Posts Tagged ‘sexism

25
Feb
14

Arizona’s SB1062 Would Have Dangerous Consequences, Faces Backlash or “The Arizona GOP continues to get things very, very wrong.”

The state of Arizona, or at least its legislature, is once again on the anti-queer bandwagon. After last year’s embarrassing fiasco where they attempted to legislate where trans people are allowed to void their bladders, one might have hoped they had learned their lesson. But, the GOP being who it is, they’ve opted to turn their queerphobia up to eleven with their latest jab at the LGBTQ community, SB1062.

SB1062, an amendment to the state’s current statutes on “the free exercise of religion,” codifies a person or company’s right to refuse service to anyone on the basis of their religion without fear of reprisal from government agencies and regardless of any local ordinances to the contrary. It appears to stem from a string of recent incidents around the country where businesses have been sanctioned for refusing service to queer individuals. It’s been approved by both chambers of the Arizona legislature, and it current awaits a signature from GOP Gov. Jan Brewer, who has given little indication of her position on the legislation.

 Previously, this statute granted this right to refuse service based upon religious objection only to any “religious assembly or institution”, but the revised statute would read:

“Person” includes a religious assembly or institution ANY INDIVIDUAL, ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CHURCH, RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY OR INSTITUTION, ESTATE, TRUST, FOUNDATION OR OTHER LEGAL ENTITY.

This grants the ability of essentially organization, business, or person to access the particular protections of this statute (because really, there aren’t many things that don’t fall into those categories. The particulars of the statute read as such:

41-1493.01. Free exercise of religion protected; definition

4 A. Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral.

7 B. Except as provided in subsection C of this section, state action shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.

The key portion of that pile of legalese is “even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” Rules of general applicability is a term that stems from a landmark Supreme Court case involving the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment, known as Employment Division, Department of Human Resources vs Smith. In it, the Court ruled that a person could not claim exception from a law based upon one’s religious beliefs if the law created rules that were of “general applicability”, that is-that they weren’t particularly targeted to religion or specific religious groups. This means that, as a general rule, people cannot claim exemption from things like employment, housing, or healthcare non-discrimination laws simply because of their particular religious beliefs. However, the proposed Arizona law would specifically enshrine the right of people within that state to ignore essentially ANY state law if they can ground it in their particular religious convictions.

So, what are the implications of a law like this? It means a corporation can adopt a particular religious doctrine and use it to deny service to LGBT individuals. It means religious hospitals can refuse to treat LGBT people. It means perfectly legal “No Gays Allowed” signs on businesses owned by anti-queer religious people. It means pharmacies being able to legally refuse to fill HIV meds, birth control, emergency contraception, and hormones for trans people if the pharmacy or it’s owners have specific religious views.  It could be interpreted to mean that police officers wouldn’t be required to assist LGBT individuals if their personal religious beliefs would be violated in doing so. It would absolutely mean that religious doctors or other healthcare professionals could deny life-saving pregnancy termination procedures to women if it violates their religious beliefs. Given that many racial hate groups use religion to justify their racism, it could mean that companies or organizations could use this law to refuse service to racial minorities Taken to extremes, it could even be used as a potential defense in violent hate crimes (after all, the Bible makes clear that homosexuality [along with lots of other things] is punishable by death), or as a justification for legalized spousal rape or beating (since there’s justification for both in the Bible).

Not surprisingly, the bill has received a huge amount of backlash from everything from feminist and LGBT activists concerned about how the law will be used, to business owners who are concerned that it will have wide reaching effects of tourism in Arizona (a large force in their economy). George Takei wrote a length missive calling for a boycott of Arizona if the bill is signed, and that call has been echoed loudly in the LGBT community. The mayors of Arizona’s largest cities, both of their sitting Senators, and a large contingent of their members of Congress have called of Gov. Brewer to veto the bill. Leaders of the state’s largest business groups wrote to Brewer imploring veto, concerned about opening businesses to potential litigation and having the state branded an unfriendly place for visitors. And in just the last few days, even three member of the state legislature who voted in favor of the bill have come forward urging a veto on the measure, calling passage of the measure a “mistake.’

