The War On Women: Feminist Fantasy Or World War III?

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The Santa Barbara shooting. The Christian Sudanese woman sentenced to death for her belief. The two Indian girls brutally raped and hanged. The Pregnant Pakistani girl killed by her own family. The near-300 Nigerian girls kidnapped for going to school. A woman beaten to death in China for not giving her number to a group of men.

We all know the stories, we have all read them recently and have been saddened by such atrocious acts. The common thread? They are all women. Not by accident either, as these crimes (where in some instances men were unfortunately killed too) were specifically targeted at women by men who do not view a woman as an equal human being. That’s it. I could stop writing right now and have that be enough. But it’s not. Will this blog post save those Nigerian girls and bring them back to their families? Most likely not.

But will my words be part of a conversation that will alert more men and women to this issue and encourage them to hopefully do something if it is within their power? Yes. I believe so.

I also believe the war on women is a very real and active thing. And I am not alone. Call us crazy feminists, fear-mongering femmes who are acting too emotionally, but the facts speak for themselves. The watershed moment was when the Santa Barbara killer Elliot Rodgers left a string of videos online blatantly talking about his sick, twisted plans to rid the world of the women who wouldn’t do his bidding and sleep with him.

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The media couldn’t ignore any longer that this was a real epidemic, and it is happening all over the world. A hashtag was created on twitter (#yesallwomen) and it sparked a viral conversation about how both citizens, the media, government and law enforcement are going to be part of the change in society to prevent further hate crimes like this. Yup, targeting a woman is a hate crime, just as targeting a gay person, or a minority is. Sure, women make up 50% of the world’s population, but let’s not be ignorant to the fact that we live in a male-dominated, patriarchal universe where some sexist attitudes are so deeply ingrained, it is going to be generations before it evolves from the dinosaur age.

The story of Meriam Ibrahim is an interesting one. The 27 year-old from Sudan was sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy, because she refused to give up her Christian beliefs. Although she was brought up as Orthodox Christian, because her father was a Muslim, the government ruled that she had to identify by his beliefs.

She was pregnant at the time of her arrest, and actually gave birth to her baby in prison. She was going to be given 100 lashes for “adultery” because the marriage to her Christian husband was not valid under the Sudanese Islamic law. Her husband was in the United States at the time this was all happening. Can you even begin to imagine the horror they were going through, let alone the added media presence?

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This story shows how detrimental to women the Islamic laws can be. Meriam and her lawyers are going to appeal the judgement but as it stands, her chances look grim.

The fact that this woman’s values and beliefs were not even recognized because they were out of line with a male member of her family’s beliefs, it just outrageous. I’m not here to talk about religious laws, but if more of the government officials in countries which practice Islamic law actually took a deep look inside the Kora, they’d realize the way they treat women is certainly not in line with what the Prophet Muhammad outlined.

The brutal gang rape of a girl on a Delhi bus in India in 2012 sparked worldwide outrage because the international media jumped all over it. Al of a sudden, many, many other stories were coming out of the woodwork, and we realized that these kind of atrocities are happening every day, but because women are too scared to report it, the perpetrators get away with it. Acid attacks are happening all the time, and the governments do not have enough legislation in place to give women the courage to report it, or to prosecute the men. Spousal violence in India is a very real thing, but there is no law that will protect a woman if she reports an attack from her husband. Isn’t that insane?!?!

Just after the Santa Barbara shooting, a story emerged about two teenage girls who were raped and hanged in India, after being reported missing days before the tragedy. There has been an intense global scrutiny of India and it’s rape laws after the Delhi bus rape incident, but this just shocked me. How could these men just blatantly commit this crime? It’s as if these men are laughing in our faces, because once again they got away with it. Even if they eventually get caught and put in jail, the crime can never be undone. The parents of those girls can never get their daughters back.

