Thursday, March 10, 2005
I've been holding off talking about the killing of federal judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's family in Chicago because, literally, it happened about 8 blocks from my house. A little fucking close to home.
I was coming home from O'Hare the night of the day the story broke, and found a host of television vans with their huge telescoping satellite dishes lining both sides of the road. It wasn't until the next day when I saw a couple of crosses up in the alley and a couple journalist newsvultures vying for space that I realized this was her house.
This one creeps me out, and it hit me deeply because of the sheer guerilla terrorism of the act. If you have some kind of problem with me, come and fuck with me. You don't go after the people in somebody's life who they care about. You just don't. Random violence is reprehensible in itself, but there's something deeply jarring, deeply offensive, about going after somebody's family. It's not cool. You just don't fuck with that shit.
It now appears that they've found the guy who did it; a pissed-off guy who's life sucked cause she dismissed his case. Instead of sucking it up and getting his shit together and finding another route, he went into a spiral of depression and despair and lashed out. He took somebody out, or had them taken out; or maybe he's just been framed, who knows?
For now, what I do know is that murdering somebody's family, trying to stir up fear in others, is homegrown terrorism. In fact, until 9/11 the biggest threats to our security - and, as a woman who makes use of reproductive health services, I'd say it's *still* my own personal biggest threat - are pissed off white guys with US citizenship who feel it's their God-given right to deal out death and judgement whenever they're pissed off.
You've got a social system that isn't set up to provide help to people, a bullshit masculinity culture that says violence (especially against uppity women) is - if not totally OK - usually justifiable, and a government that turns a blind eye to the fact that women live in fear of getting LEGAL health procedures in the US because of wacko guys who feel that God gave them a dick to point around like the finger of His will, to smite whom He pleases whenever He feels like it.
Wake up, dickwads.
You want to fight terrorism? You want to live in a country where nobody lives in fear?
Get the troops back from Iraq, work on your fucking social institutions, provide some goddamn assistance to people who's lives are falling apart and who feel they have no way out. Nurture a culture that *REALLY* preaches how valuable each actual LIFE is - you want to save life, protect quality of life, maybe you should start with actual children, go volunteer to teach actual people how to read, spend a couple days a month sorting files for Planned Parenthood. Become a counselor. Help people.
Violently lashing out cause you're pissed off violates the human rights of an actual person. People who've got families. Lives.
Real fucking people.
*That's* terrorism, and if we'd spend even a quarter of the money dealing with that bullshit as we are bombing foreign countries, we'd be living in a lot less fear of ourselves.
Cause make no mistake: the biggest threat to your security (especially if you're a woman) is other Americans. The ones who make the laws. Who fund the wackjobs. Who believe it's their God-given right to control you and your body and everything you give a shit about.
And they're a fuck of a lot closer than a couple of kids in Baghdad.
Why the fuck her trainer put her in a "pro" fight after less than two months of training... shit. This is why women's boxing gets a bad rap. There's nothing inherently wrong with ritualized violence (sports), so long as everybody knows what they're getting into and everybody plays by the ritual's rules.
When you don't, shit happens.
I couldn't imagine getting into a ring after less than two months of training. After six months, a year, sure. Less than two months? Who's running this bullshit gig?
But you know, if this was a man, this would be a different story. People'd be like, "What the fuck was he thinking? Gosh, that was stupid," in addition, of course, to saying, "Why the fuck didn't anybody stop this fight?" Somebody should have thrown in the towel. They didn't. And that's their fuckup, too.
Sports are brutal. That's what they are. They're physical tests of skill and endurance. Sending somebody in there who doesn't know what the fuck they're doing is like sending some 19-year-old kid who signed up straight out of high school, putting a gun in his hand, and telling him to run flat-footed into enemy fire.
After all, he signed up for it, right?
Sure he did. But just as much as it's his responsibility to take care of himself, it's a lot of other people's job to help him get to that point.
And a lot of people fucked up.
So, Ikea's getting tapped for its sexist male-only assembly brochures. Living in a place where Jenn and I (yes, that's two women, no men) put together every stick of the copious Ikea furniture in the place, I find the idea of hiding the sexism in furniture manuals by pleading it's about "not offending" people (like Muslims, apparently) to be really stupid.
To be fair to Ikea, the manual I just had for the bed I put together showed a man and a woman assembling it; but yes, there's a default to "man" for the smaller pieces, and you'll never, ever, see two women putting a bed together, no matter how often this actually happens in real life.
And that, perhaps, is my biggest problem with sexism trying to co-opt the language of the "politically correct" for its own purposes: you're trying so hard (in their own words) to not offend somebody's belief that you stop telling the truth. You stop protraying the world as it really is. You start preaching abstinence-only education and filling up textbooks with lies that parade around as politically correct lingo when it fact, it has nothing to do with not offending Christians or Muslims or Athiests (nobody ever seems to care about offending athiests). It has to do with using "liberal, PC" language to reinforce stereotypes and tell lies.
There are a lot of women who spend time putting together Ikea furniture. The fact that Muslims (or whoever) don't believe women should doesn't mean that they don't. And deleting women from history, from life, makes your portrayal of life a lie, a disservice. You start trying to tell people how to live and what to do, so that each new generation of women has to start all over again from scratch, and thinks they're crazy because they're putting together their own furniture, aren't married at 25, and never have children. They think they're nuts until they get older, start digging up feminists texts, start running through blogs, and suddenly find this huge group of people just like them.
The problem, as I see it, is placing somebody else's belief before the way the world actually works; imposing somebody else's worldview on everyone else.
In the real world, both men and women put together furniture. Pretending they don't won't make it any different: it'll only make one subset of people feel better about their place in the world, while oppressing somebody else.