In the wake of this much pressure, it seems somewhat unlikely that Gov. Brewer would be willing to sign the legislation into law. However, the fact that the bill hit the governor’s desk at all is a very disturbing reminder of to just what lengths the GOP is willing to go to attack the LGBT community. Unfortunately, this is also far from an isolated incident. Similar bills attempting to enshrine the legal right to discriminate using a smoke-screen of religious liberty have been introduced in Ohio ,Idaho, Mississippi, and several other states recently, though none have yet progressed as far as the legislation in Arizona.

Despite the progress made in areas like marriage equality, the fight for equal rights and equal protections for LGBT individuals is FAR from over, and it appears that this new round of “religious objection” legislation represents the Republicans’ next volley in the pushback against the progress that has been made in the movement for equality for queer people.

 

 (Author’s note:  This is a significant simplification of the case law here, interpreted and explained by a scientist, not a lawyer.)

28
Jan
14

Why Genital Essentialist Comments are Transphobic Microaggressions, or “People need to stop talking about what “real” men and women have in their pants.”

Microaggressions: those little phrases you hear every day that give you a stinging reminder that the world considers you “less than”. The term was originally coined back in the 1970s in regards to racism, but it’s come into usage in feminist, queer, and pretty much all other intersectional conversations about privilege. Dr Derald Sue, who has written extensively about racial and other microaggressions gave the following definition in a Psychology Today article in 2010:

“Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

Think of it like this: open aggressive harassment is like someone dropping a big rock on your car from an overpass- it’s sudden, immediate, and it’s probably going to do some serious damage. Microaggressions are like being caught behind a gravel truck every day- each little hit does a fairly minor amount of damage but the accumulated effect day after day is going to make a big mess. Some microaggressions are direct: intentionally misgendering of a trans person, or asking a black guy what gang he’s in. Some are more subtle: men referring to certain tasks as “women’s work,” or someone commenting on the enjoyment of cake by a random person of size passing by. Jared Leto’s recent acceptance speech at the Golden Globes is another perfect example, as Parker Molloy recently discussed over on The Toast. If it’s sort of thing someone might brush off criticisms of as “being too sensitive”, there’s a pretty good chance it’s a microaggression. If you’re still having trouble conceptualizing this, the good folks over at The Microaggression Project have cataloged more examples than you’ll ever need. (Caution: it can be a pretty triggery website.)

Transphobic microaggressions take many forms, from downright hostile comments about how “gross” or “weird” trans people (and/or their bodies are) to insidious things like the use of phrases like “hot tranny mess” in a derogatory fashion about someone’s appearance. One that seems to be among the most prevalent (and dismissed) are comments about the sort of genitals (or other features) that “real” men or women should have, a situation commonly known as “essentialism”. When these comments are specifically about the sort of genitals that one particular gender has (or doesn’t have), it becomes genital essentialism. I recently came across this post in the blogosphere, ostensibly written about standards of female beauty, but unnecessarily containing a bold transphobic microaggression. (I have extended criticisms of the entire misogynist piece, but we’ll skip those today.) The writer opines:

“I’m going to let you and the rest of society in on a secret, real women have vaginas. In fact, that is the number one prerequisite in being considered a person of the female persuasion. It’s not the shape of your hips or the size of your rump, it’s the fact that I can’t find a penis anywhere on your body.”

The problem here, of course, is that a statement like this also very clearly implies that anyone without a vagina is not, in fact, a “real woman.” It’s an implicit rejection of the femaleness every single trans woman on the planet who has not had GCS. Sure, it’s a flaming angry tirade from a religious crazy about what evil sexual perverts we all are. But, it is a jab at something that trans women hold fairly sacrosanct- their identity as a woman. In that, it becomes a transphobic microaggressions, even if the writer had no negative thoughts about trans women in his mind when he wrote it. A more wide-reaching example occurred just today on Twitter when Joss Whedon (of Buffy, Firefly, and Avengers fame) tapped out this doozy:

whedontweet

Once again, reducing femaleness to genitals…and this time not even the presence of a vagina, but simply the LACK of penis and testicles, making it not only an anti-trans microaggression (by implying that by having male genitals, trans women aren’t women and that by not having a penis trans men aren’t actually men), but also a sexist microaggression (by defining women as simply “that which is not a man,” the implication being that gender is defined in the context of maleness). Again, I’m not necessarily saying that Mr Whedon had any particularly transphobic or sexist intentions when he made this statement, but the fact that a statement like this can be tossed off like it’s nothing speaks volumes about the invisibility of trans people in the minds of the world at large.

