The War Against Women is Being Waged Across the Globe

Sun, 10/14/2012 - 10:20
Submitted by Carlin Ross

Malala Yousafzai - the 14 year old girl who defied the Taliban and went to school - was shot in the back of the head on her school bus last week. She's alive. We'll know more about her injuries in the next few weeks.

I've hesitated to write about Malala because it brings back painful memories from my childhood. I know her frustration...I know her struggle. Like Malala, I grew up in a fundamentalist environment. Girls were to be seen and not heard. After 5th grade, my parents sent me to a one-room school house. There were about 40 of us. The sexes were completely separate. We wore uniforms - everything was regulated and controlled.

And girls didn't need to learn certain things. The boys took languages and the girls took short hand. I was told by one of the ministers that god must have made a mistake because I was so smart and my brother had a learning disability. Clearly, god would have saved his gifts for a boy.

I wanted to be a lawyer and I would talk about it all the time. They took away my books and burned them. We could only read "Christian" books. When I hit puberty, things got worse. It ended up getting physical and I was taken out of school and taught at home. In fact, one by one the girls were taken from our one room school house and taught at home...cloistered away in their ivory towers. Most of the boys stayed or were sent to public school like my brother.

I thought it would get better but things only intensified. It was all about controlling my burgeoning sexuality. There was no way for me to educate myself. My depression manifested itself as migraine headaches and chronic pelvic pain.

Ultimately, things did change. One day an unmarked police car pulled up in front of my house and I was taken for testing at the local high school (the high school where my father was a teacher). I scored off the charts. I had no idea that I was practically a genius. This is how I got the opportunity to take college classes at a local university. I was able to prove that I wasn't socially retarded - that I had a mind worth educating.

All this happened right here on the south shore of Long Island. I wasn't living in the SWAT valley like Malala. The war against women is being waged in every country across the globe. Here at home it's about the virginity myth, lack of access to contraception, abstinence only sex ed, and women making $0.80 on the dollar to a man. Abroad it's about FGM, child brides, and little girls getting shot for going to school.

It's all part of the same sickness. It's all part of deep-seeded misogyny and fear of female power. Betty and I are shocked by some of the sex questions that come in off the site - such forced ignorance keeping women from understanding their bodies. What's the difference if we remove a woman's clitoris physically or psychologically? The end result is the same.

You can watch Malala and her father in this documentary about girls, education, and the SWAT valley. When I look into this little girls eyes, I see myself. I can only hope that this is her moment - the moment when she'll get the opportunity to prove herself. She wants to be a doctor - what an amazing doctor Malala will be if she only gets the chance.

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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The worship of oppression and violence

Sun, 10/14/2012 - 17:11

I don't think I could find the words to express my horror when I heard of what happened to this brave, intelligent girl. We must band together to stop these horrific injustices wherever they may be. We must work to make the world a safe place for all of us to grow up and thrive, with full respect for our rights and innate dignity as human beings. How is it that our government itself inflicts violence rather than using its immense influence to try to stop these criminals? Or is it all part of the same sociopathic 'might makes right' pathology? One thing I know: it may take a hundred years, it may take a thousand, but there will come a time when these self-righteous criminals will vanish from the earth. Human rights is an idea whose time has come, and it is never going to be silenced no matter how much the hateful may try.

Note: Carlin Ross's personal story always makes me think of Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale'. It's frightening to think that it isn't only the Taliban who are determined to impose a tyrannical theocracy. There are those in this country too who would welcome such a nightmare world, as long as it was a 'Christian' one.

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