Why we still need feminism

I don’t know about you, but I’m still reeling from last week’s horrific news story in Cleveland. In a matter of days, we’ve learned the details about what these three women endured while they were imprisoned by this man for an entire 10 YEARS. Let me say it again: THREE WOMEN WERE IMPRISONED IN A HOUSE IN A NEIGHBORHOOD FOR 10 YEARS. If I sound angry, it’s because I am.

Missing Women Found

I’m outraged, but not just for obvious reasons. Not just because three young women had 10 years of their lives ripped away from them in an endless cycle of rape and abuse. Not just because, as young teenage girls, they were offered rides by a man already convicted of domestic violence and assault and needless to say, never made it home.

Nor am I outraged just because, so far, we’ve learned that two of the women were impregnated by their attacker. One of them gave birth to a daughter, who grew up in the house and is now six years old. The other, who says that she was pregnant five times, miscarried after being beaten and starved.

I’m outraged not just because police were called several times to the house, but never bother to investigated any further than the CHAINED SHUT FRONT DOOT. Not just because they never looked into neighbors’ reports of hearing strange noises coming from inside the house, seeing bizarre sightings like, I don’t know, NAKED WOMEN CRAWLING ON DOG LEASHES IN THE BACKYARD, or a little girl staring out the window of an abandoned house.

No, I’m not outraged just because of these atrocities. Not just because of the unimaginable suffering, fear, and hopelessness that each of these women surely felt, and the hope for freedom she probably lost.

I’m outraged that all of these things happened, and continue to happen to women all over the world, and yet it’s still easier to turn a blind eye and say you didn’t notice anything. It’s still more convenient for us to choose “not to get involved.” It’s still ok to chalk things up to “private issues” and simply walk away.

Missing Women Found.JPEG-029d6

And on top of all that, some still have the audacity to question if feminism is really relevant in today’s “progressive society.” I mean, do you know any women who still need advocacy, who still need someone to step up for them and say “Yes, I care?”

I’m outraged, of course, that women are kidnapped, tortured, and murdered, everyday, everywhere.

But what really kills me, what really breaks my heart, is the realization that at the end of the day, it seems like no one really cares–not even the people who are paid to.

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Mexico’s “invisible women”

This week, a horribly graphic video of a woman being beheaded in Mexico made its way onto the Internet and was eventually posted on Facebook. The woman, bound and kneeling, is decapitated by a masked man with a knife before a group of observers.

The poster’s intentions? To let Facebook users know what’s really going on in the world–a right that, until now, Facebook supported. The site received numerous complaints about the video–as they have about other graphically violent videos–and it was eventually removed.

But not before it got 2,500 likes.

Beyond the ethics of Facebook and the question of whether or not users should be exposed to such material, the bigger story, of course, is about the video itself, and the murdered victim. Reports are that the woman was killed by her husband, a gang member in the Mexican drug cartel, for allegedly cheating on him.

As horrible as this video is, it’s far from the first recorded incident of gender-based violence. Violence against women in Mexico so common that it’s almost unremarkable. Femicido–femicide, or the killing of women because they are women–is a widespread phenomenon. Everyday, women simply disappear.

Ciudad-Juarez

Why is this happening? According to Women Under Siege, it’s largely due to a culture of allowed violence, also known as impunity:

“It is a horrible concept that is reduced to this: You want to beat up a stranger, your wife or girlfriend, murder her, torture her, kidnap her, slice her up or sell her. You can do it, and chances are nothing will ever happen to you. Sick minds, macho minds, have free rein because the government does little to stop the violence against women.”

Most women who find the strength to speak frequently disappear, their tortured bodies found stabbed, decapitated, or hung off bridges or in trees. The government does nothing: “The women who speak up are dismissed, told they are locas, told that all of their daughters were part of the narcotics business or wanted to run away.”

To everyone except their families, these women are invisible. They are erased as though they never existed.

But just like the videos, these women are real. Their suffering is real. Their deaths are real. We may not want to watch the videos on Facebook, we may not even want to read about them in the news. It’s a lot to handle, and after all, what can we really do?

niunamas

For one, we can talk about it. We can write about it. We can raise awareness and make their stories known. We can stop worrying about the kinds of things we do and do not want to hear about on the Internet and start having real discussions about serious problems. We can express respect, empathy, and sadness–for the dead and for the families that lost their mothers, sisters, and daughters.

We can acknowledge–at the very least–that to us, they are indeed visible.