WRC: Violence Discussion

Because their sexuality was perceived as a threat to medieval high priests of the time, 9 million women were killed over the course of 300 years.

The trend continues today, said Deen Chatterjee, University of Utah associate professor of philosophy in his speech, ?Violence Against Women: A Cross Cultural Perspective,? Tuesday at the Women?s Resource Center.

The speech is the kick-off of the resource center?s 2001 Seeds of Violence lecture series.

?Many struggles are global struggles, protecting women from violence is one of these struggles,? Chatterjee said.

When examining other cultures, people must avoid cultural arrogance.

?We can?t talk about other cultures without involving our own culture, but we can?t compare our culture with another and think ours is better,? he said.

Cultures are not monolithic, but diverse, so people need to listen to the voices of the women from other cultures, he said.

Women are able to differentiate between right and wrong within their culture, and they know what is good for them, Chatterjee said.

?We need to listen to these women because they know what they need and want,? he said.

However, many women defend the culture that oppresses them because they need a cultural identity, Chatterjee said.

He also addressed the idea of justice from a cross-cultural perspective.

?Justice is culture-bound, idealogy-bound and society bound. Every culture has its own idea of what justice is,? he said.

Both open and covert violence exists in the world, and both need to be addressed, Chatterjee said.

Because a religion or custom, such as female genitalia mutilation, is dominant in a culture does not mean it?s acceptable, he said.

After Chatterjee finished, Candice Christiansen, Women?s Resource Center practicum counselor, responded to his remarks.

?From dowry death to female genitalia mutilation, violence and terrorisms take place in women?s lives in our and every other culture,? she said. ?We need to look at how women are being put to death socially, politically and mentally by our culture.?

Christiansen addressed not only physical violence but ?industrial violence,? which includes women starving themselves, putting silicone in their bodies and conforming to fit into the social ideals of the United States.

She also warned about women falling victim to socialization.

?If a 12-year-old African woman is suffering through genital mutilation, and she?s saying ?No, stop, it hurts,? she?s still falling victim to socialization because she?s still doing what she was raised to follow,? she said.

To relate socialization back to the culture of the United States, she talked about racial differences.

?Women of color, if we?re working with that label, are treated worse than white women. That?s a result of the socialization they?ve been a part of,? she said.

People need to look at how a woman?s culture has an underlying political stance which affects them personally, she said.

The speakers then opened the discussion to the audience.

Brenda Voisard, counseling coordinator at the Women?s Resource Center, spoke about the label ?women of color.?

?I think we need to make the distinction of ?women of color? because there are political differences between them and white women. White women are definitely treated better,? she said.

However, Chatterjee felt differently.

?The title ?women of color? seems to marginalize women and nominalize the inequalities between white and non-white women,? he said.

Christiansen brought up the subject of justice again.

?The women I work with at the YWCA often feel like there is no justice and they are victims of the system,? she said.

Every time a woman uses her voice to change a bad situation, she is creating justice and helping to empower womankind, she said.

People need to look at capitalism and the violence it creates, said Elizabeth Rago, program coordinator at the Women?s Resource Center.

However, men fall victim to capitalism as much as women, she continued.

The only male in the audience, Russ Millham, responded to Rago?s comment.

Millham is a student and doesn?t earn as much money as his wife, and his sisters-in-law often criticize him for this.

?Capitalism is the common enemy of both men and women. Capitalism gives us a common purpose: to unite and fight it,? he said.

People need to build a bridge between the United States and the global community to end violence against women, Chatterjee said.

The discussion ended in a moment of silence for the women of the world who have fallen victim to violence.

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