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Getting Away with Murder...and Rape

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Message Elayne Clift
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Let's be clear about this from the start: The underlying reason that so many men have rushed to the defense of film director Roman Polanski now that he's fighting extradition on former rape charges is misogyny -- the hatred of women, or at least a hearty indifference to them.

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It's not about how much time has passed since he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in 1978, and it's not about what a great film director he is. It's not about the libertarian French and moralistic Americans. It's about how little women and girls really matter in most societies.

If females mattered more there wouldn't be over a half million of them dying of preventable causes related to childbearing in the developing world despite 20 years of Safe Motherhood rhetoric. Sexual slavery, rape as a weapon of war, dowry deaths and other gender-based atrocities wouldn't be flourishing. There wouldn't be a Clothesline Project commemorating women who've died of sexual violence. Health insurance companies in this country wouldn't be denying women diagnostic procedures for early cancer detection nor would they make them have drive-through mastectomies. David Letterman, John Edwards, and a host of others of that ilk wouldn't be sleeping with a slew of women because they're powerful men and sex is fun. Bill Maher would stop using words like "p*ssy" and "t*tty bars." (I swear if he doesn't stop it, I'm going to commit a crime.)

I once served on a jury in a stalking case. The evidence against the defendant was so compelling I thought we'd convict him in 15 minutes. But it took six hours of deliberation, and a lot of education from three women on the jury, to convince the male jurists that the victim was not being provocative and that she had clearly indicated she was terrified of her stalker. It's amazing to me how long it takes for men to get it. And how little they care when they do.

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Elayne Clift is a writer,lecturer, workshop leader and activist. She is senior correspondent for Women's Feature Service, columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel and Brattleboro (VT) Commons and a contributor to various publications internationally. (more...)
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