It’s not a question of “he said/she said,” but of a clear, terrifying pattern of patriarchal power throughout history and throughout the world: seeing women as objects, not recognizing their rights, dignity, personhood. If one out of three women experiences rape and violence, if between 40 to 70 percent of women experience abuse and harassment, we need to not only judge a perpetrator but a whole culture that defines as “normal” denigration, objectification and violence against women. Denis Mukwege, recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for devoting his life to defending victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke of the terrible brutality. But misogyny is not localized. It is a toxic world epidemic.
In one class, I asked male students to list what they were taught/told as boy children about acceptable behavior. They should be tough, powerful, winners; they shouldn’t be vulnerable, cry, display emotions, except anger; should not be a sissy, a faggot, sensitive. Looking at the list, one student said, “This is pathological.” I see Trump, a powerful bully demeaning women, as an example of that male pathology. It’s horrifying to hear him cheered.
White Europeans in their colonial conquests displayed a similar inability to see those in developing countries as precious human beings. Imperialism — denying people’s rights, culture, language, exploiting land and resources for greed — seemed “normal,” good. That arrogance/ignorance is replicated in our attitude toward our earth: poisoning water and air, destroying forests, wetlands, species, not recognizing the incredible interconnections of intricate diverse life forms, using and exploiting resources for our wealth without recognizing the cost to life.
This arrogant narcissism, this inability to recognize the dignity and worth of another, shrinks mind, heart, soul. Not a question of “he said/she said,” but a moral blindness causing great suffering, endangering all life.
Bernice Mennis, West Fort Ann