Letter: Way off base
Dear Ms. Allen,
I just finished reading your piece, “Dzhokhar and his Fangirls,” in the May 25 Recorder. Your exaggerated, self-righteous assertions that women are “chronically attracted” to bad boys, that we “love cocky,” and that these tendencies are due to some biologically inescapable trait were demeaning, simplified, and missing the point.
Who are these “women” of which you speak? Do you include yourself in that sweeping generalization? Yes, there are some women who are drawn to violence and hyper-masculinized machismo and this phenomenon is certainly worthy of commentary and discussion. But it is by no means a universal female tendency nor is it an exclusively female one. One needs only to watch a few scenes of popular, mainstream film and television to see women depicted wearing next to nothing, machine guns blazing, to see that men are also constantly confronted with a culturally hybridized image of violence and sex, of attraction and danger. This convolution is not innately embedded in the XX chromosome, rather, it has been bombarded at all of us from an absurdly early age as part of the brutally gendered and heteronormative society in which we live. Gentleness and empathy are not genetically implanted marks of the female sex; they are part of what makes us human, and it is only through deeply damaging societal constructs that they have become synonymous with weakness and submission.
What happened in Boston at the hands of Dzhokar Tsarnaev was horrific and wrenching for all of us, and the outpouring of compassion and sorrow for the victims was and continues to be overwhelming. However, I would argue that some form of compassion, or at least attempts to understand Tsarnaev himself are vitally important as well. I do not mean to imply that what he did was understandable or justified. It was monstrous. One of the people for whom I care most in the world was feet away from the finish line that day. And yet Tsarnaev, like so many young men and women, lives in a world where destruction is linked with power and where religion too often preaches contempt and hatred rather than respect and unanimity. I do feel sorry him, to live in such a world. I feel sorry for all of us. Not because I am a fawning, histrionic female, but because I am a human being.