Are American men really changing their sexist views?

February 4, 2007 at 5:19 am Leave a comment

How much have American men really changed their perception of women in the last 50 years? The honest answer would be that some men have made dramatic changes and others have changed very little.

However, that is hardly a proper answer to such an important question. Our world at the start of the 21st century is still comprised of countries that treat women cruelly, but that has changed in America – for the most part.

For example, a husband can no longer beat his wife in America without legal ramifications, women can expect favorable monetary judgments in divorce courts that will help them raise their children, legislation prevents young girls from becoming victims to old would-be husbands and rape victims can expect to be treated with dignity and care.

In fact, new laws have changed the way women are treated overall and most ladies feel as if they are safe in this newly defined nation of assumed equality. I too largely identified with this feeling of security until I read an article about a young woman who was raped and when she went to the police, was treated like a criminal instead of a victim.

The college student was raped after attending a parade in Tampa, Florida. She called 911 and while the police did a background check at the police station, they found she had an outstanding warrant for not paying restitution on a theft arrest from a juvenile case.

Instead of receiving the proper attention that a rape victim should garner, the young woman was arrested and was not allowed to take the second dose of the morning after pill to prevent an unwanted pregnancy by her attacker because a jail worker cited a religious conflict concerning the pill.

It is at times like this that I have to shake my head and remind myself that we do indeed live in the 21st century. Incidents such as this one make it clear that although America may have come a long way in the last 50 years, we still have so very far to go.

This is how the young woman’s attorney, Vic Moore, responded to the incident, “Shocked. Stunned. Outraged. I don’t have words to describe it. She is not a victim of any one person. She is a victim of the system. There’s just got to be some humanity involved when it’s a victim of rape.”

Evidently, the outstanding restitution that caused the warrant came to a sum of about $4,500. Therefore, it seems this victim was further victimized by the law enforcement officials she trusted to help in her time of dire need for a measly $4,500.

The humiliation and degradation of rape was further propagated by the humiliation of an arrest for a separate event. This woman said she was not even aware of the warrant and said she had already paid the restitution in question.

However, even if the warrant was valid and the restitution still outstanding, the system still failed this young woman during what will probably become the most vulnerable day of her life.

There was a quick turn about in the offending police station once the media got wind of this story. It managed to get the woman an emergency bond hearing and she was able to take the second “day-after” pill – a day late. Tampa police also said they were changing their policy on arresting crime victims who have outstanding warrants.

Change is slow, this I know. But when this arresting officer called to make sure the arrest should be made, it would seem that anyone with even a little bit of humanity would insist that the warrant be put on hold until the victim was in a better physical and mental condition to handle the situation.

This situation begs us to question whether the current status of women in America, which on the surface appears safe and equal, is no more than just following a form mandated by new laws and not really a change in the actual way women are perceived by society at large.

If perception had actually been altered, if the changes we see in the robotic actions of our judicial system and government were embedded within the social fabric of America, this incident would have never happened.

Instead, society automatically reverted back to its old misogynistic ways when no guidelines were in place to tell them how to behave. If this is any indication as to whether men have really changed their perception of women, then it does not look very promising at all.

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Entry filed under: feminism, feminist, misogyny, Stella Ramsaroop, women, women's issues. Tags: , .

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