Two weeks ago a man in France was arrested for raping his daughter. She’d gone to her school counselor and then the police, but they needed “hard evidence.” So, she videotaped her next assault. Her father was eventually arrested. His attorney explained, “There was a period when he was unemployed and in the middle of a divorce. He insists that these acts did not stretch back further than three or four months. His daughter says longer. But everyone should be very careful in what they say.” Because, really, even despite her seeking help, her testimony, her bravery in setting up a webcam to film her father raping her, you really can’t believe what the girl says, can you?
Everyone “knows” this. Even children.
Three years ago, in fly-on-the-wall fashion of parent drivers everywhere, I listened while a 14-year-old girl in the back seat of my car described how angry she was that her parents had stopped allowing her to walk home alone just because a girl in her neighborhood “claimed she was raped.” When I asked her if there was any reason to think the girl’s story was not true, she said, “Girls lie about rape all the time.”
She didn’t know the person, she just assumed she was lying.
No one says, “You can’t trust women,” but distrust them we do. College students surveyed revealed that they think up to 50% of their female peers lie when they accuse someone of rape, despite wide-scale evidence and multi-country studies that show the incident of false rape reports to be in the 2%-8% range, pretty much the same as false claims for other crimes. As late as 2003, people jokingly (wink, wink) referred to Philadelphia’s sex crimes unit as “the lying bitch unit.” If an 11-year-old girl told an adult that her father took out a Craigslist ad to find someone to beat and rape her while he watched, as recently actually occurred, what do you think the response would be? Would she need to provide a videotape after the fact?
It goes way beyond sexual assault as well. That’s just the most likely and obvious demonstration of “women are born to lie” myths. Women’s credibility is questioned in the workplace, in courts, by law enforcement, indoctors’ offices, and in our political system. People don’t trust women to be bosses, or pilots, or employees. Pakistan’s controversial Hudood Ordinance still requires a female rape victim to procure four male witnesses to her rape or risk prosecution for adultery. In August, a survey of managers in the United States revealed that they overwhelmingly distrust women who request flextime. It’s notable, of course, that women are trusted to be mothers—the largest pool of undervalued, unpaid, economically crucial labor.
Pop culture and art are just the cherry on the top of the icing on a huge cake. The United States is among the most religious of all countries in the industrialized world. So, while some people wring their hands over hip hop, I’m more worried about how men like Rick Santorum and Ken Cuccinelli explain to their daughters why they can’t be priests. I know that there is hip hop that exceeds the bounds of taste and is sodden with misogyny. But, people seem to think that those manifestations of hatred are outside of the mainstream when, in reality, it’s just more of the same set to great beats. Hip hop has nothing on religious misogyny and its political expression.
An entire political party’s “social policy” agenda is being pursued under a rubric that insists women need “permission slips” and “waiting periods.” The recent shutdown? Conservatives holding the country hostage because they want to add anti-abortion “conscience clause” language to legislation. Whose consciences are we talking about? All the morally incompetent and untrustworthy men who need abortions?
It’s no exaggeration to say that distrust of women is the driving force of the “social issues” agenda of the Republican Party. From food stamps and “legitimate rape,” to violence against women and immigration policy. “We need to target the mother. Call it sexist, but that’s the way nature made it,” explained the man who penned Arizona’s immigration law. “Men don’t drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do.” I could do this ad infinitum.
[trigger warning: transphobia, transmisogyny, racism, misogynoir, abuse]
November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance. It was started in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in remembrance of the murder of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman from Massachusetts. 15 years later, it is acknowledged annually regarding the deaths of trans people due to transphobia and transmisogyny at the hands of both citizens and the State. As Gwendolyn has written:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is not an event for fundraisers and beer busts. It’s not an event we ‘celebrate.’ It is not a quick and easy one-day way for organizations to get credit for their support of the transgender community. It’s not something to trot out on the 20th of November and forget about. We should be working every day for all of us, living and dead.
This violence disproportionately impacts Black trans women and trans women of colour at higher rates than other people in the trans community and LGBTQ community. This year alone 21 year old Islan Nettles, 26 year old Eyricka Morgan and 32 year old Domonique Newburn were murdered. Both Islan (as Janet Mock so beautifully and painfully wrote about) and Eyricka Morgan were misgendered upon their deaths. Cece McDonald is still incarcerated (in a men’s prison) for defending herself against racist transmisogynistic violence.
As Monica Roberts at TransGriot—a Black trans woman who is a trans activist and writer—so passionately notes in her her essay 238 Names:
We’re fed up with reading the names of so many young trans* women and sadly a few trans* men this year who will never get to experience another birthday. Far too many of them who were killed this year were under the age of 35. We’re fed up with contemplating the disturbing fact some of the names we’ll be reading during these TDOR memorials hadn’t even made it to age 21 yet. We’re fed up in the African-American and Latin@ trans* communities of far too many of our people dying and our politicians, clergy and media pundits being cricket chirping silent about it. We’re fed up with legislative inaction on the human rights laws it’s painfully obvious trans* people need at the local, state and federal levels as a wide range of people from trans exclusionary radical feminists to right-wing politicians gleefully spread disinformation and lies to roll back or retard our progress. We’re fed up with our people dying and our people choosing suicide over life because you transphobic cisgender haters have made it so hostile and uncomfortable for them to live.
Below is some reading relevant to Transgender Day of Remembrance and the violence that trans women, especially Black trans women and other trans women of colour face.
- 238 Names by Monica Roberts on TransGriot
- Mourning Those Lost, Fighting for Our Lives: 2013 Transgender Day of Remembrance by Princess Harmony on The Feminist Wire
- Black, LGBT, American: Laverne Cox (Threat or Threatened) by Laverne Cox on Advocate
- Violence Against (Trans)Women Today by CeCe McDonald
- Injustice At Every Turn: A Look At Black Respondents In The National Transgender Discrimination Survey [PDF]
- Transgender Advocacy Resources on Black Transwomen
Trans people’s lives matter and their safety is at risk. Black trans women face an incredible amount of violence and other social, legislative, medical, and financial/employment risks that have to change. This violence has to end.
The night before the burial of her husband 2nd Lt. James Cathey of the United States Marine Corps, killed in Iraq, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of him, and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. “I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it” she said. “I think that’s what he would have wanted”.
-Not sure what is more honorable: Being married to this faithful wife to the end or the Marine standing next to the casket watching over them both.
IN HONOR OF ALL OF OUR ARMED FORCES PLEASE SHARE THIS.
forever reblog. forever.
Never forget those who were lost. To all those in uniform, thank you.
This will never not be reblogged from me.