By now you have probably heard of a story you would have rather never have to hear in your whole life, not even in fictional form. If you have, it probably means you have kept an eye and an ear open to whatever the mainstream media considers worthy of inspecting instead of relying blindly on the blogosphere, particularly the feminist blogosphere, to fill you up on every day human miseries. As of this moment, Feministing, Feministe and Pandagon haven’t reported on it yet. But in case you haven’t, here’s some bloggy coverage of the case from feminist bloggers who have been paying some attention: Echidne of the Snakes and Louise Livesey, from The F Word.
There are simply no words to describe the emotional horror of this story, so I’m not even gonna try. There’s already enough people out there giving it a go only to be faced with the limitations of the human language with regards to emotions. Instead, I’m gonna do what I do best and what I (hope) is (sorta) the hallmark of this blog: I’m going to look at it from a different angle and point at the big, pink elephant in the room. Though in this case we could say we have a whole group of big, pink elephants.
There’s the “what about the menz” elephant which feminists are well known for bringing up. Funny how it’s always MEN doing the abuse and it’s always WOMEN (and children) enduring it.
There’s the tiny “he must have done something before” elephant, usually coming from the police headquarters. They all seem to agree that an abuse so horrific doesn’t spring from the ground. A few girls being molested here, a couple of women being raped there and before you know it, you are raping and abusing your own daughter and your own children/grandchildren for 24 years. Funny how this logical interpretation of climbing up the crime ladder into more and more horrific forms of torture is NEVER associated with either prostitution of pornography. As Louise says:
Whilst this is at one extreme of abusive and violent behaviour it’s just an example at one end of the continuum of violences women suffer daily.
(She makes the case that by excusing men’s violent behaviour “as far as I am concerned the public lose all moral ground on which to be outraged by this – you cannot defend other behaviours which express the same sentiments and then claim moral outrage at this”. It’s a fascinating idea I would like to expand on, but I will leave it for another post.)
And then there’s the WHITE WOMEN elephant. Funny how we only care about cases of abuse when it’s perpetrated upon white women in rich countries and we manage to ignore the sistematic abuse endured by millions of women the world over who have had the bad fortune to be born in poor countries and with the wrong skin colour. Congo and Darfur come to mind where, I insist, we are talking about thousands of women.
I’m gonna turn this elephant upside down and make it work in my favour. Kinda. The question I’m gonna ask is WHY AUSTRIA. It would be a pointless question, considering what I’ve already said, were it not because of the similarities of this case with another one that also occurred in Austria 2 years ago.
See, when you live in a “third world”, “undeveloped” country, you are always looking at the “first world”, “developed” countries for role model policies and guidance. So, how can something like this happen in Austria?
And what do I know of Austria, apart from the fact that it’s the setting of one of my all time favourite movies? Austria, a rich country in the middle of Europe filled with history and culture. A country always eager to remind us that one of the best musicians of all times, Amadeus Mozart, was born on its soil. A country which year after year hosts the strongly gender biased New Year Concert, the only concert the world, or the media, seem to care about. Such a model country! And yet… And yet they must be doing something very, very wrong.
Do I know what they are doing wrong? Hell no! I cannot know everything. And it’s not my place to know everything either. As I said, I don’t know much about Austria, aside from what we are supposed to know about Austria, meaning “holiday brochure” style information. But I do know that the it’s the media’s place to ASK QUESTIONS. Something they are NOT DOING. They have been trained to inform us, they are getting PAID to inform us, and they are not doing it right. This are the warning sings that something is wrong. This are the symptoms of a sick society. A very pretty snowy mountain tops painted society, but a sick society at the core. It is simply not good enough to throw our arms at the heavens and cry “well, human nature”. (Did you notice how, all of the sudden, it’s not a man’s world but a human’s world? How when men do something bad it’s always “humans” and when they do something good it’s always “men”? There’s another elephant right there).
As I said, something stinks in Austria. And they better start asking why. And the countries of the world that take Austria as a reliable role model also better start asking why. Something is very wrong with the world and not even the prettiest and richest of countires can escape it. And I think it’s about fricking time we stopped looking at this stories as “oddities” and started looking at them for what they really are: symptoms.