Undead sexist cliches: Women are just like light bulbs. Or wallets. Or cars

The New York Times reported this week that Sen. Rand Paul, when blasting the government for setting standards for low-flush toilets, energy-efficient light-bults, etc., argued that it was hypocritical for EPA bureaucrats to be pro-choice yet pro-regulation: “You favor a woman’s right to abortion,” he said, but “you’re really anti-choice on every other product.”
This may be the standard libertarian dogma that all regulation is equally bad (Freedom News columnist Tibor Machan used to argue that the Founding Fathers’ failure to protect business from regulation while protecting free speech and freedom of religion was inconsistent and a terrible mistake). But it also fits into a long tradition of equating a woman’s body to some sort of object in discussions of sex.
Some abstinence-only courses, for example, compare a woman to a car: If a man buys a pristine new car, his dream car, then discovers it’s actually been used before, think how disappointed and cheated he’d feel about his property.
That’s relatively tame compared to the rape metaphors in this line. Right-wing pundit Walter Williams, for example, once informed his readers that a woman who gets raped after going to a bar is no different from a guy leaving his wallet in a bar—of course, it’s wrong if someone finds the wallet and keep it, but it’s your own stupid fault for not being more careful.
A similar right-wing theme is that rape is no different from leaving home while your door is unlocked, then coming home to find you’ve been robbed. Should have been more careful!
I’m sure it’s not coincidence that both these metaphors are nonviolent—rather than say, comparing rape to having someone take your wallet after threatening to kill you or beating you to a bloody pulp. The purpose, after all, is to trivialize rape, much the way Paul trivialize’s the right to abortion—it’s no more significant than having the right to buy a lightbulb (in fact, in Paul’s worldview, it appears to be less important, since he’s anti-abortion [or as others have put it, the forced-birth side]).
The seriousness of deciding whether to have a child? The trauma of rape (a much more intense violation than losing your wallet)? The fact rape is actually a brutal assault, not a crime against property? The fact rape victims are often treated completely differently from someone who reports a theft? All washed away by the property metaphors.
In this country, women haven’t been property legally for a long time. But apparently some men still haven’t gotten the message.

4 Comments

Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

4 responses to “Undead sexist cliches: Women are just like light bulbs. Or wallets. Or cars

  1. Pingback: Links « Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Undead sexist links « Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: Richard Cohen, Walter Williams, and lying with statistics | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  4. Pingback: Undead Sexist Cliches: Paul Ryan’s Beard proves women looooove big, strong, bossy men. | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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