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Why Is It Always The Girl’s Fault?

*This post deals with harsh subjects involving violence against women such as rape. I apologize to anyone who cannot read or finish reading this. My goal with this post is not to shock, or make offensive statements about anyone who may come across this. I’m not that blogger. I only seek to inform.*

 

“Why is it always the girl’s fault?” This is what Miss Moneypenny asked me once when we were having a conversation about how women are treated when they were either single and  pregnant or in some cultures (Ours included.) victims of rape. In many cases the onus of both rape and single motherhood rests squarely with the woman. We were both bothered by this train of thought. There are those who believe that many sexual activities that occur to women’s bodies happen in a single-occupancy vacuum.

Even in the black church I’ve seen single mothers having to stand in front of the church to ask “forgiveness” or such because they became pregnant out of wedlock. I’ve always wondered where the father of the child she was carrying was. Why wasn’t he with the mother of his child in front of the pews filled with onlookers? Putting a young lady in that position always came off as judgmental to me. Sure many in the pews may actually have empathy for the young woman while others probably didn’t. The entire process just seemed devoid of modern human kindness. Deep down I often wished that the young lady would have just said like “F*ck off!” “Go to hell!” Or something else flippant and timely to those that she stood in front of. Those, to whom she was to ask forgiveness from –her peers, and family.

When a woman is raped in this country and others, her sexual past is put out via the court system by the defense and sometimes the media as a measuring stick of some kind of worthiness. It’s a worthiness that indicates she is to be believed (Or not believed.) and treated as a victim and not just irresponsible, immoral, and loose. Like the young lady standing in front of the church I often wished that the victim, after receiving adjudication in her favor at the hands of the state would do the same, only this time directing it at the defense attorney(s) who called her statements, life, and struggle into question.[i] Causing flash bulbs to roar to life and causing the stenographer to smile as she pounded on the keys recording the entire thing making it available in the public record for all time.

Many of y’all may be wondering why Keith Young has become a feminist all of a sudden or why am I even writing about this in the first place. Well this morning I read a story on The Atlantic’s website by Habiba Nosheen & Hilke Schellmann about a young Pakistani woman named Kainat Soomro who was kidnapped and raped four years ago in Karachi at the age of 13. Kainat’s father tried to get his daughter’s assailants arrested but the police just didn’t seem to care. She was a just a girl who was raped. Surely, even at the age of 13 she did something wrong.

Communities in Pakistan are just like those anywhere else in the world. Each has a street committee that has the uncanny ability to spread the “news”, truthful or not, of all events no matter how secret they may seem. After the news reached the tribal elders, Kainat was supposed to stand and be judged. This statement about the elder’s declaration from the article stood out to me for various reasons.

“According to the Kainat family’s account, the tribal elders declared her Kari, (which literally means black female), for losing her virginity outside marriage.”[ii]

 

This is where the story takes another turn. In the Middle-East acts of illicit sex are often punishable by death. These deaths are referred to as “Honor killings”. Often carried out at the hands of family members, honor killings, and are supposed to cleanse the family name by killing the perpetrators of said dishonorable act. According to Robert Fisk or the UK’s Independent, over 20,000 honor killings occur yearly. Kainat’s father and the rest of her family refused to have their loved one judged by their hand or anyone else’s, defying the cruel tradition that is honor killings. Instead the Soomro family is seeking justice for the crime committed against Kainat.

Now pariah’s, the Soomro family is in the gripe of poverty because they did the right thing. By refusing to murder his little girl Kainat’s father and the rest of his family essentially told their detractors, who are equipped with medieval notions as to what is right and wrong to “F*ck off!”[iii]

Good for them.

Vaya con Dios.


[i] As you can tell I revel in opportunities to tell people to “F*ck off!” Only to those who deserve it, naturally.

[ii] I have so many issues with the use of the phrase “Kari” as you can see means black female. I know the color “black” has always been used as a designation for all that’s bad but using a word that means “black female” to equate to losing one’s virginity pre-marriage just seems overly harsh. If ever there was an overhanded slight toward black womanhood. Even when sisters aren’t around they still catch hell.

[iii] Am I judging another culture? Damn right I’m judging!

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18 responses to “Why Is It Always The Girl’s Fault?

  1. I have so much, yet so little, to actually say.

    But I will say:

    When I was reading that post about gun violence over at VSB, I was thinking about how most black women are only 1 degree removed, if at all, from sexual violence.

    Also, my first understanding of the oppression of women came in a black baptist church full of people I love(d). There’s soooo much happening there. When I became an adult, I stepped out and will never step back in. I will continue to respect it and other people’s decision to participate from an arm’s length away.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Sexual violence is a plague. There’s not rationale for it. We know how dangerous it is in America, think of women in either Congo, or Afghanistan? There are truly some messed up people out there.
      The blame placed on women who must “apologize” in front of the church always bothered me. It has never made sense to me that in the one institution where people shouldn’t judge and here they are judging. It just doesn’t feel right.

