I have a Facebook friend who leans slightly more to the right than do I who shared a post from a group called Huntress Club International in support of Kendall Jones, a Texas cheerleader who enjoys hunting rhinos, elephants, lions and leopards - all to help with conservation, of course. It seems a ‘left wing liberal’ politician running for office named Mike Dickinson has been tweeting he’ll pay any ex-boyfriends (or girlfriends) $100,000 for nude photos or sex tapes of Ms Jones, wondering if she uses vegetables as sex toys or enjoys being spanked. What this has to do with canned hunting, I don’t quite get, either. But Dickinson has managed to stir up quite a lot of outrage: No matter how anyone feels about Kendall Jones killing endangered animals, this is indeed way out of line for a person who presumes to be a candidate for national office. “Do these sound like the words of a sensible, moral & rational thinking man?” her supporters demand.
Well, actually, no. He sounds like a sleazy nutcase. But not only is he not a sensible, moral, rational man - he’s also not a liberal candidate for Congress, either. He’s a crazy person who has been tweeting a lot of weird crap at Fox News, who booked him on their network as “Mike Dickinson (D-VA).” (And we all know if you see it on Fox, it’s gotta be true, right?) Dickinson is not affiliated with the Democratic Party, and has never filed any candidate forms to run for any office. But my FB friend found a deluded pervert sending Tweets (rightly) objectionable enough to want to challenge everyone to spread the word and expose this attack on a young woman - and specifically for me, as a strong advocate of women’s issues, to share this story rather than expending my energy in exonerating the Democratic party of any connection.
At first, I declined; I’m just not that interested in mitigating Kendall Jones’s deplorable hunting tastes by defending her from an admittedly disgusting Tweet-stalker. I didn’t consider it a ‘women’s issue’ that one woman doing something I find abhorrent is being attacked by another person I find abhorrent, while her supporters use it as a way to take a swipe at the left and a political party that has nothing to do with either of them. But it was after three in the morning here and I couldn't sleep, because the more I thought about it, the more I think I’m probably wrong: this is a ‘woman’s issue.’ Whatever Kendall Jones has done, she doesn’t deserve this sort of sexual harassment. None of us do.
So - to my FB friend, and to any of you guys who want to weigh in on this - yes, absolutely let’s discuss this, as a women’s issue. I’d like to ask what the difference is between this and Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute and demanding she post sex tapes on line. Where was the outrage from the right when Ted Nugent raged about Hillary Clinton ‘riding’ his machine gun, and called her a worthless bitch? Were you all as repulsed by Glenn Beck’s vilification of a woman who’s only fault was to be the model face for the ACA, casting doubts on her legal citizenship and inciting the cyber-bullying that traumatised her family until the site was forced to take down her photo? Did anyone find it hilarious when Erick Erickson plastered posters of Wendy Davis as “Abortion Barbie” when she came to Los Angeles? How many of you agree with Tea Party activist Jesse Lee Peterson, who thinks “women are crazy,” that giving women the vote was America’s biggest mistake and we women are incapable of “handling anything” because we are too emotional to cope with important issues?
Because us women have been dealing with this sort of “women’s issue” for a long, long time. It starts when we’re young. I was eight when the 14-year-old boy next door cornered me in a garden shed, grabbed me by the hair and tried to force me to “kiss” his penis, then ridiculed me as a “baby” when I cried. I was ten when the old man who used to live across from my school and chat with kids suddenly reached out and pinched my nipple through my blouse, then laughed at my shock. I was twelve when a family friend took a bunch of us kids to the local pool, then openly slid his hand into my swim suit bottoms to fondle me while we were in the water, and no one did a damned thing. I was eighteen when I had to walk five miles home in the dark, on a country road, after my date kicked me out of his car when I refused to “put out” because he felt I owed it to him for buying me dinner. I was twenty-two when a stranger broke into my house, put a gun in my face and sexually assaulted me, then told me I was stupid for not having better locks on the windows - my (very quickly ex) boyfriend was angry… with me, because I must have done something to “deserve” it, sent out “vibes” and I was now “spoiled.” I was twenty-seven when another man attacked me in a parking lot, tried to rape me, and shot at me when I managed to get away from him. I was twenty-nine when a colleague spiked my drink at a work-do, and took me out to his car to drive me home - except he didn’t drive me home, and I was only saved from being raped because I threw up all over him. I was thirty-two when my boss casually slipped his hand inside my bra and squeezed a breast, because he felt the paycheck he signed every month gave him that right. I’ve had my ass pinched on busses, been groped in elevators, been stalked by an ex-boyfriend who threatened to kill me by slicing me open with a knife “from the cunt up.” Believe me, I understand exactly what this particular “women’s issue” feels like.
And here’s the real kicker - I’m a white, middle-class woman living in a first-world society. I know I’ve had it EASY. In India, girls are gang-raped and hung from trees. In Egypt, hundreds of women were raped during political protests. In South Africa, 147 women are raped every day. In Africa, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, women have their genitalia mutilated. In the Middle East, women are frequently murdered in ‘honour killings’ by their own families. Fifteen thousand women in India are murdered in dowry deaths every year. Fifty-four countries have draconian laws that discriminate against women, seventy-nine have no laws at all to protect women against domestic violence. There’s not one country in the world where women, to one extent or another, aren’t subjected to sexual violence - not one. A few are better than others, but most of the world is a harsh, dangerous place for women, because of men.
So, if you’re wanting to champion a blonde teenager who’s getting nastygrams from a clearly unbalanced individual, I’m all for it. I apologise - I was wrong and you were right, it is a women’s issue. But while you’re at it, let’s also see some more outrage for the 16-year-old girl in Houston who was drugged and raped and photographed to be ridiculed on social media. Let’s see some more jumping up and down in fury over the girl in Steubenville who was raped by a bunch of high school jocks and instead of her community supporting her, they burnt her house down and called her a “skank.” Let’s see you call out your friends when they post their sickening fantasies on Facebook about gang-raping the daughter of a certain female Democratic politician they don’t much care for and shooting her mother in the head. If you want to be a stand-up guy, absolutely go for it. But stand up for us all, even the women you don’t like, not just the pretty young cheerleaders from Texas who shoot lions.