Saturday, December 29, 2012

The loss of a living, breathing, human being. Because she was seen as less than so.

On the night of December 16, 2012 a 23 year old student made her way home with a friend. She had just left City Walk, a mall with shops like Fab India and Cinnabon and a movie theater, and was on her way home.

In Munirka  (in my old neighborhood) she boarded a private bus headed home, her friend stayed with her. It was around 9:30 pm. What happened next seemed unimaginable-- a brutal attack and gang-rape that left her friend brutally beaten and her with injuries so extreme from the rape and assault with a metal rod that she had to have the majority of her intestines removed. As the story sparked controversy and protest in India, she was flown to a hospital in Singapore. Reportedly, unable to speak, she wrote a note to her mother saying "I want to live".

On December 28, she died.

This young women has sparked something in people. Protests appear. People demand justice against the 6 perpetrators. Anger and fear over such acts of violence against women.

"This could have been your mother, your sister, or your daughter." Anyone might say.

Photo: Amrendra Tripathi
But I say no. I want to stop this line of thought right here. Her role as a daughter, sister, or potential mother are not what is important.  She was not a mother, a sister, a daughter. She was a human being. A living, breathing human being. She had dreams, aspirations, goals. She bled, she felt pain. She died. She didn't want to. She had things to do. She had a life to live.

This could have been you. Anyone of us. This young woman has become a symbol, a symbol for horrible acts against another human being that occur everyday in this world. Acts that are far too often allowed to happen. Especially to women. Our mothers, daughters, and sisters often have the finger pointed at them. Why were you there, who were you with, what were you wearing?

Maybe this young woman's horrible assault got more press because she seemed to be doing everything "right." She just went to a  mall-- she came home early-- she didn't travel home alone. She was a student, she wasn't poor alone and unprotected in a slum. Maybe this is why her plight was brought to so many people's attention. A regular young woman-- doing everything "right"-- and this was how her life ended. Brutal violence, suffering and pain. She didn't "deserve" this.

Some years back a preteen Russian tourist was sexually assaulted in Goa. A [female] government official said "She should not have been wearing a bikini."

In these cases of horrific sexual and physical violence against women we are told that men cannot control themselves-- they are not to blame. How are men to control themselves when faced with a 10 year old blond girl in a bikini, or a woman on a bus in the evening with only one male to protect her? How can we expect men NOT to viciously assault, rape, or brutalize a girl or woman (or boy or man) in such a state. Next thing you know, a woman might just be walking alone somewhere. Doesn't she know how men are? Where are her bodyguards? Her stainless steel chastity belt? Or why didn't she just stay home.

If the reason NOT to hurt this human being is because she "could be our sister, our mother, or our daughter" that means she only has WORTH in one of those roles. This paradox gives someone the right to hurt any woman not in that role-- or who does not appear to fulfill one of those roles. It says that those are THE only roles that have worth for a woman.

That is not the reason why we should not hurt women. We should not sexually assault, abuse, throw acid in the faces of, stalk, molest, grope, or kill women because they are HUMAN BEINGS. Living, breathing human beings. With goals, aspirations, and dreams. That feel pain. That bleed. That can die. Just like you. Just like me.

"Men" are not a separate brutal species that are wild and prone to violence and abuse at any moment-- lest we protect ourselves against them. The paradox is that the same cohorts also argue that these wild violent beasts known as "Men" are also wiser, smarter, and more capable to run the world. How can such wild beasts be trusted? So smart and capable yet unable to control themselves when faced with the temptation of a woman visible in the dusk of evening?

Please. It's so obvious that this is a cop out answer. Men are not a wild brutal species all their own. They represent half of the species of homo sapiens. A species capable of great and amazing things, the most important of these is thinking and reflection.

The reason such violence and abuse happens is not because "men" are incapable of self control-- but because they live in a world where they have been allowed to see women as less than human beings. Where messages come to them that they don't HAVE to control themselves-- and that a woman's life is not as valued as their own. These are the conditions that allow for such acts of violence to continue to occur.

