Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Women's Issues

Despite my best attempts to appear disinterested and aloof, I would actually confirm that women's issues are important to me. After all, I am a woman, and a highly opinionated one at that. Since devoted partner has shown a waning interest in my post-Law and Order: SVU tirades, I thought I'd widen my audience to talk about this recent news tidbit that has my proverbial panties in a bunch.

Let us dispense with the obvious: rape is horrible; there is no excuse for rape; no one should be raped; people who rape other people belong in jail. Have I covered my bases? Good. Let's move on, shall we?

Once upon a time, New York City was considered a dangerous place. People disembarking from elsewhere were to be on their guards or suffer the violent consequences. As a result, many many people were wisely suspicious. Since the city became one of the safest big cities in the country, it seems to me people have become lax in the common sense department. This woman, who is a victim, showed remarkably poor judgment and I think there should be some significant acknowledgment of that.

Issue #1: The woman in question is 27. Not a 16 year old runaway, nor a wide-eyed recent high school grad coming to make her way in the big city. This person is a grownup (I would also take the other two examples to task for their decision making, but I think it's important to highlight that this person is a de facto and de jure adult). While searching for an apartment she discovered that a strange man she had never met wanted her to live for free in exchange for cooking and cleaning. Yes, I know New York is expensive, but did nothing about this "free lunch" strike her as OMGDANGERDANGERDANGER?

Issue #2: Let's pretend that this arrangement seemed normal to her. How about when he offered to buy her plane ticket? Had she never watched a Law and Order, or CSI, or any crime show ever on television? Does she not have the internet? Or cable? Or, I don't know, access to a newspaper? I know she's from Wisconsin, but people keep telling me that just because a person doesn't live in New York, that person isn't doomed to ignorance. Does she not have family or friends who said to her, "are you out of your ever-loving mind? You are so totally going to be raped and likely murdered by a psychopath!" Or how about, "this sounds really really suspicious. Give me all this man's information and make sure you call me as soon as you get there to let me know everything is ok, or I'm going to call the police because if I don't hear from you withing three hours of your plane landing, you are likely dead." (Come to think about it, why didn't this happen?)

Issue #3: He let her leave the house to go to work! Now, I know that if the woman had gotten this far she was probably so mortified by her own words-can't-describe stupidity that she might have been embarrassed, but I would wager a little embarrassment is preferable to returning home to your rapist and the handcuffs he hooks you to the radiator with.

Words like empowerment get tossed around to the extent they mean very little now, but the woman's issue that is most important to me is making women less f#$%@%@3ing dumb. There is no excuse for this having happened (which doesn't excuse the perpetrator). None whatsoever. This is a case of someone being so irretrievably stupid that she risked her life for no reason. And I don't know where this stupidity comes from, but this is not an isolated case. Whatever the disadvantages of being the second sex, there must be some way to make women smarter. At least smart enough to not get into these kinds of situations. Violence against women can't be solved merely by making women smarter, but it can make THIS PARTICULAR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN go away. Everything she did was stupid. EVERYTHING. And it makes me very very very ALL-CAPS mad.

And what really gets me is that this kind of story detracts from women victims who couldn't have prevented their victimization. This is a great story: salacious, tv-worthy (for the record, at this point in time if you are a poor woman from a developing nation and you DON'T KNOW that if you accept free illegal passage to this country, you are coming to be a forced prostitute, you are stupid too). Victimized women whose stories are more heartbreaking and less glossy get forgotten.

I'm sorry Miss Wisconsin had such a horrifying experience moving to New York, but Miss Wisconsin did everything in her power to ensure the horrifying experience. She did nothing to prevent it and now she'll probably get a book deal. For being stupider than your average urban 6-year-old who knows not to accept candy from strangers.

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