Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Equality, Sexism, Violence, Misogyny, and You

I read an article, several really, about Anita Sarkeesian canceling a speaking engagement at Utah State because someone has issued threats that she felt are creditable for a mass shooting if the event occurred.  Let me be clear on this.  If she believes, as I assume she does from her actions, that the threat was real, then her action are completely rational, understandable, and right.        

I've been trying to think of a way to phrase this nicely.  But I can't.  Here it goes.  I spent the last few weeks working on a project about girls speaking out.  We heard real life stories about girls from around the world.  Stories of girls being forced into marriage.  Stories of girls who were raped and had nowhere to go. I remember hearing the story of a daughter of the Taliban being beaten to death by her father for talking with a man in the market place.  I hear these stories, and I am horrified.  We hear them, and are horrified.  And here's where the gloves come off.  We complain about what is happening on an international stage, and yet...  

Let me just say, as clearly as simply as possible.  When threats of violence are being used to silence women's voices simply because you don't like what she is saying...  This is *not* equality.  This is not progress on women's rights, on human rights.  This is a regression.  

I don't know how else or how clearly to say that silencing voices through violence, or the threat of violence, is a humans right issue.  And when the voices that are being silenced are female ones, that is misogyny - not even hidden misogyny, rather overt misogyny.  

I have heard the excuses: If you can't take the heat, stay off the internet.  And I think to myself - so what you're saying is that the internet is only for people who think and act just like you?  The internet is only safe for those you deem it safe for?  If this is not an act of silencing, I'm not sure what is.  Especially because this act seems to be levelled first, foremost, and most often on women. Anita Sarkeesian. Zoe Quinn. Felicia Day. Leslie Jones.  Randi Lee Harper. Candace Owens. Daisy Ridley. One in four women under 30. The list is too long to name all of them.

This has to stop.  One of the delegates at the UN said that "This was the work of our generation."  And she isn't wrong.  

So, here's the call.  What practical steps can we take, can you take, to end this culture of misogyny?  To create a world in which everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - to feel safe to speak - that is the work of my generation.  Let us leave this world better than we found it.  Let us leave this world better for those behind us.  Let us work together to create that world.

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