pixkris: Wedding Day Smiles (Buffy Stake)
As a follow-up to my last post, I would like to share a Rachel McKibbens' poem, which was featured in the online political journal The November 3rd Club. It is one of the most powerfully evocative poems I have ever read, bar none.

After a Magazine Named Elizabeth Smart
One of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World

Rachel McKibbens

Never mind Keisha with the mud in her mouth,
or Sarah, face-down in the pond. Forget the man
who chose his daughter’s coffin dress, or the woman
who sank to the floor as they closed the lid.

Though you came home changed,
wearing your body like a picked lock,
face, plump as a newlywed, your tongue smothered
in survival and strange prayer—
it was good enough.

And now truth sits in your stomach, a cold brass knob.
Like every damaged girl, you are full of things
no one wants to hear. Instead, we pin your airbrushed face
over headboards. Pray our daughters become centerfolds,
resist daylight, learn the harp, line bookshelves
with secrets like snakes in jars.

Elizabeth, you are proof
that God will always do what he wants,
white girls achieve perfection when they vanish
and America will love you more for your silence.

So when you are overheard
whispering to ducks hung from hooks in Chinatown,
we’ll believe you were only hungry.

When you marry an old man
who locks you in a dollhouse, spoon feeds you pearls,
we will call him wise.

And we will not flinch when your firstborn child
seen squirming in your arms, is a shrieking girl
with her face on backwards.
pixkris: Wedding Day Smiles (Buffy Stake)
We hear about women being mistreated or killed all of the time, and it is sometimes tempting to look away or to assure ourselves that there's nothing we can do. Lately I've encountered a flood of particularly hideous examples, and they've finally pushed me past my complacency. I need to give a voice to my outrage, to join the chorus screaming "ENOUGH!"

First was the story on NPR about women in China being forced to have abortions...many in their 8th and 9th month. Why? Because government officials in their provinces wanted to bring their population numbers down. Women who had planned to simply pay the extra fees for a second child were brutally kidnapped, held down, and injected with something that caused them to give birth to a stillborn baby days later.

Then I heard another story about the sex slave trade here in LA. Women being lured to the US with promises of gainful employment who are kept captive in houses for the casual, indifferent abuse of men. Miles from where I am sitting right now, someone is being raped repeatedly, trapped.

Then I went to the Museum of Tolerance with my colleagues. After experiencing the heart-wrenching exhibits on the Holocaust, we were ushered into the "Promoting Tolerance Today" section to learn about ongoing human rights abuses around the world. Part of this section involved watching a 10 minute documentary on current crises around the world involving the abuse of women.

Then Dua Khalil. If you haven't read Joss Whedon's powerful statement about this murder and about the mistreatment of women in general follow the link. Believe me, even if you could care less about Joss? You need to read it.

These few incidents are the tip of the iceberg, and they were all variations on other stories I'd heard before. All over the world, all the time, women are being raped, murdered, tortured, and enslaved. It's not new. Most of the time, it's not even news. How many women go unknown and unmourned?

We need to do something.

I'm going to start by buying one of the "I am Dua Khalil" t-shirts to get more money to Equality Now and to spread awareness about this topic. I'm going to get involved with Educate Girls Globally, a group my all-girls' school works with to promote education of girls throughout the world to help them escape oppression (check out the slideshow on that web site--it will move you). I'm going to keep doing my best to educate the next generation of young women here at my school and to encourage them--the privileged few--to take action, to make a difference. And more. I need to keep finding ways to do more.

Maybe one person alone can't change the world, but we need to fight back and keep fighting. Together. We can't give up.

November 2010



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