Females the "fairer sex"? Women the wave of the future? Girls the hope for the developing world? Hang on, says Courtney Martin. "[J]ust because we champion the notion that girls and women, when empowered--economically and educationally, have the capacity to change the whole dang world, it doesn't mean that we have to deny their twin power for destruction." Writing in The American Prospect, Martin responds to new research showing that "women were far more involved in [Holocaust] atrocities ... than previously thought." The thing is, she says, that's "not surprising":
Anyone who reacts with shock to the reality that women have the capacity to be immoral, malicious, and violent--just like the guys--hasn't paid enough attention in history class, much less to the nightly news ... The "banality of evil," as Hannah Arendt described it, is alive and well in the women who sit by as their co-workers are sexually harassed or their neighbors are racially profiled or as the social safety net is cut out from under our most vulnerable citizens (usually women and children).
Martin argues--from a decidedly left-leaning perspective--that women's connection to violence and oppression can be seen in everything from female support for the Iraq war to consumption of environmentally damaging products. She is particularly incensed by the number of women supporting anti-feminist policies. The conclusion? "[A]ll of the most beloved trends in the social change of the moment--are fueled by a belief in the goodness of girls and women." That's all well and good. But claiming "immunity" in the face of real, female-perpetrated wrongs "would be denying ... our past (slavery, for starters), our present, and the possibility of a more honest, less violent future."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.