by Silver Adept
[Content Note: Misogyny, sexual shaming, victim-blaming, fundamentalist religion. Additional content notes for links: Homophobia, violation of boundaries, mansplaining, victim blaming, minimization of violence, gendered expectations.]
1: Russia has outlawed the promotion of "homosexual propaganda" and is encouraging neighbours to spy on each other and report to the police anyone they suspect of being pro-gay.
2: United States society insists that the boundaries where women are justified in protecting themselves are much closer to actual assault than what is practical to prevent that assault. And that the potential confession of a murder isn't actually important enough to involve the police when it is obtained, preferring instead to frame it as a reminder to women that they are more likely to be attacked by intimates than strangers, a reminder that most women don't need and that prefers to blame victims rather than prosecute attackers.
3: United States society says bloggers aren't supposed to express a desire to get comments or kudos, but instead treasure each one as it arrives as a wonderful gift from someone who deigned to comment or click the kudos button.
These things, they are related.
They're all part of Expected Marginalized Behaviour in a kyriarchal society.
A woman who expresses a desire is, depending on whether the desire is for or against something, a [female of the Canis family], a [sex worker], or a [derogatory slang for a woman who is sexually active]. Women aren't permitted the simple function of having a desire and being able to express it openly, but are instead supposed to find a way to indirectly express their desire, preferably through a male intermediary (and even more so, a male that has an "ownership" claim on her).
When women do express direct desires, as we found out in the recent stalking incident, but also in just about every dudebro commentary on feminist issues or comments talking about the physical attractiveness of a blogger instead of their content, they are met with hordes of men chastising and insulting them for having the gall to be a woman and express an opinion outside of the acceptable channels.*
So bloggers can't ask directly for comments and kudos, because doing so risks opening them up to negative attention and scorn, based on whether their screen name is female-coded or not. (The very thing the anxious blogger wants to avoid.)
The Russian prime minister / president, Vladimir Putin, wants you to know that he is a very manly man. A macho man. So much so that he makes sure to take pictures of himself shirtless, baring his hairy chest while doing things like horseback riding. Or pictures of himself playing ice hockey against professional players (and scoring the winning goal in the third period, no less). Mr. Putin believes that the appropriate face for a Russian leader is Machismo. Anything less than full stereotypical masculinity is unacceptable. And, as Kongfuzi tried to tell the administrators of China, if the leader is a perfect example, then the country will confirm to that example, and harmony will be achieved. There is no room in Russia for effeminate, "girlie" or insufficiently macho men. So says the leader, by photo-op and deed.
So it follows that Russia is in the middle of a campaign designed to eliminate "homosexual propaganda", telling neighbors that they must spy on their fellows and be ever vigilant, because once someone falls prey to that kind of propaganda, it's only a short time before you could become infected, too. Which makes you insufficiently manly, and that is unacceptable.**
So speaking out about your identity, who you are, your fundamental being, isn't legal in Russia. Back here in the States, while you can speak out about who you are, there are still several official prohibitions against marrying, holding certain jobs, adopting, medical consent and advocacy, and many other civic and legal functions that people who aren't QUILTBAG are not subject to. And several unofficial prohibitions against being female and successful, because career-focused women are chastised for not being mothers, and mothers are chastised for not being career-focused. If you are female, you are expected to be okay with this and not complain about it, or bow to the social pressure and use a man as your shield and advocate in the world.
Ah, and speaking of social pressure, let's talk about boundaries. To horribly corrupt Jane Austen, a woman without an obvious male owner is assumed to be in want of one. For sufficiently determined men, even the socially accepted sign of having a male owner is insufficient to get them to respect personal space.
So what is a woman to do with someone who sets off the danger sense? Ignore him, of course, unless he turns out to actually be dangerous. Then she had to trust those feelings and get away from him as soon as possible. He won't actually go away? Well, what did she do to keep enticing him? Nothing? What was she wearing? Well, surely she had to be giving off some signal that she was available, and he's a nice guy, so it's not his fault he read a signal that she didn't intend.
Oh, so she loudly asserted that she had a right to her own body and that he was infringing on it? Sign her up for the Canis family. What is that uppity woman thinking, claiming she's better than men. Someone should teach her a lesson so that she understands where her place is. And if one man isn't enough, then recruit some friends and go after her wherever she goes, so that everyone can hear how wrong she is to think of herself as a person with opinions worth hearing.
Why do men have "wingmen"? Because women travel in groups for protection, and men have to strip that protection away to claim their conquest. Pay no attention to anything else that might be interpreted as a stop sign - even that can of mace in the face was just a "not now".
And if he does "accidentally" step over the line, he can feel safe that forces will be marshaled to explain what "really" happened, to place the blame on her, to discourage her from pressing charges or a suit, to sully her name and reputation, and to ensure that nobody actually cares, even at the possibility that she was hurt or killed, except hysterical feminists and the not-men who claim to be their allies. (They're probably gay, anyway.)
So what's a woman to do in these circumstances? Well, if she Knows What's Good For Her, she'll do nothing, and allow this boundaries to be drawn increasingly closer to her, until they bind her as surely as any rope or chain would. If she expresses a desire to avoid this date, she will be shouted down by men, called ungrateful for their protection, and informed upon by other women trying to protect themselves from sharing her fate. Any man trying to help her will fall under suspicion of being a not-man and will have to be monitored to ensure that his contagion doesn't spread and make other not-men.
These things, they are related.
* If this sounds suspiciously like business as usual in fundamentalist Muslim countries and fundamentalist Christian enclaves, you have found the beat. The difference is sometimes less a matter of degree and more a matter of openness - here in the States it's at least nominally considered bad form to openly claim that women should be inferior and unable to do anything without male approval and consent. If, however, you track things like abortion votes, voting rights decisions, and the wage gap, the pattern is right there for the noticing, right down to the justification that this is commanded by The Being Represented By The Tetragrammaton.
** It would be an appropriate comparison between Russia of 2013 and the Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei of the 1930s and early 1940s with regard to how they criminalize people that would wear the pink triangle, although to my knowledge Russia has not engaged in all the measures their comparison did. It's not really the point of this post, though, so I leave it as an exercise to the reader.