I've been feeling a little remiss in including the feminist element of this site that is so important to me. To be honest, it's not just that things get busy, it's that sometimes it is just so depressing to read about how far there is to go in securing anything slightly resembling equality. Consequently it's been several months since I last checked out Feministing and I've been making appallingly slow progress on The Beauty Myth, which is my current feminist reading material.
The reason I am finally getting around to this is actually none other than Chris Brown. The other day while perusing my TiVo's recommendations I started watching a Saturday Night Live from earlier this year, and the musical guest on the show was none other than the woman beater himself. I had to check the air date to be sure, because I found it difficult to believe that any show with the semblance of credibility would book a shameless criminal like Chris Brown. But no, it was from only months ago and there he was, singing and dancing around stage like the narcissistic sociopath I'm sure he is.
For starters I find it incredible that Brown managed to evade any jail time immediately following the assault, but the fact that a mere two years following his very public display of violence towards his then-girlfriend, Rihanna, he would be back on television and singing again hadn't entered my most insulting dreams. After all, this is the twenty-first century and we live in a Liberal and equality-driven part of the world..... right? Well, not so much. The problem isn't just that Chris Brown doesn't deserve to make another cent (and he probably made thousands for his SNL appearance), it's that reintegrating him into pop culture is tantamount to condoning his actions, especially after such a pitiful grace period as two years. If major networks are prepared to stick him in front of an applauding audience, then they are prepared for him to become a celebrity - and for many an idol - once more. You'll have to forgive me if I think it's nauseating that a convicted woman beater should be anyone's role model. Is this really the message we want to send out? "Oh, it's okay if you beat the shit out of your girlfriend; as long as you make an unconvincing and half-assed apology everything will be right as rain in a year or two. And hey, here's $100,000 for your trouble."
Things would be bad enough if this was how things currently stood, but to rub some salt in the wound Brown has been doing all he can recently to complain about all the trouble his actions have brought down on him. Feministing linked to this video (http://www.illdoctrine.com/2011/03/a_history_lesson_for_chris_bro.html) which quite eloquently chastises Brown and contextualizes this issue within the broader scope of celebrity persecution. If it were only Chris Brown whose violent episode is being whitewashed then this problem might feel more manageable, but the real issue here is that this is happening over and over again with so many celebrities, whether they are in music, sports, or film. It seems every month there are some new rape allegations or domestic violence charges, but regardless of court outcomes the accused suffer no real consequences and instead go on to continue making millions of dollars. The bottom line is that this pattern tells our general culture that these offenses are forgivable, forgettable, acceptable. I can't even begin on how wrong this is, and how harmful it is in the long run for these perspectives to take hold.
And this isn't limited to the world of fame, either. Also on Feministing was this article, http://www.thedaily.com/page/2011/03/19/031911-opinions-column-campus-rape-valenti-1-2/, which discusses misogyny on campus and Universities' repeated inaction regarding student sexual assault. So, even in some of the most liberal and forward-thinking places in the world, sexism is still alive and well. It's this kind of information that makes me want to curb stomp people who claim women have achieved equality. What further brought women's rights to my attention over the last few days was the following photo, taken on my Alma Mater campus:
I have nothing but love for the gentleman in the suit, but if you take a peek in the background you will see the people in the white tent are claiming that "Women do regret abortion". While in some places this might be everyday fare, my old University is easily one of the most liberal campuses in the world (for example there is a "420 Club", dedicated to none other than marijuana culture), so this comes as something of a shock. I do my best to respect everyone's right to an opinion, but when it comes to reproductive rights Anti-Choice lobbyists ultimately are working to limit women's rights and their goals materially injure women every day. I would go on, but as I type I'm becoming increasingly belligerent and I'd prefer to address as important and as inflammatory a topic as this more level-headedly at another time.