Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"You Say You Want a Revolution"

So, we’re not content with our leadership. Now what? How does a group of women that is struggling to keep it together when corruption has seeped into their ranks change things? How do they expel the corruption? There are several different approaches one can take in this situation.

1) Violence: By considering violence, the group is acting on their emotions, which can, in some cases, be useful. These women are angry. And when women get angry, they can be really mean. As Eric Idle so delicately put, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours."

Beginning in elementary schools, girls fight the nastiest of battles; seek revenge on their classmates. When boys have conflict, there is almost always a physical fight involved. A punch or two is thrown, and the conflict is resolved. They expel all their emotional energy in that punch, and the blood flows back into their more reasonable parts, allowing them to solve the problem. When girls have conflict, they do more damage. Little girls are taught from a young age not to fight. It is “un-lady-like” to hit another person. Girls, like boys, by human nature, seek ways to get revenge. Instead of fighting it out physically, girls taunt one another. They spread rumors; they gossip; they do everything in their power to tear down the self-esteem of their opposition. Unfortunately, this form of fighting often does not lead to a resolution of the conflict. These battles between girls, and eventually between women can last indefinitely, and are often the cause of long-term insecurities.

This trend continues throughout womens’ lives. Once boys reach a certain age, they realize the stupidity and barbarity of participating in physical fights to resolve conflicts (with occasional exceptions). Girls, however, fight their verbal battles behind closed doors. Girls can get silent revenge. So, they continue to get away with it, and in some cases, never grow up and out of this immature method of conflict resolution.

Looking at how fighting is imposed on different gendered children, how can this exposure be used to model our women's organization revolution?

Pros of violence:

· Emotion is put aside after violence, and reason takes over.

· Conflicts are resolved more quickly.

· Lessons are more likely to be learned if there is an incentive as strong as physical pain.

Cons of violence:

· Risky - could cause short/long-term physical harm

- Inexperience within the group in question - these are women, who have little to no experience using physical violence to solve problems.

- Immature

- Frowned upon by society in general, and by the group as a whole

- Will most likely lead to further conflict

2) Non-violence: Non-violence is, in my opinion, the best way to make changes and keep the organization from reverting back to its old ways. With M.K. Gandhi as our role model, we can solve the problem by communicating effectively while maintaining our poise and respect. This takes great patience and open minds, but as history has shown us, it works.

Pros of Non-violence:

- No one gets physically hurt

- Has great potential to solve the problem, if carried out

Cons of Non-violence:

- Time - can take lots of it

Ok, maybe this is not a situation that requires such extreme acts as Gandhi performed during his revolt. We need not fast for months, give up sex, or wear nothing but a loincloth in order to make a statement. But there is something to be learned from his extremist ways. The question now becomes: What would be "extreme" enough for us?

The group generally is very "nice". As women who have pledged to the same values and ideals that the founders established back in 1873, we see commonalities and can relate to one another, if in no other way. We are pleasant to one another in public, and mostly pleasant to one another in private. We have weekly meetings to discuss the general day-to-day happenings of our group and inform members of upcoming opportunities to get involved.

The group has a set of by-laws. These by-laws, although distributed, have not been read by most members. The by-laws tell us what is expected of each member and what each member can expect of her elected officers. The by-laws set the rules for the chapter's governance. Unfortunately, since so many are uneducated about these by-laws, members do not know what to expect from their officers, and tend to simply "go with the flow" and let things happen that should not.

Here's my "game plan":

  1. The first step to this non-violent conflict resolution is education. Members must be educated of the by-laws and fully understand their place within the group, as well as what to expect from the other members of the group.
  2. Should a member experience/witness misconduct according to the by-laws, she should act accordingly by:
    1. Bringing the misconduct to the attention of the officers and the entirety of the chapter.
    2. Requesting either appropriate punishment and/or change to ensure that such misconduct does not recur.
  3. Should officers and/or members at large not respond appropriately to these actions, any of the following can and should be permitted as acts of protest:
    1. Walking out of meeting
    2. Contacting chapter advisor for additional aid
    3. Attending EVC/Honor Board/CMT meetings to express discontent
    4. Any other means of non-violent protest of misconduct
It is a member's responsibility to stand up for what she believes and to be actively involved in the selective group of which she is a member. This is not "just a club". This is an organization with a governmental system. We would not let our country's national elected officials take advantage of us as a collective unit, or allow corruption to remain in the highest, most powerful branches of our government. We live in the greatest, free-est, most powerful nation in the world; we have a democratic government that allows the average layman to speak his mind and contribute to how our nation is run. We have freed ourselves from monarchical rule in the past through revolution. We can even impeach our president, should we find it necessary. Why don't we acknowledge this organization and take part in it's governance with such fervor?

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