Sunday, October 7, 2007


A couple of weeks ago I recorded a CNN special investigative report: "Inside Afghanistan: Behind the veil." The Engineer is out of town again, so I watched it tonight.

I am sitting here before my keyboard with my insides all heavy and congested. I don't understand how people can consider other people to be less than human. After watching this documentary, the only explanation I can think of for the way Afghan women are treated is that the men don't think women are human.

Of course this probably strikes me more profoundly because I'm a woman and because I know, pervasively, throughout history, women have been considered an inferior species.

It's not just women; anyone who's different can be conveniently labeled as inferior. It was okay to have black Africans as slaves in colonial America because, after all, they weren't really human. Never mind that white folks could cross breed with them and produce viable offspring. Anyone who's a different religion is suspect at the very least, more likely damned. Gays, no doubt about where they'll be cooking for all eternity. Don't yah know that their raison de'tre is to destroy the heterosexual family. And, hey, if people speak a different language, can't trust 'em, they're probably plotting in their heathen tongue against us.

I read a science fiction story when I was a kid that really left a mark on me. It compared an alien in human society to a green monkey, The story claimed that if you took a monkey from his troop, painted him green, then returned him to his troop, the other monkeys would kill him and tear him limb from limb because he was different. The author claimed that aliens would never be able to live among humans because they would provoke the same reaction from us. Different is bad and frightening and needs to be controlled or killed.

Sometimes I'm ashamed to be human. Especially when I don't feel like I'm doing anything to make it better.


Anonymous said...

Don't even get me started on this one. Living in the Middle East for a year opened my eyes to many things unfair. Mostly the treatment of women but also those different.KC

Kate said...

I believe things are changing - it's just that we have to look in an unlikely place to see it.

My daughter’s generation is the most open and accepting group of individuals I have ever encountered. These girls have high expectations for themselves and the people around them. And, that, in turn, has prompted the guys to behave differently.

As these kids are promoted to management positions, they will teach us all a few good lessons about the beauty of being different.

It's interesting... when I converse with the boys in her generation they show a subtle level of respect for women that their fathers don’t have. It’s not that their fathers are openly disrespectful, it’s just that we have always let the men in our (older) generations get away with being bossy and domineering.

We’ve all experienced this. If there is a man in the room, he’ll ignore what you're saying and tell you what to do. As if we couldn’t accomplish anything without his advice. That sets the stage for disrespect.

PS: I'm not a man hater. :) I've just always believed that the only real difference between here and there is legislation.