Men I Love: Nicholas D. Kristof
As regular readers know, I have oft been accused of being a man-hater because I stand up for women. Usually, these charges come from misogynistic men.
Not that I feel I have to defend myself against such cretins. But I got to thinking. Why not start a new category -- nominations accepted via email -- for guys I love?
Not guys in my actual real life, although they're pretty awesome. But men who publicly stand up for women, and sometimes take great physical risks to make their lives better and, in doing so, make this world a better place.
Indeed, it was two recent kick-ass columns in particular that inspired my creating this category.
From April 22, ''Islam, Virgins and Grapes,'' this commentary -- which jibes with many of the posts I have made on this blog -- about how the Islamic world will never advance unless its women do and how modern Koranic scholarship might put an end to backward, women-hating interpretations.
If the Islamic world is going to enjoy a revival, if fundamentalists are to be tamed, if women are to be employed more productively, then moderate interpretations of the Koran will have to gain ascendancy. There are signs of that, including a brand of “feminist Islam” that cites verses and traditions suggesting that the Prophet Muhammad favored women’s rights.
Professor (Gabriel Said) Reynolds says that Muslim scholars have asked that conference papers be translated into Arabic so that they can get a broader hearing. If the great intellectual fires are reawakening within Islam, after centuries of torpor, then that will be the best weapon yet against extremism.
When a woman reports a rape, her body is a crime scene. She is typically asked to undress over a large sheet of white paper to collect hairs or fibers, and then her body is examined with an ultraviolet light, photographed and thoroughly swabbed for the rapist’s DNA.
It’s a grueling and invasive process that can last four to six hours and produces a “rape kit” — which, it turns out, often sits around for months or years, unopened and untested.
Stunningly often, the rape kit isn’t tested at all because it’s not deemed a priority. If it is tested, this happens at such a lackadaisical pace that it may be a year or more before there are results (if expedited, results are technically possible in a week).
So while we have breakthrough DNA technologies to find culprits and exculpate innocent suspects, we aren’t using them properly — and those who work in this field believe the reason is an underlying doubt about the seriousness of some rape cases. In short, this isn’t justice; it’s indifference.
Last night in the car, while listening to CBC Radio One's Dispatches, I caught an interview with Eric Daniel Metzgar, director of Reporter, a film about Kristof at Toronto's Hot Docs festival this week. His accounts of their life-changing travels through Congo literally made me pull over so I could really focus on what they were saying. Chilling stuff about women being left to die long, lingering, painful deaths after horrendous rapes, or falling from trees trying to gather bananas to feed their starving children.
"Villagers took what looked like a bundle of rags out of one thatch-roof hut, and laid it on the ground. Only it wasn't a bunch of rags; it was a woman dying of starvation."
One could argue that Kristof breaks the rules by getting involved with his subjects. He doesn't just report and take off for the hotel bar. But who cares? This is a man who (along with his writing partner and life partner, Sheryl WuDunn) doesn't just talk the talk, he climbs up on the rooftops and shouts it.