Bowdren's Solution Is Compassion


I was encourage to read Kelly A.M. Bowdren's compassionate conclusion in her editorial "Take Your Night and..." (April 21, 1994), for I too am of the mind that "the real solution to violence against women would attempt to forge some compassion between the sexes, rather than demonstrate how women can abuse men when the Night is finally theirs." The reactivity and identity-orientation of campus and cultural politics so often seem antithetical to the purposes of each party in the arguments. It is often also difficult for those who descry this apparent hypocrisy not to aggravate the conflicts. Compassion is so easy to speak of and so difficult to manifest!

While an undergraduate at Brown (class of 1992), I participated in a "Take Back the Night" march at the suggestion of friends and felt acutely uncomfortable for the duration: it was clear that I was not of the rallying ilk and found no refuge in a raised fit or a charged slogan. But it occurred to me that my discomfort then was no worse than that which, I and many women and men feel when alone in regions of violence and unrest.

How much more sad that for many such violence and unrest is found inside ourselves as well as out on the street. It is often so difficult to isolate, with utter acuity, cause and effect in a world as complex as ours. It is so difficult to begin to recognize unrest without seeking solace in an angry group, spiteful and sarcastic words, or self-blame; indeed it seems to me to be the project of a lifetime.

Bowdren is able to recognize the "emotional instability" of many young women and their misdirected anger: she is in the fortunate position of then being able to help those young women through channels less redolent of judgement and condemnation than those which they themselves resort to.

I was a student at Brown during the bathroom stall rapist its controversy which attracted so much media attention, and at that time I felt as much frustration with the actions of those women (and I, a "Womens' Studies" concetrator!) as Bowdren expresses in her editorial. But my bitterness then helped no one.

If I have learned anything since, it is that accusations, no matter how justified they may seem to the accuser (be she/he "rapist", "feminist" or critic), never resolve conflicts; and the "compassion" we talk about is at once the most necessary and the most difficult task we can set before ourselves. Amy Trent   Faculty of Arts and Sciences Staff Assistant