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Let’s not create another Ariel Castro.

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As we watch with relief as the three women escaped from their Ohio kidnapper after a decade of captivity, abuse, and rape, I am overwhelmed with incredulity. It is at least the third or fourth story of a kidnap victim reemerging that I’ve heard in recent years, although it is dwarfed by the number of kidnap victims found murdered.
What I am incredulous about is this: the stories are reported, the successes celebrated, and the losses mourned. And yet no one seems to be questioning the very premise of these atrocities:  why are men kidnapping, raping, and killing women?  Why are we reporting on just the events, and not the underlying structures? What are we teaching boys on the grander scale that is producing these outliers – men capable of treating women as less than objects? It infuriates me, it really does.

I firmly believe that the small lessons that occur in everyday life accumulate and create the extreme cases. For example, when we allow little comments and actions about the right of boys to dominate or oppress girls, we create a culture,  a sometimes-invisible wash of bias that lets outright hatred grow. In other words, the little things make a difference.

What am I really trying to say here? Well, I think I’m just trying to say that the little instances of power imbalance and gender bias are not received as “little” by the sick individuals who become predators. And that by allowing a culture of bias we create a rich environment for men like Ariel Castro to justify their horrific actions. I’m so thankful that Amanda, Gina, Michelle, and Amanda’s daughter are now out of his hands, but we cannot simply celebrate their freedom. Let’s be furious that in the past few decades, we’ve heard so many stories of men on the fringes stealing and destroying the lives of women: raping, beating, and degrading them. Let’s be furious that Castro has blamed Amanda, Gina and Michelle for their fate by saying they shouldn’t have gotten in his car. Let’s keep being furious until there are less men capable of this kind of crime.

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