Female Protestors Then and Now: The Mariam

Girl power! The BBC reports a recent protest run entirely by women:

A ship carrying humanitarian aid, “manned” entirely by women, is ready to leave Lebanon on the first leg of its journey to Gaza in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade. Named the Mariam (the Aramaic version of Mary), it has a multi-faith international passenger list, including doctors, lawyers and a group of American nuns.

First off, I must say stories like these just warm my heart. Honestly. But I’m torn on this issue for a few reasons. I do agree that in a perfect world of true equality, female protesters would be treated exactly the same as men (an argument featured later in the article), meaning that they would receive just as harsh of punishments as men would. Not because we want to be men, but because the act of protesting, if that be something that is against the law, would be equally illegal irrespective of the gender of the person committing the crime.

However, I kind of like that they are doing this. It’s kind of a way of reclaiming sexism, to me. They’re taking something that normally is a detriment to what they’re trying to accomplish (namely that officials don’t take anything they say seriously) and they’re using it to their advantage. I kind of love it, I won’t lie.

Though the ship has recently endured some issues gaining passage through Cyprus, the plan remains undeterred:

“The trip has not been cancelled but delayed,” one of the organizers, Samar al-Hajj, was quoted by AFP as saying.

The group of more than 50 women was to set sail for the Gaza Strip from Lebanon on Sunday, laden with relief supplies for the impoverished coastal sliver, which has endured more than three years of an all-out Tel-Aviv imposed blockade.

It was, however, denied permission to berth at Cyprus coast.

Yasser Kashlak, another of the organizers, said the rejection had followed Tel Aviv’s pressure.  The initiators are currently trying to find Greek and Turkish mid-route stops.  The humanitarian campaigners are to make the visit despite Israeli threats of confronting Gaza-bound relief missions.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has called the move an “unnecessary provocation,” urging US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, US National Security Adviser James Jones, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to stop the ship from setting sail.

The BBC article also continues to discuss the myriad examples of women throughout history using their status as women to be able to get their point across. The article describes one historians belief on why this was effective:

…one of the reasons women regularly led manifestations of resistance against authority was the license traditionally accorded to them – as the weaker sex – to misbehave. Given over to the sway of her lower passions, she was supposed not to be responsible for her actions and could not be held accountable for her disruption. At the same time, social mores entitled her to “speak out of turn” – to rail and scold – against anyone who threatened the safety or well being of her family.

Although the details of why their misbehavior carried such an impact is different from the details of modern women, I think the overall momentum of the two groups of women is the same. Both groups took an aspect of societal expectations that is arguably a disadvantage and turned it into a benefit.

What do you think about these women? Do you think they should receive the same punishment as men in the event things turn sour? How do you feel about the Miriam’s mission statement as it were?

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3 thoughts on “Female Protestors Then and Now: The Mariam

  1. I realize this is a tad off-topic, but: is Israel really begging the US for help? How is the US any part of this at all? Is everyone else truly completely incompetent?

    As far as the issue itself, I really don’t know what to think. I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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