Beat, Rape… Whatever It Takes To Control Women

A teenage girl stepped outside an Indian night club after an evening with friends when:

A group of 10, perhaps 15, men surrounded the girl, beating and stripping her for the next 20 minutes. By the time the television crew and the police showed up, the mob had grown to about 40 men.

The attack resembled this 2008 Mumbai scene:

Two women were alleged to have been attacked by 14 men as they left the Marriott Hotel with their friends. When the police arrived, the mob assaulting the women as they lay pinned down on the ground had grown to more than 50 men.

The New York Times explains that these sex crimes are a tool to rein in women’s freedom in India.

Several stories point to that common theme.

Consider the police response to sexual assault. When a female journalist was shot and killed while driving home women were warned against driving late at night without escorts. And when another woman was raped the municipal administration recommended that women not work after 8 p.m.

Some village leaders banned young women from using cell phones and wearing jeans.

Even discussions of these assaults revolve around questions of:

How far women’s freedoms should extend. What kinds of jobs or working hours are considered respectable for a woman? Can a woman go to a bar or restaurant with friends without inviting censure or sexual advances? If a woman is out in a public area after dark, is she, to use a term that often crops up, a “loose” woman? The question of how much freedom a woman should have, and who should control that freedom, underpins the debate over sexual violence.

Sex crimes have also been used against women fighting for democracy in the Arab Spring, with female journalists (symbols of power) and protestors, alike, assaulted and beaten.

But women can be punished and controlled over nothing. In Afghanistan a 22-year-old woman was killed in the name of purity for being sexually involved with two men, “either through rape or romantically.” In fact, she was tortured and killed to settle a dispute between the two men. As the shots rang out a crowd cried, “Long live Islam. Long live Mujahideen (holy warriors).” Men may do whatever they wish. Women may not.

In South Africa lesbians are attacked with “corrective rape” as men shout, “You are not men” – implying that women do not deserve male privilege – including rights over their own bodies.

Similar attitudes exist in the U.S. where rape is about men feeling dominance over women. Next, the community may blame women for their rapes – they were drinking or dressing immodestly or staying out late at night – acting as though they were free.

Constraining reproductive rights works the same way. “Pro-lifers,” who don’t care if women (or the poor) die, assert that men – and not women – must control women. Keep them barefoot, pregnant and dependent so that men may more easily stay in charge.

Yes. There’s a common theme.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 24, 2012, in feminism, gender, politics/class inequality, psychology, rape and sexual assault, reproductive rights, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. I for one as a man don’t support keeping women “barefoot and pregnant”. Women are equal to men and should be treated as such. It’s all about balance which I find lacking in the world today.

    • Thank you.

      I’m sure glad there are a lot of men who support women’s equality out there!

      • On the other side of the issue its becoming more evident in society that some women want to be equal yet don’t want to share the same responsibilities as a man.

      • Support your contention. How do you see this?

      • I would venture to guess that there are a lot more men that don’t care for at least some of those responsibilities, as long as we are talking about things that can’t be measured or validated.

        Does “some” mean that women should somehow be expected to have a perfect record?

      • I meant some as in I cannot lump all women together in one unorganized sexually demeaning comment. If two fully capable people are together in a relationship why should one person hold all the responsibility. Example I was paying rent and all the other bills they tended to be high because she was at home all day while I worked. When I asked her to get a job because I her to help with buying groceries suddenly she didn’t want to step up and help, but she could attempt to demand things she wanted. The thing’s that I was doing as a male wasn’t enough for her. So she left for someone that stays with their mother. It wasn’t just with her that I witnessed such irresponsibility. Men do it too..It’s all about equal balance.

      • I agree that neither women or men are perfect. There’s work to be done on both sides.

    • “I for one as a man don’t support keeping women “barefoot and pregnant”. Women are equal to men and should be treated as such. It’s all about balance which I find lacking in the world today.”

      You will never find equality. It is an invalid concept that applies nowhere in nature. It is a man made social construct.

      I wrote an entire article but it would probably be blocked.

      • Equality as in being of equal worth and dignity and deserving equal opportunity.

        No one is arguing that equality means that everyone or everything is the “same.”

  2. Yes, there is a common theme. When I examine it from the perspective of psychopathology, apart from the specific cultural contexts, it becomes even more evident.

  3. You make it sound as if pro life was a male conspiracy, rather than a position that transcends gender. That of course is blatant propaganda and nonsense.

    • Some people actually believe they’re protecting life by being against abortion. 

