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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"I saw their production of Giselle in 1890. I cried like a baby. And I was evil!"
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April 07 2011

"The Sky isn't evil. Try looking up." The link attached to the preceding quote is to Joss Whedon's post on this very site - approximately four years ago - about the stoning to death of Du'a Khalil Aswad.

Reports vary as far as some of the details surrounding her brutal murder, but one thing is clear from the video footage; people of her own faith stood by and watched and participated, cheering and recording it on their cameraphones as if it were a sporting event rather than a horrific reminder of the shocking brutality which we as human beings are capable of in the service to some abstract concept. What horrible crime had she committed? She was considering converting to the religion of a young man that she had fallen in love with.

On this site we often discuss what some would view as escapist fiction, but which we understand to be a complex study of what it means to be human. We hold these texts and images up to scrutiny and we turn them around as a prism through which we might see ourselves and our world reflected. Maybe the abstraction provides a measure of distance that makes it easier for us to examine that world and in turn make discoveries about it, the people who inhabit it, and our own lives and our place in it. Perhaps it makes it easier to deal with real life horror and tragedy when they come, maybe it helps us to be strong enough to withstand whatever comes and leaves us more determined to stand in opposition to those horrors.

We are, in groups small and large on this site (and within the fandom as a whole), examples of the 'found family' concept that runs through much of Joss's work. We come here to theorize with people who are passionate about his work, certainly, but for so many of us we find something far more valuable. In a community of people with a common interest who come from many different places and cultures and countries and walks of life, we find lifelong friends and spouses and exposure to a diversity of ideas that we may not otherwise have known.

We also find that we have the power to act in favor of the light in a world far too often plagued by darkness. So, as we remember Du'a on this day, let us think about what Joss said in his original post; do something, speak up, act up, write a letter, write an email, write a check. Once or once a month, or once a year... It's our world and we have to work to shape it into something that we are more proud of tomorrow than we are today. It's not enough to cringe at the darkness and turn away; give time, give money, give your voice to a cause that you believe in (or borrow one of ours below). Even raising awareness is a step in the right direction and we hope that this post serves as one such step.

For your consideration:

Equality Now
Stop Honour Killings
Nothing But Red

(please feel free to post additional links and resources in comments)

I remember.
I would like to personally thank Whedonesque for agreeing to have a topic on this day of remembrance; not only for Du'a Khalil Aswad, but for all victims of honor killings and domestic violence. Their number is legion. That these killings continue is a travesty to what it means to be human.
Thanks, Tonya J for coming to us with this and for your passion about raising awareness.
Thanks for posting. I know I've become much more active in my efforts with regards to these issues due to seeing Joss's post about Du'a here a few years back. "Enlightened activism" I think it was - very inspiring.
It's a little hard to believe it's been 4 whole years now. There was another recent news story that reminded me of this all too much.
Thought I'd put the link to the Nothing But Red collection's blog. NBR was a book compiled in response to Joss' post - created by many and helmed by writer Skyla Dawn Cameron.

The so-called honor killings continue - along with numerous other atrocities perpetuated on women simply because they are women.

Thank goodness for Equality Now and all other such groups.

(I can't believe it's been four years either... though I understand we older folks experience time passing completely differently than you young chickens. It all passed in a flash.)
@Sunfire are you talking about the girl who was whipped to death? or what's going on in Cleveland, TX? Or....like a million other recent stories, come to think of it... :/
QG - Tonya had reminded me of the link, but since it hasn't been updated for years and the book is no longer available I left it out.
I just copied and reposted Tonya's blog to mine before coming here.
Sometimes when I wear the t-shirt Lexigeek made I get asked about it when out and about and you can see one of two reactions on peoples face when I start to tell them who Du'a Khalil is. It's either anger and concern or 'why did I ask her about her t-shirt?!'. I try to give out Equality Nows website as often as I can.

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2011-04-07 20:59 ]
True F_TB, sadly there's not exactly been a shortage of examples. Hena Akhter is who I meant.
Thank you for this reminder.
Equality Now just tweeted an Amnesty link for a petition re: Iman al-Obeido.


On 26 March 2011, Iman al-Obeidi was forcibly dragged out of the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli by plain clothed Libyan security officials after she tried to speak to foreign journalists about the alleged rape.

[by Colonel al-Gaddafi’s forces]

@Sunfire Hena was who I first thought of. God that's horrific.

