What A Piece of Work Is Man

Despite all Man’s ennobling qualities, despite all the many ways in which he is set apart from the beasts — his vaunted freedom of will, his keen moral intuition, his literature, his arts, his sciences, his care for the future, his veneration of the past — he still manages to give frequent and mortifying examples of how far there is to go, and of the extent to which he is yet ruled by the animal drives that writhe and snarl beneath his civilizing forebrain.

In particular I am referring to the violent and destructive effects of male jealousy, tragic examples of which can be found almost daily — typically as a “murder-suicide” — in any populous community. Today’s news carried a particularly depressing story, of a man who flew an airplane into the home of his ex-wife’s mother, having first strapped their 8-year-old daughter into the passenger seat. He knew, of course, that the most effective way to punish the woman would be to kill her child, so that’s what he did. Just so there would be no misunderstanding, he called shortly before the despicable act to say ”I’ve got her, and you’re not going to get her.”

“How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!”

No, not yet, not by a long shot. I ache with shame for my sex every time I read one of these stories. To the women of the world, who have suffered so much at the hands of violent men, I apologize from the bottom of my heart.

Related content from Sphere

One Comment

  1. Charley Finch and I co-curated an art exhibit at my 11th Street Gallery addressing this issue back in 1994. We called it the White Male Rage Show. There was even a small article that mentioned that art exhibit on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, as well as several other longer write-ups commending the show.

    That hard-line Mullahs, or tribal leaders insist on chador, female circumcision, and other very dangerous practices is indeed a sad state of affairs for our sisters around the world.

    The time for real equality is at hand, but we must remain mindful to see it to fruition.

    Posted March 9, 2007 at 7:16 pm | Permalink