Quite unfortunately, this whole “real women have vaginas” thing is a lot more prevalent than you might imagine. You see, a few years back the internets spawned a meme about female body image, centered around the phrase “real women have curves.” Not unexpectedly (nor at ALL unreasonably) there was significant backlash against this reduction a woman’s identity to her physical body appearance. After all, it’s pretty cruel and offensive to declare that thin women aren’t “real” women. Disappointingly, the phrase that seemed to frequently be substitutes in place of it was -you guessed it- “real women have vaginas.” This phrase became a rallying cry against the imposition of unfair beauty standards. Writer Dory Hartley wrote in a piece for Huffington Post:

“Number one: they all have vaginas. If you’ve got a vagina, you’re a real women.”

Again, the implication is clear: No vagina = not a woman, vagina = woman. There’s no room in that equation for trans bodies, and it becomes an inherent denial of our femaleness or maleness of this reduction of identity to genitalia. Tamsin Howse of Kiki & Tea was so body as to actual title a piece “Real Women have Vaginas.” In it she writes:

“Remember – Real women have vaginas. And some people I call women don’t even have that.”

There it is, again- a bold declarative about what exactly the sorts of body parts “real women” have. The follow-up statement feels like an attempt, perhaps, in being inclusive of trans women. But her phrasing contains an implication that she doesn’t believe they really ARE women, just that she calls them women, which feels almost like another microaggression in itself. I could, quite literally, go on for another 1000 words of similar examples. None of these pieces were written by trans-exclusive rad-fems bent on the oppression of trans people; I’m 99% sure none of them harbored any transphobic thoughts as they composed these articles. But each one of them is one more tiny jab at the femaleness (or maleness) of trans people, and a reinforcement of our invisibility.
The common response to this sort of criticism (so common I can practically hear the voices) is that we’re being “too sensitive,” that we’re “looking for transphobia” where it doesn’t really exist, that we’re trying to enforce “overly-PC” standards. These are the sorts of arguments consistently made by oppressor classes defend their privileged status. Similar arguments were made for years in regards to queer microaggression comments (for example, insulting a man by calling him a c*cksucker) that are now quite widely perceived as being offensive and inappropriate homophobic statements. Genital essentialist statements like “real women have vaginas” functionally reduce an extraordinarily complex portion of a person’s identity- their gender- to a rigid, overly simplistic, inaccurate, incomplete, and frankly incorrect biologic assumption that becomes an ugly, painful kick at something critically important to trans people, our firm understanding of our own femaleness or maleness. The accumulated effect of having statements like this bombard us daily from everywhere we look just adds to the pervasive transphobia that we endure from our culture. So, please stop reducing everyone to their genitals, and assuming that “real women” or “real men” have any single defining characteristic. Real women have bodies. Real men have bodies. Real Non-Gender-Binary-Identifying-People have bodies. That’s all you can assume about them.

27
Aug
13

SciFi Author Calls Out Troll, or “John Scalzi absolutely evisertes an idiot anti-feminist.”

To The Dudebro Who Thinks He’s Insulting Me by Calling Me a Feminist | Whatever.

This is one of those moments where I feel oh-so-proud to consider myself a member of the science fiction community. John Scalzi is an incredibly talented and quite successful science-fiction author, and he maintains one of the oldest (and most entertaining) individual blogs on the Internet. Having had the privilege of meeting him at a few conventions, I can also say that’s a pretty cool guy. He earned a huge extra chunk of respect and admiration from when when he posted about his support for trans people back in December of last year. (I mean, there’s a reason he’s on my blogroll!) Today, it appears Scalzi is on a roll again as he absolutely tears apart an idiot troll being snide about feminism.

For a little background, a while back, John challenged his twitter followers to raise $500 in a day for the Clarion Foundation. For this, John would post on his blog a photo of himself in a very lovely period Regency dress. His followers came through, and boom, we have John in a dress. End of story, for the time being.

