Posts filed under ‘Stella Ramsaroop’
“When will it end?” This has been the ever-present question every time a woman is murdered by her husband/partner in countries around the world. It used to be just the women who would ask, “When will it end?” Now both female and male voices can be heard in the chorus of the heartbroken. Yet the violence against women endures and the women continue to die.
I asked myself this question again this week and I found an answer. I know when the violence against women will stop. It will stop when women make it stop. You see, violence against women is not a new phenomenon.
It existed in ancient times, when the Bible says the Israelites went around conquering other tribes (especially those who worshipped feminine deities), either killing the women or taking them as slaves or “wives” (against their will). Still today, rape along with other such violence against women is used as a “weapon of war.”
Violence against women existed during the days of the Inquisition, when, according to some reports, as many as nine million women were murdered as witches. Even today, women who practice holistic healing or explore feminine religions are stigmatised as “witches” – as if it were a bad thing to heal others or to choose your own religion.
Moreover, all through the ages, women have been subject to domestic abuse, sold as sex slaves, put on funeral pyres to be burned alive alongside their dead husbands, isolated inside houses away from the world, refused an education and given as brides while still little girls to be forced to have sex and babies before their bodies were ready for either.
This all still happens today. And today girls are killed before they are even born, just because they are girls. There are just so many ways to torture and murder women and it seems men like to be creative in their violence – as is evidenced by the headlines this week.
All throughout history men could have stopped the violence, but they did not. It was not until recently – when women started voting and gaining political power – that laws were even instituted to curb the violence. It was lawful to beat your wife. In some countries today, a man can still kill his wife and not be held accountable for it.
So when is the violence against women going to stop? When women make it stop; and not a second before. When women stop making excuses for men who beat them and put them in jail; that is when violence will stop. When women stop pretending that men will willingly stop raping and killing women and stand up and make them stop; that is when it will end.
I am not saying that all men are rapists and murderers. However, look at the mostly male law enforcement system that refuses to protect the women; look at the politicians who read the same headlines of murdered women as we do; yet still the murders continue.
Some may wonder why women just accept the violence. During the Inquisition, there were many women who stood up and refused to accept the religion being forced on them. Those women were tortured until they wished they were dead…and death soon followed in the most horrific of ways.
When some considered the choice of death or acquiescence to the violence of men, women often chose to live: sometimes for themselves and sometimes for their children. Either way, women were a conquered gender.
It is clear that women are still conquered today as we sit and grieve over a Sister who is hammered and stabbed by her husband, but we do nothing to demand an end to the viciousness. We go on with our lives the next day as if nothing happened… until the next Sister is brutalised and murdered.
It is my opinion that in many countries around the world, female politicians have very little power because they allow themselves to be controlled by the male politicians and the agenda of those male politicians. The problem with the male political agenda is that it has allowed for the violence against women to continue. The blood of those nations’ women continues to flow. And let’s be honest, the men will continue to allow the violence until women demand otherwise.
How does a woman demand an end to the violence? In any possible way she can. I can think of a gazillion ways to demand men stop their violent ways. In fact I am doing that right now by writing this column. The possibilities range from confronting the placatory male leaders to swarming the streets in solidarity to learning how to effectively defend ourselves.
Men did not want to give women the right to vote. Women fought for that right (though not the way men fight) and we won that victory. Likewise, the only way violence against women will end is when women make it end.
Sisters, I don’t know about you, but I cannot in good conscience grieve over another mutilated dead woman without demanding an end to the constant violence against women. Yes, we will grieve like we always have. We feel loss of life deeply as we are the ones who give life and work our whole lives to sustain life. But let us use that grief to move us to action. Let women be the ones to put an end to the violence once and for all.
I have been pondering the “purity” factor imposed on women for a couple of months now. I have talked about it with friends, read about it in books and watched a documentary about it. It seems there are just so many ways that a woman can be “icky.”
