Last year, rageprufrock wrote about women like the burst-open lips of figs, about how women have worn their history as odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims like jewelry -- she wrote about how despite all of this, we sometimes forget how far we have come, and more importantly how far we have yet to go.
It's 2007 and the third most powerful person in American politics, second in line to take over the presidency, is a woman: Nancy Pelosi -- but half of the coverage she earned after her first State of the Union was about the color and cut of her clothes. Hilary Clinton is a two-term senator of New York and former first lady bracing to run for the Office of the Presidency in 2008 -- and yet people are preoccupied by her gender, by how pretty she might be and how she does her hair, whether or not she got plastic surgery. Women are still being raped and killed in Darfur; the Chinese countryside still has families practicing infanticide despite the country's rapidly skewing sex ratios. Girls are still giving themselves eating disorders comparing themselves to impossible standards of beauty, still acting less intelligent than they really are -- to be non-threatening, to be liked. One in three women will still experience sexual assault in her lifetime. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same.
It's 2007 and women are still odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims -- and we owe ourselves and all other women more than that, we owe ourselves better. We can do more.
V can stand for vagina, like Eve Ensler's groundbreaking monologues. V can stand for violence, under whose auspices all women continue to make a home.
V can also stand for victory.
Jane Addams, co-founder of the Women's Peace Party and Nobel Peace Prize winner, once said, "I believe that peace is not merely an absence of war, but the nurture of human life... Only in freedom is permanent peace possible."
While the Geneva Convention specifically states that "women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault," the reality is something totally different. It's estimated that 500,000 women were the victims of sexual violence during the civil war in Rwanda, that 5,000 Kuwaiti women were raped during Iraq's invasion, and that 20,000 Muslim women were sexually violated in the former Yugoslavia.
War devistates families and nations, and women have, historically speaking, suffered horribly as a result. In some countries, where women are forbidden to work, the loss of a husband, father, or brother can lead to poverty, starvation, and homelessness.
Given the effect that war has on women, it's unsurprising that women have also been in the forefront of peace movements. Movements such as Women In Black and CODEPINK, both of which are women run and organized, seek to protest human rights abuses and strive for peace.