I recently had the opportunity to meet the feisty, fascinating great-great-aunt of a friend. She is a very gracious and very forthright 91 year-old African-American woman. She has never been married. As we talked, I was reminded of Cicely Tyson in "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman". Did you ever see that movie? (The picture at left shows my favorite scene in that movie.)
Anyway, I asked her why she had never married. She looked straight at me and said, "Cause a man'll kill you, honey."
Oh, there were so many questions that I wanted to ask!!! But I could tell that her family did not want me to probe. So I moved on to more innocuous topics.
But of course I could NOT stop thinking about what she said! Now my mind is whirling with all of the possible scenarios she might have witnessed or simply known about in her long life that led her to that moment when she said that to me. Because of course she is right. Men do kill women in outrageous numbers. 92% of all women who are murdered in America are murdered by someone they know. 33% of all women who are murdered in America are murdered by a husband or lover. Women are murdered by men 11 times as often as by another woman. In comparison, only 3% of men who are murdered in America are murdered by a wife or lover. So --- a man WILL kill you!
This event has got me in the frame of mind to interview people and find out their stories - kind of like Studs Terkel. Do you know that name? Studs Terkel was a very interesting character. He worked in radio, he acted, then he published several books in which he interviewed folks about a variety of topics. Reading his interviews - or oral histories, as he liked to call them -- you could really tell that people felt safe with him - that they WANTED to tell their stories. I think I will reflect on this for a while and see where it takes me.