I have been listening to talks by famous thinkers on the TED.com web site. It is a jewel for anyone who wants to listen to provocative and exciting speakers analyzing topical and relevant issues. One of the speakers – Kavita Ramdas in a pod cast entitled “Radical Women Embracing Tradition” gave me a different side of the prism to view the issue of violence against women. I was so intrigued that I want to get it out, look at it and ask your opinion about it.
For me, violence against women has its roots in sexism and its oppressive force felt through domination and second-class citizenry. In that respect, it is not unlike racism, classism and other types of “isms” in our society. However, Kavita points out that the oppression of women differs from other types of oppressions. Classism represents oppression by a ruling class, racism by one race against another. Both are discrete and identifiable political and economic structures.
Oppression of women and the violence used to hold women in place comes through deeply held traditions, beliefs, values, and culture. It is intertwined into contemporary and traditional music, literature and traditions. It is not as distinct. Women must live through and are the keepers of those traditions, beliefs, values, and culture. Although globally cultures vary considerably from one place to another, the common result is the same – women’s bodies are mutilated, raped, beaten and used; free will bent, smashed, and destroyed. We are a commodity regardless of the geography in which we find ourselves.
Women must design actions that include the very culture, values, and beliefs that hold us down. What works in one culture cannot be replicated in another. I gather three thoughts from this analysis. 1. We must devise our own actions. We cannot use civil rights, or anti poverty models. Women in African nations will not use western culture’s models. 2. We must support our sisters and allies in their work, not ask to adopt our solutions or priorities. 3. We must stand together without judging whose culture is worse. Any culture that promotes violence against women cannot be tolerated, yet we must not attempt to destroy all of the moving parts of the underpinnings. We must use the very tools meant to oppress as means to gain freedom.
SHARKS JOIN THE FIGHT
AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
SAN JOSE, CA—The San Jose Sharks are known for being tough on the ice. Now, the Sharks Foundation is getting tough on the issue of domestic violence by supporting Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence.
The Sharks Foundation has pledged $25,000 to support Next Door Solutions, a non-profit organization that provides housing and assistance to victims of domestic abuse and their children.
Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence was founded in 1971 with the goal “to end domestic violence in the moment and for all time”.
Next Door Solutions’ services include a 24-hour emergency hotline and safe shelter, transitional housing in San Jose and Santa Clara, peer counseling and support groups, and legal advocacy.
In addition, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence offers access to services in over 35 languages and have programs for children, teens, and the elderly.
With the Sharks Foundation joining the team, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence is that much closer than ever to achieving their goal to end domestic violence.
More information can be found at www.nextdoor.org.
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FOR INFORMATION: http://www.nextdoor.org
SOMOS MAYFAIR AND NEXT DOOR SOLUTIONS TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Present a night of theater and dialogue:
¡We are Women!
¡We are Life!
Friday May 28, 2010 from 6:00- 8:00 pm
at the Mayfair Community Center
2039 Kammerer Ave. San Jose CA 95116
“Telling Amy’s Story” premiered at the Newseum in Washington, DC.
Check out the link to the 14 minute trailer for the documentary. Help us to share Amy’s Story by planning a screening in your community — go to telling.psu.edu to find out how.
As a recent college graduate, the Yeardley Love story has really struck a chord in me. Love, a University of Virginia senior, was found dead in her apartment just last week, a victim of what appears to be intimate partner abuse. The story has spread like wildfire throughout the country, audiences shocked that something so brutal could happen to a young woman with such a bright future ahead of her. What the country fails to realize is that Yeardley’s circumstances are not out of the ordinary, but rather has garnered more attention to due to the deadly outcome.
I have seen first hand the extreme behavior that takes place in a college setting. While I’m not exactly sure why this is, behavior that is deemed irrational or extreme in the ‘real world’ is acceptable as a college co-ed. It has been reported that Yeardley’s boyfriend, George Huguely, often lost control and became physical after nights of drinking. It is only now, after Yeardley’s death, that her friends are recognizing his behavior should have clued them into a cycle of abuse that came to a heartbreaking end.
What concerns me the most, and what has come to light thanks to Yeardley, is the lack of action take by University’s to curb such violent behavior. Never once did I see on my college campus a flyer for support groups dedicated to domestic violence victims or posters with hotline numbers to call. Perhaps if more attention were given to the issue, people would be better equipped to recognize the signs of abuse, and young women like Yeardley would feel more comfortable asking for help.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from Yeardley’s story, I believe it is this: intimate partner abuse can happen to anyone of us. According to a recent survey conducted by the Family Violence Prevention Fund, nearly 1 in 3 teenagers who have been in a relationship report actual sexual or physical abuse, or threats of physical abuse. This is an alarmingly high statistic, and yet we all still act shocked when stories like Yeardley’s show up on the news. It is possible that our misperceptions of domestic violence victims, such as them being lower class or financially dependent on their abusers, prevent us from seeing any red flags that may be present. The conversation needs to be started and while it is tragic that it took the death of a young woman on a bright path, it’s important that her death not be in vain. Now is the time for increased dialogue and open communication, so that women know they are not alone in their struggle.
-Elisabeth, Assistant to Kathleen
Author and playwright Eve Ensler recently stated that she believed all human beings are equipped with a “girl cell”. The cell, according to Ensler, is responsible for compassion, empathy, and vulnerability, all of which are required to sustain future generations. Over time, patriarchy has suppressed this gene by convincing the population that these characteristics are a sign of weakness, not of strength. While I believe Ensler was largely referring to the relationship between an abuser and the abused, her point also illustrates how such desensitization is shaping society’s views of victims today.
A couple of months ago, it became public that female ESPN broadcaster Erin Andrews was the target of a sexual predator. The man was stalking her when she traveled for assignments and even placed hidden video cameras in her hotel rooms. This man was a complete stranger, having only seen her on television, yet he successfully robbed her of her privacy. Erin was living every woman’s worst nightmare.
What shocked me the most about this story was the way in which the public reacted. While this hasn’t happened to all women, can’t we all relate in some way, shape, or form? The response of the public, specifically those made by fellow women, was deplorable. Instead of encouraging Erin or viewing her situation with compassion, people seemed to act as if she deserved the circumstances she found herself in. “She’s on TV- this kind of attention comes with the territory”. “Maybe if she didn’t dress like that, this wouldn’t have happened”. Why is it suddenly appropriate to categorize victims as “asking for it”?
Eve Ensler was right; our compassion and sense of camaraderie has been stripped from us. Victims of domestic violence need to be encouraged and empowered. They need to understand that they are worth fighting for. If they don’t receive this support from their sisters, where else are they supposed to get it? What kind of message does it send to the abusers; that violence against women is okay in certain circumstances? It is imperative for society to regain our “girl cell” and relearn the art of compassion. Only then will we be able to take a collective stand and show the world that violence, under any circumstances, should not and will not be tolerated.
You can see Eve Ensler talk about the girl cell on Ted.Com.