Happy International Women’s Day to all of the women who inspire me most! Lady Gaga (Italian-American), for inspiring kindness and creativity; Bif Naked (Indian-Canadian), a breast cancer survivor who inspires selflessness and encourages me to kick ass every day; Madonna (Italian-American), for inspiring fearlessness and and relentless creative freedom; Britney Spears (American), for inspiring resilience; Angelina Jolie (American), a philanthropist who inspires level-headedness and awareness; and Milla Jovovich (Russian), for inspiring creativity, passion, and enthusiasm.
When Stuyvesant says that women’s dress and bodies are distraction in a learning environment, for example, what they’re really saying is that they’re distracting to male students. The default student we are concerned about - the student whose learning we want to ensure is protected - is male. Never mind how “distracting” it is to be pulled from class, humiliated, and made to change outfits - publicly degrading young women is a small price to pay to make sure that a boy doesn’t have to suffer through the momentary distraction of glancing at a girl’s legs. When this dentist in Iowa can fire his assistant for turning him on - even though she’s done absolutely nothing wrong - the message again is that it’s men’s ability to work that’s important.
And when rape victims are blamed for the crime committed against them, the message is the same: This is something that happened to the perpetrator, who was driven to assault by a skirt, or a date, or the oh-so-sexy invitation of being passed out drunk. Women have infringed on their right to exist without being turned on. (Ta-Nehisi Coates describes this centering of male sexual vulnerability quite well.) Our very presence is a disruption of the male status quo."