I think the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a great move. It raises awareness in a fun way, and there is nothing wrong with entertaining people if it makes some of them think twice. I wish I had come up with an idea like that. There are several causes and ideas I find worthy to support: equality, democracy (as long as I am not Queen), mental health, to name but a few; and there are things I passionately fight: stupidity, racism, environmental pollution. But my heart beats for women’s rights. Not because I am not aware that many men needed support, too. But because I happen to be a woman. And I think it is reasonable to put your energy into something you can attach to emotionally. When I studied education, I learned about child abuse and the unspeakable tortures some kids go through. And I decided I did not want to work with victims. I wanted to prevent people from suffering, and that’s what I subscribed to ever since.
I turned to women’s rights, became a self defence teacher and learned more about the social structures which support violence. I learned that the urge to control female sexuality, or the group’s reproduction, is part of many, many cultures. Sometimes it happens quite subtle, e.g. by calling women sluts when they are too active. Sometimes it’s more obvious, e.g. making women wear scarfs. Sometimes it is masked as care, like allowing your son to stay out late with his friends while telling your daughter’s boyfriend to bring her home on time. But the most disgusting, horrifying, brutal method to control women’s reproductive power is female genital mutilation, also know as FGM.
If you never heard of it, you might be shocked when you learn that FGM in its various forms includes cutting off a girl’s inner and / or outer labia and / or clitoris with a razor blade, or scissors, often enough on the floor, without anesthesia or any basic hygiene. Well, at least in most countries. There are practitioners in Germany, Great Britain, the US (for example) who carry out this procedure in their clinics. Can you believe that! The girl is then closed again, sewed up with a tiny hole left for her urin and monthly blood. This causes pain and infections and requires her to be cut again for giving birth or even having sex. I cannot think of many tortures like that. The thing is that in societies which practice FGM parents have to do that to their daughters. ‘Intact’ women are regared unworthy to be married, hence to stay part of the community. It takes a lot to break up such complex situations.
I adore those activists who talk about their own experiences, like Waris Dirie, and I support a few women’s right’s organisations financially. I wish I did more. A world without FGM is a goal worth fighting for. A world in which no man or woman has to be afraid to be attacked for who they are is a worthy goal. Not one person can save the whole world. But every person can make it a little better. Find your cause and act on it! Be it human rights, environmental protection, animal rights, or even something seemingly banal like making people laugh.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the things that need to fixed. Then I remember Mother Teresa: We can do no great things – only small things with great love.
What is your cause?