Monday, March 27, 2006

Harsh Realities of a Violent World:
Ravers and Insular Subculture Shock

Women go 'missing' by the millions
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Tribune Media Services International

AMSTERDAM -- As I was preparing for this article, I asked a friend who is Jewish if it was appropriate to use the term "holocaust" to portray the worldwide violence against women. He was startled. But when I read him the figures in a 2004 policy paper [PDF] published by the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, he said yes, without hesitation.

One United Nations estimate says from 113 million to 200 million women around the world are demographically "missing." Every year, from 1.5 million to 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence or neglect...

A few years ago, back in grad school, I was sitting in a rather dank computer lab in LSU's Coates Hall. I remember it was raining, as it does most afternoons in Louisiana. I remember being tired from frequent 14-hour flights to western Montana, where I was working as a design consultant for a planned museum/library.

Instead of studying, I was reading the same policy paper Ayaan quoted in Saturday's International Herald-Tribune. I remember getting a lump in my throat when I first read that 200 million floating there in the UN document. That's more than the estimated 143 million women living in the United States.

As many as 200 million women are demographically missing. These women may be dead, mutilated, sex slaves, victims of genocide, refugees, etc. Around the world, there are records produced daily that document the brutal destructive force of humanity.

So why is it, then, that in the Western world, very few give a shit? How are human beings, despite all of the evidence around us, able to ignore what we see, to write off the plight of their fellow man as being nothing more than a small amount of newsprint or some 10-second actuality from a radio program?

We - all of us - do so because we choose to be blind, deaf, and dumb. The simple act of caring requires one to accept some level of vulnerability, to acknowledge that we are mere mortals. People in the West - where we view ourselves as somehow cultured because we watch the hippest television shows or listen to certain types of music or associate with certain people - are not safe from the global environment simply because we choose to be ignorant of the world around us.

There is absolutely no protection provided by a self-imposed blindness, no right to security or safety behind a veil of ignorance. Someone asked me last night how I could be so blunt in my discussion of such a sensitive topic as the recent killings in Seattle. How insensitive to discuss the impact of a laissez-faire subculture in the light of a national tragedy! How cold, brutal, and callous!

I make no apologies for discussing my personal experiences at raves in the 1990s in relation to what happened in Washington state in 2006 - and I never will. Frankly, there is no need for an apology for sharing my thoughts, my direct observations of raves, and my personal feelings on why I'm not shocked whatsoever. While I realize my opinions may offend, well, no one in this world has a right to go through life without being offended. Feel free to read, view, and listen to only what you agree with - that is your choice.

As I told that person, how ignorant of our violent world does one have to be to actually believe that seven dead people, killed at a party by some madman, is any more relevant in the big picture than any other murder? At the end of the day, the entire event boils down to one American killing a few others. At the end of the day, they are no different to the world's 6+ billion people than the 1.5-3 million women who die every year.

Don't kid yourself - the vast majority of the world could really give a shit what happened on Capitol Hill last weekend. Six hundred kids could've died, and I doubt Joe Sixpack would think twice about it while flipping between reality TV and NCAA basketball games.

Yes, that's cold. And I'm sorry it has to be that way. But sorrow does not end violence in a violent world. No murder has ever been undone after the fact by someone crying over the dead. Future violence, however, is a different story. Open dialogue, the exchange of differing ideas, arguments over the assignment of responsibility, can prevent further violence.

I'm sorry that a 27-year-old Iraqi doctor admitted to executing more than 40 Iraqi troops via lethal injection. I'm sorry more than two dozen people lost their lives along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border this week in ethnic skirmishes. But being sorry will not bring them back from the dead.

Two men were brutally murdered last night on Chicago's South Side; Saturday, a 21-year-old was also killed in a drive-by shooting, shot in the head in the same Windy City. I'm certain there are numerous other murders that occurred this weekend; I'm sorry those happened, too.

Sadly, what happened in Seattle is not some great tragedy - it is merely another headline begging for sympathy yet devoid of resolution. Like the Columbine Massacre, the D.C. Sniper, that girl who disappeared down in Aruba, and other media items, this weekend's events in the Pacific Northwest serve as benchmarks for our self-imposed ignorance of the greater human tragedy.

Yes, that's cold. It's downright brutal. As someone who's known way too many good people turned to wormfood by violence, it's painful to even admit that. But not talking about it will not bring a single person killed in the world back to life. There is no great Lazarus solution to humanity's meatgrinder.

That is the greatest tragedy known to man, whether discussing the millions of dead or the loss of one life.

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? wrote T.S. Elliot, Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

There is no escaping the criticism and public scrutiny that scene will now find itself seeking to escape, that microscope of the public eye. There are members of the rave community who were pissed off by that last post.

Feel free to be pissed - at least it got ya thinking about something other than the normal daily bullshit.

It's your life to live. And unlike the other millions of people who die because of war, disease, and other types of senseless violence, you can still live your life however you choose to live it.

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Cowgirl said...

"Six hundred kids could've died, and I doubt Joe Sixpack would think twice about it while flipping between reality TV and NCAA basketball games."

So true.

Perspective is the answer.

Lupe T. said...

Oh dude looks like I'm not the only rider here :)


I COMPLETELY agree. i lived the club scene around here for years. i saw the ages of the victims on the news this morning...what the hell were 32-year-olds doing at a party with 14-year-olds? Damn. Something's fishy.

The ZenFo Pro said...

