Friday, May 17, 2019

On the Invisibility of Things Female

1.  US News does a Best Countries ranking which has several sub-indices.  There's even a methodology page where you can learn how the various parts of the final index are weighted and so on.  Looks very sciency, it does.

I was bored the other day and scrolled through its various sub-indices.  One was about the best places for you to start a career.  The three top countries, in order from first to third, were Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Never ever drink coffee while reading silly stuff, because the coffee goes all over the screen and the keys and up your nose, too.  In any case, this example is a wonderful one about the way women are still mostly invisible.

But not to worry!  The overall index has a separate sub-index about the best countries for women!  In that one Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates don't rank terribly high.  So wimminz have their own slot in this index.  This makes me wonder if all the other subindices are to be interpreted as applying to men only.

2.  Missouri raced Alabama and Georgia to get its forced-birth law in place, to be taken to the conservative Supreme Court so that Roe v. Wade can be overturned.  But they didn't come on the top in the squash-the-bitches race.  Still, their proposal makes abortion illegal after eight weeks and offers no exceptions, other than risk to the pregnant woman*'s life.

Some in the Missouri House wanted to have an exception to rape and incest, too.  But Barry Hovis, a Republican representative, explained why such an exception would not be necessary.  Hovis used to be in law enforcement and he recounts his experiences:

Most of my rapes were not the gentlemen jumping out of the bushes that nobody had ever met. That was one or two times out of one hundred. Most of them were date rapes or consensual rapes, which were all terrible, but I sat in court — sat in court — when juries would struggle with those types of situations where it was a 'he-said she-said,' and they would find the person not guilty. Unfortunate, if it really happened, but I had no control over that, because it was a judge or a jury making those decisions. But we'll just say someone is sexually assaulted. They have eight weeks to make a decision."

Bolds are mine.

I'm now imagining a gentleman rapist jumping out of the bushes, wearing a top hat, a monocle, swirling a silver-tipped cane and bowing politely before the rape.

But the juicy part of that quote is naturally about the new and fascinating concept of consensual rapes.  Hovis later stressed that he didn't mean that rapes are ever consensual, and I 'm sure he didn't.

Still, that such a term could blurt out of his mouth (like frogs out of the mouth of a spelled princess in a fairy tale) after all those years of working in a field where rapes were investigated!

This tells me that he never really spent much thought on what the definitions of rape might me.  And it reminds me of other forced-birth politicians who imagine that women's uteri are full of dead embryos or that there's something in the female body which prevents fertilization when a rape is a legitimate one.  Instead of being illegitimate, I suppose.

All this links to the invisibility and unimportance of most things female.  There's no real reason to learn about the female reproductive system or what types of rape there might be, even if you are a forced-birth politician trying to ban all abortions.

3.  I recently experienced that weird thing again, the thing where I say something in a meeting, make a proposal or a criticism, and the silence following it is deafening.  Then some guy says the same thing and suddenly everyone discusses the topic.  I used to think that this was all my fault, that I was talking too quietly or mumbling or not being clear, until I learned that what I was experiencing happens to lots of other women, too.

This time it happened in an online discussion, so the quality of my voice (which is divine, of course) couldn't be the explanation.

4.  The invisibility of African-American girls and women in this country is far greater still, because of that pesky double-impact of sexism and racism in the US.


The invisibility I have written about can be fairly subtle, not like removing all photos of women from newspaper stories.  Neither is it complete, of course, and women, as human beings,  are a lot more visible in the public sphere today than was the case in the past, though even now we are more likely to see them in stereotypically female roles**.


*  Or the pregnant person's life, given that under the gender identity -definition people not identifying as women can become pregnant, too.  That expansion increases inclusion, but it does have the side-effect of increasing the invisibility of the female body.  An alien from outer space seeing that formulation (pregnant people, say) would assume that any human being could suddenly find themselves pregnant.

** Perhaps as eye-candy, as the grieving mother or as the white-haired cookie-baking grandmother.

African-American women, in particular,  may suffer from simultaneous hypervisibility and invisibility, the former as representatives of their race-and-sex, and the latter as individual human beings.   But the paradox of hypervisibility and invisibility might also apply to the few women of all races who wield a lot of societal power.