Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Worldview of Proactive Women

Women’s history, for those who care to dig for it, tells the stories of women in our past who have made a difference. Two of those stories, from the Americas, are about butterflies and iron-jawed angels. Both groups of women protested civil rights violations, unfair treatment, brutality, and rigid control of individuals by abusive governments.

November 15, 1917 is remembered as the Night of Terror, when women protestors, aka iron-jawed angels, peacefully and quietly holding signs asking for the vote in front of the White House, were arrested, jailed, and physically abused by both District of Columbia law enforcement and federal officials.

November 25 is designated by the United Nations as International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women because it was on this day in 1960 when the government-protesting Mirabal sisters, Las Mariposas aka the butterflies in the Dominican Republic, were assassinated by ruthless dictator Trujillo.

Both of the above historical events are remembered for good cause. They dramatically illustrate the worldview of proactive women seeking to change social and political wrongs.

Women today are making history by acting individually or in groups to protest against what they consider personal, corporate, political or social wrongs. As an example, a sobering view of the consequences of 9/11 and a continuing wartime environment is the media focus on American torture stories. We do not find much in official history about the genocide of Native Americans, lynching of African Americans, the official refusal to recognize women as human beings with brains until 1920, and the commitment of women into mental institutions just because their families could not control them. These events did not spell torture until the third millennium when the truth began to be leaked to the world.

Now the truth has come to lodge in our young people who begin learning torture by playing electronic games of “blame and punish.” When parents watch the news on television, more war torture stories are absorbed by these young people. It is no longer just a reality of wartime. Now it has a residual effect on youth.

Sarah Sentilles reports on MS Magazine Blog a very real action by a 22-year-old young man who accused his girlfriend of cheating on him. He waterboarded her! Sentilles article, Waterboarding in the Living Room, “offers a glimpse into a U.S. torture culture that relies on salvific violence, misogyny and legal hypocrisy.” (

What is poignant about this waterboarding incident is that it is no surprise that this young man has been indoctrinated by ancient religious history’s declaration that the female is always guilty, responsible, wrong, evil, and he, as a male, has the right to force her into redemption. This unconscious and unrecognized continuing belief about females plays a role in those electronic blame and punish games that this young man probably continues to play.

This social rather than military waterboarding incident is another reminder of the Middle Ages witchhunts by the established early church. Sentilles, an Episcopal priest, duly notes: “Religious misogyny implicitly sanctions violence against women.”

The Butterflies and Iron-Jawed Angels today can be found in MS Magazine Blog and Sarah Sentilles, among others.

This is the first in a series of columns about “worldviews” of certain groups in today’s world. Watch my Facebook (Julia Hughes Jones) Wall and my Tweets on Twitter (goodcropgirls) for the next provocative and disturbing question.