Violence and women of color

Violence and women of color - Wallner 1 This...

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Wallner 1 This interpretation, upheld and sanctioned by the courts, by the judicial system, by society and culture, is one in which a woman may first resist, but then succumbs to what “she wanted all along." The mentality and underlying assumptions this interpretation conveys is: 1. That Women ask for it because of the way they are dressed. 2. That “no” really means “yes.” 3. That women enjoy being raped. 4. That historically women of color could be raped, beaten, worked to death or killed with impunity precisely because they are of color. Antonia I. Castañeda, 1997 It is scary to think that the ignorant, sexist thinking described above survives and still propels current social and legal discourse in the United States. While many women would like to believe that such thinking existed only in the past—and that they can now coexist peacefully with men as their equals—others bear witness to the sad truth that violence, sexism, and racism continue to be driving forces in today’s society. Women are finally taking steps out from beneath their hegemonic oppressors, but the journey will not be easy because of the way that violence toward women has been institutionalized and expressed throughout history. Crucial to the advancement of women of color in protecting themselves against violent crimes is the critical writings of women of color feminists. Violence against women in the U.S. has been documented since the earliest days of colonialism, but it has not been criticized closely enough. These acts of violence—rape, beatings, harassment, abuse—have been framed, historically, in different ways depending on the identities of the perpetrator and the victim. The most gruesome and unspeakable acts often involved a white male settler violating a woman of color. However, these men did not take responsibility for the unspeakable crimes they committed because their victims were women of color, in fact many of them—Columbus and Cortez among others—became heroes. During the crusades to conquer,
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Wallner 2 imperialize, and settle new territories of the United States, white men were afforded great degrees of latitude in their actions toward the native women. These women had a double cross to bear: they belonged to a conquered group of peoples who the Europeans believed to be racially inferior, and they were women and therefore second-class citizens to men. Violence against women, especially sexual violence, is inherently racial in nature. On the one hand, Antonia I. Castañeda points out in her address during an International Women’s Day rally that: “Ninety percent of all rapes are intraracial; the assailant and the victim are of the same ‘race’” (310). Overall, whether the victim is a woman of color or a white male, it is most likely that her
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Violence and women of color - Wallner 1 This...

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