25 February, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

according to IntLawGrrls

On Jan 29 in ...
... 1959 (50 year ago today), Disney released Sleeping Beauty, a full-length animated version of a very old fairy tale. It featured 2 very different women: Aurora, a careless wool-spinning princess, and the aptly named Maleficent (right), a snubbed sorceress who shape shifts into a frightening dragon in a final effort to exact revenge. Subsequently released in theaters in more than 2 dozen countries ... the film remains a fantasy favorite a half-century later.

There is something about fairy tales we like. There is a simplicity to them, the girl is safe (except from the occasional crazed stepmother) and able to spend her day surround by love, and protection. The men care for the welfare of the women. They fight battles, defeat dragons, deny themselves so she is ok. I have been struck in the last few days about how far we live from the fairy tale. 1 in 4 women will be raped by the time they turn 18. CARE reports there were 3,500 cases of rape from Jan-Sept 2007 in the DRC alone. How many women live in abusive situations? How many little girls are sold into marriages, only seen as a commodity, someone to bear sons to carry on the family names? There are 27 million people enslaved in the world today - 50% children, 70% women (DOJ). How many little girls undergo female genital mutilation?

Elizabeth Roesch at CARE said, "It has been said that it’s more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in the DRC right now..."

and it's not just there...

"Four female journalists were attacked and forced to strip before being marched through the eastern city of Kenema last week. The perpetrators of the attack were reportedly a pro-female genital mutilation (FGM) group" (From the Frontline)

We willingly accept that certain things are "beyond" our ability to fix. Men will look at porn, men will use women, men will (and can) beat their wives. Men need to release their urges - so it's fine if they rape (purchase) a woman to do it. And, in times of war all things are acceptable because that comes as a consequence.

Have we also come to accept that women will be attacked? And has it become (unwillingly) accepted? Where is the out cry against what is happening in the DRC or to those journalist? Where is the uproar of little girls - 9 years old - going through an unnecessary procedure that no one in the village can explain, it's just always been done? Or of girls barely in puberty getting fistulas because they aren't really ready to be bearing children, but are anyway?

Women are not commodities - and were made for more than to keep a clean house and bear sons. When God made Eve He set her equal to Adam. The word in Genesis 1 is helper - not servant, not assistant, not subservient - helper. That implies mutual respect, mutual accountability, mutual love. That means that whatever he would not endure she should not either. That means he should be ready to lay down his life for her (and visa versa).

And where is that accountability? I do not believe that all men are this way, so why aren't the other ones speaking up, saying, hey it's not ok to beat your wife, or purchase a women like a cheap rental car or sell your 10 year old to some gross 60 year old down the way?

Where did the respect go? We have all these rules and ideas out there that all people are created equal. But I think it's time we all admit that will only apply when it's convenient for our lives. I will be the first to say that men and women are made differently, we are wired differently and therefore made to do/act/behave certain ways. But we must be willing to determine what that really means verses letting men "do as they will" and regulate women to some second-class status only slightly higher than the family car (which might actually get treated better).
I don't know how to articulate say all this - and it's going to take more than one post - but when it comes to women and children more needs to be done to protect them, and more needs to be done to call men to a higher standard of conduct and accountability...