Join in and take this Pledge against Violence to Women. Please feel free to share and show your solidarity.
From the March 2015 TAKE 5
Crisis for all
By ROB PINKERTON
Before we left for Mexico in early December, we endured the concern of friends and family who were worried for us due to the unrest in this country. The usual fear is inspired by stories of gringos robbed and dismembered. It seems that there has been none of that yet this year. The unrest, demonstrations and riots in many Mexican cities is justified, appropriate and necessary in my opinion. A governor’s wife in the state of Guerrero was disturbed by a student demonstration. She had local police round up 43 young people. They were turned over to the cartel that killed them, burned their bodies and scattered the ashes in a river. When the truth became known, the people all over Mexico took to the streets, the horror and disgust triggering a simmering resentment at the treatment by cartel and governments and the lack of some very basic human rights. Social media plays a huge part in educating people in developing countries of the wrongs inflicted on them. In the past atrocities like this would be easily covered up and the local population cowed. Like the Arab Spring, the people have had enough. In parts of the country, the cartel has been expelled by locals and a militia organized who set up road blocks to protect their towns and their commerce.
As we drove through the United States and watched the news at night in our cheap motels, I was struck by the similarity of the national crisis the Americans were dealing with. Here, American black peoples’ resentment against police treatment boiled over because of the deaths of two black men in separate incidences. The talking heads on American media seem obsessed with the legality or illegality of the police actions depending on which bias you watch. That seems to be a moot point to me. Again the simmering resentment of the black people is there. Segregation, inequality and racial hatred are still prevalent in many American areas and needs to be faced and dealt with. It looks to me as if they have a long way to go. I wish them well with this terrible dilemma. We spoke with friends…old hippies who live off the grid in the Siskiyou mountains. They told us there is fear in America, not just of their enemies abroad but internal fear of Hispanics, blacks, whites, governments, regulatory bodies…you name it. We observed in northern Arizona, a nasty prejudice by older redneck motor home dwellers against a group of young white backpackers. One of the comments was “They’re probably from Oregon”. Many Americans seem to want to preserve the status quo. That is never an option.
So, we live secure in our lovely little town on Vancouver Island, smug that we do not have these horrible deep seated problems. Don’t we? We have our share. What inspired these musings was the Ghomeshi situation. I watched and read dozens of opinions on this and the Cosby revelations. Titillating? It shouldn’t be. The positive in this is that it has forced the cancerous situation into public view and compelled us to talk about it. This is a problem that has been swept under the rug by our society for far too long. Forget Ghomeshi and his alleged sick hang up. Every family, if they care to look or admit it, knows of some form of violence that women have endured. I’m sure it has its roots deep in our past when the strongest male was the protector of the family and tribe and ruled with violence. It is tolerated, ignored, joked about and perpetuated from generation to generation. It has seeped into our language as in the “wife beater”, the Stanley Kowalski T shirt. Any man who has lived with a woman knows that they can be exasperating just as we are to them. They think differently from us and have different needs and desires. Generally, men are more attracted to competitive, hard hitting and sometimes violent sports than women. This physical and mental aggression and need for control when applied to a relationship has devastatingly destructive consequences.
Women can demand proper treatment from the criminal justice system and refuse to be victimized by abusive males but they cannot do it alone. How about the male of the species acknowledging that this behaviour is wrong? How can we do that? Most importantly, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers; talk to the boys and teach them respect for women. Violence is learned behaviour and the way to break the cycle is to teach the next generation that it is cowardly and unacceptable. Another way that can be harder is to take a stand in public. We were at a social gathering of gringos the other night and a wealthy white trash American told the same bad joke that he had last year about what constitutes foreplay in North Carolina. The punch line, “Git in da truck”, typifies the attitude that females are not valued, and are only sex objects to be tolerated. There was no laughter and some eye rolling but no one, myself included, called him on it. It is difficult when everyone is having fun to take a stand on a subject such as this.
Women as sex objects, of course they are as we are to them. Our race wouldn’t last long if that wasn’t the case.
My children were very close to someone who suffered physical and mental abuse in childhood and witnessed the lifelong damage and mental trauma. I am proud of them all and am thrilled that my sons are gentle and compassionate men. One of them is much more active and outspoken on this subject than I am. I admire him and pledge to take a public stand against this horrible wrong.