Sold is a lyrically beautiful and graphically descriptive story of an innocent 13-year-old Nepalese girl from the mountains, sold by her oppressive gambling addict step-father and trafficked into India to become a prostitute in a brothel run by a woman with no morals. There, Lakshmi’s body is sold for the price of a Coca-Cola – a luxury she’d once cherished as a poor country girl. When she’d left home, she’d believed she was to become a maid in a rich woman’s household in the big city where she could save and send money home to her beloved mother and her baby brother. The reality is soul-crushing. She’s told so many lies she doesn’t know what to believe.
Human beings tend to cling to convenient obliviousness – ‘I haven’t seen it, so it can’t really exist!’ – in spite of embarrassing, burgeoning bodies of evidence to the contrary. In order for this comfortable bliss of ignorance to be maintained, it follows that any flagging up of the problem will be met with denial: so naturally you get accusations of lying, or exaggeration. These aren’t always intentionally unkind – I think they’re often motivated by a horrified inability to accept the severity of the problem as by a deliberate attempt at dismissal. – Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism
This quote explains perfectly the ignoring of all the warning signs in The Plague, especially by Dr. Rieux and his colleagues. A stampeding immigration of thousands of infected, dying rats doesn’t raise an alarm, really?!
Laura Bates brings issues of harassment, assault and abuse of both men and women to light, after being deluged with submissions to her website and Twitter accounts. Seemingly small incidents of off-hand remarks can feel like the death of a thousand cuts when they happen everyday in every facet of your life.
These sexist ouccrences happen so often and are so insidious and pervasive in Western society that they’ve become normalised to the point we feel silly for being upset about instances others brush off and disheartened when our complaints are ignored. All of this undermines confidence and erodes self-esteem. Even if we don’t realise it, we’ve all witnessed sexism – on the street, in the media, at school and work, and now online with social media and comment forums. As Bates says, ‘Enough is enough‘.
Kira Cochrane provides an excellent introduction to feminism with this concise and up-to-date history covering the last 100 years in this 70-page extended essay, published by the UK newspaper The Guardian. She discusses rape culture, online feminism – including an intriguing David and Goliath battle with Facebook (I cheered at the outcome), the huge impact humour makes in highlighting feminist issues, and the importance of intersectionality and inclusion of all demographics as feminism is for everyone not just white, middle class women.