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It is a cage whose bars have been put in place by misogyny. The bars define women's lives. Over the last few days those bars have become stunningly visible as women shared their stories about violence and how they structure their daily lives to try to escape it.

In the midst of this outpouring, stories of the rape and murder of women around the world were in the headlines.

The reality of misogyny's legacy of violence and fear circled the earth - brutal and inescapable.

I can not get the image of the woman stoned to death in Pakistan out of my mind. An "Honor Killing," done by her father, brothers, and uncles because she had chosen to marry the man she loved. Their "Honor" was of more worth than her life and the life of her unborn child.

Nor can I forget the woman who has been sentenced to being whipped a 100 times - a virtual death sentence -  because she married a man not of the state proscribed faith. If by some miracle she survives the whipping, she is to be hanged.

Canada has just officially realized that a thousand Native American women have "disappeared." Women have been disappearing across the globe for a very long time.

The rapes of Native American women on Reservations is at epidemic proportions.

Rape is being used as a weapon of war in the Congo with four women being raped every five minutes.

The history of slavery in this country is also a history of rape, a story that is still too often denied.

The horrifying list of actions revealing men's devaluing of women's lives goes on and on, including the murders of young people in Santa Barbara, California a week ago.

I've spent this past week supporting women speaking out at #YesAllWomen, here, and reading multiple blog posts and articles elsewhere about the endemic culture of violence against women.

As absolutely painful reading the stories women have been sharing has been, the most terrifying, frustrating, and infuriating aspect of it all has been the derailing, insulting and threatening comments from men responding to those stories - including threats of rape and death.

The woman who started #YesAllWomen had to go into hiding because of it, and she wasn't alone.  

That is my ground, my foundation, what I and so many others have been seeing and dealing with this past week. That is what so many of us have been responding to.

What happens to one woman can happen to any woman and women know it.

There have been multitudes of stories about just that, here and elsewhere, flooding out all week.

So much pain and fear, so much humiliation and shame, pouring out that it is hard not to feel like we're drowning in it.

And even after days of reading, days of trying to wrap my heart around it all, days of trying to be supportive -

a 19 year old daughter telling her mother how lucky she was not to have been raped yet

- is still knocking holes in my heart.

She's feeling lucky she hasn't been raped - yet.


[Just sit with that for awhile. Be with it. Dare to think and imagine what that means. What that says about the society we live in. What that means for our daughters, and yes, our sons.]

That young woman is not the only one to feel that way, far from it. I've read comments from older women expressing survivor guilt because they haven't been raped - yet.

The hurt in my heart, in all our hearts, just keeps growing.  

And yet for some men this reality, this living in a cage of fear day after day after day, does not matter. It does not exist unless they see it with their own eyes, unless it can be statistically quantified, unless that fear, that reality, is expressed - politely, unless it is written in blood.

The reality of women's lives, how women negotiate each day in an attempt to remain "lucky" is denied legitimacy.

It is that devaluing and denial of women's reality that enables the violence against women to continue.

That devaluing is an insult to and abandonment of men who have expressed their fears for their wives, daughters, and friends.

That devaluing is an insult to the courage and bravery of those in the LGTB Community who risked so much by sharing their stories in #YesAllWomen.

That devaluing says everything.

It says that misogyny is alive and well - here and everywhere.

Originally posted to Onomastic on Sat May 31, 2014 at 02:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, and This Week in the War on Women.

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