The theme for this year’s IWD, according to this web page, is The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum, but according to the UN it’s “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”. Confusing, but no matter – both themes are important and necessary.
I recommend this TomDispatch essay by Rebecca Solnit (with an introduction by Erika Eichelberger). It’s a comprehensive, shocking overview of just some of the cases of violence against women in recent times. It’s also the best article I’ve seen in a long time, just as a general overview of what women are up against. Do read the whole thing, as a much better contribution than I could possibly make on the subject of feminism and violence against women.
The feminist blogosphere still skews to the US a great deal. Unlike the US, we haven’t had the VAWA act to debate, but with the death of Jill Meagher and other cases the debate (and sadly it’s still a debate) about rape and violence has been given a new momentum in Australia.
I’ve been happy to see new Gen-Y feminist organisations spring up, enabled by Facebook and Twitter: Destroy the Joint, the Everyday Sexism project and Melbourne Feminist Action, as well as (mainly in the US I think) the Atheism+ movement. I’ve been delighted to see my own new-minted adult daughter and niece become active themselves. I haven’t been so happy to see the attempts by older writers, as well as antifeminists, to tear them down. Yes, they’ll reinvent some wheels, they’ll make mistakes, but things like the #DestroyThePoint hashtag are just smallminded and point-missing in themselves, I think.
It’s so easy to be pessimistic, seeing the old arguments deployed again and again by the antifeminist and MRA element, as well as people commenting on the media who simply haven’t done the homework and refuse to do so. But 2012 was a year where I definitely got the impression that we were making some progress on rape culture, namely, turning it onto the rapists instead of the time-honoured focus on the raped woman. There’s a ray of optimism there: it looks like the point is finally getting across. When the young physiotherapy student was raped and murdered on a bus in Delhi, old and young people took to the streets with clear messages placing the responsibility on men who rape. Meanwhile, back at home, the high profile of the Jill Meagher case was an opportunity to educate the Australian media on this point. If I ever have a granddaughter, my wish for her would be that she’d see rape culture as a pathetic historical detail of our 20th- and-early-21st century culture. For the first time in quite a few years I think this is gaining traction.
Dreamin’? Maybe. Anyway, thank you, young feminists, and the older ones as well.