Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I learned a new word yesterday: femicide. It was used in telling the story of the thousands of women of all ages who have been and even now are being brutally raped in the conflict in the Congo over the last ten years. Women - girls, mothers, grandmothers - repeatedly raped. Then rejected by their families and husbands who often move to a new area and take a new wife, these broken women and confused children struggle to cope. Eventually the fragile remains of families break apart and the society is dismantled.

The term femicide was not used to discuss the death of women so much as the utter crushing of women's hope, spirit, initiative, and a terrible disintegration of a sense of self having any kind of value. And the complete eradication of any possible normal life in the future.

Let me state up front that I recognize life is not easy for men. Men have battles on every front, and often experience soul crushing moments. That said, I fiercely aver that women in every culture, even ours, live with a level of femicide that men can hardly grasp. There are many ways to kill a woman.

Dominate her with a towering male physique, especially if it is looming over her, or in her space, or if it is accompanied by yelling or not letting her leave a room. Develop a personal system of grading women, known or unknown, and evaluate them on a private 'sexy scale.' Treat her ideas with disdain. Send around pictures of grossly obese women in bikinis just for laughs (got one of these today).

Okay - none of those is rape. But as a woman let me say (my new opinionated self) that being dominated by male size or opinion or sexuality or personality is crushing to a woman. I don't have to listen to the women around me (but I do) to know this - I have experienced it.

I will also say that I know men who, while they appreciate the beauty of the body, and have healthy sexual urges still seek to know women as people of worth. These men are in my home and family and friendship circle. As a woman I need these men to fight for me. To not assume that my life is equal and free just because it is 2008. To be a woman is to be at risk. Sorry if you don't like that - it is my reality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i am reading, in my down time....captivating by john and stasi eldredge. as i read i swear it is written by our own marilyn!
it is your language (except when john is writting) and it is your gift of freedom. have your read it? it's about women's beauty, her quest to be seen, saught after, knowing her beauty of her own....also about how the enemy is so threatened by how God created us to be beatiful and give life....that is why since the beginning he has so attacked us. i am not done...the drugs makes it hard to read very long...but it is a must read. even could be a very interesing retreat theme.