An eager reader suggests an intersection between the discussion of sexism in our Capitol and the yearly eruption of female objectification a few miles west on Highway 34:
…the state has a big event (Sturgis rally) once a year where it is full stop objectification of women. I don’t see anyone calling a halt to the rally. Drive up and down I-90 and see the billboards that also objectify women. They won’t yank down any billboards anytime soon.
And before people lump me up for my rally comment, and will more than likely say, “women are participating willingly.” Yes, they are. The woman that cuts my hair, signs up to be a waitress (scantilly clad, because that is what the boss requires) for two weeks in addition to her hair cutting job. She told me that she doesn’t like dressing up like that, and she gets touched inappropriately and the comments are grotesque. But she puts up with it because the money is amazing and that job alone, pays her bills for almost two months. She feels that is the only way that she can “make it” a little more comfortable as a single mom because South Dakota wages are so bad. For this reason, she is willing to “put up” with things for two weeks at the rally.
I sort of got off of the Pierre issue that Cory’s blog entry is trying to address. The reason I added my rally comment is this – as we have learned in the last few weeks, sex harassment/sex assault isn’t just a hollywood problem, nor just a D.C. problem. It is a problem we have across the entire country. It is happening in Pierre, because it happens in Sturgis, because it happens in……etc etc etc. We have a “look the other way” attitude and a “she is making it up” attitude that doesn’t allow for these things to be addressed and nipped in the bud. And as long as those attitudes continue, sex harassment will continue and we won’t make any progress [Dana P, comment, Dakota Free Press, 2017.10.23].
Rep. Lynne Hix-DiSanto doesn’t explicitly connect the issues, but she and her public-speaking partner Sally Richardson do take advantage of the Harvey Weinstein scandal to promote their campaign against human trafficking in Sturgis and worldwide. Richardson send to my inbox the complete text of a Monday blog post equating sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and exploitation as exercises in power and profit:
What Is the common theme that I’m getting to here? Well it’s just this; The common theme is that sexual abuse is present in conducting business to make a profit. Harvey Weinstein did this and so do Traffickers/Pimps.
Both predators / perpetrators, at the time of the occurrences were seeking to gratify no one but themselves ie;
1) sexual gratification
3) financial gain
to name a few. I believe that the sexual abuse Weinstein’s Victims felt as well as trafficking Victims was and is we were ALL MADE TO FEEL TRAPPED, VULNERABLE and ALL were exploited [Sally Richardson, “Weinstein vs Traffickers,” Fighting Against Trafficking, 2017.10.23].
Richardson expresses frustration that victims of the sex industry aren’t getting the fame and fortune that Weinstein’s victims are getting:
As far as VICTIMS go – pain is pain and what we all suffered is horrifying to say the least. However there are some differences between Weinstein’s Victims and those who are Trafficked. Weinstein’s Victims have received;
1) attention from every aspect starting with the investigation to possibly the courts
2) great financial compensation
Trafficked Victims receive little to no attention IF you’re an adult victim and the situation if you’re a minor gets some to 15 minutes of fame sort of speak.. As far as any financial compensation, most if not all Trafficked Victims receive absolutely nothing /zero. With these two most important issues, it leaves many trafficked victims, what they deem reasons they either stay or go back to their Traffickers. Lastly and most important is ALL or MOST Victims had our VOICE and FREEDOMS VIOLENTLY STRIPPED AWAY [Richardson, 2017.10.23].
I don’t see any of the women raising questions about sexual harassment and assault in Pierre getting great financial compensation or any clear action from the courts or any other authorities.
Richardson concludes with a statement that starts as pretty strong advice to the power-structure excusers (Hickey, Deutsch, Wiese, Langer) who are trying to put down the women speaking up against sexual harassment in Pierre, then ends with a pitch for donations:
All of this brings me back to my original thought when I started writing this blog and that is; ALL VICTIMS OF SEXUAL PREDATORS, ARE VALUABLE AND DESERVE A VOICE, AND THE MEDIA SHOULD NOT DISCRIMINATE ON WHAT IS GOING TO GET THEM RATINGS.
To help end Modern Day Slavery visit our site and DONATE NOW [Richardson, 2017.10.23].
I understand that Richardson and DiSanto are tackling a broader issue and that in this specific blog post Richardson is comparing coverage of the Weinstein scandal with coverage of the illegal sex industry. But looking at South Dakota, I can find all sorts of press coverage, a state Department of Social Services website, and even statements from our Congresswoman on human trafficking at Sturgis. This month is the first time the local press has covered the culture of misogyny in our state Legislature.
Richardson and DiSanto deserve support for their effort to protect women from male predators. So do the legislators and lobbyists who are challenging the patriarchal culture of abuse in Pierre.
Update 12:32 CDT: Let’s not forget that DiSanto herself, as a modeling agency operator, has peddled plenty of objectifiable female flesh for Sturgis branding:
Nothing shady or too risqué, heavens forfend. Just be “adorable”… and don’t wear a bulky sweatshirt.