SHE SAID IT
"Our hope is vigorous and active and it is sustained by the outrageous courage of our sisters/foresisters who are ever more intensely present to us, beckoning and daring us to move further." - Mary Daly

June 1999
Vol. 1 - #4


Said It: Feminist News, Culture & Politics  

in this issue:

Unromanticizing Fatherhood

Who's Looking Out for Moms?

Resisting Without Violence


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Resisting Without Violence
by Joanne Alcantara

In her article, "Resisting the Machinery of Violence" in the May issue of Said It, Adriene Sere calls on women to seriously examine society's organization of violence. She poses some questions that seem to imply that women's use of violence can sometimes be the answer to violence: "Are we truly 'nonviolent' if we choose to do nothing when we can do something … Do we have peaceful alternatives? At what point does nonviolence serve the same goal as violence?"

We need to start answering these questions, but with love behind our lips and our hands. Violence builds on violence committed and we cannot permit this cycle to continue. As individuals, as families, as communities, as countries, and especially as women, we must not add fuel to this destructive fire. Adriene identifies the structure of violence as male with "indirect female participation." But I believe this indirect participation, this "deliberate naivety, in our shortsighted hope for ourselves—our hope for love, for acceptance, for safety" is not violent. It is our truly cruel acts, such as revenge, which we must make an effort to change—not our undying hope.

Women hold a massive and heavy torch of hope for love and we should never let it fall. We bear this flame because we are mothers; it is given to us through our wombs. We share this flame when we create relationships and care for others. The fire is especially present in the women who stay in abusive situations. We want to believe that we are going to change people, make them more thoughtful and caring individuals. As the mothers of this world and to humanity, we love and give in absurd quantities.

Society identifies women as the more nurturing of the two genders. Let's not drop our high, but reasonable standards for ourselves. An instinct to love is superior to the instinct to dominate. As the caretakers and lovers of this society, we must not devolve into the male instinctual tendency. Let's raise the bar on humankind rather than lower it. We ought to continue to evolve and move forward with our ideologies rather than settling for a savage society.

It is unjust to accuse nonviolent people of being violent. Inaction is a reaction to fear and if we cannot eliminate fear, we cannot blame those who go silent or those who stand in horror as the society around them commits senseless acts of ignorance and violence.

It would be an even greater wrong to retaliate with violence. Retaliation is simply a role reversal of the oppressed and the oppressor, which serves no other purpose but to give everyone equal bruises. Retaliation is a tool of men in war to excuse their brutal campaigns. We cannot make excuses for the violence that women commit. Self-defense is justifiable, but not revenge. Every human act must be an act of love. Loving makes us vulnerable, but it is the only act that any of us may justify. In our actions we teach those around us. We cannot bring violence into our responses because it only serves to perpetuate and escalate the amount of violence and fear in our communities.

There are, of course, questions of where women ought to draw the line. How do we respond to violence? As women and as a society, we need to respond to every act of violence—if we are capable of doing so. We must identify and care for society's victims, bring them out of the abuse they face, and provide a support network in every community. A woman who escapes her attacker must be able to safely continue her life without having to personally slay her abuser.

As for our victims, I understand that it is justifiable to give them a means of defense. If a woman finds herself in an unsafe situation, she must have the right to use whatever means necessary to escape her attacker. However, we cannot extend past this and give victims of pain the right to revenge because this would only allow violence to grow, and teach the innocent to continue the cycle.

In our society, we tend to be understanding when the oppressed use violence in their rebellions. We think that they must fight for their rights. But, in actuality, this is how we justify the slaughter of innocent people who, by chance, live on the oppressors’ side of the fence. This happens in every war, and it is happening in Kosovo today.

Historically, the public has shown the greatest sympathy for nonviolent rebellions. In Ghandi's salt march and the civil rights protests, the world was horrified at the brutality of the police and militia because people understood that the protests were justified. The Vietnam War shocked this nation because we watched on television our country's sons killing innocent civilians.

When the oppressed are armed, we feel more ambivalent because it appears that the two sides are somehow equal. There must be an obvious difference between two adversaries–one person who is beating another person who lays limp–for us to become truly outraged and demand change. Let's get this country out of its apathy by making a proud, visible, nonviolent protest against the injustices that we find in our homes as well as in our global community.

Let's not move backward simply because it is easier. Let's not regress into hateful warriors simply because our society contains them. It is our duty as lovers to change the world by example and through communication. We will need to hold firmly together in this effort, providing each other with support and a place of safety. We must cradle each other, as well as our adversaries, because we know how, and because we will all need to be held and rocked at some point in our own lives.

________________________________________

Copyright © 1999 Joanne Alcantara - All rights reserved by author.
All work contained in Said It is owned by the respective contributing authors or artists,
including all copyrights contained therein, and may not be copied, reprinted, or otherwise used
in any form without the express written permission of the copyright holder.



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