Thursday, July 21, 2011


When I was checking the BBC this morning, this story popped out at me. For those who will say "tl;dr" and refuse to click the link, the summary is that Texas has executed a man named Mark Stroman who hunted down and shot "people who resembled Muslims," killing two of them and injuring at least one other. The kicker, for me, was that this man's plea for clemency was backed by Rais Bhuiyan- a survivor of the shooting. Mr. Bhuiyan's rationale was that, while Mr. Stroman had committed a hate crime, his execution would not eradicate hate crimes from our world.

I thought I'd share this article because sometimes- especially in the field I work in- mercy can be hard to come by. Abusers don't take mercy on their victims, commanders don't either, and the people who day-to-day deal with the sentencing and punishment of the abuser often treat the whole system like a cut-and-dry deal ("Court-ordered anger management classes, and in two years the slate's wiped clean. Ta-da!") instead of the only real treatment option that might make a difference. Not only is it refreshing to see someone who has every right to be angry and vindictive choose to look for a way to make the world better instead; it's also an opportunity to ask ourselves how we can practice mercy as we fight to make the world a better place for all people. How can we practice mercy- education, empathy, respect- instead of condescension, vindictiveness, and dismissal?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dealing with other Women

Often I look at my fellow sisters and I’m a little disgusted. Who does that obnoxious chick in the corner think she is? She’s obviously my intellectual inferior, look at the things she believes! Look at her behavior!

I know my outrage is vague right here, let’s just say that in real life I have a MUCH more focused anger, but I don’t want to point fingers at specific behaviors. Why? Because I’ve just become aware of a problem within myself, well, maybe not a problem, but definitely a concern and I’m not really sure how to deal with it.

How do I, as a feminist and someone who believes in the building up of other women, really treat other women? Especially those that don’t share some of my social and political beliefs? Unfortunately, I think I don’t treat them very well. I deride their decisions, make snarky comments behind their back, and wonder why they can’t think for themselves. Looking at this behavior, I feel that it’s problematic for obvious reasons.
  1. If I truly am a feminist, shouldn’t I support, encourage, and lift up those women? Shouldn’t I love them and treat all of them with respect? I’m opinionated and outgoing, shouldn’t I use those personality traits to build up my fellow sisters, rather than devalue their decisions?
  2. However, some of these women do fight against everything I believe. They actively fight against feminism, believing it’s an organization of “no-bra-wearing-lady-libbers” (to borrow a line from a fabulous movie). If these women so actively engage in what I believe to be the oppression of other women, shouldn’t I fight against them? Aren’t we supposed to stand up for what we believe in? That’s what all those Disney movies taught me and I think it’s a pretty good philosophy. In a sort of sick cycle, should I uphold and support women who are fighting to continue a system of repression that hurts me?
I don’t know anymore. The issue seems complex, obviously we shouldn’t bad mouth other women, but is it inappropriate to speak out against another women’s core belief system or disavow her choices? Especially if she’s engaging in behavior that I feel induces more oppression?

Truly though, I feel that I have no answer for this question. Where is the line between standing up for what you believe in and hurting the people you thought you were helping? While I pose this question to everyone, I feel I should point out that I do want to encourage cooperation and support throughout the ranks of womanhood, but I’m wondering how to do it and I’m not sure there is a right answer.