overturned. Why? Because the judges allowed details of the young woman’s past sexual behaviour to be introduced in court. At which point, the jury determined that Ched Evans was not guilty of rape. Never mind that he took advantage of a drunk woman, while ostensibly engaged to be married to another. In an even stranger twist, it was his fiancee’s family’s money and clout that ensured the admission of new evidence. Here was a woman who stood by her man, no matter how repugnant his actions were.
This brings to mind the case of Brock Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer, who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. This shining star was given a six month sentence in prison for what his father claimed was “20 minutes of action”. He was released in September having served just three of those six months. In the meantime, his victim serves a life sentence filled with fear, hurt and degradation. Justice served?
Finally, the last headline to emerge from Egypt was from an Egyptian law maker, Elhamy Agina, who claimed that female genital mutilation is needed because Egyptian men are ‘sexually weak’. So if a woman’s sexual appetite were to be reduced through this brutal practice, she would be better equipped to stand by her man. What is FGM? Female genital mutilation involves the removal of the clitoris, inner-and-outer lips of the vagina, and the sewing or stapling together of the two sides of the vulva leaving only a small hole to pass urine and menstruate. Typically FGM is performed with a razor blade on girls between the ages of four and 12, traditionally without anaesthetic. The primary purpose of FGM is to inhibit sexual pleasure in women, but it comes with severe complications like excessive bleeding, infertility, urine retention and can prove lethal. It has no medical justification whatsoever.
Isn’t it ironic that men from all walks of life, all cultures and all strata of society seem to think that a woman’s body is theirs to control? That a woman need not give consent, and does not deserve any sexual gratification of her own.
Not all men are brutes, and not all women are Madonnas. Yet the power balance is decidedly skewed in favour of the male species. It is time to reiterate that a no means a NO! It isn’t a yes couched in a flirtatious, teasing negative. That a woman must verbally consent to having sex before a man proceeds, and that she has every right to withdraw her consent at any time. That being drunk and vulnerable is not a free pass to be violated. And lastly, mutilating a woman, physically, mentally or emotionally is nothing but a sick power trip, a bastion of the weak and cowardly.