  2. wow.

    where to start.

    my background: i studied criminology and sociology. i also volunteered at sexual assault crisis line.

    oh. im also a girl.

    you’ve hit on so many things in this post….and 1st kudos. most men wouldn’t touch this subject with a 10 foot pole. The Good Men project actually covered violence against women/rape culture last week. Some good reads over there.

    it does bother me to no end, that women are solely responsible for being a mom, but there is never any disgust on a man for being an out of wedlock dad. we make jokes about antonio cromartie, but his ‘baby mamas’ are mocked for being stupid for having a baby by a dude with multiple babies and mothers strewn across the country.

    1 in 4 women will experience a sexual assault in her life time. that means out of your mom, sister, cousin and girlfriend…ONE OF THOSE WOMEN WILL BE SEXUALLY ASSUALTED.

    94% of cases of unreported. why? for the exact reason you mentioned. the criminal justice system and society at large, still believe that it was the woman’s fault and she didnt work hard enough to prevent it. or that with multiple one night stands in her history, she is no longer able to say no since she’s so promiscuous. GTEFOHWTBS.

    the worse part is that no matter how educated you are – you never think it can happen to you. and when it does, you wonder how it happnened. no one can shame you more than a victim shames herself.

    recently here in toronto, a police officer alluded to that if a girl dresses like a slut, then what should she expect. what i love about it is that instead of just being angry on the sidelines, it’s started a movement called slutwalk. im ashamed it needs to exist, but proud that a grassroots movement is now worldwide. if the police who are paid to protect and serve in a north american city feels that way… no woman is safe ANYWHERE.

    there was a move with jodie foster that i saw on tv as a kid (the accused) and honestly, it made me so sick to my stomach and i’ve never been able to watch it again.

    last year, (again here in toronto), a homicide shook people. a young girl was killed by her father and brother (with the complicity of the mother). why? because she was caught in the middle of 2 worlds. her parents were from south asia, traditionalists. wanted her to wear the hijab. she lived in a big multicultural city, went to a gender mixed public school and like any teenage girl wanted to rebel. it wasn’t even about sex in this case, just about wanting to live life as a canadian, which her parents clearly brought her here to have. i remember reading about it and a lady mentioned that they need to be stopped called honor killings, as there is NO honor involved. and i wholeheartedly agree.

    great post.

    • Like I told Chunk the onus of the pregnant being the problem of the mother just bothers me. Cromartie… dude is a punch line to a terrible joke. The fact that he’s not aware (or doesn’t seem to be aware) of the fact the he is making himself, the mothers of his kids, and his kids look like fools is amazing. That interview from last year when he couldn’t remember all of their names was so telling.

      The airing of dirty laundry then places a black cloud over the victim. When that defense is used it reeks of an unspoken train of thought saying “That’s how they are.” It kind of reminds me of To Kill A Mockingbird when Tom Robinson, a black man was put on trial for rape. This time the state basically said “That’s how they are.” It speaks volumes when people say stuff without saying stuff.

      I’m sure police everywhere think like that. When members of the organization paid to take care of you think you don’t rate, then how can you possibly feel safe. The slutwalk really shouldn’t be necessary but some modern attitudes just aren’t that modern.

      The name “honor killing” is such bullsh*t. The victim that you wrote about sounds like she was just stuck. Her parents and brother need to get life. I can’t imagine doing anything to one of my sisters in the name “honor”. Sadly I bet the brother could do anything he wanted too. That’s why I had to give props to the girl in Pakistan’s parents for doing the right thing. Sadly, we won’t see or hear about it on the news… just magazine articles.

  3. Wow. I hadn’t heard of that case, however kudos to the the father & the family. Kudos to them for not bowing to societial pressure & norms. Reading that passage, really pissed mee off. This lil’ girl was raped, and they wanted her killed to restore honor to the family??! Ugh. I’m forever thankful on a daily basis that by circumstance I was born & reside here in the US. It could easily be this woman in my shoes, and I in hers. Oh yeah, I’ve never been to a church where ladies have to get up and subject themselves to public ridicule. Another friend told me about this practice, however I’m glad that I have never witnessed it. I don’t think I’d be able to hold my peace, that’s for damn sure.

    • I read about it this morning. It’s sad that the entire family has to suffer because they actually defended the little girl’s honor in the true sense of the word. I first heard about honor killings after the Afghanistan invasion. I read a few stories about the Taliban and company committing atrocities against girls who wanted to do nothing but become literate. I’ve seen girls have to go before the church before. I think it rarely happens now a days. If that were the case I would assume a lot of young women would just stop going.

