Feminist Traps

Soapbox LogoSometimes we fight so hard for what we want we lose sight of what we need. This is true whether it is the individual us, the public us or the group us as a people or an identity. What does this mean? How does this affect us when we are trying to find our place in the world? I can’t speak for all, not for anyone but me in truth, but I can speak for myself, individually as the private, public and group me. As a woman, I can speak to that me. As a woman who has always held to feminist views on all issues but who is now wondering what this means, to be a feminist and to want my cake and to eat it too. What does that truly mean?

I suspect what I am about to say will cause some of my same gender some angst and maybe some anger. I suspect it will cause some to wonder what the hell is going on in my head, some may even want to burn my Feminist card and kick me out of the Woman Club, but bear with me. Women have been in a public fight for equality since 1848 that is more than a century; in fact that is one hundred sixty-eight years. Or in more easily understood terms, one hell of a long time. What have we really ‘won’ in all that time, what have we truly gained for ourselves?

1920 – 19th Amendment to the Constitution is signed and we are finally part of the national conversation, we can vote. What do we do with this privilege? Not very damned much, in truth most of us throw this away, we sit it out, we stay at home and hope someone will speak up for us and our interest.

From 1920 through 1978 there were two key issues on the table for women, how to earn a paycheck and how to own our reproductive processes. Seems to me these were inextricably linked, though most did not make connection. We saw a few key court rulings and pieces of legislation during these years.

Since 1978, well frankly it has been more of the same. More fair this and equality that, more bullshit added to the pile to make us be quiet and look the other way. You can’t beat us anymore without consequence and husbands can’t rape their wives any more either. But let’s face it in the grand scheme of things we really haven’t come all that far and we really haven’t done all that much to make this particular part of the world better for fifty percent of the population.

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Truthfully, as women we suck at taking power in our own hands and representing ourselves. We are fifty percent of the overall US population yet hold under twenty-five percent of the state and twenty percent of the federal legislative seats. These numbers are appalling, yet we wonder why we lose ground. I will tell you why, those advances were gifts. A group of Men gave us a gift, they didn’t mean for us to compete for seats at the table. What they intended was to allow us a little bit of freedom, too feel as if we were a bit more enfranchised so we would shut the hell up and start playing nice again. We were grateful and we thanked them instead of snatching victory by the balls and running with it.

There is something else that happened in the midst of all the clamor, we forgot we were women and we begin to allow others to redefine femininity on terms different and strange. We confused femininity and feminism, begin to believe we could not be both. As so frequently happens with movements we allowed the radical and outside voices to define our new ‘norm’. Now we don’t know who we are or what we are, frankly we are confused by our natural instincts and afraid to be women for fear we might be going against what we are told we should be.

I am absolutely a Feminist. I believe I should be paid the same money as my male counterparts. I believe every single woman has the right to control her reproductive life-cycle, this includes the right to legal and safe abortion. I believe in a woman’s right to access education, credit, housing and all the other needs of life without gender bias.

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I am a Feminist, but frankly I am a woman first. I love being a woman. I have always loved being a woman. I love having doors opened for me, dressing up in something soft and feminine, wearing high-heels and stockings for a night out with someone special. I like being a women, being a woman is part of my power and I have absolutely no fear in saying so. We are born with this power, men love looking at us because that is how we are designed. Why in the hell should we pretend it is otherwise?

I have a brain, in fact I have a really good brain and I expect the men who work with me and who date me to respect me for that brain. Nevertheless, I still have all the attributes of the female gender and I do not expect men to be emasculated, pretend they don’t know I am a woman. It is impossible for them to do so, hell most of us make it impossible for them to do so. This is at the center of the problem actually, most of us complain when men stare yet we make it impossible for them to do otherwise. Not all men are rapists, not all men are pigs either. What men are is the other half of the human equation. Without men we would quickly die out. We don’t have a rape culture, we have a sick culture brought about by our failure to recognize all these false definitions of masculinity and femininity send the wrong message. Women are one half of the human race, we are not gender neutral but instead specifically feminine and designed to be attractive to the other half.