For example, social norms has long held that if a woman has sex before she is married, she is not pure. When she is on her menstrual cycle, she is not pure. In fact, just by virtue of being a woman, she is so unclean that she cannot enter certain religious areas or functions.
In other words, we are made to believe that by just being alive a woman is unclean. Nonsense! How on earth does it make sense that it is okay for a man to have sex before marriage, but it somehow makes a woman impure?
Sex is a natural biological function for both females and males. Sex does not (or should not) improve one gender’s honourable standing while degrading the other’s.
Yet there is a constant demand throughout recent history to make sure the girl stays a virgin and thereby “pure’ while the man can have sex as much as he wants without any declaration of icky-ness.
And then we have menstrual cycles. Oh my! It really gets me mad when I think that patriarchal societies have turned the very blood that makes life into an unclean and evil thing.
A woman’s period is yet just another biological function. There is nothing – I repeat, NOTHING – that is gross, unclean or impure about a menstrual cycle.
In fact, it is because of the woman’s menstrual cycle that any of us are even alive today. That menstrual blood should be revered, as it once was millennia ago, rather than held in contempt. Sadly, women believe it when they are told they are somehow “unclean” when on their periods.
I was elated to read that a VICE photo series by photographer Emma Arvida Bystrom, entitled, “There Will Be Blood,” is challenging that silly taboo.
According to an article entitled, “Menstruation Taboo Challenged by VICE ‘There Will Be Blood’ Series” in the Huffington Post, “The series depicts women going about various everyday activities, like jogging, reading, texting and waiting for the bus. The photographs aren’t sexual, they’re nearly mundane … except that each woman is bleeding through her clothing — something that has probably happened to most women — some more than once.”
I went straight to vice.com to see the photo series and was elated that there are women who really do get it – we are not icky like we have been made to believe. (To see the blood in all its glory for yourself; the photo series can be found at http://www.vice.com/en_au/read/there-will-be-blood)
Women have long been burdened with our presumed icky-ness. We’ve been bogged down with guilt for being unclean and impure for no other reason than biological functions. It is time to free ourselves of this archaic hogwash. We are not impure. We are the bearers of life! Without our beautiful blood, humanity would cease to exist.
Yes, there will be blood and that blood will continue to flow like it has for ages and generations.
This wondrous event is not something to scorn because the day that blood dries up is the day humanity dies. Therefore, a woman’s period should be a time of celebration of the miracle of life.
How did things get so turned around that women are made to feel embarrassed by their periods? Women sneak around to buy sanitary napkins hoping no one sees them or hide their tampons in their sleeves as they go to the bathroom.
This is all wrong. It might be a private thing, but it is not an icky thing. That blood represents the power of procreation.
The truth is that some men want women to think they are icky just by being born in the first place. There are countries where baby girls are killed just because they are female. In some countries women are bought and sold like cattle. It is no wonder that even in Western countries women still feel the stigma of the not too distant past history when our Sisters in other parts of the world still suffer so greatly.
This perceived icky-ness of women is so wrong and immoral. Women should be honoured and revered for their place in procreation. They should be free to be female and proud of it.
Women have been held back (put in their place) for so long that it has hurt the human race. Making women feel guilty for sex, or for their periods or even for just being born (all ways of holding women back) is counterproductive to the overall good of humanity.
It is time for women to take their rightful place in society. It seems I have made that last statement a million times over, but I will continue saying it until it becomes reality. The longer it takes for women to find a way to reject these ridiculous ideologies that promote female icky-ness, the longer the human race will continue to suffer from the gender imbalanced approach to global leadership.
To be more specific, until women are leading the world, side-by-side with the men, there will most certainly be blood, and it should not continue to be the blood of death and murder, but the life-giving blood of women. Until women step in and demand an end to the wars and the violence and find peaceful ways of resolving conflict, the human race will continue on the destructive path it has been on for so long.
