A Hero’s Face

You know, I thought I was done with heroes. In movies, books and legends the hero always comes to the damsel’s aid and rescues her from the villain’s unwholesome intentions. The hero always saves the day. In real life though, I’ve noticed the hero is generally absent. The girl gets raped, battered, killed; and life goes on as usual.

And the rape isn’t always physical. It happens when human rights are forcibly taken. Anyway, this feels like rape to me. Which is why I got so mad the other day when I read in the paper that powerful people (all men) in America’s anti-choice movement were bickering among themselves about rape. None of them sanction the abortion of rape-babies, but a large majority of Americans find this acceptable, so the “right to life” men have to be flexible in order to accomplish their ultimate goal of abolishing abortion in America.

Is it possible for hubris to achieve greater heights? These men, who will never be raped and impregnated are arrogantly making legally binding reproductive decisions for females who are. (I say females, because it’s not just women who are under sexual assault; girl-children are too.) It’s obvious men like this don’t care about the rape of females, only the unborn human by-product. It’s plain-naked economics. They treat rape like the common cold- no cure. I guess they think rape is a woman’s problem, not a man’s.

So I wrote a letter to my local paper about this outrage. My friend Joseph was keeping track of the responses. (I wasn’t). He said I went to the whipping post forty-nine times for that letter. Forty-nine times!

OK. I admit, my language was incendiary. I was so pissed off my brown eyes went red. I said these men talk like they already own women’s wombs, it’s only a matter of making it legal. I publicly said what these men would not say; that they will never abolish the institution of rape because rape in all of its forms is their eternal source of power. Ending the war against women means ending war, and war is too profitable to ever relinquish.

To tell you the truth I was shocked at the response. I started wondering, is it me? Do I see the world the way others do not?

About a week later a public message was released from the Obama White House that knocked my socks off. It was a short film on TV that took maybe a minute, a message from men, famous men; many of whom I recognized.

We have a big problem… They said. It’s happening (everywhere) to our sisters, daughters, wives and friends… It’s rape… It’s a crime… We have to stop it… If I saw it happening, I’d do something, speak up… I’d never blame her, I’d help her… I don’t want to be the problem… I want to be the solution… It’s about respect, responsibility… Put an end to sexual assault… Because one is too many.

The emotion I felt when watching these men say these things also took me by total surprise. Involuntary tears, seemingly from the tips of my toes sprang up and spilled over; I could not stop them. I didn’t want to stop them because they were like a bittersweet-healing-medicine to a festering age-old planetary wound. I had to wonder; are they tears, or my own heart’s blood? The emotion was so deep and so strong they must have been unconsciously shed for the ancient on-going collective female wound; for the 300 school girls in Nigeria kidnapped and likely to be sold into sexual slavery. They flowed for dissident Afghani women, maimed and murdered for trying to cast off the oppressor, and for the girl-child enduring rape by her father; they ran like a river for the women on college campuses whose education will be marred or ended by sexual assault; and for all of the endangered females in the US armed forces, where rape is OUT OF CONTROL; those tears ran hard for the teenage woman-child snatched in the parking lot, never to be seen again; the force of the tears must have been for all of these innocent human beings, born female on Planet Earth.

As cynical as I had become about super-heroes, when I looked at these men: Benicio Del Toro, Dulé Hill, Steve Carell, Daniel Craig, Seth Meyers, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, I saw true heroism in their faces, and heard it in their words. And I loved them for it.

A rape free world must first be imagined; I know it and these heroes know it too, and are stepping up to save the ones they love from the rapist-villain. Men and women; brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, lovers, friends… Men and women, together in equal non-violent relationship; this has to be so powerful. I know it is. It must be. Because men and women, both heroes working together, have a whole big planet to save.