Ok, I know it’s the end of the semester and all, but did anyone happen to notice these cheery statistics provided by the U.N. on March 9, the day after International Women’s Day:
- More than 1 million girls are “missing” at birth each year
- 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced sexual or physical violence
- Every day 800 women die from largely preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth
- 1 in 10 girls worldwide under the age of 18 was forced to have sex
- 38% of women who are murdered are killed by their partners
Part of the “No Ceilings, Full Participation Report” sponsored by a number of international aid organizations, these statistics demonstrate that women around the world have still not achieved equality.
And this is why strong, powerful, ambitious, passionate, caring, dedicated men and women need to stand up and declare loudly and proudly that they are FEMINISTS. Folks, I hate to break it to you, and so close to commencement no less, but WOMEN ARE SILL NOT EQUAL in this world. If you actually think this, you are deluded: WAKE THE %$#@ UP!
Yes – I hear the naysayers, anti-feminists and “humanists” asking: “Where are the U.N. stats about violence against men?”
Violence is largely about POWER – it is an act perpetrated to demonstrate one’s power over another person. POWER involves inequality: someone stronger, someone weaker; someone better, someone less than. And violence against women seems OK to people because:
- We have been taught (still are?) that women are naturally weak, so exerting power over them is part of the way things work. It is not a big deal.
- The media continues to reinforce the notion that women are objects, not people; yes, as in lamps, paintings, ottomans, sculptures, wallpaper, OBJECTS meant to make our world “prettier,” not HUMANS who can actually feel pain if beaten, penetrated, kicked, insulted, harassed, catcalled. I am talking here about the pernicious messages sent by film, advertising, music videos, TV shows, and other forms of media that persist in relegating women to the role of objects and in representing women as nothing more than attractive scenery.
The widespread violence against women around the world is proof that women are not thought of as equal, despite one Rioter’s claim that the wage gap is a myth. [Really, you want to tell me that my lower pay than a colleague hired at the same time with the same qualifications, doing the same job, is a figment of my imagination?! Check my bank account!]
Perhaps you are getting the sense that I am angry . . . yes, I am. Like some of my colleagues on RANDOLPH RIOT I am proud to express my anger and I agree with Diana Prince that if you are not angry (especially as a woman) then you are not paying attention – you are probably too caught up in final papers, exam preparation and senior theses. Have you read the U.N. Report?
Are you thinking that it can’t happen to you? Relieved you are living in Lynchburg, enrolled at Randolph College? Have you ever thought about the lives of human women around the world? Maybe you are studying here from somewhere outside of the U.S and you know about these events first- or second-hand. I am sorry that you had/have to live with/in fear. As a woman I empathize – fear is an emotion we all know too well. Fear and anger . . .
Now for a short digression about anger and how it can be productive. Noted philosopher Martha Nussbaum has offered us a way to think more deeply about this powerful emotion, which by the way, the Greeks thought quite highly of in terms of its ability to move people to action.
Nussbaum offers a schema that lays out three types of anger:
- Retributive anger which seeks punishment.
- Status-driven anger in which you want to elevate yourself and diminish others.
- Transformational anger whose goal is to transform society.
For me, as a FEMINIST I would like to own my TRANSFORMATIONAL anger and encourage more people to get angry enough to DO SOMETHING. Anger here is a motivating force, an agitator, a poke in the behind that gets you up and active.
TRANSFORMATIONAL ANGER moves you to proclaim: “I’m angry at this injustice and let’s work together to change the world.”
So get angry and TAKE ACTION TO MAKE POSITIVE CHANGE – even if it seems like a small change to you – small changes add up to LOTS OF CHANGE and we can CHANGE THE WORLD TOGETHER and in the process remove the need for reports about violence against women. Really . . . think about it! FEMINISTS ROCK!