Do you challenge everyday misogyny and ‘rape culture’?

In today’s guest blog post Miriam David explains why the need to challenge every day misogyny and ‘rape culture’ is more relevant and necessary than ever…

Miriam David’s book Reclaiming feminism: challenging everyday misogyny publishes today! For more details and to get your copy click here.

Miriam David

Miriam David

Unexpectedly driving down Park Lane, London the other day, I witnessed a most horrifying larger‐than‐life sculpture – the white marble nude body of a young woman draped over a muscular man’s bronze hand and arm.

What better evidence of ‘everyday misogyny’ and the objectification of women’s bodies and its violent treatment?

I was astonished to note its location behind Buckingham Palace Gardens and not half a mile away from Parliament and Trafalgar Square.

But on reflection, this area of real estate is prime for neo‐liberal international property developers, not known for their critiques of gender relations but currently raping London’s properties.

Call girls and escort agencies

In trying to google the sculpture, the first replies that came up were call girls and escort agencies. There was only mention of it being ‘a ghastly piece of kitsch’ by Will Gompertz, arts editor of the BBC. It is, in fact, by contemporary Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn, fifth son of actor Anthony Quinn and purportedly inspired by such masters as Michelangelo, Bernini and Rodin!

The claim from the Halcyon gallery in which it was originally exhibited, is that ‘Quinn identifies the square and angular world with the male sex, whilst he attributes the rounded and circular world with women’!

“..the 21st century socio‐political culture has barely shifted around gender relations..”

Debate still rages about placing a statue of a suffragette in Parliament Square to commemorate the achievement of women’s suffrage not yet a hundred years on. These contrasting and contested representations of women indicate that the 21st century socio‐political culture has barely shifted around gender relations, despite all the efforts of feminist and other political campaigns. This illustrates the argument of my new book Reclaiming Feminism: Challenging Everyday Misogyny perfectly.

Contradictory and complex

I review the achievements of successive generations of feminists in challenging what we used to call patriarchy (the rule of the fathers) and what has come to have a more sharply defined focus on everyday sexism (discrimination against women) or everyday misogyny (violent attitudes and behaviour towards women). I show quite what a contradictory and complex process of social change we have undergone and still experience with quotidian examples.

As an activist academic feminist, I argue that despite all the changes in the international or global political economy and moves towards women’s involvement in higher education these issues are starkly in focus on university campuses around the world.

“..we have a strong woman feminist candidate for US Presidency and yet sexual assaults and rape culture remain endemic..”

So we have, for example, a strong woman feminist candidate for US Presidency – Hillary Clinton ‐ and yet, at the same time, sexual assaults and rape culture remain endemic on campuses around the world.

In the book, I discuss several recent examples of this both from the UK and the USA. I read of another high profile case of a Stanford University student convicted of sexual assault last week, as I was penning this blog.

Back in 2015, a young woman graduate decided to go to party with her sister on Stanford campus. Twelve hours later she woke up in hospital, having been raped behind a dumpster whilst unconscious. The young man had fled the scene but was caught by some other students.

‘20 minutes of action’

Later, when prosecuted, he admitted the sexual encounter but argued that it was consensual. He was found guilty of the sexual assault and before sentencing his father wrote in his defence of ‘20 minutes of action’ that might ruin his life. The judge accepted this plea and gave Brock Turner a lenient six‐month sentence.

The victim’s ‘ruined life’ by having been violated, socially and psychologically damaged was not considered equally or even respectfully, illustrating dramatically how ‘everyday misogyny’ is still not properly addressed whether on university campuses or elsewhere.

The work that international feminist academics have undertaken to reveal the extent of ‘rape culture on campus’ has not been taken seriously by university administrations. It is now seen as a sideshow to the ‘real business’ of neo‐liberal universities.

“Nothing is done to…confront student rape culture”

Indeed, whilst feminist work has been vitally important to opening up debate it is undermined and devalued by how it is used to ‘sell universities’ to international (wealthy) students. Nothing is done to deal with unequal gender relations between academic staff, or to confront student rape culture.

For example, recently the London School of Economics (LSE) appointed the film star Angelina Jolie as a ‘visiting professor’ from the beginning of the academic year 2017. The film star’s many roles have led to her ‘teaching a course on the impact of war on women’.

This will be part of a new MSc on Women, Peace and Security and the first of its kind. The aim is to develop ‘strategies to promote and enhance women’s economic, social and political participation and security’, with visiting professors giving lectures, participating in workshops and undertaking their own research (sic).’

Eminently laudable

Indeed, all of this sounds eminently laudable, especially developing international gender equality work, and putting violence against women and girls (VAWG) on the international political and higher education agenda. I argue that this has been achieved by international waves of feminists in both academia and as activists, over the last fifty years.

But the particular example, illustrates the fact that gender equality has been taken over by neoliberalism, undermining all its radical potential and zeal. The feminism that is currently on the public agenda is a sanitised and watered down version of what we campaign for. Misogyny is an everyday occurrence, although we resist and are not engulfed by it.

#reclaimingfeminism #everydaysexism #everydaymisogyny

Reclaiming feminism [FC]Reclaiming feminism: Challenging everyday misogyny is available to purchase from the Policy Press website here.

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1 Response to “Do you challenge everyday misogyny and ‘rape culture’?”

  1. 1 PivotMarkets 口座開設 December 10, 2016 at 12:37 pm

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