Wednesday, March 30, 2005

America la fea

The scholarship situation is still up in the air, so I'm back to my usual ranting...

Most disgusting observation of the day: on yesterday's evening news, the abhorrent, brutal death of a woman in Seattle garnered less attention than snow in the Cascade mountains. Today's lovely case involved a woman whose boyfriend beat her to death with his fists. Neighbors all said they heard horrible screams, yet no one picked up a phone to call the police until the poor woman's daughter came home, saw the blood, and ran to a nearby home. I can't tell you how sick it makes me that this still happens. We like to point the finger at other nations who treat women with cruelty; while it may not be so rampant in the United States, we still have a long way to go when a woman can be slowly murdered by her partner while the neighborhood blocks its ears.

Anyone who thinks that women and men stand on equal footing should monitor how domestic violence is treated in the public arena. Sure, we've made some progress: laws finally recognize that husbands can rape wives, and it's illegal to hit a woman. Yet, in too many cases, misogyny is still acceptable, albeit in quieter, less obvious forms. Flip through popular magazines like Details or Cosmo; Versace ads still depict women sprawled down staircases who look drugged or raped or both. Look at how women are depicted in the news: throughout last year's presidential campaign, most commentators portrayed Theresa Heinz Kerry as a brash, loudmouthed bitch, even though the media should have been focusing on her political aptitude or on her awareness of current events.

Yes, it's just pop culture, but it has a real influence on America's attitudes towards DV. At some point in her life, one out of every four women will be verbally threatened or physically abused. According to the National Organization for Women, roughly four women die every day in the United States at the hands of abusers. Even liberal, sensitive Seattle lives down to these statistics: yesterday's victim, Katy Hall, joins the growing ranks, along with Crystal Brame, Anastasia King and countless others.

Worst of all, women are not blameless. We perpetuate the cycles of violence through silence. We listen to desperate screams down the hall and decide not to pick up the phone. It's not our business. It's not our problem.

It is our problem. Every single one of us knows a DV victim or survivor, whether or not we are aware of it. The more we try to push domestic violence under the rug, the greater the risk that we, too, will become victims ourselves. If we don't demand attention, neither the media nor the politicians will provide it. In a so-called culture of life, too many women are being obliterated for us to rest on our laurels.

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