In the neighborhood where I am casually staying, a disturbance of the most disturbing kind occurred – a woman was raped. Not far from where I’m sitting right now, writing this. This is frightening enough for a man who knows women in this area, but must be petrifying for women in the vicinity. It was a brazen attack at dusk in an area with fairly high pedestrian traffic.

When I heard about this ugly attack, I realized a few things. 

First, as a man I will never be able to truly empathize with women who have been raped or women who feel vulnerable when something like this occurs to someone they know as a friend or an acquaintance. I can sympathize to an extent; I can wish that it never occurred; I can agree that it is vile and cowardly and contributes to the sense of insecurity on our streets. Even sympathizing feels somehow patronizing, though my feelings are genuine with compassion.

Second, again as man, I rarely feel threatened or ill-at-ease walking down any street at the darkest hours. I suppose I’m an imposing figure, standing 6 feet 2 inches about 210 pounds. I have watched with some sense of sadness as women have crossed the street to walk on the opposite side of the street. In fact, for a while I was insulted, angered at this, wanting to call out, “it’s okay, I’m on your side, I’m not going to hurt you.” 

But thing of it is, we humans are hard-wired in some ways. And self-preservation must rank at the top. If I were a woman, I would likely be taking the long route around me as well. Now it just saddens me.

Third and last, I’m compelled and shocked that we as a society, as a people, as a community still produce individuals who are capable of such monstrous acts. Stop the ride, I want to get off. But I can’t and I’m not really sure how we can prevent monstrous people from doing monstrous acts. 

We have an urge to lash out in anger, in blame but I don’t see what that does to prevent evil. So we re-examine the “culture” our culture produces. Do we ban certain types of films, certain graphic video games, censor books? I’m not certain creating an underground market for these things will do anything but cover up our feelings of fear or powerless.

I think a way out is as simple and as difficult as raising children to abide by a certain moral code – that there are some absolute rights and wrongs. Such as, you don’t steal someone’s humanity in a momentary burst of pleasure or surge of misdirected power.

Not a great response to the scourge of rape, or murder but when you feel your society dying from a thousand different cuts, we all should do something in response; we all share a responsibility to act.


04/23/2013 8:42am

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