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I am a woman. There are tens of thousands of us out here, we are I think being defined in terms we no longer understand and yet we refuse to stand up and call bullshit. We buy a package of goods that doesn’t feel right and yet we refuse to say it is wrong for fear we will be thrown out of the Woman’s Club. The Politically Correct definitions have gone so far now we are forced to accept lies and embrace them without raising voice of complaint. As an example, Caitlyn Jenner is not a woman so how in the hell are you going to award Woman of the Year twice to her? Are there not any accomplished women in the United States who are deserving of recognition and praise?

Yes, I will concede the ‘her’ to Caitlyn because I am polite and if she wishes to transition at the age of 66 from her born gender to female I am going to use her chosen gender. Nevertheless, Caitlyn is not a woman, she is in fact not even through her transition thus cannot even be legally called a woman. So why are any of us politely or otherwise accepting this insult?

On another note, why are we fighting so hard for the stupid? Why do you want your daughters in harm’s way, in combat positions?  We haven’t achieved parity in pay or secured our right to control our bodies, but we can now die in combat or worse be captured and only all the God’s know what will happen to a woman captured in battle.

I am a Feminist, but I am a woman first. I think it is time for all of us to think about what it means to be a woman. I frankly don’t want to be ‘man’ lite, but rather I want to be a woman able to stand on my own and with all the freedoms, rights and duties any of us are due. I want to work, contribute and provide within my competencies and capabilities as a woman, not in competition but in compliment.  Perhaps when we start seeing ourselves as one half of the population, start working from a position of power as women rather than begging for a seat at the table we will start to shift the focus and start standing up rather than simply complaining about the stupid shit.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html

http://www.representation2020.com/rankings.html

Spanish Fly

witches chair 2We are a people who fail to consider consequences just as we fail to consider the linear notes of our history. It seems it is impossible for some of us too reason, for us to see where we have been and acknowledge the whys and wherefores of how we arrived at where we are today. We only see the right this minute and think somehow this is all there is, this bubble of bullshit somehow represents the entirety of our social make-up, there is nothing else, we got to this moment in time without all of the transcendent moments before this too pile upon.

Really? Are we really, as a people this stupid, this blind? Can this truly be possible?

I swore I was not going to discuss the issue of Bill Cosby and his heinous acts against women and I am not. What I am going to talk about is why so many, men and women alike came to his defense. We watched Bill Cosby and Larry King and we laughed right along with them, a nation thought their discussion of drugging women was funny.

Why did so many turn their backs as women came forward to accuse Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) of being a sexual predator? Because we accept his actions, it is simple. Why so many, shrugged their shoulders and thought to themselves even when not thinking it aloud, ‘boys will be boys and those women were probably asking for it’.

I said I wouldn’t discuss Bill Cosby, I won’t. What I will discuss, is why anyone would think to defend him or his sexual molestation and rape of twenty or more women. Why anyone would think it was okay for Bill Cosby to drug young women so he could sexually molest and rape them. I know why, but I wonder if most understand how far back our disdain for women goes.

 If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24

There is of course more, but this is a good place to start with the very framework of those who lay the foundation of a nation in Biblical literalism. Starting with the Pilgrims and moving to the Puritans, not a single one of those who first came to these shores believed women were of equal value to men, in fact most believed they were of far less value.  In all cases, women could not own property, not even their own children unless they were widowed and never remarried. Even within the context of those much vaunted and hallowed documents of Independence and Democracy were women considered, only men are given a voice; not women and just to be clear, only White Men.

Witches and Puritans

Witches and Puritans

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.

Exodus 21:7-11

We are without moral ground, it is power and control and it is right there in the very book so many within this nation claim as their guiding light, their shining beacon. How could we not ignore rape, ignore or worse still, blame the victims of rape in favor of the rapist. How could we not look at the victim of rape and ask these horrible questions:

6371058_G“What were you wearing?”

