#BringBackOurGirls: An open letter to men

So Boco Haram kidnaps three hundred girls for slave-wives, while women in America are accused of contributing to their own rapes. Of 1325 candidates for Congress in India in 2014, from the 3 major parties (BJP, Congress and AAP) only about 12% were women. Senegal, Liberia, Kosovo, South Korea and Malawi are among a number of countries with women leaders, but still less than 10% of the total. The Right-wing in America, in solidarity with Uganda, is apoplectic about gay marriage but totally silent about forced, arranged and kidnap marriages; which I guess somehow fits into their concept of marriage between one man and one woman.

Women make up half of the planet but only account for 20% of news stories, 29% of print journalists, and are nakedly discriminated against in TV and cable news once they pass the age of 35. There are more than 230,000 women age 12 and older who are victims of sexual assault in America each year. Texas congresswoman Wendy Davis and Hillary Clinton have been mercilessly attacked by the Right-wing media over their looks: Hillary’s pants suits and worse… Michelle Obama has been relentlessly impugned for her looks. The examples of those insults would be far too numerous to list here. FOX News sacrificed untold hours to explain why women in this country deserved to be paid less.

Getting the picture here? Do I need to talk about rape camps in Bosnia and elsewhere? There were no male rape camps. The history of human conflict is replete with stories of mass rape by conquering armies. Women in America could be considered the property of their husbands well into the 20th century and Saudi women still cannot drive automobiles. Here women are denied rights of sovereignty over their own bodies. Please don’t get started by those creepy cult-like Purity Balls! Purity_ball_ritual

I could write volumes on the subservient, oppressive and abusive way woman are treated in every nation, every religion around the planet. An evangelical minister recently argued that only men of a household should be allowed to vote. Women are half the species, but men have made them the bottom half, with women like Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin and Michelle Bachman gleefully and profitably helped men maintain their hegemony. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t buy the kidnapping by Nigerian Boco Haram misogynists as yet another example of Islamic zealotry.

The horror in Nigeria, first of all, is a far more complex issue that the cartoonists in the corporate Press would like you to know about. More than that, it is not a product of Islamic extremism or the fault of a religion. It is, in my very informed and secure opinion a consequence of and a failure by men. We do not, as a gender hold other men accountable for crimes against women, except in instances when it truly feels like arguing over property rights.

I have been told by my wife and numerous female friends that they are constantly aware and concerned about being alone on the street, in a dark place, on an El platform of on public transportation. I nearly got into a physical confrontation with three men on a nearly empty train car some years ago who had a young woman in tears. We managed at the last moment to both slip out the door at a stop. Every woman I know has been groped, grabbed, shouted or whispered obscenities to, followed and sexually harassed by strange men. I can walk down most any street in this city without fear, and with no fear of being sexually assaulted. A close friend, a former sheriff’s deputy, who carries a weapon, worries about being surprised, jumped or cold-cocked before she can reach her weapon. It is a fundamental difference between men and women that level of fear, anxiety, or simply having the thought of the possibility of assault at all.

All men, by silence, ignorance and action contribute to the global environment that allows, excuses, ignores or perpetuates a culture of threat and violence against women. The evangelical preacher who would deny his wife the vote as head of the household opens the door to a subservient and oppressive environment. While he may be on the fringe of that cloud and distant from the most oppressive and dangerous center of the cloud, he is still a part of the cloud. The FOX news pundit who argues for women making less than men has already begun the work of degrading the value of women, or defining them purely by their gender. Simply the negation of a woman’s sovereignty over her own body and future already draws a distinction between the character of a man’s freedom and that of a woman’s, and that degrades any assertions in any holy book or national constitution of freedom is at best a hypocrisy.

Boco Haram did not kidnap boys or men. They only kidnapped young women for brides, sex and sexual slavery. Those are not tenants of any religion. They are the time worn history of our species enacted through every culture, race, nationality and religion by men. It is the habit and practice of men, affirmed by the silence of other men. When and until that is honestly confronted by both men and women nothing we face collectively as a species will ever properly be solved.

WC Turck is the author of 4 books, including the critically acclaimed Bosnian War Memoir “Everything for Love,” and Broken: One soldier’s unexpected journey home, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. Turck wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart: A Revolutionary Christmas Carol” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” The most dangerous voice on the Left, he can be heard Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fridays from 9-11am in Chicago, and 1-3pm on the Revolution and Beer show with partner and cohost BL Murray.

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