Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Lid Comes Off

You think things are bad in the Paris slums? They've been that way for years now, and they've been even worse for women.

"Even before the riots, Ophelia, 16, used to run home from school every day because she was afraid of being attacked in the maze of high-rise buildings in her suburb northeast of Paris.

A series of gang rapes in these bleak housing estates shocked France a few years ago. In 2002, a 17-year-old girl was set alight by an 18-year-old boy as his friends stood by.

Walking near a burned-out garbage bin, Ophelia's twin sister Sandra says the riots came as no surprise. Violence against and pressure on women is part of daily life in the suburbs, where boys can dictate how girls should dress.

"You have to behave like a guy and look like a guy. If you wear a skirt, you get into immediate trouble. You're a slut," says Sandra, wearing a baggy sweatshirt and jeans.

Oppressing the weaker; a true sign of weakness.

When will France live up to the Enlightenment that is its true legacy to the world? When will it bring these people into the fold of French society, thus showing them respect, but also demand that they practice reason, restraint and kindness, demands that incidentally also show respect! Feminism is one of the great ideas of civilization- in fact, I'd go so far as to say that it was one major way that the West furthered civic evolution. But, to pretend that certain groups just wouldn't understand feminist ideas of equality is to suggest that they aren't quite human beings. When we don't hold people to the same standandards as we hold ourselves, we alienate them from our society. And, for years now, the French have been unwilling to treat their neighbors as real people.

So, yes, I have nothing but contempt for individuals who beat women, maintain surveilance over their minds and bodies, and murder their souls and bodies. But, I have equal contempt for those who do none of these things, but just don't expect those people to be able to act accordingly.

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