The solution is simple: reframe the problem

2018-09-23 11:59
Gayle Edmunds

Gayle Edmunds

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While frantically searching for a lost pom pom dog, my mother said to my daughter: “Let’s reframe the problem. What do we do if we can’t find the pom pom dog?”

This got me thinking about how a viral thread on Twitter this week reframed a problem and how the allegations about misogynist US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and his ilk, need the same treatment.

Blogger Gabrielle Blair took an unwanted pregnancy problem and reframed it. The first tweet of her frankly brilliant thread goes like this: “I’m a mother of six, and a Mormon. I have a good understanding of arguments surrounding abortion, religious and otherwise. I’ve been listening to men grandstand about women’s reproductive rights and I’m convinced men actually have zero interest in stopping abortion. Here’s why …”

What follows is the most incredible reframing of a problem – that men are to blame for all unwanted pregnancies and could not care less – and it has reverberated around the internet. It reminds us (again) of the main issue: by default our society doesn’t hold men accountable.

Take the case of the creepy Kavanaugh – he is fighting not to be investigated for his behaviour as a teenager.

The woman who has accused him of attempted rape when they were teenagers is a professor with numerous degrees, an impressive career pedigree and a solid home life. I know all this, and more, about Christine Blasey Ford because one of the first pieces I read about her allegations included her “qualifications” for being a “reputable” person. A person to be believed.

After all, her experience must be validated by exemplary behaviour; anything else means she “asked for it” or “made it up” or is “mixed up”.

This week I also read Elizabeth Bruenig’s story about her home town’s legend of a teenager’s fate. “August 11, 2006, was a sweltering Friday night in the middle of a long, fatally hot summer. A 16-year-old girl reported that she was raped that night, in a storage shed off a dirt road in my hometown of Arlington, Texas. Nobody was ever prosecuted for it and nobody was punished except, arguably, her: By the end of the fall semester she had disappeared from our high school, leaving only sordid rumours and a nascent urban legend.”

Still, women – and girls – must always prove why they aren’t accountable for what is done to them. Men, meanwhile, are offered endless opportunities to pass the burden of accountability to women.

We have to reframe the problem and hold men accountable. That will end the war on women.

Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala

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