On Being Human

February 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking a lot about children lately. Not that I’ll be having them anytime soon (because I most definitely won’t be), but kids are a big deal and some serious consideration should be given to becoming a parent by choice. What I’ve learned so far in my 22 years of living is that the world is a terribly violent and unjust place, so much so that I have begun to question whether I could allow myself to bring some delicate, pink little thing into the world with the risk of it being brutally torn apart, and if it doesn’t get torn apart through some grace of the gods, then I worry it will live in fear of being torn apart.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the violent nature of men lately. Men scare me more than anything else on the planet. Sure, tornadoes, tsunamis, sharks, and alligators factor big in my worst nightmares, but the threat of men haunts me when I’m wide awake. Men seem to think up the worst ways to kill people, to ensure that they suffer physically in the worst ways before death and to make it a special focus to strike as much fear into their victim as possible before they kill them. Sorry guys, women don’t do this. Or, I should say, it is extremely unlikely for a woman to do this.

I will cite three examples of why men terrify me as a whole. Please note that if you are as sensitive as I am, the following stories may scar you for life as they have scarred me. The first act is a man acting alone.

Alec and I went to a holiday party at the Crime & Punishment Museum in downtown Washington, DC. It was a lot of fun, in a morbid kind of way, seeing the evolution of pirates, torture, and the myth of the mobsters. I should have skipped the part about the serial killers, though. I make a point to note all the most infamous serial killers were male. One of them in particular would dress up as a clown, abduct his victims (men and women, boys and girls), and rape them while he choked them to death with rope or a board, often stashing their bodies under the floorboards of his home. This is a horrible way to die for anyone, and I would have been scarred for life had he done it just to one person. But no. No, the final count of his victims was over 30 and the police feared there were more whose bodies had disappeared. One man, acting alone. Premeditated. Carefully planned actions to brutally destroy a person.

My second example I read about years ago, I think during my freshman year of college (some of the details might be off by a small bit because of the fuzziness of memory, but the events I am sure about). A group of soldiers in Afghanistan raided a home of civilians. Although other people died, I consider their main victim the 15 year-old girl who lived there. First, they killed everyone in her family in front of her, shooting them down as they fled. Second, they gang-raped her. Third, they shot her in the head. I remember a year or so later seeing that the soldiers had been tried and punished, but no amount of jail makes me feel like justice has been dealt. I consider myself a fairly non-violent person. I try hard to see the other side of things, to see how much stress those soldiers were under, to try and understand the pack mentality that overtook them as they vented their frustrations with their position in the war on this poor, innocent, rural family. But when I think about what that little girl must have gone through and how much she suffered before she died, I feel no mercy. I feel that jail is merciful. Sometimes I wonder why the government uses torture to get information but not to serve justice. In this case, I feel these men should be tortured before they are killed. Tortured for days. I think that’s why I like the show Dexter, because he terrifies his victims before he kills them and he outlines for them why he is scrubbing them from society. He hangs pictures of his victim’s victims around the room so they can see the people they hurt and so they know why they are suffering now. I find justice in that, and a huge sense of gratification.

My desire to make bad people suffer really bothers me. How can I be a good mother, be a good person even, when I have thoughts like that? When I feel that bad people should do more than sit in jail until it’s time for the injection (or just sit in jail until they are released back onto society), that they should be tortured for their crimes. I am unforgiving and I desire a justice more violent than civilized society can provide. How can I be a mother with that inside me? And how can I hope to raise children without having my own inhumane side taint them?

My third example is most recent. There is only one victim and no one died, but she will no doubt be scarred for life. If any of you, dear readers, reads the news, you’ll have heard of the CNN reporter who was a victim of “brutal and sustained sexual assault” by a mob of men while reporting in the Middle East. Although I have never been in the situation (please knock on wood for me), I can imagine the fear she must have felt. First, the fear of “oh god, are they going to kill me?” and second the wish of “oh god, please let me die.” A single man out of control is terrifying enough, but a mob of them coming at you is unimaginable. The chaos, the fear, and the pain she must have felt haunts me. What haunts me too is that those men will never be punished, not on any humane or inhumane scale. They got off scot-free. Like most men who rape women in the military, in school, at home, and in sex-trade brothels. It makes my blood boil to think about how many men go unpunished for the crimes they commit against women, and what is that absolute worst thing about the entire situation of life is that men will never change. Men have always been violent and will always be violent. I can’t remember where I read it, but somewhere I read that fighting against sexual violence against women was like trying to bail out a flooded boat with a spoon while you’re drowning. It’s futile because there is simply too much water and you and your boat are already overwhelmed. Your one tool, your spoon, is too small and slow to make any real difference. This has been one of the main causes of my recent depression. We can’t stop this and we can’t save everyone. The few people we can save are so damaged, they might not want to live at all. I’m sure the CNN reporter can relate… when she gets out of the hospital, of course.

How can I bring a child into this? How can I continue to exist in a world like this without going crazy or giving up on life altogether? The world is terribly violent and heart-wrenchingly unfair. I can’t protect myself, much less a child. How. How. How. and why.


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