The long road ahead…

I remember seeing a public service commercial on television when I was six or seven years old, and it has always stuck with me. The ad depicted a cute baby, wearing only a diaper, laughing and smiling at someone off camera. The narrator spoke about how this child had been born with a disability, and would find it difficult, if not impossible, to do things in life that most people aspire to — well-paying jobs like doctor, lawyer, CEO of a major company, or President. The disability? This child had been born female.

Being a young girl at the time, and having been told “you can do anything you put your mind to,” that commercial opened my young eyes. But being the eternal optimist, I just knew things would be sorted out by the time I had children.

Historically, women have been viewed as property, and as less valuable or subservient to men. Domestic violence used to be viewed as a “family matter,” and polite neighbors minded their own business. This is not as true today, but women are still blamed for remaining in such relationships. “Just get out!” If it were only that simple…

Sadly, I was wrong about equality for women being a faint memory by this time. My children are grown, and still I see different standards for men and women. Often, women are the harshest critics of other women.

Violence against women is rampant across this world. Practices generally in the past, such as Sati, foot binding, and widow inheritance, and present day horrors such as acid burning, bride burning, infibulation, female genital mutilation, prostitution, sexual slavery, and rape.

For the women of Darfur, rape is an ever present danger. The Janjawid use the rape as a weapon to humiliate women, and to punish their communities. Women and girls are raped for the simple “offense” of leaving the camps for food or firewood. Rape is rarely reported in Sudan, and often the woman reporting a rape is the one detained by police.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week, at a conference calling for the end of violence against women said it’s an issue that “cannot wait.”

“At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist,” Mr. Ban said in his address at the opening in New York of the latest session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Noting that weapons of armed conflict today include rape, sexual violence and abduction of children to be conscripted as soldiers or sex slaves, the Secretary-General recounted his visits to war-torn areas and his conversations with survivors of violence.

“This is a campaign for them. It is a campaign for the women and girls who have the right to live free of violence, today and in the future,” he said. “It is a campaign to stop the untold cost that violence against women inflicts on all humankind.”

[T]here is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.”

Well said, Mr Ban.

A tiny baby girl was born yesterday. Let’s try to make this world a place where she never feels limited or less-than because she’s female. Until we do, the world just won’t be right.

All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Paul Jamiol
, Jamiol’s World

35 thoughts on “The long road ahead…

  1. Great post, Zooey. I have never understood why men would want to carry out so much violence against women. If it weren’t for women, none of us would be here today. And personally, I find them fun to cuddle up with. 🙂

    But, seriously, this is an important issue, and our government leaders (especially any high-ranking females we have in government) should be speaking up more about it. To ignore these problems is to reward aggression against women. And I have no respect for any man who feels he has some kind of right to use violence against women. He doesn’t.

  2. It’s hard to write past the tears right now, but I just wanted to say, as someone who has suffered some deep abuse, that I really appreciate any voice willing to stand up to the abusers of this world – which unfortunately are many.

    I truly hope all the small and innocent babies born will see their way through to a happy, loving life.

  3. You never know what’s going to touch your soul, Zooey.

    You authored the article, but in doing so spoke to millions of women.

    It’s commendable, not something to be apologetic for.

    I *heart* you!
    😀

  4. The journey to solving any problem begins with recognizing that a problem exists. This is where we have to start our efforts. As barbaric as these customs are in other countries, I think a lot of Americans would be surprised to learn that some (like genital mutilation) are still going on, even in (what we call) the 21st century.

    Knowledge is our greatest weapon, Ignorance our greatest enemy.

  5. I *heart* you too, true. 🙂

    You’re right, Wayne. I’m just afraid that with all the crap going on in this country, and the economy tanking, people are just going to hunker down and try to survive — all of this taking a backseat.

  6. And then there is this. an OpEd in the WaPo by Charlotte Allen entitled “We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?”:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/29/AR2008022902992.html

    Which ends by saying…

    So I don’t understand why more women don’t relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts’ content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim.

    Let’s not forget Ann Coulter who said that women should not be able to vote.

    Thanks, ladies.

    If only we could start with them.

  7. I agree with Ann Coulter, SHE shouldn’t be allowed to vote. But then, is she really a woman?

    Great post Zooey. My daughter has no idea how lucky she is.

  8. Did you see this story? I’ll go get the link I’m having trouble understanding Firefox.

    The body of Katoucha Niane, one of the first African women to attain international stardom as a model and a vocal opponent of female genital mutilation, was found in the Seine River, police said Friday.

  9. Shayne sez:

    I agree with Ann Coulter, SHE shouldn’t be allowed to vote. But then, is she really a woman?

    From the (well written) article:

    Often, women are the harshest critics of other women.

    Case in point………

  10. Hi hackerbob, are you saying a self-loathing and outwardly hateful woman like Ann Coulter doesn’t deserve her own criticism directed back to her?

    When I wrote “Often, women are the harshest critics of other women,” I was referring to women like Coulter and Schlafly.

    True is right. Society gives women and minorities enough to deal with. We don’t need these self-loathing women giving us grief as well.

  11. Zooey,

    I remember when my friend (citymouse61) and I used to share a bay – adjoining lab benches.

    We became know as “The Bay With
    the Problem With the Y Chromosome”

    I blame her. It had to be the uncontrollable laughter at her story of the goat castration.

    Really. It was funny. Maybe I’ll get her to sign on…

  12. Hackerbob, how you can read this whole thread and reduce it to me being a critic of Ann Coulter is just so “typical”.

    Sorry, I’m not playing. I don’t play nice with people who aren’t nice. I don’t consider myself a “good little progressive” and Coulter is definitely part of the problem. She gave women a bad name long before she said they shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

  13. Sometimes when men think like HB thinks I understand the concept of castration.
    Just kidding, but he started it.

  14. Ouch! 😉

    It occurs to me that the hatred women like Coulter spew is directed at ALL of us — including HB’s daughters, your daughter, Shayne — all females.

    It’s really quite disgusting.

  15. I know Hb is well known to the Zoo and TP, but my limited experiences with him tells me he is on the neanderthal branch of the tree.

    May be harsh, but boy oh boy, …………

  16. HB is a good guy, but I sometimes think he thinks he can overcome these societal pressure by sheer force of will — and I hope he can — but it’s not likely.

  17. Before I call it a night, I thought I’d put in a self-gratuitous plug for visitors to my blog. Not only is there a new edition of “Driving Me Crazy”, but I venture into the disturbing world of poetry. (Disturbing the way I write it, anyway.) And do have a good night, everyone. I have gotten way too little sleep this weekend, and I can’t afford to get caught up here all night.

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