Saturday, August 16, 2008

Women and Gender-Based Hate Crimes

Throughout history and into today’s world, women have been the victims of gender-based hate crimes, including dehumanization, devaluation and exploitation. These hate crimes have been tolerated and sometimes even encouraged. Women are still being trafficked, abused, raped, humiliated, mutilated, killed for honor, and murdered in record numbers. When someone is not treated equally, given the same human rights and level of self-determination as those in power, allowed the same standards of treatment and equal pay, they are a slave. When someone purposefully doesn’t pay a person anything or pays someone significantly less than what they are worth, they are still dealing in human exploitation and the slave trade. Women in the USA are currently paid at 80% of a man’s salary, up from 60% when I was a child, but still unequal. We are simply cheap, slave labor. Women and female children are still prevented from becoming educated in many parts of the world. Male embryos are pre-selected over female embryos, creating a form of technological female genocide.

When all of these things affect over half of the world’s current and historical population, it is the largest brain-drain in human history and has caused a huge imbalance in the world. This is evidenced in the imbalance in gender ratios in youth in China, creating the current crisis of a lack of potential wives (and mothers of the next generation) for the, now older, pre-selected male embryos. I’m curious as to how China is going to handle the potential increase in violence due to male-male dominance hierarchy when these men compete for a smaller population of potential female mates. As for this hierarchy that still dominates the world, it has brought an unnatural imbalance of power and a concomitant increase in violence and bullying to extreme levels when encountered on a global scale. We have now had more loss of life from wars in the past hundred-or-so years than in the balance of all of recorded history.

So here we still are. Women have been slaves for thousands of years. We still do not have the same freedoms and right of self-determination as do men. We are still expected to work for less, to be quiet, to be uneducated, to stand aside, and/or be veiled and hidden. There are, of course, always those bright and shining exceptions that the people in power will hold up as examples of women’s equality, but these success stories are still in the minority. It is like when people in the 30's, 40's and 50’s would hold up Lena Horn as an example of a successful African-American performer. Yet her contracts benefited others more than herself, and she often wasn’t allowed to stay at, or even walk through the front doors of the hotels or venues in which she headlined. Many women in traditional male roles of power today have less power than they would if they were a man. They are still treated and spoken of differently, and held to a higher standard than they would if they were a man. In the United States of America, we have still never had a woman president or vice president. It has taken over 225 years for a woman to be able to even run for the office of president. I wonder if Senator Hillary Clinton thinks she was treated fairly and equitably, compared to her male running-mates, while campaigning for president.

I was recently appalled to read, in an August 11, 2008 online article on MSNBC, that the increase in the reporting of rape in Afghanistan has also led men like Ali Khan to say that women are being raped more frequently now because they are essentially exposing themselves to more violence. “These days all these young girls are going to school, and coming out of their houses. These criminals chase after them,” he said. “When these criminals come, they commit rape as well.” Khan’s 12-year-old niece was brutally gang-raped by men who invaded her family home, and beat her mother and father. Her father is still in the hospital two months after the savage attacks. Khan is using illogical circular logic to keep women home and “protected.” His niece wasn’t raped because she left her home and went outside; she was raped because rape and violence against women has been tolerated in her country and the attackers left to continue their reign of terror and rape without impunity. She was raped when her attackers broke into the very home in which her uncle and those in power wish her to remain. Here we go again, blaming the victims! Some of the men involved have been identified by their victims, yet have been allowed to freely roam their country without ever being charged, committing additional crimes of violence, including rape. They are being protected by fellow citizens, police, government officials, warlords, religious leaders, and their powerful families. Their victims are in hiding, afraid for their lives, attempting to escape retribution from their attackers because they "talked." Here we see the perfect example of tolerance, and almost the encouragement, of gender-based hate crimes.

I have a great respect for different religions and cultures; however, when these are used to justify human rights abuses and slavery, I believe the secular and religious leaders, the men holding the reins of power, also abuse the beauty of their religion and culture to maintain their positions in society at any cost. They will do anything to keep women controlled and in the home, and to maintain the status quo. I personally believe there is nothing wrong with a woman choosing to stay home of her own free will, when she has all the same freedoms, political power and right to self-determination as a man, and is not being pressured by religious and cultural norms. Please don’t get sidetracked by a discussion on the family and women’s roles in the family, the breakdown of family values because of feminism, and that women who are out in the workforce have irreparably damaged the family core. Again, that would be blaming the victims, as well as oversimplifying a discussion that would also need to include such topics as economics. A fair and legitimate debate can only occur when both genders approach the forum wielding both equal rights and power.

Unfortunately, after thousands of years, the traditional and modern value system in the human hierarchy remains, from top to bottom, adult males, male children, adult females, female children. How and when will this imbalance of the genders finally be erased? Unfortunately, I believe that the only permanent way to change the system is from within the male gender. Which male leaders and role models will have the courage to stand up and say that this is unconscionable and will no longer be tolerated? Maybe the time will come when the testosterone-driven male-male hierarchy will be overshadowed by enlightened men who use their incredible powers of self-control, humanity, and intelligence to help women rise up and share equally in their power and human rights. Only then, will a true balance and partnership between both genders change the world, hopefully into a safer, more peaceful place upon which all people can live and thrive, without gender-based hate crimes.

Please check out Amnesty International's website:
and the United Nations website:

ADDENDUM 1/22/09
I just read an excerpt from The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women (Peace; 2006), by Diana Washington Valdez, Prologue and Chapter 32. This is something all people, but especially women, should read and consider:

This article by the Global Fund for Women, states that, in the past 10 years of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo...
4 million people have died because of war and starvation
1/2 million women have been raped and tortured
Approximately 3 million people are displaced

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