A Woman Was Lynched Today

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


A Woman Was Lynched Today

Somewhere in the United States today, tomorrow or soon a woman or girl will be murdered because she is a woman or girl. The murderer or murderers are almost always men or boys who hate women and who enjoy hurting them, terrorizing them and killing them.

This campaign of terror has to be fought and stopped. To do that the fact of the continuing campaign of terror against women and girls has to be exposed in its full and disgusting ubiquity.

This is part of a long and difficult campaign. It certainly isn't the beginning, exposing violence against women has been an ongoing struggle. Like the anti-lynching campaign which the NAACP was a part of, the simple fact that every week women are murdered because they are women must be documented and that fact has to be constantly put before the public. That is what this blog is for, it is a list of incidents. It will not give details of incidents but will name victims, it will respect the privacy and dignity of the victims of these crimes.

May I say that I find it very indicative of the culture of silence regarding crimes against women that there have been no responses in over a month, a fact which cannot be attributed to an actual lack of material. As "The Right to Innocence" by Beverly Engel states, one in three women is sexually assaulted by the age of eighteen, a crime which, while it does not necessarily end in death, certainly leads to a great deal of anguish and frequently a great deal of self destruction on the part of the survivor. A great deal of the reason that most crimes against women go unnoticed is, I think, because women themselves are so reticent to come forward with the abominations that have been visited upon them. So, while I want to protect my own privacy and do not wish to print my name here, I would like to briefly state my own story, in the hope that other women may as well.

I was raised in southeastern Wisconsin by a far-right evangelical group. I, and most of the other women in the group, especially underage women, were physically assaulted, emotionally scarred, and in cases such as mine, sexually molested, simply because to be a woman is to be less powerful and less deserving than a man. Any attempt to create a sense of individuality was quickly crushed out of all of us, as they forced us into the mold of perfect, model housewives, completely submissive to the men around us. We were not permitted to consider the option of any meaningful higher education, or any existence outside of a tiny group which attempted to control our lives, our actions, and our very thoughts. All the women around me had seriously contemplated or attempted suicide by the age of sixteen. This may not be a lynching, but it was a powerful, slow death, which took away our being as surely as if we had been murdered in a single stroke.

I escaped, but this is for those who did not, who were too afraid to go beyond their family, friends, and lives and reach for personal safety.

Perhaps it is wrong of me to post something which deals with something other than outright murder in this space. But, it is my belief that most violence against women stems out of the belief that they are, in some way, less human than their male counterparts; lesser in worth, in capacity, and in ability, beings whose greatest gift to the world is an appropriately proportioned body and an appropriately proportioned wit, great enough to tantalize, while insufficient to act independently. Rather than wait for the great acts of violence which swiftly rob women of life, let us address these smaller acts of violence, which create a culture in which the final act of brutality is more normal and less surprising than such a heinous crime should ever be. Rape may not be murder, but as it reflects a complete disregard for the essential humanity of the victim and makes them into nothing more than an object, it may as well be.
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