This same reasoning doesn't just go for acts of violence against women. Think about it. Anytime societies have targets that they have abused, murdered, raped, discriminated against, starved -- it has come with the righteous understanding that "We are more human. We are more worthy than them."

And those that stand against it-- those who say "this is wrong" they have also always existed . And often act as the catalyst for change. Those who know by instinct, by insight, or by role-modeling in their world. I often think [hope] that these people are in the majority. But people feel helplessness, disillusionment, and they back down.

Letting a world built on a shoddy foundation of "men can't help it-- the burden lies on women." continue to thrive, continue to see women as less valuable and less worthy of protection-- less worthy of hopes, dreams, aspirations. Less worthy of life.

And so we come back to this 23 year old young woman who died yesterday. Her life cut short by people who saw her as an object onto which to commit their brutal acts-- even while she bled, screamed, and cried in front of their eyes, they did not see, or did not want to see, or felt too 'empowered' to be able to see, or were willing not to see...

She was the same as them.

She is not the only one. But she is a catalyst, even in death.

No more excuses. We all have hopes, dreams,  and aspirations. We all feel pain, bleed, die.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

오래간만이애요! it's been a long time

It really has. A lot has happened. A lot has changed. A new city. A new job. Yet in many ways things remain the same. Different but the same. 

In the past few years, a lot has changed in my life. I have been working hard towards my goal, towards my career. Now I have my first job in that field- nursing. I moved to a new city, close to where I grew up, but still not a familiar place to me. 

So much has happened over the past couple of years. I don't really want to rehash it all. Maybe a summary. I got sick. Really sick. I have an autoimmune disorder. I got some meds. I am feeling a lot better. Hope it stays that way.

My dog got diagnosed with cancer. For awhile I wasn't sure what would happen. How long he would live. If he would feel ok and be happy. A specialist saw him. He is on a med now that basically shrank his cancer to almost nothing. He is feeling happy and healthy. I am happy he is able to enjoy his dog life still, and glad I get to have my little companion with me. I don't know how long the meds will keep it at bay. Hopefully a long time.

Those are the big things. The stressful things. Finished grad school in nursing. Now I am working per diem on a postpartum unit. Which I really love. It can be nerve-wracking. Some days I come home feeling so proud of what I was able to accomplish-- other days I feel like I need 500 more years of practice. I love it though. I will keep working hard to be the best I can.

In my new city I got the chance to move in with an old friend from high school. It is great to get a chance to spend more time with her! We ended up making remarkably interestingly similar choices and having similar interests-- so it is fun to get to hang out together again.

On the side of hardness-- in this new place I don't really know anyone else. I haven't really made any friends at work per say. So when I am not at work I am not quite sure what to do with myself. I do have a lot of things I am planning on getting involved with. One of the cool things about nursing is that you can schedule it to have time for other interests too-- so your life includes your awesome job, but that's not all it is. Other things I am getting involved with/trying to get involved with:

  • Working with refugee community members- starting this in mid January
  • Getting in shape-- I started going to a personal trainer to get my butt properly whipped into shape (and the rest of me). Even before I started that I started exercising more regularly and trying to eat well. I'm feeling a lot better and starting to look like "myself" again. Huzzah. 
  • Dance- I really miss my Kathak dance class I took in Boston. It was so great and I really liked being part of the community. I didn't find any Kathak classes here (sniffle) so I am considering doing some other kind of adult dance class--- something like hiphop/jazz sort of modern upbeat dancing.
  • Learning Korean- as you may have guessed-- I am still thoroughly absorbed in learning Korean/about Korean culture, etc. Don't worry-- I still love India-- I just caught a Korean-interest bug too. There is always room for more cultures in my heart. ^^ I have been slowly (and inefficiently) learning Korean on my own-- but I really want to take a class.  
I also have hope that maybe I will meet some interesting potential friends while doing any of the above!! It's weird being in a place where you don't really know anyone (I know my roommate of course, but she is very busy at work most of the time-- she is a very hard worker!). 

This poor blog only gets comments from spammers these days due to my sad neglect. With my revival of artistic and emo-esque feelings, I hope to revive something out of it's cold cold ashes. 나는 행보가이애요. 감사합니다 for reading!