That's what I was trying to get at. I'm amazed so many (20 or so) took it personally. I hd to answer blogposts at work today and ignored every IM I received because somebody thought, in all honesty, that I was somehow in the house when things happened, based on the last post. Lord, if I'd been there, I wouldn't be posting on a frigging blog, I'd be seeking greif counseling.

Yup. A lot of horse folk seem to be stopping by lately.

I noticed the age gap as well.

Cowgirl said...

People assume WAY too much. I could go off on a tangent with this, but I shall stick with your post/comments.

This pisses me off a little... assumptions. It is bad enough when it happens "live" (in person), but when people assume things "online" it can be messy. Don't ever assume, know!


BTW - Go horse folk! lol

KFigment said...

Because I am always the heartless cruel bitch I will continue to proudly take my post. I notice that there are never any stats about men that have been murdered or raped. The missing men never make the news. It is always the poor helpless stupid rich girl who got drunk.

One thing we forget to think about is that society is overpopulated. People die of sickness and disease. Those that we love are taken from us in a heartbeat. Doctors do everything in their power to save those that they can and I understand that sometimes it is the size of your bank account that matters and I don't agree with that.

With that aside the human population created its own natural selection system. We fight wars. We kill each other for things like new shoes. People overdose on drugs and jump out of buildings. Women and men all over the world go missing and are more than likely worked to death. I am not saying it is right what I am saying is that sometimes you need to thin the heard. If you are dumb enough to put yourself in a position to get caught or get killed so be it. If you are to ignorant to stop breeding and now are watching your children starve to death to bad. Bad things happen to good people. Some people can't escape the circumstance that they are surrounded with. In nature you either learn to adapt or die. Why should we mess with a system that has worked so well for so long.

Casey Kochmer said...

Your posts have been very powerful lately as you seek words. I could be wrong but it feels like you are at a point of pulling together years worth of information and trying to distill it to something which is compatible to your own heart.

I mean reporter, librarian, blogger.. Its all about processing and pulling together all that info.

and take it to...?

Where does it all distill down to? What action does it take to start from one person to make a difference across seemingly a world gone mad.

It distills down to:

The world is not
Fair, moral, just, any other human value
The world is just the world

I mention this in direct regards to your post, as many people you rightly notice are afraid of being alive, they don't live they don't act. Comfort is more important than being the change of life itself, where its more important to be in static condition over a living condition. They think the world should be as they dream of, or should be the color of their morality... which is just human folly and ideals.

Yet Life is action: We burn (consume food) to be alive. Literally and physically we are a slowly burning sustained oxygen base reaction. We are fire. And to be fire is at times to get burned.

So where is the key to making a difference?

Its up to us, to make life wonderful
to take it from
the 200 million missing women
The slayings
The preaching etc etc etc

The unexpected surprise aid
A stranger passing a smile

The world won't change
especially if all we desire is comfort.
you are 100% right in that call

Yet We can change
if we take the time
to just be ourselves.

In time, if people live as their own person the rest will sort itself out.

It may sound corny, but I think the key is not from the outside, or from laws or imposing high morality stands but rather simply in helping each other be human and ourselves.


Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

Right on Zenpro.

We live our lives here by looking at a very small picture when the huge potrait goes unnoticed.

Until africa is void of women and children we will not notice.

Until the ice caps are destroyed and hence so is our world...we will not notice.

Until another two thousand have died in Iraq no one will pay attention....

but god sdo not let the rich college kid get deliberately smash faced drunk and will be plastered all over the news.

Until we stop watching it and demand to know about the rest of the world that is what we get.

I'm not even sure this is on topic but whatever. lol

Smurf said...

I dont think that is COLD at all... honey, sad to say, that is reality. One thing that has plagued my mind for a long time is the fact that so many people get stuck in the matrix of life... they get up, go to work, come home, turn on the boob tube and go to sleep, and the sad part is so many people forget to experience life... so if people forget how to experience life ... and they are not really living... how would you expect them to care about anything real beyond the next paycheck?

I think it is a tragedy. Do you remember when my mom did the research for the Windows for all Nations Woman and the Girl Child Praying through the window... I dont remember what year it was... but I was so sadden and it astouned me how much was really happening... you get some of the best news actually from the bbc on certain worldwide statistics... like on sex slaves... Some of the things done to women and female children worldwide... omg... its horrible.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Please, feel free to go off on a tangent. You should see some of the crap I've gotten the last few days. Nothing like misdirected anger. I'm suspicious of the folks who keep claiming they were friends with somebody who knew somebody...comments. Reminds me of Columbine, where everyone within a 500-mile radius claimed to have known somebody.

No problem with the Bitch earned it.

Using the numbers as an example here. But see, I disagree with you. And you disagree with me. Its called being human.

Its funny, because I've gotten hate mail for even suggesting that, yeah, there are probably Western cultural elements to blame as well as an obviously disturbed gunman.

Actually, I pull information together for a living - being a librarian isn't much different from being a journalist. I've never been accused of thinking inside the box, either.

I'm no philosopher, so I won't go into the moral soulsearching stuff. I believe that the simplest answer - that there is no order to chaos - is often the most accurate in describing situations like this. As they said in Nam, "It don't mean nothin', drive on."

That's actally where I'm coming from with this. I can't believe how many idiots actually believe my personal experiences at raves almost a decade ago and the fact that, yeah, it was bound to happen, somehow assigns blame to the victims. Its this arrogant self-centered crap, this lack of looking at the whole, that drives most folks nucking futs.

It's good to hear that, especialy coming from you.You've personally stared death in the face, so that means a lot. Thank you for sharing, chica!

Personally, I like to get up every morning, and be greatful that I'm still alive. If you've been there, you know.