Fast forward a bit, and some idiot decides to take said picture and caption with the words “This is what a feminist looks like” in a very sad, feeble attempt to insult either feminists or Mr Scalzi. In either case, John does a fantastic job publicly shaming and ridiculing said person in a way that only someone of Scalzi’s particular brand of snark can manage. I very much suggest you head over to his blog and read it for yourself.

Now, loyal readers, you might say “But what was John doing in that dress to begin with? Wasn’t he denigrating femininity by putting on a dress for money?” I’m going to go with no. If you go back and read the post, it’s done with utter respect. It was actually done in response to a request a Twitter user who challenged him to wear the dress. Feeling no challenge to his masculinity nor his heterosexuality, he seized upon the moment to raise for money for a favorite charity, and cheerfully complied. He indicated absolutely zero discomfort or humiliation with the experience. I think he handled the situation with appropriately and with dignity.

I do wish he had seized a little more on the point that the creator of the captioned image may have been looking to insult the entire of the feminist cause by ascribing the term to a picture of a man in a dress (in order words HURR HURR, FEMINISTS ARE SCARY BUTCH LESBIANS WHO LOOK LIKE DUDES). But then again, that’s such a tired cliche that it’s barely even worth mentioning, other than for the requisite eye-roll and sigh of derision.

In any case, I applaud Mr Scalzi for his publicly provided tongue lashing, and his very public proclamation of his feminist beliefs. I’ll definitely have to be sure to give him a hug for it the next time I see him at a convention. :

19
Jul
13

Abortion Restriction Enacted in Texas, or “This is a set-back, but the fight is far from over.”

Perry Signs Sweeping Texas Abortion Restrictions : NPR.

So a few weeks back, I did a lot of writing about Texas SB5, a piece of horrid legislation that will severely restrict the availability of safe abortions in Texas, as well as the incredible effort put forth by Wendy Davis to prevent the bill from passing during a special session of the Texas legislature.

Unfortunately, Governor Rick Perry decided that oppressing women and controlling their bodies was SO important that he called a SECOND special session of the legislature to get these abortion restrictions in place. I find it very disturbing that the very same week that he signed that order, Texas celebrated (and I do mean celebrated) the execution of their 500th prisoner. Unfortunately, with an entire 30-day window to push through this disgusting encroachment on women’s bodies, there was simply no procedural method available to prevent the bill from being pushed through. Today, Perry signed the bill into law.

The immediate effect will be to prevent women from receiving abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. The justification is the highly disputed and poorly supported idea that fetuses feel pain at that point.  But, far more disturbing will be the impact next fall. The law imposes extremely onerous restrictions on abortion providers far in excess of any other kind of medical practice. Clinics will have one year to comply or be forced to shutter their doors. As thing stand now, the second largest state in term of both size and population will be reduced from 42 abortion providers to just 5. The impact will hit low-income and minority women particularly hard; with no money to travel to a clinic they will have any notion of “choice” erased from their lives. What terrifies me most is that this will open the door for the re-introduction back-alley abortion providers; many desperate women will end up on the tables of the these unscrupulous people, and will risk scarring, infection, disability, infertility, and even death because a safe alternative simply isn’t available. It’s more than a right to choose…it’s a right to choose safely.

Luckily, lawsuits are already being written to delay and hopefully completely stop these new restrictions from taking effect. The federal courts have not looked favorably on similar bans in other states, and I’m hoping that trend continues here. After all, Roe v. Wade clearly set a precedent for the available of pregnancy termination at least to viability, which is pretty universally defined as 24 weeks. Unfortunately, Texas isn’t the only state taking the war on women’s rights to terrifying new heights. North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Virginia have all recently enacted similar restrictions, and several other states are considering the same.

This push by the GOP to further invade women’s private health decisions and erode their rights over their body is nothing new, but it’s hitting with new fervor. It’s time those of us on the pro-choice side to start making more noise of our own and let our leaders know that will not stand for these intrusions. We need to all Stand With Wendy, and stand with each other.

28
Jun
13

SB5 Rises from the Grave, or “Rick Perry really loves fetuses and hates women.”

Rick Perry Calls Second Special Session To Pass Abortion Restrictions.

