Saturday, January 12, 2013

It's as crazy as it's ever been, love's a stranger all around

I haven't posted in a long while, and that's because there has been so much to write about.

So much I don't feel qualified to write about.

Twenty-six people died at Sandy Hook Elementary School, twenty of them children, on December 14 of last year, bringing the total to 88 fewer people in this world because of some madman with a gun. The typical knee-jerk reactions of 'ban guns' and 'lock up the crazies' reverberated around the internets for some time, but then the NFL playoffs started and celebrities did stupid things and no one cared anymore. Simplistic and myopic solutions aren't anything you can rally around. I sit here wondering how I can advocate for better preventive mental health care in my community, but no one wants to talk about that.

A girl was brutally raped in New Delhi, and died days later in a Singapore hospital from her injuries. This news hit home pretty hard for me, as I frequented the same theater she had gone to, had difficulty getting rides back to the general area of town she lived in, and the place she and her friend were deposited after their torturous experience was on the road I traveled daily to go back and forth from work. My mind's eye cannot stop picturing that scene - two naked, bleeding bodies lying in the cold foggy night, perhaps in front of  the dentist's office, or the tire shop, shutters down. People all around saw and minded their own business. Civic sense did not exist. But it was still the straw that broke the camel's back; now people have started talking about rape in terms of power, in terms of drawing shame upon the rapist and not the victim; calls for changing the system from the ground up are being made -- but are they heeded? Outside the Internet, has anything really changed? Rapes are still happening. I suppose it is the trend we should be looking at. In five years, will women stop telling each other not to go out on the streets? Will the term 'pervert' have replaced 'eve-teaser' ? All we can do is just make tiny steps in the direction of justice.

It takes much more than talk, more than pontificating on the Internet, to change things. But talking - and listening - are still so very important. The words we use are important. Loner, loser, reject, crazy; slut, whore, dented and painted women - why do we say these things about others? Why do we say things and act in ways that push people to the margins? Are we simply trying to make ourselves look good in comparison, glad we are not 'one of those people' -- deep down, we know that there but for the grace of God we go. Marginalizing others leads to the disconnect, the lack of community that breeds a madman. Demonizing women for being women, upholding the virgin/whore dichotomy which relegates women to the status of baby factories and sex toys, leads to a culture where rape is normalized as a way for men to discredit other men and remind women of their place. Neither one is just.

The battle has raged for years in epistemological circles - does language influence culture, or is it simply the other way around? I do think that the influence does go both ways, and that as we change our language, we can start to move toward less inflammatory and more logical ways of dealing with others and moving toward a better joint future. This is not saying we should be ultra politically-correct all the time; just that the words and labels we use for others should give them respect instead of take it away.

It's not much in the face of these huge problems facing our societies today, but it is one place to start.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please comment thoughtfully and respectfully. All comments are moderated.