      Yet you can see that it’s not really about life much of the time. The same folks don’t want to fund prenatal care and don’t care if the kid starves once it’s born. 

      See this post for more

      http://broadblogs.com/2012/07/06/are-you-pro-life-or-just-want-to-control-women/

      • That has nothing whatsoever to do with whether pro-life is some kind of male conspiracy to keep women barefoot and pregnant. If you think it does, you need a good dose of rigorous logic. The pro-life and pro-choice positions are fairly similar across the sexes. The stat I saw was 46% men and 43% women pro-life. Hardly a male conspiracy.

      • I agree that similar numbers of men and women are pro-life. But people who are tend to accept patriarchy and male control — both the women and the men. Many women are sexist too, because they’ve been taught its what God wants, or they’re just so used to it that it seems natural and normal to them.

      • Correlation does not equal causation. Even if it is the case that the people who are pro life are more likely to accept a patriarchal world view, it doesn’t mean that the patriarchal world view is the cause of the pro life position. Again, you need a good dose of rigorous logic.

      • The only scientific method that determines causation is experimentation. Of course, Hume might argue (by some interpretations) that causality can never, ever, be determined.

        Since one cannot subject every social question to experimentation, other methods are utilized, including correlation. The social sciences are all about finding patterned behavior. What I have presented is a pattern of behavior.

        So if I draw a conclusion, please feel free to give me evidence as to why you believe the correlation or pattern found is faulty, and not just claim that causality has not been established.

        On this matter there is a very clear pattern

        . Virtually no one who is pro choice is of a patriarchal mindset
        . Nearly everyone who lives within a patriarchal mindset is anti choice
        . There are some exceptions:People who actually do think that abortion is the same thing as killing. They typically are not aware of the logical inconsistencies of those who lead the “pro life” movement: they
        don’t care if babies are born dead from lack of prenatal care, who don’t care if people die due to hunger or lack of medical care. They dont mind going to war for no good reason. They dont care if women die if a pregnancy puts their life at risk. If they were really pro life they would not be so inconsistent.

  4. Definitely a common theme. The problem is a cultural issue (or lack of culture?) Because as always a bad education can lead to this. With all due respect, I think this problem of culture is found in both genders.,In many cases mothers are who teach this kind of paradigms to her children. that only shows a complete lack of manhood. If 10 men beating another man is a cowardice … 50 men beating a woman?

  5. Given your background, I take it you’ve read Menachim Amir’s 70’s work “Patterns of Forcible Rape”? (I may be little off on the title there). I am struck by how much the latter day apologists for rape ( the victim blamers you cite) are leaning back towards the arguments in that text.

  6. Yep, all around the world, it is the same. The west isn’t so radically “free” as the conservatives claim. Women are blamed for what they were wearing/”inciting rape” the world over, and it leads to an ‘informal curfew’ where women are afraid to go out at night and if they are raped they are blamed for being out late/drinking/showing an inch of skin. I am so tired of it, especially the women who perpertrate this against their fellow women.

  7. Great blog post – male elites are really scared of women becoming fully empowered because it spells the end of their reign.
    Here’s a quote from my novel about a woman and her friends who set about making the future female: “We’re not saying it’s the new religion. The time of leaders has passed and the age of governments is ending. We’re not looking to the past but to the future. We don’t need gods and goddesses for we are women – we gave birth to humanity and we’ll solve our own problems.”
    My gravatar logo is from the cover of the book – a combination of the Venus/feminine symbol and the sign carried by UK crossing patrol wardens. In England they are colloquially known as “Lollipop Ladies” – one of the heroine’s followers is a lollipop lady.

  8. After reading the comments above, I’m sorry to see you have some very reactionary responses. It appears that there’s an inverse relationship between the hectoring tone and the lack of evidence for the points made…

  9. Jessica Silva

    As I was reading this article about Beat, Rape… Whatever It Takes To Control Women I was thinking to myself, “ what is this entire world coming to?” How could there be places like that on this planet with humans who don’t have a heart… well those are question I kept asking myself through out the whole time I was reading this very sad, unfair article. I don’t agree with men who think women should be left “barefoot and pregnant”. Women and men should be treated equally in all aspects possible. But we know that it’s impossible in most countries, although here in the U.S we can’t complain because we have pretty good compare to countries like Africa, Dubai and so on. I think that if are world was balance more it would be a better place but unfortunate we lack that in a lot of areas especially when it comes to women.

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