  4. wow, Wu. this is a pretty heavy piece. great write-up.

    i think the most obvious reason for why women are ridiculed and “blamed” for pregnancy (in particular) is because it literally shows. for 5 or so mos, a mother cannot hide the child growing inside of her (ok ok, ive heard stories of women being pregnant and no one knowing–even her–until the baby pops out but work with me here…). so its easy to point the blame because often times the mother cant deny her motherhood. men on the other hand can run and hide and aside from bearing a close resemblance to a child, doesnt HAVE TO face the reality of having children unless he chooses to be present.

    its not right, its not ok, but thats life, and there are many ppl who are ok with that (women included!). women are held as both sacred beings–because of our ability to bear children–and the devil’s mistresses. our bodies can be used and exploited (say for rape or prostitution) and then turned right around to be shunned and persecuted as a result.

    like miss t-lee, i’m glad i was born in this country. im glad i have parents who would be willing to stand up for me if i was a sexual assault victim or if i was a single mother. im glad i belong to a church that is loving and accepting of its congregants. im glad i was raised to know my worth. i just hope i can raise my future daughter to know the same.

    • Thanks Gemmie!

      Yeah, women carry the burden because they literally carry the burden in pregnancy. Ain’t sh*t fathers can throw the proverbial rock and hide their hands.

      The duality of being sacred beings and the devil’s mistresses (That would really should be the name of a female hip hop act, rock group, or soft ball team … something. Rollerderby perhaps.) puts y’all into a very odd space. A commodity for giving life on one hand and on the other a vice for the gratification of men. You’re right that both can lead to severe ostricization.

      I can see miss t-lee’s point. Geography is a blessing sometimes. (That holds true within the United States also.) The parents having their daughter’s back said so much. If I had a daughter who was pregnant I’ll be damned if she apologized to the church. We’d also find a new church. It does come down to being raised to know your worth. With the example of the single mother and the church and the honor killings I come to the same conclusion- There are a lot of old school and sometimes dark aged mentality when it comes to women.

      It’s funny you brought up “knowing your worth” because on my way to work this morning I drove by one of Charleston’ s projects and a group of elementary school-aged girls were waiting on on the bus and they were in a circle just popping it like they were on a video. The tragic part was two women who were old enough to know better (Whatever the f*ck that means anymore.) were standing near them watching them do it.

  5. That would really should be the name of a female hip hop act, rock group, or soft ball team … something. Rollerderby perhaps.

    LMBO!!! dont give me any ideas. every sports team im a part of is co-ed but i could make this the name of my circle of close lady friends here in pittsburgh (i keep trying to come up with a name for us).

    seeing young girls so eager to pop their developing bodies makes me sad. not because they are aware of their sexuality, but because i think thats all many of them believe they have to offer. like, they gotta booty pop to get attention, instead of using their brains and personal charm to win other’s favor. smh so sad…

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This whole topic just makes me rage so hard, but I always love running across someone else who gets it.

    I grew up a conservative, Midwest Catholic, so there was no parading of single moms to the front to apologize for what they had done. However, the “it’s always the girl’s fault” attitude was so pervasive from my mother while growing up and still emanates from her, even though I am happily married in a blended family (I am formerly a single mom, if that clarifies anything). I could bore you with details upon request, but its not really relevant to what I want to say.

    When I was single and pregnant, I got some serious attitude from acquaintances – things they would say to imply that I didn’t know enough to use birth control (for the record, I was on birth control and it was an accident), or that because I wasn’t happily married I should get an abortion. (Hello: this is the flip side of “my body, my choice”. If you respect one side of choice, then respect mine.) Never mind that there was a guy there every time – didn’t get pregnant by myself! Seriously though – take (lots of sex) multiplied by (fertile young woman), divide by (failure rate of birth control) and you have to expect that your number may come up some day. I certainly did, so for me it wasn’t as catastrophic as many people around me expected it to be. Apologies if that’s TMI.

    And don’t even get me started about how people reacted (or, rather, didn’t react) to my first marriage, where he was abusive and unfaithful (in short – you name it, happened). Boring details available upon request.

    Anyway, my overall point is that yes, I’ve seen the blame-the-woman thing up close and personal, and it’s almost enough to turn me into an anti-social, man-hating lesbian. Almost. Thanks again for understanding the issue and spreading the word.

  7. Bravo! Super sensitive subject for me but I will say I did not report my assault because I was afraid the court would try to turn it on me and I could not take the risk. Good job goonmaster

  8. Great post! It reminded me of case that I worked where a 10 year old girl was molested by a 17 year old. She was referred to me for therapy because she tried to kill herself. Here I thought that she tried to kill herself because of the abuse, but she tried to kill herself because everyone in her family was calling her all types of sluts. Talk about a pissed off therapist…

    It’s crazy how people only place blame on women for getting pregnant. The scary thing is how these messages are indoctrinated in children by an early age. I’ve got 12 year olds crying about how some girl called her a ho. It’s extremely shameful that women are also doing this to other women.

  9. Pingback: Random Thoughts: My Favorite Sh*t of 2011 | Up Here on Cloud 9

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