The girl in the picture above was named Jyoti Singh. She is dead. The grim details of the gang-rape and brutal beating of this beautiful Indian medical student are not really important except to shock and dismay us at the degree to which men can lose their humanity. Even men we trust. In Sri Lanka a famous stage actress was gang-raped on New Years Day by four men, one of whom was her ‘boarding master’ who had advised and looked out for her before three other men induced him to betray her and join them in raping her. In Steubenville, Ohio a 16 year old girl was recently raped by two high school football players, and because football culture rules the community, local officials chose not to investigate the crime, so to add insult to injury, she was mocked and taunted on Facebook by friends of the rapists who gloated over her humiliation. This is the male culture of rape. It is pervasive in our society, not just in the misogynistic cultures of the Middle East, but everywhere. On college campuses coeds are raped so often that wealthy parents and alumnae pay local officials not to investigate reports of the crime on campus to protect their sons from prosecution and the good name of their alma mater. I know this from personal experience and from my friends on college faculties who have told me that they have been instructed by university officials to look the other way when they see or hear instances of binge-drinking and rape on campus. It has become institutionalized to the point that women fear to even report it knowing the justice system will in all probability victimize and humiliate them again. Rape victims themselves are accused of ‘asking’ for it, for dressing provocatively, or venturing out in the night unescorted. The dehumanizing of women has reached the point in the United States where we are called sluts in the national media for expecting health insurance to cover our birth-control medications while there is never a question when men are routinely covered by their insurance plans for their Viagra.
The Republican Party has waged a war on women in America legislating away our reproductive rights, our health-care rights, equal-pay, and some right-wing extremists have even advocated revoking our right to vote. This is a systematic attack on women by a male-dominated cadre of corporatists, religious extremists, and misogynists whose ultimate end is to see women reduced to chattel. This is a shocking turn after a hundred years of women making progress towards equality under the law to see our advances turned back by political and social reactionaries who have hijacked our political process. With the help of corporate money, funding such front-groups as ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, vested interests have been buying politicians on both sides of the aisle and writing legislation harmful to women which their Tea Party patsies have been pushing through state legislatures across America. The intent of this whole process is the further subjugation of women by an intrinsically paternalistic system where rape becomes an institutionalized method of keeping women powerless and in fear, unprotected by a legal system dominated by men. Only the most egregious cases like Jyoti’s shock us into becoming a humane and united community which then demands retribution if not justice, for a just society would not tolerate rape to any degree! But it exists as a pandemic sickness in our culture, swept under the rug and frequently dismissed. Instead of teaching our sons not to rape, society lets the responsibility fall to us to avoid getting raped, and if we fail we are looked upon with skepticism, derision and shame. We are not free to dress as we choose, walk alone in the night, or trust our male associates without our assaults somehow becoming our fault. Make yourselves aware of the male culture of rape as it currently exists in our society and work to change it so that what happened to Jyoti and others like her never happens again.