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Peace in Times of War: a Woman’s Way

Peace in Times of War: a Woman’s Way

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This essay was originally written for a class regarding women in times of peace and war. It won the Virginia Martin Essay Contest at Lock Haven University.
This essay was originally written for a class regarding women in times of peace and war. It won the Virginia Martin Essay Contest at Lock Haven University.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Caitlin Elizabeth Grace Chciuk on Jan 29, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Caitlin Chciuk 11/08/11Response Paper #2ENGL328
Peace in Times of War: a Woman’s Way
Traditionally, in times of war, men go off to fight and women stay home to take care of their home and family. However, the role of a woman often goes far beyond that of just the care-taker while a man is away – often women help run businesses, assuming the jobs men had before, and also have to deal with the downslide of the economy and the toll that war takes onsociety during times of fighting. Additionally, women are also victimized in war through rapeand other acts of violent oppression. Although the men are the ones who go out and fight, it isthe women who help to rebuild and take care of society both during and after the war. As aresult, women can be seen as the “peaceful” people in society during and after war-time. Oftentimes they are the ones organizing peaceful protests in hopes of bringing their loved ones home.Even though they are victimized through violent acts, women often do not react with violence;instead they find peaceful ways of standing up for themselves and what they believe is right.A group of women who used non-violent, peaceful ways to protest war were the“Mothers of the Disappeared.” These women lost their children (and sometimes other familymembers) to the horrors of war in Argentina, and were left with little to no information aboutwhat happened to their loved ones. The Mothers wanted answers about where their childrenwere, and the government was not providing any information. Mother María del Rosario said,“They didn’t give us any explanation. We knew they were torturing and murdering people, weknew about the atrocities they were committing” (Fisher 63). The Mothers began to organizemeetings in the Plaza de Mayo to make their cause known. It was very important to them to findtheir children. Mother Hebe de Bonafini explained, “nothing mattered any more except that I
Chciuk 2should find [my child], that I should go everywhere, at any time, day or night. I did not want toread anything about what was happening, just search, search, search” (Fisher 52). Jo Fisher, theauthor of the article “Las Locas de Plaza de Mayo” collected interviews from some of theMothers. She writes, “The decision to install a permanent weekly presence in Plaza de Mayo wasan act of desperation rather than one of calculated political resistance” (52). These women never meant to resist or protest the government – they simply wanted to know what happened to their children.The Mothers knew that “their only weapon was direct action,” (Fisher 52), so they puttogether simple, non-violent ways to spread the word of who they were and what they werelooking to do. These acts included attempting to produce leaflets, meeting in small groups inchurches, and wearing headscarves to identify themselves (Fisher 53-54). However, soon thesesmall acts were rendered illegal by the government, forcing the mothers to have to work for their cause in secret. The women gained the nickname
las locas
, or the crazy women, because that iswhat the government wanted them to seem like – just insane women who did not pose any threatto the government. In reality, the government began a “psychological war” with the Mothers,who fought back in peaceful, non-violent ways (Fisher 60-61). When the Mothers showed anysign of rallying together, they were met with harsh words and sometimes even guns. However,even when their lives were put in danger, the Mothers proved that there are ways to resist whatthe government is doing that do not include violence.In “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Paolo Freire shows his belief that a non-violentresponse to violence and oppression is necessary. Freire defines oppression as “any situation inwhich ‘A’ objectively exploits ‘B’ or hiders his or her pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person” (Freire 141). The Mothers are people who are oppressed by their government, simply
Chciuk 3 because they are looking for answers as to where their children are. Freire also believes that“violence is initiated by those who oppress,” (142) which correctly depicts the Argentineangovernment in response to the Mothers – they became violent when they saw the Mothers as athreat because of the way they were organizing. However, Freire also states, “never in historyhas violence been initiated by the oppressed” (141). The Mothers are no exception to this – theyconducted themselves in very non-violent, peaceful, and often quiet ways. Even when met withguns and threats, the Mothers would just move on calmly and try to re-organize and come upwith other ideas for finding their children. Mother Aída de Suárez said “I knew I wasn’t in anyreal danger… the military were just trying to frighten us” (Fisher 61). However, the military andgovernment were able to successfully smother any attempt the Mothers made at fighting for their cause.The Mothers met many forms of oppression when trying to communicate with oneanother and look for their disappeared loved ones. For example, Mother María del Rosario says,“When the police saw [us talking, they] began pointing their rifles at us and telling us to moveon… we couldn’t be more than two together” (Fisher 53). However, the women knew they hadto do whatever they could to stay together and get the word out about what they were goingthrough in trying to find answers about their children. In the article “The Psychology of SocietalReconstruction and Peace,” Susan R. McKay cites the importance of “community building” inhealing people once a war is over (350). Community building is essential in repairing an area post-war. However, in the lives of women it is crucial, because it helps them keep in mind thatthey are not alone. The Mothers are a wonderful example of building a community in times of war. Mother Hebe de Bonafini says, “I realized we had to look for all of them and that we had to be together because together we were stronger” (Fisher 
52). They want anyone who has lost a

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