21.7.06

Catch you with another man that's the end'a, little girl

I was always more of a fan of John Lennon's Beatles stuff than I was of Paul McCartney's. Paul's contributions were too cute and poppy for my taste, while Lennon had more of an edge to his lyrics and instrumentation. George didn't write as much for the Beatles as Paul or John did, but what he did write for them ("Here Comes the Sun," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Something") was just beautiful. His solo stuff was even more gorgeous and uplifting. He and Cat Stevens remain among my favorite singers of all time.

And Ringo was the drummer.

Friday afternoon I was driving home listening to the radio and "Run For Your Life" (1965) came on the radio from the amazing album Rubber Soul (followed closely by the even more amazing Revolver in 1966, but I digress. How unusual for me, I know.). I know the lyrics to "Run For Your Life", have since I was born. But I never. Really. Listened to them:



"Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won't know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end'a little girl"

I'd never listened because, due to the poppy, head-bopping beat, I'd assumed it was a Paul song and therefore the lyrics were really just too stupid to pay any attention to.

"Well you know that I'm a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can't spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end'a little girl"

I think the reason the lyrics finally registered for me as belonging to John's darker voice on Friday - they, in fact, made my blood freeze and the made hair on the back of my neck stand on end a bit - due to the fact that I have been incredibly disturbed for over a week by the brutal murder of Samaira Nazir in London:


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2229505,00.html


25-year-old Samaira was brutally murdered in a revolting ritual described as an "honor killing" by her own brother and her cousin for falling in love with the wrong man.

"Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I've said
Baby, I'm determined
And I'd rather see you dead

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end'a little girl"

Perhaps there has been a serious miscommunication in translation, because "honor" in English means "High Respect" or "Esteem", not "Brutal, Horrific, Cold-Blooded, Terrible, Hateful, Bloody MURDER Perpretrated By Trusted Loved One." Honor killings may not be written into the law, but they are sanctioned in many countries.

"I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or you won't know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end'a little girl"

Occasionally, through a book like A Suitable Boy or in an expose on the situation Middle-Eastern or Indian women one will catch wind about honor killings - the sanctioned murder of a woman who has brought dishonor to her family by falling in love with or marrying the wrong man, sometimes even looking the wrong man; having sex, or by getting themselves raped by a stranger, someone known to them, or a family member (some cultures actually believe that it's a woman's fault no matter what the circumstances. She asked for it somehow). An honor killing is performed by male members of her own family to clear the family name of the dishonor.

"Dishonored" women are sometimes pressured to kill themselves to clear the good family name. There was a story about one in Turkey in last week's NY Times.


http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/16/world/europe/16turkey.html


Imagine being 17 years old and receiving this text message on your cell phone. From your uncle.

“You have blackened our name. Kill yourself and clean our shame or we will kill you first.”

It seems so incredible that so brutal and horrible a custom could possibly be sanctioned by anyone ANYWHERE, that my admittedly Western mind has a REALLY hard time imagining this practice being not only practiced, but approved of, authorized by any culture. I hate to slight any culture, think of anyone's practices as backwards, try to be open-minded, accept people for who they are, and accept that their beliefs may be different, but no less valid than my own, but I CANNOT accept this. Once again, I think how fortunate I am to have been born in Chicago to loving parents. I am so lucky. Women in many other countries around the world, as well as here at home, are not.

"As of 2004, honor killings have occurred at the hands of individuals within parts of various countries such as Albania, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States. Honor killings are more common among poor rural communities. In Europe, honor killings have mostly been reported within some Muslim and Sikh communities....Britain's Crown Prosecution Service stated that the UK has seen "at least a dozen honor killings" between 2004-2005." (Source: Wikipedia)

"I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or you won't know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end'a little girl"

Thankfully, many Muslim women have started to band together through the Webbernet to allow their voices to be heard, and to demand this abhorrent practice be stopped:

http://www.stophonourkillings.com/

http://www.mwlusa.org/publications/positionpapers/hk.html

http://www.modernmuslima.com/sisters.htm)

I'm glad those who feel persecuted or frightened are starting to find a voice on the Web. And that they realize how absolutely unacceptable this practice is. I find it even more disturbing when women feel that practices against their gender are acceptable.

"Na, na, na
Na, na, na
Na, na, na
Na, na, na"

I promise to blog on something far more upbeat, but this has been weighing on me for days. Thanks for letting me vent.

5 comments:

Shannon said...

I once wrote a paper on cultural relativism in college. My take on it was that a culture should give wide tolerance to other cultures and their practices except in those instances in which that tolerance would require undermining your own culture so substancially that your own culture/values would change dramatically.

So: our culture in the United States values certain basic human rights and values them so highly that to ignore them would strike at the very heart of our culture and values. The United States should not sweep such things as the "honor killing" of women or the execution of homosexuals under the rug of cultural relativity. In these instances, we need to have the courage to state unequivacably that these things are wrong and will not in any way be tolerated in our democracy. Further, we should condemn any country that does not agree with us on basic human rights.

OrangeMoJoJo said...

We can add to this list female infanticide (practiced in China and India).

http://www.gendercide.org/case_infanticide.html

These are two of those "God, I wish I could do something" issues that make me feel so helpless I could just be sick.

evandebacle said...

This was always one of the great dilemmas for anthropologists. It's a discipline with an extremely checkered past. In the early days, it grew largely out of the work of missionaries who were looking to Christianize and civilize natives in the colonies. At the same time at home, it gave a lot of fuel to the eugenics movement and had many racist, albeit scientifically racist, practitioners. Then for a while salvage anthropology took over, which, while it was aiming to preserve what was left of disappearing cultures, was pretty demeaning. Then there was other bad stuff: ratting out communists in Cambodia, giving the Yanomamo measles, etc. etc.

So, we were left with this guilt. The solution? Be as culturally relativist as humanly possible. This becomes a dicey proposition when dealing with things like women's rights and becomes super-duper-dicey when dealing with children. Having seen films of female circumcision, one wonders how the world can't intervene.

Hegemony is the only way in these extreme cases. I guess we all have to be willing to swallow our liberal guilt and say that such action, no matter how rooted in tradition, has consequences. I'm not comfortable with that stance, but, especially within the borders of my own country, there really is no choice.

Rev Transit said...

That's such a heart-breaking story. I hope the children were taken away from the family, but it doesn't sound like that happened.

OrangeMoJoJo said...

I am heartened to see that more and more women who live within a culture or religious sect or locale that condones honor killings are speaking out against the practice, but it is not easy, and it's risky. Why would the woman be speaking out? What's she got to fear? What's she been up to? Not only that, but she may find herself ostracized from her family and her community for speaking out.

It would take alot of courage to speak against this practice. The culture that condones it is the one they know, and the thought of speaking out against it must be terrifying. In London or the US, a "dishonored" woman would probably make it on their own if she could escape the males in her family. In Iraq or Turkey, or the more rural their home, their chances get more slim.