Saturday, December 1, 2007

16 Days of Activism

With little mainstream fanfare, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence started on Nov 25th, which was International Day Against Violence Against Women. Dec 10th, International Human Rights Day is the last day. The idea is that female rights are human rights and these 16 days of activism should be linked.

While I'm a little late to the party, I'm starting to take a huge interest in the feminist agenda. Here's why: I know a lot of weak women. I know women who literally turn their lives inside out (even to the detriment of their mental health) because they want to keep a man. Women who choose abusive men over their own children because they don't want to be alone. Women with no education, working minimum wage jobs and barely providing for their kids as single mothers. Women who don't even know that they deserve better.

The thing is, as much as I'd like to grab them and shake some sense into them, I never do. I think, hey, I know you're trying to support your kids, but you're not doing them any favors by being so miserable. Or, HEY! Wake the fuck up! Look at your life! You married an asshole and you need a fucking divorce!

But I don't say anything because it's hard. Because it's not really my place. Because when you're poor and uneducated, the last thing you want to hear is some uppity college grad lording her success over you and telling you how to live your life. Because I don't want to deal with the tears or the denial or the anger or any of the emotions really. Because if you act like nothing is wrong, you can't be held responsible for the consequences.

I've been feeling a lot of regret about this lately. I know that I can't control anyone else's actions. I can't make sexual predators, wife beaters, and child molesters change their ways. I can't force anyone to pursue an associate's degree. But I never tried. Sometimes sins of omission weigh more heavily than the ones we actually commit.

16 Days of Activism has inspired me to do what I can. And I can do a lot. I can call
CPS and report abuse. I can research good divorce lawyers and counselors and offer recommendations. I can speak up when I know there's a problem and not shuffle it under the rug. I can keep trying when I meet resistance and accept that rocking a very delicately balanced boat will often lead to some things going under.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some phone calls to make.

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Anonymous said...

Well said. I think a lot of us know people in these types of situations. Instead of talking to them we talk about them, which helps no one and only serves to create unnecessary friction in our lives.

Hops said...

Thanks! And you're so right. Gossiping also serves to make us look and feel good in comparison to their sorry situations. It's vicious, really.