Yeah, Yeah . . . Leave the Women and Kids

Thirty-five articles into my theory class and we finally read one that deals with women and children! But please, hold the applause… It explains that aid workers should not evacuate women and children first in crisis/war situations. Now that’s refreshing! Yes, please, let’s make life a bit harder for those women. The logic of course was that adult males were more vulnerable and more likely to be killed in war ravaged areas because they would appear as a threat. Thus, they should be evacuated first as they had more to lose, the women after all would probably only be raped not killed, well maybe…but at least initially they would just be raped.

Am I reading this right? This is a woman author?

Well, thank you Ms. Carpenter for this prolific contribution to the world of academia, now we have a woman publishing an article about how rape isn’t so bad and that we should yet again put those men to the top of the list to help. Well, forgive me, but I had a few things to say about this in my predominantly male class. So I asked the question, why is death the ultimate vulnerability? And how can the author say that these women who were raped did not die in every way except physically? The responses were interesting to say the least, but there are two that I found most memorable. The first comment: rape cannot be used to define vulnerability because men cannot be raped! Setting aside that in reality this is not true, the deeper question I need answered is why men must feel that we can only define things in terms of what they are familiar with. Second, another person in my class pointed out that the men in this study were being killed, they had no choice about their death, but the raped women could use their agency in deciding whether or not to kill themselves after the fact…they got to choose whether to commit suicide! So my second question is when did the agency to take your own life become superior to another person taking your life? And aren’t lives being taken in any way just bad? Why do we feel this need to categorize levels of badness?

I for one am grateful that the aid workers who are saddled with such a terribly difficult choice opt to evacuate the women and children first. I am grateful that we are not so focused on the present that we lose sight of preserving our future too. I do not envy the choice they have to make, but I am grateful, so very grateful, that in this one thing, they see what I do, that preserving life is not about who lives and dies, but preserving the decency of a life worth living. In the end, the dead move to a new phase of existence, but those left to live had better feel they have a great deal to live for. Taking away the will to live is far more corrosive than progressing on to the next phase. Certainly that is just my opinion, but if the world says we have to level on the issue, that is where I stand.

—by RB

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