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Friday, February 15, 2013

One Billion Whining

Okay, this is only peripherally about Second Life, because there were a lot of SL events in support of this Real World movement.

The One Billion Rising event/movement/philosophy is aimed at stopping violence against women.  I'm all for that!  As a matter of fact, I'm for stopping violence against everyone.  Not that it's going to happen any time soon, judging from both our history and current events.

But I do have to register my opposition to the way they are going about it.  Parties.  Gatherings.  Events.  And every person attending one of those events will, I'm sure, feel a sense of accomplishment, a warm feeling of having done their bit to stop violence against women.

But, um...how?

How does going to a rally or a party stop an abusive husband, or a mugger?  I completely fail to see the connection.  Oh...maybe they want more LAWS against violence passed?  Great.  Have they checked to see what the response time of the local police is?  A law only works if there is someone to enforce it.  Moreover, it only comes into effect after someone breaks it.  So...that's just fine, I guess.  You can have the satisfaction of knowing the scoundrel will get arrested, while you are lying there in the hospital with your face smashed in.

I also note the debate about guns, which has moved into high gear following the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook.  The anti-gun people are using this as an emotional lever to push a lot of new restrictions on us.  Now, understand me...I am a gun owner, but I am all for rational gun laws.  Laws like, for example, a written and practical exam before being issued a concealed carry permit.  This would be similar to having to get a drivers license before being allowed to operate that other deadly weapon, the automobile.  Or laws like effective background checks that will uncover mental problems and criminal activity.  If every state had a Department of Firearms to handle this sort of thing, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, I'd be pleased.  But almost every proposal I've heard so far would make life tougher for sane, law-abiding gun owners, while doing nothing to keep guns out of the hands of the criminal or the mentally unbalanced.

"There are no dangerous weapons.  There are only dangerous men." - Robert A. Heinlein

Guns or no guns, there will always be dangerous men.  Some...most...of them will only offer violence to defend themselves, their families, or society, bless them.  Some, sadly, will not have such self control.  In the real world, women are, on average, the "weaker sex", at least in terms of physical strength.  And therefore, we are a logical target for violence.

Unless we are prepared to defend ourselves.  One of my friends is a fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  She is not a large woman, but she is certainly more prepared to defend herself against violence than almost anyone else I know.  I admire her greatly.  Unfortunately, she has also made Tae Kwon Do her life.  Those of us unwilling to give a martial art that sort of total commitment and devotion simply don't have the time to match her level of training, conditioning, and skill.

But a few hundred dollars, and a couple of hours at the range every few weeks, gives any woman the ability to defend herself against violence.  Well, and one other thing.  We must be mentally strong.  If we have the attitude, the conviction, that no one is going to offer us violence and get away with it...we will prevent an awful lot of what One Billion Rising says they want to prevent.

Stop whining about violence, ladies.  Be very dangerous instead...and you'll have no problems.

My thanks to Chestnut Rau, whose insightful blog post inspired me to speak my mind.

5 comments:

  1. OBR in SL - and indeed, the global OBR event (part of V-Day), is not about a "feel good" factor, and I feel you've rather missed the point.

    You are derisive of dance being used as a medium through which the plight of women around the world is highlighted. But consider this.

    When violence is committed against a woman, she is frequently the one blamed, either directly or indirectly, for what happened. We're told that we were hurt because we were too tempting or too sexual or that we're an easy target or too feminine. Women who suffer from violence are often made to feel it is their bodies that are at fault.

    In many countries around the world, women are seen as little more than objects - they and their bodies are regarded as little more than a beast of burden or an object by which offspring can be produced (and often times receives direct physical violence when the offspring isn't male).

    So why shouldn't we respond by using our bodies in dance? Dance is liberating, dance requires space, it calls attention to itself.

    What's more, given the way our bodies have been targeted and defined for us, and the way in which our boides have been politicized (again, witness you own right-wing politicos and commentary on rape and abortion during the election last year) and the manner in which our boides are brutalised in the daily turn of life in some cultures - then why shouldn't we show our opposition through oen bodies and the use of dance?

    No single event is going to change anything - that we agree on.

    However I embrace any movement that has the flexibility of approach to provide support for women suffering violence in their lives in all its forms, such as through through the establishment of rape crisis centres and shelters for victims of domestic violence in the USA and elsewhere.

    I embrace any movement which is flexible enough to meeting the many and varied ways in which violence against women is seen as a natural part of life - such are working to end the acceptance of rape as a legitimate means of subjugating women in the PDR of Congo seeks.

