The deck always stacked

Clementine Ford explains the double bind that women are caught in. We’re taught a long list of don’ts that are all about rape-avoidance. If we get raped or otherwise assaulted or abused anyway, we get scolded for recklessly disobeying the Don’ts List. (Have you ever noticed how the Don’ts List is a kind of abstraction of purdah and hijab – or how purdah and hijab are still with us in the form of all these don’ts? Of course you have; it’s obvious.)

The great irony is that women, chided as we are for behaving as if we might have the right to move through the world like autonomous adults, are also punished whenever we take overt and declarative steps to actually enforce the preventative measures expected of us. A good example of this comes in a recent news story detailing the Mother’s Market in the Indian province of Manipur. Dating back to the 16th century, the market is reserved solely for the use of women and acts as a safe and sexual harassment free zone for local women to gather, commune and do their shopping. Despite being established by women as a means of taking back control of their safety (as we’re so often directed to do), it’s still treated by far too many people as some kind of misandrist nightmare in which the men of India (and by extension, the world) are subjected to horrifying sexism and exclusion.

Gee – why would women and girls in India want safe zones? I just can’t imagine. It must be pure unmotivated prejudice against men.

The deck is always stacked against us. Do the ‘wrong’ thing, and we’ll be blamed for being silly enough to invite risk. Take preventative measures (and worse, talk about what those measures might be), and we’ll be blamed for lumping all men into the same box and perpetrating equal if not greater sexism against the poor, beleaguered blokes out there who don’t deserve to all be tarred with the same brush by feminists who are probably just upset no one wants to fuck them.

It’s our own fault for being women.

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