April 15th, 2008

thinky tim

Joss Whedon on the murder of Dua Khalil

[InsaneJournal is down and won't let me update, so I'm back to LJ for today.]

Today I found a link to Joss Whedon's commentary on the murder of Dua Khalil, a young woman who was killed almost exactly one year ago. Her death is yet another instance of the abuse of women being treated as a spectator sport - and in the year since, that has not changed. The reason Joss' entry surfaced again is that a charity anthology, Nothing But Red, was written to commemorate Khalil's murder and raise money for Equality Now, and it has just been released.

I never read Joss' entry last year, but I'm glad I found it now. If you are like me and also missed it, I want to bring this it to your attention now for two reasons: the first is that, as to be expected, Joss writes very eloquently about Khalil's death, as well as the pervasiveness of misogyny and sexual oppression.

The second reason is this quote:

"Women’s inferiority – in fact, their malevolence -- is as ingrained in American popular culture as it is anywhere they’re sporting burkhas. I find it in movies, I hear it in the jokes of colleagues, I see it plastered on billboards, and not just the ones for horror movies. Women are weak. Women are manipulative. Women are somehow morally unfinished."

I appreciate that Joss does not use this event as a call to arms for feminism that relies on perpetuating racist and imperialist power differences. In other words, he does not seek to protect women from misogyny by redirecting our malice against non-white men and non-U.S. cultures. Too often, the response - the feminist response, even - to news such as this is one of, "Look how awful they are," and "We should help those women over there." Villainizing minority men, infantilizing minority women, and ignoring the whole heap of steaming bullshit that is sexism in the United States.

I do not feel safe from misogyny for being born in the U.S. In fact, when my so-called "liberal" or "progressive" male peers decry "foreign" sexism but refuse to acknowledge the necessity of combatting or even acknowledging their own privilege - I don't feel very safe at all. Finding one more male ally who not only challenges his male privilege, but also refuses to soothe his ego by relying on his racial privilege, gives me some hope.