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In nearby Pakistan, acid attacks, rapes, sexual violence and honor killings are just as rife. The most recent story which has been in the forefront of mainstream news media, was about 25 year old Farzana Parveen. A pregnant woman who was stoned to death BY HER OWN FAMILY outside a Pakistani court for marrying a man against their wishes. And you thought your rift with your parents was bad!

Her husband looked on helplessly while members of Farzana’s family attacked her with bricks and blunt instruments. Her father too looked on, approvingly. The idea that an honor killing is more honorable that having the community talk behind your back is the most inhumane and disgusting thing I have ever heard happen among families. I would even go as far as to say people who think this is ok to do to their own flesh and blood are probably mentally ill, but perhaps that is letting them off the hook a little too easily.

At the time of writing this, it has been roughly 50 days that the near-300 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram. These girls were targeting by the Islamic terrorist group who are against western education, and don’t want these girls to be educated at all. They have threatened to sell them as human slaves, and also demanded their fellow Boko Haram prisoners to be freed by the Nigerian government. The fact that they even used hundreds of innocent, young school girls as a bargaining chip is dumb founding.

Or perhaps it’s not. because men like this don’t view women or girls as valuable human beings, just a commodity to be used however they need for their own gain. Why is an educated girl such a threat to a man? Why is an empowered, strong independent woman a threat to masculinity? The more I hear these stories the more thankful I am of the everyday freedoms I have. But I shouldn’t have to think like this: “thank goodness it wasn’t me and that I live where I live”. Santa Barbara is only a few hours out of Los Angeles, and one of those college students killed by Elliot Rodgers could’ve been me!

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Another story which recently broke over the past few days was the incident of a young Chinese woman being beaten to death in a Mcdonalds by a group of men. These men asked for her number, she said no and the scuffle ensued. There are reports saying they tried to recruit her for a cult they are part of, and others saying she rejected their advances so they attacked her. Either way, this is horrendous.

What gives a group of men the right to beat up a woman who says “no” to them? How have they been brainwashed into thinking that if a woman rejects whatever they are trying to push on her, the only logical next step is violence and murder? The woman was sadly pronounced dead on the scene.

There has been a huge outpouring of grief and anger on social media about this case. “If I stay quiet today, who will help me cry for help when I suffer from misfortunes in the future?,” asked one Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) user. “If I don’t speak up as a passerby, then one day, if injustice should come upon me, no one would speak up for me as well.” My thoughts exactly. If I don’t speak up for other women, who would speak up for me if I was in any of these women’s place?

If my great grandparents hadn’t left India for their future generations to have a better live, it could’ve been me being raped on that bus in Delhi. What matters is that I too am a woman, and this war is very real, and very close to home. It is not good enough for me to live my superficial Los Angeles life posting my selfies on social media and hanging out with my friends like nothing is going on in the world. While I don’t expect anyone to stop their lives and not enjoy anything, I do expect women especially to be aware that the war on women is not a joke, it is not a political phrase used to get votes, it is an epidemic, and we have to fight it.

Men, this involves you too. We are your sisters, daughters, mothers, nieces, cousins, friends, girlfriends, allies, colleagues and more. We depend on your support, because your voice will impact your fellow men in ways that perhaps our voices cannot. Don’t sit idly by while this war continues.

Like Malala has often said, the most powerful thing in the world is a pencil in the hands of a young girl. She can change the world. We can change the minds of people whose attitudes don’t give a damn about the atrocities women are up against every day, if it doesn’t affect them directly.

So maybe this blog post isn’t as insignificant and redundant as I think. My whole heart goes out to the women who are facing sexism, violence, gender discrimination and death every day simply for being who they are. You are not alone. I stand with you. I will not stop speaking, blogging writing, and sharing because if I value my life, then you deserve to be valued too.

This is not the end of this war on women. These 6 stories are only the tip of the iceberg, that’s the saddest thing. For every woman that speaks out, there are many who cannot, and who live in fear of raising their voice. The least we can do is use ours in solidarity for them.

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