Alright, so the title might be a little political hyperbole, but only just. After the heroic, body-wrecking filibuster of Sen. Wendy Davis prevented the passage of the insanely over-reaching Texas abortion legislation know as SB5, Governor Rick Perry is going to call the legislators back for ANOTHER special session and to try this again. Sadly, the law allows Perry to do this over and over again until he gets what he wants. In the end, SB5 will likely become law in Texas, because Gov. Rick seems to think trampling women’s rights and violating Roe v. Wade is more important fixing the myriad of problems in Texas.

My only hope is that enough voters in Texas are paying attention to this ridiculous sideshow, and might be willing to help throw these jerks out on their cans come election time.

A girl can dream, right?

But seriously, I think Wendy Davis has done a fantastic job of galvanizing women and progressives in Texas and it might be enough to get some changes down there.

And of course, there’s also the hope that the generally more sane Federal court system will quash this garbage before it has the chance to harm anyone.

Anyway, I still stand with Wendy, and her efforts on behalf of Texas women are to cheered as loudly as we can manage.

26
Jun
13

Texas SB5 is Dead, or “Wendy Davis -and all women- win, even after they tried to silence her.”

Texas Abortion Bill Filibustered By State Senator Wendy Davis Is Dead.

So yesterday I blogged about Wendy Davis’s incredible filibuster on the floor of the Texas State Senate to block the passage of sweeping abortion prohibitions in Texas. The entire thing was live-cast via YouTube and over 200,000 people were watching at one point, and the Twitter-verse was a buzz as the final hours clicked down to the midnight deadline for passage.

Just after 11:00pm central time, the presiding officer of Senate decided (wrongly and for the direct purpose of shutting her up, in my opinion) that Wendy had violated the rules of “germaineness” in her speech three times, and declared the end of the filibuster. A flurry of motions followed and extensive debate ensued on the nature of the rules of the Texas Senate, stretching the time down to the final 15 minutes. As the presiding officer attempted to call for a roll-call vote, the viewers in the gallery rose to their feet and created such a ruckus that the sheer noise prevented business from continuing. And they kept this up right through midnight, even as the Texas GOP tried to find a way around it. Eventually, a roll-call vote was taken, but it was announced this morning that it was officially recorded after the midnight deadline, and therefore invalid.

So despite the attempts of the Republicans to silence her, Wendy Davis won her battle yesterday, and the women of Texas retain their access to safe, legal abortions. Sadly, Gov. Rick Perry has signaled that he will yet-again call for a Special Session for the Senate to try to pass this bill. I can only hope that another brave Democrat will take to the floor, and that gallery is again packed with voices for women’s rights. Pay attention, Texas GOP. Those voices you hear in shouting at you from above are the people you represent.

I STILL Stand With Wendy!

26
Jun
13

The Bravery of Wendy Davis, or “One amazing woman has the guts to call the Texas GOP on their misogynistic bullshit.” [I Stand With Wendy!]

Badass Texas Senator Launches Intense Filibuster Against Abortion Bill.

So if you’re a feminist and you haven’t heard about SB5 in Texas, then you are probably living under a rock. But if you are just recently coming out of coma or something: the Republican legislators in Texas are attempting to push through sweep legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks (much like this bullshit legislation before Congress) and close all but 5 abortion providers in the state.

The measure has already gained passage in the state House, and it came to the state Senate floor today. One awesome and brave female state Senator has taken on the task of filibuster this horrific piece of legislation. Wendy Davis took the floor and as of the moment I’m posting is still standing strong. And Senator Davis isn’t just reading a phone book up there…she’s been actively destroying the “merits” of this legislation for the entire duration. She’s pulled apart the language, read court opinions, provided medical research, and shared the stories of dozens upon dozens of women.

Making this feat even more impressive are the particularly difficult rules governing filibusters in the Texas Senate. She must remain standing the entire time, without so much as leaning on the rostrum. She can take n breaks for food or the bathroom. The GOP has been looking for ways to force her off the floor, but she’s remained steadfast in her effort.

I am so blown away by Wendy Davis’s dedication to fighting for women’s right to control their bodies. I’m proud to declare her my hero of the month! If you’d like to share your story with her, you can tweet her @WendyDavisTexas or show your support by tweet with the hashtag #StandWithWendy.

