While there are those who are truly emotionally and politically invested in the safety, security and liberation of women anywhere and everywhere, there are also those more concerned with the “othering” of men as “evil” when their callously violent and misogynist hatred is lauded at women outside of the United States.
Those drunk on the lie and victim-blaming ideology of American exceptionalism gladly blame victims of abuse and rape when those victims are U.S. citizens, especially non-White U.S. citizens (as America continually reveals its lack of concern and empathy for Black and Native American/Indian domestic violence and rape victims) yet seem beyond outraged when it occurs to women outside of the U.S., especially in the region labeled as The Middle East or in Africa or Asia. This dichotomy exists because people here are concerned with “othering” brown people abroad as “savage men” and “helpless women.” The myth of American superiority has them believing that these women are weak and sit around waiting to be attacked while American women invite attacks (and thus should be blamed for them) and should be “too strong” to be attacked in the first place.
Women like Malala Yousafzai and Jyoti Singh Pandey become symbols of “foreign savagery” and “American superiority,” not what they truly are: women, like women everywhere fighting and dying from patriarchy and misogyny. EVERYWHERE. Here. There. Places where the stories aren’t reported and circulated via social media and open to American judgment shaped by imperialist thought. And though cultural differences (primiarly as a response to White supremacist capitalist patriarchy) exist within the U.S. (just examine domestic violence and rape statistics for White women vs. Black women, and then all women vs. Native American/Indian women) and for women outside of the U.S., the false hierarchy created to portray men abroad as “more” savage than men right here is based on White supremacy and xenophobia.
The reality of women fighting for their liberation abroad is a story that many Americans do not want to hear. It ruins the myth of the “empowered” woman only existing in the United States. It ruins the myth that every country craves American domination and ethnocentrism masked as “leadership.” It ruins the myth that organizations in the United States and other “first world” nations, sometimes actually staffed with rapists themselves, are needed to “save” women abroad from the men abroad who know nothing but rape unlike the “good” men in first world nations who don’t do this!
I just read a post about Congolese women who listed several things of political importance to them over battling rape itself. Western media narratives are shaped such that people believe that rape is their only problem. Further, some women have reported that if they do not state that they were raped and/or mention other political issues in addition to rape, they are no longer listened to. It doesn’t fit the narrative that those in power want to hear. What’s ironic is that Black women there are expected to lie about rape or only report rape and no other issues in order to be listened to and Black women here in the States are expected to pretend that rape has never occurred. Either way, a narrative shaped by White supremacist capitalist patriarchy is what’s expected—not our truths.
When the concern for women’s safety is non-existent, the violent actions of misogyny continue. When the “othering” of evil in “other” men in “far” places occurs in the U.S. as a way to excuse and exalt American men (but only in a country to country and culture to culture comparison; within the U.S., hierarchy by race and class exist to further delineate which men are “good” and which are “evil”) both women here and abroad are marginalized.
Some American women have bought into this as well. They think the presumption of greater “liberation” here makes them better than women abroad, while neither women here nor abroad can get justice for rape, and while barely any rape cases here are prosecuted. Congress has played games with The Violence Against Women Act. I mean…even Anonymous is now involved in revealing rape culture in America and Americans are still holding their noses high as some place “more evolved” than anywhere else? Please. The cultural disease that are patriarchy and misogyny are everywhere. American exceptionalism is the lie that makes patriarchy and misogyny okay here and reprehensible anywhere else.
Americans wonder if an American eleven-year-old who is gang raped by multiple adult men dressed “sexy,” (as if this excuses the violent misogynist hatred played out on a CHILD’s body) yet have outrage for Indian men who gang rape? They think a student being shot in Pakistan for trying to educate girls is different from girls being gang raped (and blamed) by worshipped football players, there classmates, here? Ones who will be protected by the same type of men who would shoot a female student abroad? Misogyny is misogyny. Violence is violence. And, until the LIE that American superiority means violence only occurs to those who deserve it here, but “helpless” people abroad need American protection (a protection that never exists without imperialist domination) ends, women will continue to be unsafe anywhere.