In the Combat Zone, Leslie describes her upbringing and incidences, where women in the United States are victims. She attempts to coin the miserable life women in Tucson undergo, especially after sundown. The women are bombarded with great fear that anything may be lurking at the corner. She describes the victimization of the woman and states that men do not fall prey under the same environment as women. Her purpose is to teach on the importance of self-defense for women to be less susceptible to numerous dangers of random violence. Leslie states that they should be responsible for their safety rather than leaving it in the hands of the State. Another key assertion is that home and childhood education should be changed to equip women with the correct mindset that they can protect themselves from death or bodily harm. She exposes how women portray themselves as passive victims relying on others for support and sacrifice themselves sheepishly like in instances of running errands in the night.
The title "In the Combat Zone" is developed by the author describing the use of guns to level the playing field and make the woman feel safe. The combat zone is defined as the woman's daily areas of interaction from apartment spaces, offices, elevators, staircases, and parking garages. Although she describes that at home, the violence experienced there is deserved and can be withstood, and it is just a status quo, and women can be prepared for that.
The essay begins with the author giving an in-depth explanation of her upbringing together with her two sisters. Their father did not discriminate them as girls but gave them early exposure to familiarity with guns and treated them just as how a boy could be raised. Guns, she describes them not as toys, and not only mere instruments of killing for whatever is killed must be eaten (Silko 1995). Proper and cautious training on gun safety was instilled in them at an early age. With target shooting, she became an excellent user of guns.
Strangers may pry on women just because of their intimidating size and relying on their brute strength. A gun in hand will level and equalize the combat zone as recounted by Leslie. Attacks come with a sense of suddenness and unexpectedness, inflicting a high frequency of terror to the victim. Attacks happen at almost any time, not just in the night but also during the daytime. She explains ordeals to portray the level of helplessness women in Tucson are exposed to. Notorious rapists were on the rampage in the1980s and early 1970s. One recorded incident is where a fat rapist inflicted terror on the residents by breaking into their homes and raping the occupants, whether male or female. The timing caught the homeowners' unaware during meal times, and it was already late in the night to call for help. The horror continues to the extent that the rapist, when caught, still managed to break out of jail and continue with his torment (Silko 1995). The event shows how the system does not work hard to protect women.
Perpetrators did not only commit crimes during nights! The author describes another incident that happened during. During daylight, another man armed with a knife reigned terror in residential alleys. The traumatized women thinking that help will come were utterly surprised when everyone minded their own business. Who could help end the terror and come to their aid if this was taken as a usual event happening in broad daylight?
Leslie adds an event, perhaps aimed to issue a wave of hope to the women. The details of this ordeal are intentionally published in the local paper to act as an example. This was a vital psychological tool used to scare off other potential rapists from rising. The local paper described a red bandanna rapist operating on a three-year successful raping period giving the police a difficult time catching him. He had attacked more than twenty women; luckily, one night on his raping spree, one resident had a gun of which he used to shoot the rapist four times on the chest, killing him instantly.
Could arming the women and allowing them to shoot men reduce instances of stranger attacks? Let us review the next illustration, an ordeal that happened to Leslie personally. It is the case of a stalker with a sizeable compact truck who wanted to instill fear into her by just following her. She describes her assailer, showing that she had no chance against him from just the size. The menace continues to disrupt her afternoon schedule. She had an option run through her brain, which was to enter a nearby police station and report the incident. But of what help could the police be in tracking and arresting the stalker without a plate number and more so they might think she was overreacting?
Then her innate early training kicks in, why should she play the victim and walk to her demise? She parks her car immediately, just facing the man directly from his truck. She did not flinch from displaying any panic in her eyes, reached for the glove compartment, and took out her gun, waiting for the surprised stalker to make the next move. The predator now was in the place of prey. On seeing the danger warning on Leslie's face, the man took a last look and sped off.
The above case demonstrates the importance of preparedness and vigilance and how to overcome the feeling of being a potential victim or prey. Leslie describes another personal experience where two men, induced fear in her by threatening to shoot her with an arrow while she was horse riding. She ran away on her horse and reported to the sheriff but later dropped off the charges for fear that the matter could escalate. This shows the fear that women had towards males, to the extent that they dreaded pursuing assault cases to get justice.
The narrative essay presented describes life in the 20th century, and the feeling is no different in the 21st century. Cases of rape are still prevalent, and only a small number of victims get justice. Leslie suggests women embrace vigilant lives dominated by preparedness and aggressiveness, as explained in her response to the truck driver. The culture and tradition of victimizing women should be abolished
However, I do not support Leslie's assertion that women be permitted to own guns and use them against rapists. This is a dangerous strategy and can lead to even more cases of violence as some women may use guns to serve other purposes. Allowing women to own guns will lead to increased terror in men when approaching any woman. This will create a disastrous society governed by fear. By critically looking at the tone of the author, in encouraging the taking of one's life just to overcome the feeling of being a potential victim, is not a viable option. Violence is never countered with violence; instead, it is better to apply other preventive measures such as avoiding risky places.
Silko, Leslie Marmon. "In the Combat Zone." Hungry Mind Review (Fall) (1995).
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