On December 16, a young medical student in one of India’s major cities was gang-raped, her body destroyed by the bodies of the men who allegedly assaulted her and also by the rusting metal bar doctors say they used to penetrate her. The bar removed part of her intestines. The rest were removed in a hospital far from home where she struggled for her life for just a few days.
It has taken an attack that lies nearly outside of comprehension to prompt demonstrations, but the outcry has begun.
Over the weekend, women rose up in Nepal, protesting outside the prime minister’s house against gender-based violence.
Egyptian women have faced ceaseless sexualized violence since the start of that country’s revolution, but are now protesting to stop the ever-present sexual harassment and assault.
According to Eve Ensler, the head of V-Day and One Billion Rising, a movement calling for women to rise up on February 14, 2013, and demand an end to violence, women in Somalia are planning what may be their first-ever major demonstrations against rape and violence.
This groundswell — what Ensler calls “a catalytic moment” — is the perfect chance for us to consider how we think about subjugation, rape, and degradation of women globally.
Gloria Steinem and I have written about how a cult of masculinity is behind the constant violation of women around the world — that some men brutalize women against their own self-interest because of an addiction to control or domination. To put it plainly: Rape is not about sex.
“Rape is about violence,” Steinem says, “proving ‘masculine’ superiority; often inserting guns and other objects into women’s bodies; playing out hostility to other men by invading the bodies of ‘their’ females, including old women and babies; occupying wombs with sperm of a conquering group; owning female bodies as the means of reproduction; and raping men and boys to make them as inferior as females.”
To read the rest of this op-ed, please click over to CNN.com.