Equality for women: We can do better
"When language fails, violence becomes a language. Silence also becomes a language".
Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel's words have kept rising up for me lately, as the War Against Women keeps taking us backward in time.
With Supreme Court decisions affecting basic rights for access to health care for women -- to a recent incident of a sports radio announcers calling a woman reporter a "gutless bit--" because he didn't like the way she interviewed an athlete -- women continue to be targets for oppression.
Many women are speaking out and calling others to activism to push back against these assaults on individuals and progress that has taken decades and generations to accomplish.
Not enough men, though, seem ready to speak out and stand shoulder to shoulder at the barricades. It's time our silence is not mistaken for indifference or quiet acquiescence.
While the Women's Freedom Center locally has highlighted how some men are stepping up to support the rights of women to feel safe and to be treated as equals, we can be doing more and better.
There are a lot of good guys out there who feel as badly as I do about the above mentioned incidents. We cringe every time some guy steps up to a microphone and utters some nonsense about rape, the struggles of single mothers, or chastises someone who pushes back. (As happened with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, when she spoke out against the radio host who spewed hate about a woman reporter. Next day, other radio hosts on the same station chastised the AG for not having better things to do with her time than criticize sports radio.)
Yes, it's time for more men to stand, be counted and join our sisters, daughters, wives, partners, friends, and neighbors and say, "Enough."
It's time to stand shoulder to shoulder at the barricades -- and at the bar and in the market and coffee shop and especially at the ballparks and stadiums, those mostly male environs.
When we are silent, we are acquiescent.
What, then, to do? Locally, therapist Bill Pelz-Walsh, who specializes in preventing domestic violence and I have had some discussion about an event in the near future. It will be an opportunity for men to gather to witness our support for women and against the words and actions of those who hurt women, and the cause of progress for women. We'll be publicizing more information about that in the near future.
In our everyday lives though, it does help to start stepping up and speaking out when we see and hear injustice. And, modeling for ourselves and other men and boys to make the Golden Rule applicable to all, especially our sisters, daughters and all the women in our lives.
Unless I hold myself accountable and other men do likewise, we become accessories to the acts and add evidence to Elie Wiesel's words connecting language to violence.
We can do better. We all deserve better. And, there's no time like now.
Mike Mrowicki is the Vermont State Representative for Windham 4 District, which includes the towns of Putney, Dummerston and Westminster.
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