Femicide

I read an article this week published close to twenty years ago in Ms. Magazine. The article introduced the concept of “Femicide,” the idea that women are killed solely on the basis of them being female. Essentially, it is terrorism aimed at females. As I read the article, the authors reported a succession of terrible atrocities women in the United States had suffered in the early nineties.  Tears filled my eyes as I read about the mistreatment of so many in our human family. Some of the violence explained had never even occurred to me. I was awed at the total disregard for life. It was so upsetting to me in fact that I stopped reading it altogether; I was simply too depressed about lack of humanity in our species.

But, as I sat contemplating the events related in this article, I gathered my composure and worked up the compunction to finish. The parting words of the authors were, “A femicidal culture is one in which the male is worshipped. This worship is obtained through tyranny, subtle and overt, over our bruised minds, our battered and dead bodies, and our co-optation into supporting even batterers, rapists, and killers. “Basically, I worshipped him,” said Hedda Nussbaum. “We do not worship them…we do not trust them,” wrote Alice Walker. In a myriad of ways, let us refuse nurture, solace, support, and approval. Let us withdraw our worship” (Caputi and Russell 1990).

The finish was even more depressing than the start. This is a call to hatred. But, I am grateful for the insight it gave me into the war between the genders so popular in today’s society.  Hate will never bring a solution to the problem. Further, a simple tolerance for the other gender will never bring a solution to the problem. Mutual respect must be the solution. I am sad for those that feel they have lost the fight by seeing ‘good’ in the enemy.  There would be no fight if both genders could be seen as equally good. To refuse nurture, solace, support, and approval sounds very much like refusing all that separates our species from others in the animal kingdom, but I suppose that viewing the opposite gender as animals or beasts necessitates that our gender must fall in that category as well from time to time. The way to win the fight is not to become what is expected but to help others expect what we in the human family can become. The solution will come in approaching both genders with respect and love.

—by RB

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