“How many sexual partners have you had?”

“What did you do to entice your rapist?”

“How much did you have to drink?”

“Why were you at that restaurant, bar, party?”

Of course there is any number of other questions the victim is asked, making them party to their own violation. Making them at fault for their rape, not a victim of violence at all, rather a willing participant and someone to be victimized, ostracized and humiliated further by society, the criminal justice system and too often family and friends.

It is estimated there are 400,000 untested rape kits sitting in evidence rooms across the nation. Rape victims, waiting for justice, who have submitted to invasive examinations of their bodies so Untested-Rape-Kits-1000x600police can collect DNA evidence, in most cases they do nothing with. The decision to test those kits, at a cost of $500-$1,500, is usually left to the investigating officer. The officer or the District Attorney, who too often are making the decision the case is ‘too hard to prove’, or worse have decided the rape didn’t happen, who are all too often searching for consent, searching for a reason not to prosecute and thus serving the rapist.

How did we get here? We have always been here, this is what we have always been. This is not new, we have not reached some new sociopathic low. The difference is women have started to speak out, started to say enough and no more. The difference is social media and the ability to connect with other victims, to compare stories and begin to understand the true nature of rape, the damage rape does to us, not just the initial damage to our bodies but the long-term horror the rape victim suffers.

In the past rape was a silent crime, the victim was silent and thus after the fact consented. Perhaps, if they were fortunate they had family or friends who were supportive and loving, this wasn’t always the case though. There was a reason rape victims’ names were masked from the public, it was to protect them from being humiliated and ostracized by the community, to prevent the community from dragging them to the gates and stoning them.

images‘What were you wearing?’

Blue jeans, a tee shirt and tennis shoes; I was eleven years old. I was silent for far more than twenty years because my rape humiliated my mother.

Recent Stories: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/07/16/untested-rape-kits-evidence-across-usa/29902199/

Private Programs to end the backlog: http://www.endthebacklog.org/backlog/what-backlog

Misogyny & All Women

OpEd

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 1 Corinthians 14:34

I want to start this by sharing what I listened to while writing, it has taken me three days to form my thoughts around this subject so they were palatable for mixed company. While I worked through them I listened and sometimes watched as well.


 

I struggled with how I would approach the subject of women, society and culture. Of what it means to be a woman today nearly anywhere in the world. It would be easy to put my pragmatic hat on, pull out the statistics and studies, don’t worry I might still give you some of those, but at the end of it that doesn’t really speak to the truth. The truth is, being a woman of my age (56) means I have walked through a few fires simply to pay the price of being a woman. Why struggle with talking about this subject if we are going to talk statistics, better to talk from a position of authority, right?

For nearly as long as I have been conscious of being a woman, I have also been conscious it meant there were those who would always see me as one, if not more, of the following:

  • Weak
  • Victim
  • Stupid
  • Property
  • Of less value than themselves

There is not a single woman, not one single one of us who have not faced at least some form of gender based harassment, discrimination or bullying in our lifetime. As young girls we grow up being told we are ‘not enough’, it might not be the intent of the messenger to deliver this message it is though the message we receive. The message of ‘Not enough’ is delivered throughout a woman’s life, they go something like this, NOT ENOUGH:

  • To play sports, but YOU can cheer on the sidelines, if you are pretty enough.
  • For college funds to be set aside or made available based on your performance and competency, boys first there is only so much to go around.
  • To be protected from roaming hands, catcalls or sly whispers  in hallways and classrooms, Boys will be Boys.
  • For your aspirations beyond housewife, mother, secretary or assistant too some male, those aspirations are slightly ‘unnatural’.
  • For your labor to be valued at the same rate as your male counterpart, instead you will work longer hours for less.
  • To receive necessary health care at affordable costs, instead your body will be fought over as if it were an oasis in the Sahara to be confiscated by the fastest talking Bedouin every two to four years.
  • For your ‘No’ to be true no matter how or to whom you say it or for any person to question what you were wearing or what you might have done to ‘ask for it’.
  • To walk down the street at night and feel safe, even in your own neighborhood.

