Monday, 15 September 2014

Respectability vs RESPECT: Part One

R•E•S•P•E•C•T  is of course:

Respectability is a different kettle of fish, however.  The very foundation of patriarchy is cemented with the premise that only some women are respectable - that is, worthy and deserving of respect - and others are NOT.

My co-blogger fern hill recently addressed the *stigma* of abortion. And we have many more blogposts at DJ! that challenge the notion that respectable women should grieve, do penance, and wear ashes on their head when a pregnancy - their OWN, in fact - is terminated. By choice.  Or when it's forcibly rejected by the body, an occurrence that happens regularly.

By way of an example, Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' disclosure of how and why she had two abortions, illustrates the division between what is considered a 'respectable' abortion and what is not. 

"For a woman to reveal she has had an abortion because she wanted one, because she couldn't emotionally sacrifice for another child, because she was remiss in her use of contraception, and, further, to declare she has only felt happiness towards her decision is truly groundbreaking. Davis' abortion narrative has helped diminish the social stigma surrounding abortion. But until the “bad” abortion stories are just as acceptable, pro-choice advocates have a long way to go."

From must-read: _Wendy Davis and the 'Good Abortion' Myth_ found here.

Respectability is at issue with regard to abortion because when women have sex, consensually or not, that can produce a pregnancy - unwanted or planned.

Sex as procreative versus sex as a recreative activity.  Also, sex as gender bigotry.

Yesterday some hack writer, compensating for whatever pathetic sense of inadequacy seized him, dismissed Naomi Klein and her recent publication in calculated, malevolent, gendered, barnyard animal terms.  

Not even bothering to address or refute her arguments, he deems her stupid. 

There you have it. But wait, here is more to consider.

As observed: "...the word cow is a put down to women but the term bull is considered a compliment for men." 

Note also in the exchange cited above, the comparison used when vilifying mayoral candidate Olivia Chow.  Her competitor John Tory said that she had "more positions than Masters and Johnson".  

"Respectability" is a toxic judgement passed on women and the last remaining double standard for judging women's choices and behaviours as indecent.  Feminists of African, Indigenous and Asian ancestry have identified the use of "respectability" politics as a weapon specifically used to target women of colour (WoC) for social opprobrium.

An incident that unfolded in Los Angeles last week gained publicity when Danièle Watts, intimidated and humiliated by police who profiled her as prostitute, spoke up.  

Her experience is not unusual. As evident from the insult slung at Ms Chow by her opponent, these assumptions of impropriety about racialized women are claimed by men who reduce them to female beings unworthy of respect, with little or no resources other than the unbridled hyper-sexuality that others project upon their bodies.

Next: Part Two will examine how respectability politics reinforce whorephobia as a partisan neo-conservative tactic to divide women and destroy solidarity among feminists. Read the blogpost from @kwetoday that I've linked to, above.

1 comment: said...

Excellent piece, deBeauxOs! I love "Sex as procreative versus sex as a recreative activity." It pretty much sums things up, doesn't it?

It's ongoing and seemingly unending, this assault on women. Backlash, backlash, backlash!

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