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From India and Turkey to Oxford, we live in a perpetual state of war against women

India’s vicious rape culture, and the emerging political consciousness of it, is being ideologically neutralized, as merely the result of “backwards mindsets” in a “barbaric and uncivilized culture.” Thus preventing a global critique of gendered violence.

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Canadian sex crime prevention program cut by Ottawa.

McGill University gym women-only hours proposal causes uproar. Men cry about “discrimination.”


Susan Cox An American expatriate who fled to the wonderland of Canada, Susan Cox spends most of her time writing, reading, and cooking. Follow her @BLASFEMMEY.

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Susan Cox
Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.

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  • Laur

    The backlash against the women-only hours at the uni gym enrages me. Why do men feel they need to have access to women at *all* times? Do they even care why women might desire women-only gym time? Unwanted attention is unwanted, not flattery.

    I have known women who stopped going to the gym because a certain man would stare them down or otherwise hassle them. I recently rent to the gym after some time away, and immediately I remembered why I hated it so much….I really do not like to be checked out by guys while I’m working out (I’m there to work out, not hook up). I’ve even had men come up to me to show me how to “correctly” lift weights or whatever. They would never do this to another man.

    I could go on, but my point is, men, who have no idea what it’s like to be a woman, do not get to decide against something women want and need.

    • Sabine

      I had the exact same experience. To a lot of men the gym is just another potential pick-up joint. There is literally no getting away from predatory men so it’s no wonder we need “women only” hours and spaces. These meatheads don’t even stop to ask why it’s necessary, they just think about themselves being unjustly denied. Wankers.

    • I agree, Laur. It’s so absurd that it’s even an issue. Men do not have a right to the “equality” that demands they be able to enter women’s spaces.

      Also, even if men don’t believe the women of McGill when they say they want women-only gym time, how do they explain the existence of extremely successful chains of women-only gyms, such as Curves? I thought it was already commonly understood that it’s a thing women need and want.

  • Sabine

    While making some valid points in the article discussing the “India’s Daughter” documentary and India’s rape culture I cannot agree with it on the whole. The fact is there are some countries where it is undeniably worse to be a woman and India is one of them. The attitudes towards women simply ARE more brutal than in many other “first world” or even developing countries. I don’t see that this fact means we are somehow ending the discussion of misogyny in more apparently “civilized” nations?

    And it is men in India who have given the impression that they are “brutes” because so many of them so routinely act like them. Pulling the racist card seems a bit lazy in this instance. In my view it is the men in India marinating in extreme misogyny who are the problem, not Indian men per se.

    “…it does not help for people in other countries to imagine that such brutality is India’s “cultural” problem; that India’s “backwardness” is the problem; or that gender violence is “worse out there in India”.

    Sorry, but from my experience of India, a place I have loved intensely, these ARE real, inescapable problems! Highlighting what is happening to the rest of the world is vital and while some who have no real personal knowledge of India may come across as patronizing and on a “rescue mission” I think the outrage and desire to raise awareness should be applauded. Human rights of any kind have historically been woefully neglected in India so that does imply there are cultural issues that desperately need to be addressed. These abhorrent attitudes have existed in India for thousands of years (2500 years ago Buddha thought it unsafe for women to become forest nuns because they would most likely be raped and murdered!).

    Violence in all forms towards women and girls is absolutely entrenched in India’s society. Of course all of us women the world over are at war but it is a fact that the battles are harder and bloodier in certain areas of the world. I don’t see how pointing this out has to wipe out all discussion of rape culture as a world issue?

    • Yeah, it comes to a point where we need say, “hey, it’s okay to make a judgement about another culture sometimes.” We can be so caught up in this nonjudgmental cultural relativism. I once attended an academic conference where a woman presented a paper claiming that judging FGM as wrong was just pompous Eurocentricity. It was absurd!!!

      • Sabine

        Quite!!! Women are under siege absolutely everywhere but it cannot be denied that in certain countries the expression of The Patriarchy is on another level when it comes to shocking, commonplace brutality and outright hatred of women which is spewed explicitly with not even the slightest pretense it is otherwise. And if that’s not connected to the relative backwardness of a society and a deeply fucked culture then what IS it connected to? I just don’t see how calling that out negates discussion of the GLOBAL patriarchy system. Some places are simply way, way worse for females to be born in and to point this out does not mean everything is just fine and dandy where we are thanks very much. It’s just not oppressive in such an extreme way. But it ALL needs to change for ALL women EVERYWHERE. We have a far longer history of feminism in the west so of course there will be more progression. It’s insane to pretend otherwise.

    • andeväsen

      I’m broadly in agreement with you – but to a point. I completely agree that cultural relativism is anti-feminist. However: “The attitudes towards women simply ARE more brutal than in many other “first world” or even developing countries” – I cannot agree with this completely.

      There is a veil drawn over (excuse the metaphorical pun) the attitudes towards women in more “progressive” countries, which makes their effect less brutal. However the attitudes remain the same. Indian patriarchy is built from the same building blocks as any other.

      “…it does not help for people in other countries to imagine that such brutality is India’s “cultural” problem; that India’s “backwardness” is the problem; or that gender violence is “worse out there in India”

      See – I actually agree with the first two clauses: violence against women and girls stems from ideas not unique to India, and these ideas are not “backward” ideas (what does that mean, really, since they are very much connected to the present?), but simply patriarchal ideas.

      However – and here I agree with you – that violence against women most definitely is worse in India than many other places. Acid attacks on girls/women, kitchen explosions designed to maim/kill disobedient daughters-in-law, feudal/caste-based “corrective” sexual violence, murdering female realtives who marry husbands of their own choosing, upholding “the right” to marital rape, abandoning baby girls for son preference, a long history of (now illegal) bride burning and starvation of widows…it is a long list of violent wrongs, unique to the country.

      The ideas underpinning these brutal and unique phenomena are universal tenets of bog-standard patriarchy rather than “backwardness” or “barbarism”. India is more sick with patriarchy than the baseline level of patriarchal malaise in some more fortunate parts of the world. Same disease, same treatment, different levels of intensive care.

      • Sabine

        I think there is some nitpicking going on here I’m afraid. Read my comments more closely and you will see we are not actually in any disagreement. I never said any of this stuff is “unique to India” it’s just expressed in a particularly violent and brutal way due to the culture and societal “norms” there. And yes, those things ARE exceptionally backwards, I’ve lived amongst it for long enough over the years and witnessed it firsthand. These facts do not cancel out the horrendous state of things for all women, all over the world, living under the iron fist of patriarchy. Patriarchy IS backwardness and barbarism itself and it’s being expressed in its more “pure” form in places like India and the middle east. Acknowledging this is not anti-feminist or reducing the struggle for women in other countries.

        • Sabine

          When I say “reducing the struggle” I meant to say being dismissive of.

        • andeväsen

          I get where you are coming from. As an Indian woman I thiank you for your support. However I cannot support describing the variety of patriarchal oppression Indian men mete out to Indian women as “pure”. It implies there is a unidirectinal scale on which each region or country sits, with patriarchy at one end and liberation on the other, that each country started at the same place and some have moved more “forwards” than others. That is clearly not the case. Misogyny is a worldwide, pan-historical, pan-political phenomenon. In the majority of soceities, no matter who the disenfranchised are, men are violent to women. Non-Indian, non-Middle Eastern men are not more benign than Indian and Middle Eastern men.