The list could go on, every woman could add to it from her own experience, these though are important and have been lately in the news:

  • Not Enough to be safe even when using a field in pairs because there is no other place to empty their bowel or bladder, they lost their lives after being gang raped.
  • Not Enough to be safe in their schools as the 276 young girls of Chibok, Nigeria would say as they were herded onto trucks and carried into the jungle to be sold in markets or to their kidnappers as ‘wives’.

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Women everywhere, no matter the nation they are born in or their circumstances all have one thing in common it seems, they are born NOT ENOUGH.

We might be born into the very best circumstances, wealth and privilege. We might receive the best of everything, education and opportunity throughout our lives. None of this will be enough to protect us from exploitation, catcalls on the street, domestic abuse or rape. What these circumstances will provide is the chance those who do us harm will pay the consequence of their actions.

If we are born without privilege, without money, without opportunity; if we are born anywhere in the world even here in this nation that takes pride in its ‘advanced’ views and civil rights, we are lost before we step foot out the door. Despite lip service, our bodies are the battle ground men fight ‘morality’ wars over decade after decade. Whether we have the same right to sexual freedom and the same right to protect our reproductive choice the fodder for nightly news segments, pulpit rants and Filibusters from both sides of the aisle. Our right to say NO clouded by what we might choose to wear or whether we have deigned to say YES to others previously, our history as women the only thing on trial if we are brave enough to report our victimization at all. The very meaning of RAPE subject to redefinition to narrow the scope from a Violent act against us to whether it was a Legitimate act of Violence or not.

There is no woman on the face of the earth, not anywhere in any nation who in her lifetime will not experience some form of harassment, bias or bullying simply because she is a woman. There is no woman, not one who will not suffer some form of bias, will not have her options limited in some manner specifically because she was born with Breasts, Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus, Cervix and Ovaries rather than being born with Penis and  Testicles.

Women around the World (Image)

Women around the World (Image)

While men continue to debate whether women should be paid equally, should have the right to body integrity, we as women seek simply to achieve equity in community and choice of how we live, how we love and who we love. Our struggle to reach equality, to be seen as whole and complete is tied to so many other movements toward equality we sometimes lose sight of our need as women to band together and lift each other up, we fail to reach across fences and work together for common cause.

Our gender creates a single unbroken chain across borders, faiths and race. As of 2013, out of 7,162,119,434 in the world we are 49.6% of the total and growing. We have enormous power in our hands and between our thighs. We are the mothers of the world, it is through us the next generation is born, it is with us the next generation learns their first words, takes their first steps and learns compassion, love and hope. We are the light of the world, without us there is nothing. Yet, six out of 10 of the world’s poorest people are women, 70% of the world’s poorest people are women, one in three American women live in poverty.

I struggled with how to approach this subject. I am reminded daily of what is wrong in this nation and worldwide, as women die simply because a man takes it in his head he is owed what is not his; a woman’s body the gift of sex or love, the gift of our gentleness, the gift of our hearts  and our compassion cannot be stolen through violence and cannot be hidden behind veils or high walls.

Before I close this let me say clearly, I do not believe all men are bad or evil, truthfully I love a man. In fact I believe most men are not misogynistic, most men are not rapists, most men do not wish to harm women. What I think is most men do not know by their inaction they enable. The chain women must form across all the boundaries we have today, whether of our making or of society and culture, that chain must include men who believe as we do, that we are ENOUGH just as we are, that we have equal value within society and our contributions as human beings are not just welcome but sought. Were all of us, men and women together to begin to form common cause, the subject of our equality would no longer be subject of debates it would instead be a History Lesson, as would many other Civil Rights issues which frankly require a woman’s voice and a woman’s touch.


 

Things of interest:

UN Women Should

Human Trafficking: The Polaris Project

Human Trafficking: The FBI Files

Do Something Campaign

PCI Global: Women’s Empowerment

Shriver Report

 

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