If people are posting links to resources/etc in this thread, I'll throw this out there: http://www.halftheskymovement.org/
I recommend the book as well.
So say we all.
F_TB - I link-ified your link :).
@zeitgeist - thanks, I tried like 3 times and couldn't figure it out. I'm slow today :p
I have little to say that hasn't already been said. The fact that these honor killings continue and the larger sexism displayed all over the world disgusts me to no end. I am so amazingly thankful that there are people in the world who would fight against that, and to help shape a better tomorrow. I like to consider myself a small part of that, and would like to thank anyone and everyone that has established organizations to help.
Thanks for this thread. I've had a copy of Joss's post on my office door since the day after. Students ask me about it all the time, and those that don't ask still read it. I've suggested those who say anything that they donate to Equality Now.
zeitgeist: QG - Tonya had reminded me of the link, but since it hasn't been updated for years and the book is no longer available I left it out.

Huh. I check it before I posted and the "purchase this book" link went here at lulu, though I obviously hadn't tried to purchase it again. Just now it let me put it in my cart. Do you know by some other means that it's unavailable, or am I missing a thingy somewhere along the line?
What Giles_314 said.
QG - Great! I checked larger resellers and found it unavailable. Added Lulu link to the post.
*delurks* NBR was supposed to be available at all resellers but we had tons of problems getting it listed at Amazon (basically, we chose the package to have it available everywhere and oops, it didn't work--this was right when they were changing policies at Lulu to allow distribution without paying, IIRC). But it's still available at Lulu and it's set up so the royalties go directly to Equality Now via PayPal.

And thanks so much for remembering it, QuoterGal!
Thanks for delurking (and, of course, for NBR), I added the Lulu link so people can check it out.
Thanks for bringing this back to the front page. It's shocking how long it's been, yet so little has changed. Let's hope next time we see this it's for a better reason.

*going to purchase the book now, thanks!*
As this day comes to an end, for another year, I have watched one of the videos showing Du'a Khalil's death. I do this so that I will always remember with shocking clarity that brutality walks side by side with all that is good in the world. I often wonder how I can enjoy anything, knowing what evil lurks, the real stuff. But I can't just lie down and neither can you. We need to take the good inside ourselves to build our strength.

I came across other videos recently, none of them as eloquent and emotional as that of Maryam Namazie, who spoke at an International conference against honour killings, April 12, 2008, in commemoration of Du'a Kahlil and to denounce honour killings. This was a little more than a year after her murder in 2007.

My hope was that as many as were meant to would re-read what Joss wrote almost four years ago or discover it for the first time. To see practical information that might send them on the road to, if not giving money (because times are tough, I know), signing petitions, talking with friends, and just caring. What is that lovely Eastern saying? Ah yes:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
-- The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)

I thanked Whedonesque but also want to thank Damon (Zeitgeist), in particular, for the eloquence of his topic statement. Really lovely.
F_TB's link has a page full of links to places to support, as well as all the laudable efforts to spread awareness why not pick one and chip in a few quid a month ? Times are tough but if you're in work maybe you can spare it (even the cost of a pint of beer a month could make a real difference to someone's life). The education projects are closest to my heart because knowledge is power and power is best distributed evenly.

Other than that, i've no adequate words (even the phrase "honour killing" itself doesn't match the act).
Thank you, Saje, for the link to the page of links. That's a good resource for each of us to pass along to others.
Couple months ago in my country, a religious sect attacked another sect just because they thought that sect is misguided and wrong and that means they can destroy it. In the name of religion they killed 3 person and injured some others. The whole scene was recorded and uploaded to the internet. The police was there and they did nothing but watch. I saw the video and what's really disturbing for me was there was this woman wearing a jacket and she took a wood block and hit a man who already lied on the ground and beaten pretty bad. And she hit him many times. At first that man was still moving but then he stopped and the woman keep beating him. It's terrified me, how could a person be so blood-thirsty.

However, i'm a latecomer to Whedon and by the time i came across to that post i was already a fan. But just that, i like his works but it never really like the person behind the works. When i read that post for the first time, i remembered thinking that this person is truly something. He is a great person and since then i was a believer.
For those who don't "Facebook" {{Yes, it's a verb now -- Riker Face Palm}}, I know the Equality Now page there gave a thumbs up for the link I posted to this topic and then re-shared it on their page. They also left a message, so I'm glad some of their members saw and liked it:

Equality Now via Tonya Jarrett

Y'all are an inspiration, Joss Whedon fans. Thanks for your constant support of the work we do, and your dedication to making a difference in whatever ways you can.
"The Sky isn't evil. Try looking up." - General - Whedonesque.com
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