Well behaved women seldom make history

Natalie Liliane
Posted August 26, 2010 from Canada

I came across a quote my friend posted today that said "well-behaved women seldom make history."

I found out that the author of this quote was author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. She has had six books published including a book titled A Midwife's Tale that won her the Pulitzer Price in 1991 which was based on Martha Ballard diaries, a midwife from northern New England. - I am looking forward to reading this book. People’s histories fascinate me. It is through these perspective that one get’s a deeper account on the dynamics of this world.

This got me thinking. How do we, as women use our voices to make a difference? How do we stop gender based violence in any given situation around the world? It is no longer a private matter, but a public health problem and a human right violation. But yet, despite the research and the increasing awareness, it does not seem to dampen the situation for millions of women who suffer the repercussion of these grave violation of their dignity.

Currently there is a international discourse surrounding UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nearly 200 women and boys were systematically raped in the period of four days within miles where UN peacekeepers were stationed. There are 18 thousand peacekeepers in the DRC, and yet the North and South Kivus where the worse cases of sexual violence occurs are not secure. This incident made the news but situations like these happen everyday systematically by individuals or groups. How can it be stopped?

My take on this, is that awareness is the first step. Of course situations like this are complex and require the assistance of the government, civilians, NGO’s, local organizations, and the pressure of the international community to ensure that security, education, counseling and an adequate health system is in place to offer assistance to those who need it and work on preventative measures. However, amazing work has been done by incredible individuals and organizations all around the world.

I am working on getting a deeper understanding of this issue, and wish there were an easy solution to all of this. So I don’t have an adequate answer to my questions, because I am still asking myself: how? and why? but I believe that I it is those personal biographies surrounding women’s experiences that need to be embraced and told. The importance of stories are very powerful. It connects us to issues and allows us to embrace that human connection no matter where we are located. Our stories and our voices can foster dialogue, discourse and open a space for understanding.

So let’s make history and let our voices roar.

Comments 5

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  • Olutosin
    Aug 31, 2010
    Aug 31, 2010

    You are so smart because your take is everybody's take too.

    How can you change what has been instituted if you are well behaved? How can you change people's orientation if you think alike? How can you make any impact if you follow that path trailed by these ones and you are working towards make a change How can you be different if you are uniformed? How can you turn everything around if you are in a single file with them? How can you preach equality in a patriarchal society and still be in tune with these ones? Can you uproot a system without turning the tree upside down? How can you turn upside down and not cause dizziness for others? Ah my sister, you cannot do these without stepping on toes and when you do not conform you are labeled not well behaved.... Well behaved women die before their time so why do I really want to leave on another person's date? Thought provoking huh......

  • Leelee
    Aug 31, 2010
    Aug 31, 2010

    Well the situation in DRC in my opinion is what one may consider a conspiracy theory, because you ask how can a country with so many peace keepers have all these atrocities? Well DRC is also one of the richest mineral wealthy countries, so let's stop and ask ourselves who is benefiting from the exploitation of the minerals from the land? I am sure it can be traced back to big companies from the West ... it is to these companies an advantage to have turmoil and conflict in DRC - this focuses the attention away from the raping of the land and minerals that is occuring ... by having a peace keeping presence it looks like the West cares but it is the savages that are just killing themselves no matter what ....

  • PaxFeminina
    Sep 01, 2010
    Sep 01, 2010

    The world has sat by for years and allowed women to be raped in the DRC. War rape has been recognized as a crime against humanity by the UN. It is time to create an all-female peacekeeping force, specifically tasked for the DRC. A group of 100 000 heavily-armed women peacekeepers might make a difference. I am a pacifist, but also a realist. This is a situation that needs immediate correction, and we must pressure our governments and the UN to make a difference.

  • Natalie Liliane
    Sep 16, 2010
    Sep 16, 2010

    Thankyou for your comments. It would be great to have an all women Peace keeping force! Violence during conflict has been boggling my mind and I was thinking recently maybe the first step would be to end extreme poverty so when all basic needs are met, there is a foundation to work on. But like leelee wrote, international companies are invested in the mines that further perpetuates the circle of violence. Its such a complex issue, but we need to keep strong and continue to push for policy change. Hopefully the MDG summit next week will be a meeting of action and strategy to push forward commitments that need to be met.

    peace to all,


  • bintu
    Nov 02, 2010
    Nov 02, 2010

    Hello natalie

    You are absolutely right. No well behaved woman can institute any change. In the History of the world, deviant are the instrument of change.Plato Karly Max etc were all deviant. To change a social order, such as the one under review, need serious level of deviation from what ought to be. To make history constitute disorder at certain levels. Hitler was a deviant of his time. Wars /conflict are high level politics embarked upon by few minorities aim at changing social orders. To create meanful change, conflict most erode, at what ever level. It may not be conflict, or war as in voilence, but vicious ,vigilant conflict. The victorian woman can't be a vanguard to this war. Therefore to qualify as vanguard some good number of deviant most emerged in the struggle. This number influence the thought of others to fall in line with the new order. Thats it. We need such devian if we most succeed. Thank you

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