Posts filed under ‘women’
“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.
I often wonder how many women settle for relationships that are not mutually satisfying. How many spend day after day wishing they had a better relationship while living with a spouse or partner who could not care two cents about having a thriving relationship?
I am talking about the kind of relationships where the woman does everything, like nurture the relationship, bears the brunt of the household chores and at times even looks the other way while he talks to another woman on his BlackBerry.
As women, we hear some of these Sisters talk about their situations and try to help them through the tough times. Others quietly bear their hurt and pain, hoping one day the man will wake up and be that loving and caring partner they are so sure he truly is, deep inside.
Sadly, there are women who live this way for years and years until the multiple sharp barbs to the heart have calloused them so much that it is difficult to tell their dead feelings from those of the man who made them this way. Society expects women to stay in such relationships no matter how punishing. A woman is supposed to stand by her man and hope her goodness will rub off on him.
We all know, of course, that the man does not change. He doesn’t even want to change; does not see a reason to do so. In fact, most men will see that goodness from the woman as a licence to do even more that will hurt her.
When confronted about the hurt they cause, men like this tend to want to be defensive or to push the blame back on the woman instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. After all, he had no choice but to work late (365 days a year) or to talk to that other woman several times a day (it’s just a “business” relationship) or to walk all over the woman’s feelings (he never understands the tears – and never tries to do so).
That very same man would never tolerate this type of behaviour from her. Yet the woman is expected to just accept his ill-treatment with a smile and dinner on the table. And sadly, many women do just that.
On top of holding down a job to make ends meet, so many women in this type of untenable situation go home to wash and press that man’s clothes, clean his house, raise his children, shop for his groceries, cook his meals (and even take the food out of the pot and hand him the plate!) all while his majesty grumbles and complains about this or that – or talks to his sweet woman on the phone.
She does not get flowers for her hard work. There are no kind words for her; they are saved for the sweet woman. There’s not even a measly “thank you” for everything she does and all the sacrifices she makes, so he can live like a prince.
This goes on day after day, week after week, year after year. And when the woman just can’t take it any more and breaks down into tears, he calls her “emotional” or crazy or pathetic (sometimes all of the above). Afterwards, she is the one left feeling like she has done something wrong by putting a dark cloud in his majesty’s blue sky. This is madness to the nth degree.
Yet she fights to hold this unhealthy relationship together. She does not understand why she works so hard to preserve a relationship that causes her so much hurt and heartache; she just knows that it would disappoint society if she cannot make him happy. Moreover, she has invested so much of herself into this relationship that she can’t seem to just walk away – even if it is for her own good.
This is not a question of love. It is a question of self-preservation. How long can the woman hold on until she either loses all of herself to this relationship and becomes nothing more than the walking dead or has a mental breakdown from dealing with the constant bombardment of hurtful barbs?
What is wrong with this picture?
Does he have any intention at all of changing? Of becoming more loving, caring and attentive? Does he plan to stop hurting her with his curious relationships? Will he ever decide that he, too, has responsibilities in the home and finally help her?
Women should not be forced to live like this. Yet think about how many Sisters you know who live like this every single day. There is so much feminine potential in those Sisters that goes to waste as they spend all their energy trying to get even one smile from that man who is too wrapped up in his own selfish world to even take note.
Even her beauty and intelligence are lost on him. When others tell him how pretty she is; he gives a blank stare. When others tell him what a great woman she is, he picks up his BlackBerry to see if his sweet woman has sent him another message.
He thinks that sweet woman understands him better, but most times she doesn’t even know him. It is the spouse who has seen him through thick and thin, through richer and poorer and who really knows him. It is the partner who knows all of his ugly ways and still accepts him that truly loves him.
Imagine the possibilities if instead he spent all that “sweet woman” time, energy and effort on his wife.
When she finally cannot take it anymore and finds the courage to take her life back, all too often he suddenly he realises he loves her. Most times the man will beg her to stay and make empty promises about being a better husband, but one cannot help but wonder at this point if he fears losing his wife and his love – or just his maid.