26
Jun
13

Commentary on the “Sugar Baby” culture, or “Sharing some fantastic snark and rage about some really sad garbage.” (Reblog)

Exposé on Miami’s ‘Sugar Baby’ Culture Is Most Depressing Thing Ever.

Erin Ryan over on Jezebel wrote a really good little piece about a recent exposé on the “sugar daddy/baby” culture in Miami. I don’t want to steal the thunder from her wonderful snark, so please read it. But the take-way is:

What really sucks about sugar baby relationships is that most of the arrangements don’t seem like they’re entered into freely; they’re a desperate response to a shitty set of circumstances — a lack of job opportunities, lack of job abilities, and last, but not least, the insanely high cost of college education.

 

That’s something all of us feminists can be sickened over.

 

12
Jun
13

The Audacity of a Female Game Critic, or “The tumblr post that nearly made me throw my laptop across the room.” (Reblog)

Feminist Frequency • Twitter vs Female Protagonists in Video Games.

Do I even have commentary for this that isn’t a string of curse words? Basically, Anita Sarkeesian over at Feminist Frequency (now on the blogroll!) had the audacity to comment on Twitter the fact that ZERO of the games revealed at E3 had a female protagonist. What she received in response is some of the most vile sexist bullshit that I’ve read in some time, and I couldn’t even make through a third of the tweets she posted. They range from a simple “shut up” or to the tired trope of “wharrrr, feminist agenda!” to the sterotypical “girls don’t play games!” to the oh-so-charming “no one wants games about cooking and cleaning HARHARHAR girls are dumb”.

Sadly, women are still having to fight like hell for even the slightest crumb of respect in the majority of the geek/nerd community, and it seems like the gamer portion of that community is among the worst. The tired cliches of “there are no girl gamers” and “geek girls are all fakers” continue on and on. There’s ZERO logical or factual basis for these claims, and they do nothing but make the community look backwards and idiotic. Tirades like the ones Anita received do little more than cement the image of gamers as entrenched sexist pigs with the social maturity stunted and halted at the adolescent stage hallmarked by a deep insecurity with genital development and resultant fear of the opposite sex. Yes, I’m implying they’re acting like teenage boys with small penises who are terrified of girls.

Grow up, boys. And major points to Anita for her audacity. She’s my hero for the day.

12
Jun
13

A Tragic Miscarriage of Justice, or “In Texas, the life of a sex worker is now worth less than $150.”

Jury Acquits Escort Shooter

When this article first came across my newsfeed, I actually had to do some research to assure myself that I wasn’t being duped by the Onion (and I think a lot of me really hoped that I was). Sadly, this is the real deal. In basic summation: a man in Texas was acquitted of murdering an escort that he ADMITS TO SHOOTING while he was allegedly trying to recover the money ($150) he had given her because she refused to have sex with him. Go ahead and re-read that sentence and let it sink it for a minute. The defense built their case around a Texas law that allows the use of deadly force to recovery property during a night-time robbery, and a jury found him not guilty.

I’m not even sure how to begin to form a response to his. My first instinct is just to jump up and down and shout “WHAT THE EFF IS WRONG WITH TEXAS?” until I go hoarse. But while that might temporarily make me feel better, it certainly doesn’t help anyone, and it definitely doesn’t make for interesting blogging. So I suppose I’ll jump on the most obvious problem here-  this case essentially functions as a state endorsement of vigilantism, and it turns non-violent theft into a capital offense. The general doctrine in the US is that lethal force may only be used when a human life is in immediate danger. Recently this notion has started to have some erosion as more states pass “stand your ground” types of laws that allow deadly force against an intruder in one’s home. While I have strong reservations about that legislation as well, this simply goes too far. This law allows individuals to exact their own brand of violent “justice” against someone who has stolen their property. While I’m sure much of Texas still harbors delusions that they’re in the “Old West”, we have a criminal justice system for a reason. Furthermore, capital punishment has long been reserved for only the most heinous of crimes, and the Supreme Court has relatively recently upheld the notion that the death penalty is only appropriate in cases of murder. But with this law in place, a relatively minor property crime now becomes a de-facto capital offense, as the victim is allowed to end your life to recover their property, without any kind of due-process whatsoever. It’s the ultimate express death penalty. And from my research, this is a law that pushed for by gun lobbyists (after all, if “deadly force” is going to be used, it’s unlikely to be with almost anything else). So what we have here is a horrifying dismantling of one of the most crucial right we have as Americans- due process- in order to slake the bloodlust of the gun activists.

