Saturday, March 12, 2005

Crimes of Passion and Sheer Madness

In September of 2003, Justine Vanderschoot, 17 years old, with a bright future ahead of her was murdered by her boyfriend and his best friend in the Aurburn area of Sacramento County. Her boyfriend, 20, suspected her of cheating and tapped her phones, recording her conversations with friends and a new male friend which piqued his immature rage. He decided to take action and along with his roommate and best friend, he planned to end her life. He spent adequate time in her home, becoming close to her family and sister and unbeknownst to them, they would lose Justine at the hands of the very young man they tried to mentor. He came from a broken home and had many issues (obviously) that Justine's father was aware of and tried to save him because he was a good kid. Yeah right. He took Justine for a drive and confronted her to no avail. In a rage, not receiving the answers he was waiting for, strangled her and with the help of his roommate, dug her grave and buried her alive. The roommate didn't like Justine and felt she spent too much time at their apartment, that was reason enough for this bright guy. Can you believe that women continue to die at the hands of men?

What I don't understand is why don't more men take to the streets and demand an end to this violence. Why are we taking this lying down? Women have been marching, protesting and the feminist community has sponsored countless events to give a voice to this genocide but here we are in 2005 and women will die at the hands of a man faster than cancer.

Anger, rage and disbelief are emotions I am quite friendly with at the moment. I want everyone to stand up and say no and to begin a campaign like the war on HIV/AIDS to keep our women alive and to educate our young boys from infancy to adulthood that violence is not the answer. Taking a life should not be an option. Women give birth to life everyday yet many of us do not live long enough to enjoy the lives we create.

I hear about the war on Black men consistently. There are meetings, conferences and agendas put together by men to fight police brutality and injustice but where are the men when we need them to fight our battles? There is a small group of men in this country that have done what I am seeking and that is to team up and let their voices be heard, but an increase in that small number must be quadrupled if we ever expect to protect our little girls, sisters, mothers, cousins, nieces, and women. Rape is still going on in Sudan, in wartime countries soldiers are told by someone that it is okay to enter the homes of innocent people, destroy their families, and harm the women of these families. I just don't understand why society hates women so much but in a double edged twist we cherish them and depend on them. We love sex in this country like oxygen, yet it is the prostitutes that suffer and are blamed for sexual deviance. I honestly believe that if we began to teach our children about sex, giving it the human and emotional analyzation that it deserves, we would save so many women from rape. If we discontinued this war on women and viewed them for who they are: human beings. Cut out the word mankind and replace it with humankind because women bleed just as men do but currently we seem to be shedding buckets to earn to respect in this world. We're made to feel unsafe walking alone at night, we're never free from insiduous catcalls on the street and we can never just be left alone to roam free like a man in safety and security. Most intelligent men can see this and do what they can to make the world a more kind and accepting environment for the women they love.

But alas, I see the irony everywhere, even in the gay community, women are seen as sex objects, by gay men! I was sitting in a bar listening to the comments made by a group of gay men about a contestent on American Idol. Her breasts, not her talent were the topic of conversation. It was really sad to hear. If gay men have a hard time seeing us for more than a pretty face, how do straight men see us?

In a society where, "show us your tits" is a come-on and hip hop videos feature men disrespecting women to the point of sliding a credit card through their butt cheeks is tolerated, we have a major problem. Is respect, liberty and freedom from sexual and physical violence too much to ask? To not be called a slut because I enjoy not be stereotyped or not have to give up my last name because it isn't as worthy as a man's last name when I marry? To give my children my last name because, naturally, I gave birth to them so it makes sense to me, (or to share, or make a up a new last name).

I feel like women are becoming brainwashed and complacent like the Black slaves of yesteryear. We don't ask these questions enough and we don't dissect our roles in society enough, instead, we cake our faces with make-up to impress a guy, we wear the clothes, we perform the dance and jump through surgical hoops to look like the woman he wants....but what do we get out of it really? Self-esteem issues, eating disorders, breast implants that malfunction and a hatred of other women we feel we must compete with. I look at the typical guy who puts half the time and effort into looking like himself to impress a woman minus all the said issues listed above. What a strange dichotomy this gender deal is.

But now, even men are feeling the pressure to look to good and be fit like Brad Pitt. Maybe it's just time to get real with ourselves, real with each other as human beings. We can't all meet the standard of beauty and nor should we have to. The inner beauty is what we fail to see as important, that inner beauty, if Justine Vanderschoot, had the chance to acknowledge it, would have led her clear away from her psycotic boyfriend. She, like so many women, fall into the trap of outer beauty, "jealousy means he loves me" and further confusing messages. I think men are shaking their heads as well. They have so many mixed messages on how to be a man but there is one message that is not absorbed: be respectful of humankind, of the needs of all living, breathing persons. No one belongs to you and your power only controls your actions. Live wisely and avoid violence because it does not equal brawn or strength, it equals weakness.

To all the young women of the world who have gone too soon and to Justine Vanderschoot and her family, may those cowardly lions who felt they had the power to take her body, recognize this: you may have taken her life, but you did not rob her of her spirit because the spirit can never stolen.


Post a Comment

<< Home