Recently, a Houston newspaper put a contentious article in their online blog – the 10 Hottest Woman on the Texas Sex Offender List. Like most pieces of sensational journalism, clearly the title was designed to be a controversial but intriguing attention grabber. The editor knew that there would be people upset, and that was surely meant to be the point. I must admit, when I read the headline, I was disgusted myself. How could they trivialize such a heinous crime? How could they acknowledge, and shrug off, that these woman raped children? How could they objectify a woman to the point where her actions became irrelevant in comparison to her photo?
And then, I read the addendum by the editor.
…it’s a way of getting readers to look at the info, maybe get them to realize there are people out there like this and they all don’t look like the obvious stereotypical pervert.
I really struck me. Indeed, the women in those photos look like they might be your real estate agent, or your kid’s t-ball coach. They don’t look mean, let alone like someone that would violate a kid or rape a teenager. We’re using to kids coming forward to accuse priests and male celebrities of sexual abuse. We’re used to male coaches of sports teams perpetuating heinous crimes on their charges. We expect the pedo-stached loner with the white van with that teardrop window. We don’t expect our accountant. Maybe they had a point.
After all, we’re using to fighting for equal consideration for women. However, a sort of idealist undercurrent pervades feminism. I was educated in a girls-only environment, one that was strongly supportive of female ambitions and challenged us to break the stereotypes. On numerous occasions, my friends and I would muse about a “woman run” world, where it wasn’t a big deal for a woman to be elected leader of a country, and how women could prevent all these petty wars through diplomacy. Who hasn’t entertained such notions? And yet, they are so clearly wrong. Could anyone seriously say that Sarah Palin would actively end the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, even if she could? Would Elizabeth May liberate society from its male-dominated shackles (real or imagined)?
So why is it that women get this sort of free pass, where we assume the best of them, and the worst of men? Women are murderers too. Women can be foolish, ignorant and self-centred in a massively destructive way too. There are ten photos of women at that link who raped children. If you still can’t grasp the horror, imagine reading a news story about a male kindergarden teacher who sexually assaulted his student. Capture that rage and revulsion, and apply it to Sharon up there.
If we’re willing to believe that women can be equally good, it’s time to also fess up that women can be equally bad.