Sadly, the destruction of due-process isn’t even the MOST disturbing implication of this case. To me, even more frightening is the complete devaluation of human life. From all angles, this woman was a victim. Whether this is a case of a plan to steal this man’s money, or a misunderstood assumption about what was being paid for is immaterial…given that this woman was under the control of pimp, she fairly certainly had no choice in what was going on. If she had refused, the relatively standard response from her pimp would have been a beating or worse. Furthermore, solicitation of a prostitute is a crime (and one widely codified as more severe than prostitution itself.) So if this man were expecting sex for his money, he was actively committing a crime himself, and at least to some extent, victimizing this woman. But despite the fact that this woman seems to bear the least responsibility in the situation, she ended up dead. Why? Because this man wanted his $150 back and he felt justified in shooting her for it, because that’s how little her life was worth to him. And in acquitting him of murder charges, the jury simply affirmed his belief…that this poor soul’s life was worth less than the cost of an Xbox. As sickening as that is, I’m STILL not to what I find the most disturbing about what’s going here.

One of the most upsetting things about this case for me is the realization that this woman died because of a man’s belief in his entitlement to sex. The problem with men’s entitlement belief when it comes to sex is a widespread one, and it presents itself in situations as relatively subtle as the constant complaints of “friendzoning” by men to as brutal as sexual violence. And in this case, it cost this woman her very life. This man believed that giving this woman $150 dollars entitled him to have sex with her, and when he did not receive the sexual encounter he believed he was entitled to, he shot her in the neck. Now, all of the testimony in place indicated that the matter of sex was never even discussed…this was simply an assumption that he had made based on the idea that he was paying her for her time. To him the exchange of money for time and companionship intrinsically implied the right to have sex with her. In my mind, there’s almost nothing to really here to establish that his man had been robbed of anything at all. But the results of this case essentially mean that simply because a man BELIEVES he is entitled to sex for a payment (even if there’s no direct justification for it), then the entitlement stands and he’s not legally culpable for taking her life to recover his money if she refuses to screw him.

There’s a darker implication here that I think is easily missed though. If he is entitled to sex with her by virtue of giving her $150 in cash, would he have been legally justified in raping her? Is her simple act of refusing consent an act of theft (which by Texas law opens her to lethal force)? It appears to me that logically, if her refusal to give consent constitutes theft, then by law he “owns” the right to have sex with her, and raping her would be legally permissible as she’s not legally entitled to NOT consent. So in one quick turn, you have essentially eliminated a sex worker’s rights over her body. She is now nothing more than an object, and her sexual function can legally (well, aside from the illegality of prostitution itself) be bought and sold without her consent. Imagine this…a young woman is sold into prostitution from Eastern Europe or West Africa to a pimp in Texas. Under the threat of violence (and possibly death) from her pimp, she is sent to service a john who pays her the agreed sum of money for some fairly violent and unsavory sex that is essentially rape. This woman now has two choices: endure the rape from this man, or risk being shot to death when she flees and he decides to recovery his money in the manner made legal by this law (and reinforced by this case). And where does this stop? What happens if a man takes a woman on a date and gives her a gift and expects sex? If she doesn’t give him the sexual encounter that he feels he is entitled to, can he shoot her to recover that gift? The distance between those two stories is frighteningly short. It’s all just one more disturbing example of how men are finding ways to increase and exert their dominance over women and their bodies.

There are even more ways to tear this apart and find implication, but I’m honestly emotionally drained and I believe my point is made. What we have here, at its core, is an absolute travesty of justice based on an extremely poorly considered piece of legislation, and the continued problems of an entitled male hierarchy bent on the control women’s bodies and sexualities. A victimized young woman receives no justice for her life being violently and senselessly cut short by a bullet, and we all lose a little bit more of our legal rights to consent (or not consent) to the sexual whims of men.




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