Writing for Political Purpose

Inequalities between men and women continue to thrive globally, yet don’t receive enough attention in the media.  Nicholas Kristof is an op-ed columnist for the New York Times who exposes and brings light to issues that many people, myself included, are unaware of.   His columns combine his political beliefs and firsthand accounts of human rights violations all over the world.  He travels to areas that are inaccessible for most Americans and brings two of his readers with him every year.  Kristof co-wrote a novel titled Half the Sky with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, about the worldwide oppression various groups of women suffer in an attempt to raise awareness for the millions of women who are killed each year as the result of gender violence.   His novel also contains a model for activists that both encourages and informs the reader on ways to actively put a stop to gender inequalities.

I’m never one to enjoy the introduction for a novel, but for some reason the introduction of Half the Sky really catches my attention.  We are immediately introduced to Sray Rath, a Cambodian teenager who has managed to escape sexual slavery twice and completely rebuild her life.  Sray’s story of survival is captivating and after reading that, it was impossible for me to put the book down.  Another aspect of the introduction that appeals to me is the detailed description of Sray and her livelihood.  I feel as if I am meeting her and immediately form a picture of her in mind with ease.  I love when writers describe things in such detail that the reader is left with a movie-like screenplay etched in their minds.

Furthermore, I admire Kristof and WuDunn’s ability to integrate research findings with narrative in a way that reads similar to a story.  I often struggle to incorporate multitudes of research with smooth flowing sentences in a way that doesn’t bore or overwhelm the reader.  Kristof on the otherhand, seamlessly accomplishes that and Half the Sky is written in a story-telling, attention-grabbing sort of way, despite all the research and facts that lay beneath the text.

In my own writing, I hope to emulate Kristof and WuDunn’s ability to write for political purpose, and moreover, the way they remain true to their beliefs.  The couple writes to inform the world on matters that are important to them, and not just to write a “made to order” bestseller.  Not only do they write about gender violence in a global context, but they also provide a model for improving the current situation by empowering women worldwide.  This shows another one of Kristof and WuDunn’s strengths; they aren’t “all talk” and they actually propose solutions to end gender violence.

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