Malala Yousafzai has captured our hearts, prayers and worldwide attention in the past few days. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Yousafzai is the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot by Taliban supporters because she wants to go to school and has spent the last three years speaking out about the right girls have to get an education. Earlier today, she and her family made it to the UK, where she will have access to the medical care she needs to have a chance at recovering from being shot in the head.
Did you know her name means grief-stricken? Those of us following her story have been struck with grief, too, along with a sense of moral outrage that there are men in this world who believe it’s right to shoot a girl because she wants to go to school.
Yousafzai is a victim in a war not her own making, but she was persistent and loud enough to draw attention to herself through a blog she’s been writing since she was 11. Her voice has a power that the Taliban has tried to silence, and I only hope that other voices will join hers and sustain her cause while she struggles for life.
I want all of you with daughters and nieces (and sons and nephews whom you hope will grow up to marry fabulous women) to imagine your emotions if Yousafzai had been one of your own. What weapons would you take up in her fight? Would you fight for her against what so many take for granted: the right to go to school?
It’s easy, in the face of our fresh grief and outrage for this girl, to imagine what we would want to do if we were part of her family, part of her community. But there’s a culture war happening here in the Western world, too, and I wonder if it’s easier for us to ignore simply because there aren’t vans being stopped on the way from school and 14-year-old girls getting shot in the head over it.
I’m speaking of the mainstream media’s cultural war on what it means to be a girl and, ultimately, what it means to be a woman. Continue reading