    Hence why I embrace OBR - because the above are precisely what OBR and it's "parent" movement, V-Day, is seeking to achieve, working with local organisations the world over, and with global bodies such as UNICEF.

    And that is why I opted to dance. Because I believe that the only way to bring about lasting change is through radical action which calls attention to the plight of women (and dancing in public is both radical and attention focusing).

    I did so not because it is "feel good", but because it has the potential to open greater and more positive dialogues globally, which may in turn lead to the changing of individual and societal perceptions that in turn lead to real and lasting change in attitudes towards women.

    It's certainly a lot more positive than your over-simplification of "buy a guy and shoot people who threaten / hurt you".

    Violence in response to violence has rarely resulted in anything more positive than an escalating spiral of further violence, bloodshed and hatred.

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  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I agree that in many parts of the world, attitudes toward women need to change. A "dialog" is one way to begin to influence these attitudes, but cultural change is a long, slow process, taking (literally) generations.

    While OBR and V-day are working on that, I'll keep my gun handy and my training current...because even after the overall cultural norms are changed, there will STILL be violent people out there.

    (I know it's a typo, but I had to grin at your 'buy a guy and shoot people' comment. That's what rich people like presidents and movie stars do...hire a bodyguard. I'm just an ordinary person...so it's up to me to protect myself.)

    As for your final statement...there is some truth in that. But those who believe that "violence never settles anything" are living in a fantasy world. Force has settled more issues throughout history than any other factor.

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  3. The typo has to be there. It's my hallmark...

    A dialogue need not take generations. When committed dialogue takes place, matters can change very rapidly.

    I suspect your comment "Force has settled more issues throughout history than any other factor" rather misses the mark. No-one disputes that in terms of global history, there have indeed (sadly) been times when nations have had no recourse other than to take-up the use of force against others.

    However, to draw a direct comparison between such situations and the position in which many women today find themselves, by dint of colour of their skin / nation of birth / place of birth / tribal association / standard of living / social standing (or lack thereof) is, I fear, to demonstrate considerable misunderstanding.

    Similarly, the idea that violence and reprisal as a means of guaranteeing security is misguided in the global context of violence against women.

    You are in some ways fortunate. You can afford a weapon. You are legally entitled to hold such a weapon under the laws of your land. What is more, you are afforded equal protection under the laws of that land should you ever be forced into using that weapon in self-defence.

    But consider this.

    The majority of women in the world who suffer violence as a daily part of their lives - be it directed physical violence or abuse, or their treatment as possessions / beasts of burden, and so on - don't have any of the luxuries afford you.

    They have no rights either in their own homes or on the streets where they live.

    They have no access to laws of self-defence; they have no advocate to plead for them should they behave in the manner you suggest.

    The have few, if any rights at all.

    Thus, should they respond in the manner you advocate, they have no voice, no assurance that the society in which they live will recognise their circumstance as being one in which their actions could be deemed as understandable; they receive no consideration of any mitigating factors surrounding their action.

    Instead, they inevitably face the visitation of even greater violence against them, coupled with a hardening of convictions that women are little more than chattels - and should continue to be treated as such.

    Sadly, it is all too easy for those of us one live in nations where laws and social attitudes are such that (for the most part) many of us have a very high level of personal security, to think in these matters in a very insular, two-dimensional manner without looking beyond the borders of our own nation.

    Sadly, violence against women isn't so constrained - but the laws and options which offer us real or presumed measures of security most certainly are.

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  4. I disagree that cultural norms are capable of rapid change. Take, for example, attitudes toward blacks in America.

    I was born at the end of the era of segregation, and grew up in a period of a nationwide civil rights "dialog", if you will. Equality was, eventually, legislated into place.

    This did not change the attitudes of people overnight, even when they were required to comply with the new laws.

    But, over a period of thirty or forty years, those attitudes DID change. Through repetition, law enforcement, and media representations. Today, there are still some people who look down on blacks, but there are a great many less of them today than when I was a child. Most people of my acquaintance consider equal treatment of people with a skin color different from theirs to be the norm, not even worth mentioning. And they look with disgust on deviations from that.

    That is true cultural change, and it is a slow process.

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  5. The flipside: Northern Ireland was torn apart for the better part of a century of violence routed in a religious divide. It took less than a decade for the greater part of that violence to cease - through the medium of dialogue.

    But that is something of a distraction. My primary point on the matter of violence itself not being the answer to the violence facing women around the globe remains.

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