If I have been silent about the horrific rape and murder of the as-yet unnamed Indian medical student in New Delhi, it’s not because I don’t care, but rather because I care so much I can hardly bear to think about it.
We seem to be living through a time of tipping points: when thresholds are crossed that are so outrageous that they provoke long-overdue reaction from a generally compliant, inured and zoned out populace.
India, and indeed most of southeast Asia, is well-known for its misogyny and callous brutality towards its women. From female infanticide, neglect of girls, dowry deaths, domestic violence and tribal justice in which female victims of sexual assault are blamed and punished, often with death, this is not a region that treats its women kindly.
This is old news to global human rights activists. But suddenly, thanks to the martyrdom of that one tipping-point rape victim, it is front-page news in India and around the world, and men and women are out in the streets demanding a sea change in the way sex crimes are punished and in the discriminatory attitudes towards women, not just in India, but all over the world.
Eve Ensler, long a tireless advocate of women’s right to live free of violence, observes in a recent article in the Guardian/UK that we live in a global “rape culture,” in which “a girl can be purchased for less than the cost of a mobile phone.”
Or simply taken for nothing, as happened on the bus in India, and then thrown away.
Ensler’s website for her One Billion Rising movement, which will reach its peak on February 14, tells us that “one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.”
“One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution,” the website continues, urging viewers to “strike, dance and rise in your community to demand an end to violence against women.”
I’m sorry, but I have a hard time getting very enthusiastic about the idea of “dancing” to end violence against women.
I think it’s time for a stronger response.
I’d like to see rapists and assailants of women get a taste of the kind of retributive justice so many of the patriarchal cultures and religions like to mete out to women accused of sexual crimes.
Stoning to death. Cutting off of body parts—noses are popular, but how about we try penises this time?
This is probably why I didn’t want to write about this issue. I’m too angry. I can’t sit around and talk rationally about it anymore, like Nick Kristof did in his column today.
Just once, I’d like to indulge my own rage and seriously entertain that favorite approach of the patriarchy: an-eye-for-an-eye retribution.
Touch that woman violently, young man, and you will feel the edge of this razor, right between your legs.
Throw acid in the face of that young bride, kiddo, and you will be ceremoniously dumped in a vat of acid yourself.
Like to jam iron rods up women’s vaginas, Mr. Bus Driver? How do you like the feel of this one up your ass?
And no, don’t tell me to calm down! Don’t tell me I’m hysterical!
Women’s rights advocates have been trying for years—for centuries!—to get the leaders of our male-dominated world to treat us with the respect we surely deserve.
And yet still a brave little Pakistani girl who dares to speak out for the right to education gets shot in the head.
High school and college sports stars still think it’s fine and dandy to gang-rape unconscious female classmates.
Women are pushed into the workforce and expected to still do the second shift of housework and childcare at home—and by the way, we’re paid less, too!
The list goes on and on, and sometimes it’s just too much.
Maybe the only way to get real change to happen in short order—in my lifetime, please!—is to give the men responsible for these crimes and inequities a nice taste of their own medicine.