Not Even With a Flower

Those who know me know the truth about me: My name is Kathy and I’m a Pinterest-aholic. I love to pin recipes that make me hungry, workouts I’ll never do and, most of all, quotes. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but there’s nothing I love more than a good quote, especially one written out in cool font that I can make my phone’s background. (My iPhone is currently telling me that “The grass is greener where you water it.” How awesome is that?)

Months ago, I pinned a particularly motivating quote by Pablo Picasso to my cleverly titled “Quotes” board:

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I think about the quote from time to time, mostly when I’m feeling uninspired and need a pick-me-up to get going, whether it be in writing or in life. So this weekend, as Monday–my designated “New blog post up! Check it out!” day–approached, I found myself panicking and chanting Pablo’s words as a sort of mantra. But, as my Facebook wall will tell you, it didn’t help. Don’t get me wrong, I tried. I worked so inspiration would find me, keeping a running list of blog ideas in the Notes section of my phone and even starting a few, but Monday came and I had nothing to post. I spent the day disappointed in myself and grasping at straws, almost posting a poem I’m not quite done with just to get something out there, but in the end I held off.

Flash forward to today and me sitting at my computer, doing what I do best: wasting time on the internet. Facebook, Twitter, the New York Times–I guess you can say I have diverse and (sometimes) sophisticated taste. As I scrolled, I saw a video that a friend shared, deeming it a “cool video!” It was called “Boys age 7-11 were asked to slap a girl. Their reactions will amaze you.” I clicked.

The video shows about five or six little Italian boys being asked questions.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A pizza maker,” one of them says.
“Why?”
“I like pizza,” he replies.

And then, the off screen narrator brings a girl into the equation. He asks the boys to say what they like best about her, to caress her. And then he asks them to hit her in the face.

“Slap her, hard!”

The boys look confused at first, some a little upset and, one by one, they all tell the narrator no. They will not hit the girl who’s standing in front of them.

“As the saying goes: girls shouldn’t be hit, not even with a flower,” one of them says and my heart subsequently melts into a large, hopeful puddle.

The feminist in me felt great at this point. Respect! Equality! Hope for the future! Woohoo!

And then, twelve minutes later I found myself on mic.com reading an article that no one on my Facebook shared today. One that also melted my heart, but into a puddle of despair. All the hope that had been there just a few moments before escaped, runny and sad like an egg yolk.

The title of the article?

“6 Women are Massacred Every Day in Mexico–So Why Does Nobody Seem to Care?”

I took my glasses off and rubbed them clean. This has to be wrong. But it wasn’t. It’s not. Six women are murdered in Mexico.

Every.
Single.
Day.

“Femicide” is exactly like “genocide,” a term we all know well from our history classes. But femicide refers specifically to rampant violence and killing of women, something Mexico is sadly notorious for. But, of course, they’re not the only ones. The article notes that Al Jazeera reports “only 24% of the roughly 4,000 femicides reported in 2012 and 2013 were investigated. Of those, only 1.6% ended in sentencing.”

I know that math can be boring, especially to an English major like myself, but let those numbers sink in for a second.

The article goes on to delve further into the statistics and causes, and it’s definitely worth a read. It ends with a sentence about the problem that is femicide: “But will the world listen?”

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I closed the window out, disturbed and increasingly bothered by that last question. Because, world, will we listen? Will we take three minutes of our screen time today to read the article and tell a friend about it? Will it get as many shares on Facebook as that adorable video about the little Italian boys did? (Even though it should, it probably won’t.) And then, during my internal rant, I realized what the most important question about this video and this article is:

Where does the disconnect come in? When exactly do boys switch from refusing to hit a girl to murdering six of them daily?

Of course, not all boys make the switch. And, of course, Mexico is its own case, a country riddled with drug cartels that are responsible for a lot (if not most) of the violence that occurs there. But the principal remains the same: why, in a world that is becoming increasingly tolerant and advanced (in my opinion), are women still treated worse than second class citizens?

I don’t know the answer. I never will. Because I believe that all women should be treated with respect and dignity. As should all men, for that matter. I believe that if we all read more Shakespeare there would be fewer wars, less violence. I believe that societies where women are educated thrive in all ways. I believe that all children, boys and girls, need to be taught from day one to love each other, to respect their mothers, to never raise a hand to a living creature. And I believe that I am a feminist, defined by the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and made famous by Beyonce in her song Flawless.

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Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

So be a feminist. Love your mom and teach your sons to do the same. Read Shakespeare. By all means, enjoy the video of the little Italian boys, but also remember the six Mexican women who lose their lives every day. Pray for them. Share the article on Facebook because it’s important. After all, the only way to get rid of the dark is to shine a light on it, bright, ugly, and honest. Warming those who feel its rays.

 

You can also read this post on The F Bomb here.

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