Posted on | October 4, 2012 by Maria Kaufmann |
As a social scientist I have been taught that morality is merely relative to the time and context. Nothing can be claimed to be objectively True always since truth changes within and between social groups.
But as the new PBS documentary “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” potently illustrates, some behaviors always inflict unwanted suffering on innocent people (ex: the rape of girls as young as three years old) and so some actions are always objectively unjust and morally wrong regardless of the time, context, party line, and culture.
In an striking manner the documentary moves away from the common relative rhetoric that is heard in lecture halls and presents a single message from several prominent leaders, thinkers and celebrities. Gender-based violence, sex trafficking, forced prostitution, and maternal mortality, the movie’s topics, must be stopped. This is revolutionary. As the elections near the documentary is a potent reminder that the morality of certain behaviors does not vary across cultures and certainly not across party lines.
Every human person deserves the same rights regardless of their age, sex, race and ethnicity. The notion that an injustice can go on because an individual or a group of individuals considers a behavior to be right is dangerously flawed. In the words of the Nicholas Kristof, the author of book that inspired the film: “There was period when Americans were way to soft on FGM and didn’t you know cultural relativism didn’t want to criticize other cultures for their practices… I think at some point, you just you know, when people are slicing of girls genitals you gotta say that’s wrong. I mean that may be your culture but its also a pretty lousy aspect of culture.”
To learn more about the documentary or to watch the film click on the links below:
- About the film: http://itvs.org/films/half-the-sky
- Part one of documentary: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/half-the-sky/video/