I am not the least bit offended at the blood of a woman’s menstrual cycle. That blood of life is beautiful. What offends me is blood shed in violence.
That blood signifies wasted life and the brutality of a male-only led world. If anything is impure, unclean or icky, it is the unchecked savagery of the male ego and the lengths to which he will go to conquer and rule.
So guys, what do women think of your inappropriate workplace advances?
Listen to a friend’s story about an incident that happened to her a couple weeks ago.
“I have this client. He’s been a client of mine for a little over a year when I was just freelancing, and now he’s a client [for my new business]. He often says things that are quite inappropriate, but I just ignore them and stay professional and business-focused. That’s always worked.
Well he’s been trying to get me to go out to dinner with him for a long time to discuss a project he has for [my business]. I kept trying to change it to lunch, but eventually caved and agreed to dinner…this past Thursday.
Dinner went fine, conversation was mostly professional and he did have a real project for [my business] to work on. There was a little personal conversation sprinkled in about kids and his wife of 35 years, the house they just bought, etc. So when we left, he said he’d walk me to my car. When we got there, he gave me a hug (which I’m okay with), but then tried to lean in to kiss me on my lips!!!
I immediately turned my cheek so the kiss landed there instead. I firmly said, ‘Thank you for dinner. Good night.’
I did NOTHING to make him think kissing me was okay. What on earth was he thinking?
I’m sure it happens to a lot of women all the time. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me. I’m usually really careful about who I go to business meetings with because many times it’s just the guy wanting to spend time with me and get to know me – not my business offerings. So I only [have face-to-face meetings] when I know the person is a decent guy or serious about commissioning our services, [otherwise] I keep everything virtual.
And not to mention this guy’s daughter is the exact same age as me! Sickening!”
So guys, what do women think of your inappropriate workplace advances? They are disgusted by such nonsense. Women do not go to their workplace to be groped and to hear ridiculous quips about their body parts or what they are wearing.
I know full well that most of the men reading this column who are egotistical enough to be guilty of workplace sexual harassment will say to themselves that women do not react to their advances like my friend who was revolted by what happened to her. Again, these narcissists are so very wrong.
Most women typically react to workplace harassment the same way my friend said she did when the fool mentioned above would say inappropriate things: she just ignored the harassment and tried to stay focused on business. I hate that women feel they must play dumb about these things to maintain a professional relationship.
Guys, women don’t want your advances at the workplace; they think those advances a waste of their time and energy when they are trying to get things done on the job. Moreover, when on a job, a professional woman’s focus is not romantic; it is on the task at hand.
Now I know some egotistical guys think women do nothing else but sit and think about “mack daddy” all day long and wait with bated breath for them to walk by with a statement that will objectify women and reduce them to sex objects instead of capable humans with a keen brain. But, let me let you in on a little secret…once again you are wrong.
Instead, the ladies in the workplace gather and talk about how silly you look when you try to “mack” and laugh behind your back because you think you have “game.” There are other ladies who find it downright offensive when you treat them like a potential sexual conquest instead of a co-worker on equal intellectual footing.
More often than not, women go to their girlfriends and relay the whole disgusting incident (like my friend did) and the exchange of information is not flattering for the guy at all. So while you go around thinking your mack-daddy-ness is making the ladies swoon, you are actually the creepy clown that the women try to avoid.
You see, it is not “cool” to be disrespectful to women and until you can approach a woman with the respect due her and her position within the workplace, your childish antics will forever put you in a designated spot of avoidance and women will not take you seriously on any level.
In order to gain respect, a person must be willing to give respect. Women who respect themselves would never find sexual harassment to be endearing or respond to it in a positive manner.
Men who inflict sexual harassment on women are endured to keep the peace or to keep a job, but not because women are okay with the harassment.
Guys, keep this in mind the next time you want to harass a woman. Instead, grow up and talk to women with respect. If you treat women with respect and they will reciprocate.