The appalling conditions women face in the world is made abundantly clear in two articles reprinted in the Utne Reader. The first is from Ghana, where over 28,000 women and 12,000 children since the year 2000 have been condemned to live in “witch camps.” These poor souls are accused of doing black magic, sometimes tortured, driven out of their homes and homelands by greedy neighbors who want their land, or who have a grudge of some kind, or for any number of trumped up reasons, and are forced into one of seven camps where they can barely survive. The government is working to end this practice but there is a long way to go (Npong, Francis and Emily Rems. “Inside Ghana’s Witch Camps” from Bust).
The second article is from Jordan. As it becomes more common for women to get out of the home and into the world, a culture of harassment has developed that is new and frightening. As one woman interviewed for the article put it: “In a patriarchal society like Jordan’s, ‘a man feels that any available woman is his.’ …Men bear no responsibility for their actions, whereas women are considered to blame for whatever happens to them.” Women walking down the streets alone are sluts. It has become socially acceptable to harass them, and it’s difficult to stop because reporting it is taboo. (Whitman, Elizabeth “The Silent Scourge.” The Nation.)
This is the kind of mentality found in much of the world. I saw it in Paris when I lived there in the 1980s and my female friends had to learn to assume a “frozen face” as young men followed them in the streets, teasing them, harassing them, even touching them sometimes. The groper-and-catcall phenomenon is found on the Japanese subways, on buses in Mexico to the point where they have women-only buses in some areas, and of course on the streets of most American cities. Women have a hard time just going about their business without some idiot getting his thrills from whistling or throwing rude comments at her. Maybe some would argue that it’s natural—just the hormones men are born with strirring around in their blood, part of a mating ritual gone awry as we left the wild, and settled in cities. That is not good enough. Men are able control this behavior, but the problem is recognizing that there is a problem.
This culture will never end until the 50% of the population that is able to give birth unites in a campaign to crack down on this perversion. Mothers have to take the first step. A youtube video recently went viral that purports to show mothers in Peru disguising themselves and then catching their sons in the act of harassing them. Snopes.com tells us that this was a staged public service announcement, not the real thing, but that’s OK—the point is that they’re getting the word out that this is making women’s lives miserable, and it has to stop. Mothers have to lay down the law to their sons at an early age, and get their husbands in on it too. It’s not easy to create a cultural shift, but it can and must be done. Otherwise women will continue to be treated as chattel rather than as human beings.
It all ties in to what I call the Sacrament of Sexual Union. Read the book!