Monday, December 3, 2007

Do Nothing, and You May as Well Lend a Hand

A while ago in my Women's Studies class, we watched several PSAs about domestic violence during one of my classmate's discussion leadings. One PSA from Australia was particularly haunting, and left our normally outgoing classroom completly speechless. I remember sitting in the darkened room, watching everyone's faces morph from concern to shock to utter dismay.

I finally found the PSA, and wanted to share it with you. I'll warn you - it can be very triggering, and is very difficult to watch, but it's something I feel everyone needs to see.

I think it's amazing that something so profound is being shown over in Australia, but my applause at the PSA quickly turned to absolute disgust when I began reading the comments posted undeneath.

For those of you who didn't watch the video, (warning) it depicts a man and woman sitting at their kitchen table, listening to their next-door neighbors through the thin walls. The neighbor man is yelling terrible things at the woman, and a situation involving domestic violence is strongly implied. After an uncomfortable amount of time, the first man stands up, picks up a baseball bat, and goes next door, presumably to be the hero and stop the neighbor from abusing his wife. However, the man instead hands his neighbor the bat and says "thought you could use this." The scene is then cut away from, and one can hear the abused wife begin to cry.

What an awful image, yet the final text is powerful - "do nothing, and you may as well lend a hand."

Yet, as I mentioned before, it wasn't necessarily this PSA that incited me to write, but rather the comments underneath:

"I hope he beats her good. Crazy woman with her back talk."
"pat that man on the back! He did a good deed by giving a bat to beat the bitch!"
"That was retarded!The guy with the bat should have went in there to help tame that crazy dame!"
and this was just the first page.

Are there are even words for this? I cried when I began to read these comments. I cried out of anger, out of absolute frustration, and out of absolute despair. I don't care if these people were trying to be funny. I don't care if they were trying to incite trouble, or were desperately seeking attention. It's absolutely, totally, 100% sickening, and it makes my blood boil that people could even BEGIN to laugh at this.

What is it in our culture that makes people think these kinds of "jokes" are ok, LET ALONE actually believe what they are saying (which I pray to God isn't the case, or I don't know what I what would do).

Fuck anyone who doesn't believe that we need a feminist movement. Who doesn't believe there isn't any work to be done. Who thinks that Women's Studies is a waste of time. Who makes jokes belittling women that gives others the right to make the same jokes and constantly keep women oppressed.

How could people be so heartless, and so misogynistic? It saddens me that women are thought of so little by these people. That we are considered lesser. That people think it is ok to make jokes about "our place" and violence against us like we are not human.

Read this article. Live, rage, and weep with these women. See the realities facing women all over the world. Get angry. Do something. Don't allow ANYONE to EVER make comments like this, even if they're only "joking."

By joking about something so serious, we allow it to become something to laugh at, to remove ourselves from. We allow women to become the "other." To become dehumanized.

I wonder how these commentators would feel if the PSA was reality for their mother. Their sister. Their niece. Their loved ones.

We cannot allow this violence to continue. It has to stop now. It has to stop with us.

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