Archive for the 'government' Category

05
Jun
15

Justice in the Justice Department

Justice in the Justice DepartmentHas justice been achieved in the Justice Department?  With two women in the top leadership positions, perhaps we’re coming a lot closer to equality than ever before.

One can argue both ways.  For example, it could be either encouraging or offensive that a news story entitled, “No. 2 At  Justice Warns Growing Prison Budget Detracts From Public Safety,” should end focusing on the number of women in the room during a staff meeting.  On one hand, bringing it to the attention of the world that America’s current Justice Department is led by women and that there are more women “in the room” overall is a huge step.  Even Yates herself admitted that she didn’t even notice the gender numbers.  In fact, Yates shares that “Maybe, actually, that is the strongest statement of all, is that it’s just not as a big a deal today as it was when Janet Reno and Jamie Gorelick were running the department.”

However, the reason this article caught my ear was the fact that this gender disparity issue came at the end of a story regarding the federal prison budget.  Why is the gender of those discussing this topic even an issue?  One could also make speculations regarding the fact that the gender difference in the meeting was brought to Yates’ attention by her male staffer.  Yates said, “I was in a meeting and one of my staffers, at the end of it said, ‘do you realize I was the only man in the meeting?’”  My question is, had the tables been turned, would this news story have concluded with a male leader commenting on the gender disparity brought to their attention by a lone female staffer in a meeting?  Both this news story and Yates’ remarks paint this incident as a positive move in gender equality.

And it is.  The discouraging fact of the matter though is that the societal norm does not maintain women in the majority or even equally in many areas of leadership in this country.  We are making progress.  It is empowering to see that the Department of Justice has brought justice into its own home.  Now let’s tackle the rest of the country and the world!

Read the article:   No. 2 At  Justice Warns Growing Prison Budget Detracts From Public Safety

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16
Mar
14

undercover exploitation

undercover exploitationExploited.  That’s the best way to describe it.

This morning I went to a conference labelled a “Woman’s Conference.”  It was sponsored by a politician and featured a fancy Hollywood actress talking about the cause she advocates.  We had some wonderful breakout sessions which addressed real women’s issues, but were more on a very personal/private level like diet and finances.  Then we were all huddled back into the main auditorium to hear the main speaker share her message.  And it wasn’t about us.

I found myself looking around wondering where I was?  Was this a woman’s conference or a fundraiser?  Was this about hearing the voice and issues of women or having a captive audience for someone else’s agenda?  Was this a ploy to gain votes?  The answer to all these questions is yes.

Once again, we had been duped into believing that someone actually wanted to give us a time to ourselves.  To recognize that we make up 50% of the population and workforce.  That our issues deserve to be given a voice; a special time to gather and address the need for our society to change, bringing gender equality.

Hundreds of women gathered and no mention of these issues.  Hundreds of women and no voice.  Hundreds of women lured with tips on healthy cooking and how to buy a home in order to silence them further with the messages of others.  Hundreds of women who let it happen.  Oh what I would have given to see us stand and revolt!  To stop that politician mid-sentence and explain to him what a woman’s conference is about; women.

How can we make them hear our voice through their own agenda?  How loud do we need to get before they listen?  When will we stop attending women’s conferences organized by men and instead, organize them ourselves and invite men?

13
Mar
14

making history

making historyMarch is National Women’s History Month.

Does that mean anything to you?  Sometimes it is easy to forget those who have struggled to create a more equal world.  We can take for granted the freedoms and rights that we have today.  However, I think it is also important for us to realize that we ourselves are now making history.  What are the women of our generation doing to further women’s rights and freedom?

It can be easy to believe that there’s no more work to do, but when I look around I see that because we have more power today we have the capacity to bring about even great change.  Ending sexual and physical violence, equal pay for equal work, sex trafficking, sweat shops, sexism in the work place – so many opportunities to bring about awareness and change.

Women change the world every day, just by being women.  The contributions we make are invaluable to society and those we love.  But we’re trying to do everything that we don’t seem to have the time to really fight for each other and for the women of the future.  Now imagine that we don’t even have the opportunity to do it all and we still fight for freedom.  How did women of the past do it when they were even more constrained?

Take some time and check out some amazing women for sources of inspiration at the following link:  Women’s History Month

Maybe someday we’ll find that women don’t need a month for their history because it will be part of the history of the rest of the world.

27
Feb
14

two steps forward or two steps back?

two steps forward or two steps backAre we taking two steps forward or two steps back?

I couldn’t believe it when I heard about the bill presented to the governor of Arizona which would grant business owners the right to refuse service based on their religious beliefs resulting in the discrimination of those with a certain sexual orientation.  What day and age are we living in?  We boast about how advanced, civilized and “tolerant” we are and yet this kind of discrimination still has a foothold in our democratic government?

First of all, how were they planning on determining a customer’s sexual orientation?  Have we built a society so structured on stereotypes that they think they could simply determine a person’s sexual preference based on their appearance?  And if not, will they ask them or even go further as to investigate the personal lives of interested customers?  In a capitalist society it is hardly economical or competitive to exclude and even condemn a potential clientele.  Not only are they losing the persons being directly discriminated against, but they also invite boycotting from all those who refuse to support or affiliate with anyone who participates in that kind of discriminatory behavior.

So what is Arizona trying to accomplish by proposing this bill for business owners?  Ultimately, the business owners will have gain the right to go bankrupt because that is where they are headed with a customer service policy which denies service to its customers.  What kind of world are they trying to create in which one person determines who is more deserving of or has access to something than another?  We’ve been and still struggle with racism, sexism, classism and now we’re going to reward the very people who perpetuate the very things we’ve been fighting against for centuries?

This is a symptom that our fight has just begun.  We have received a warning that our society has become too lax as armchair activists and now we’re faced with a crisis.  How will we respond?  Will we stand by and allow this oppression to continue?  We are the people and we have the power if we unite.  Let us learn from our past mistakes and not let this prejudice continue to poison our society.  Let us not take two steps back in history or allow anyone to stand alone.

 

29
Jan
14

promises, promises

promises, promisesSo I have to address the State of the Union Address.  Frankly, as a woman, I was disappointed.

I’m the first to admit and recognize the need to focus on unemployment and the need to create more jobs.  However, don’t begin a topic if you are not going to follow it through.  Obama finally shares the already overly stated fact that women deserve equal pay for equal work.  Yet he does not say what the government is going to do about it.  Instead, it ends up being another meaningless statement and/or plea to hopefully bring some kind of conviction to employers.  It wasn’t even a slap on the wrist!

Instead, he slyly segways into the need to raise the minimum wage.  He states that women hold the majority of low paying jobs.  Is this because of the minimum wage or because of what you yourself just admitted a second ago – that women get paid less, period!  So once again, women get glossed over and thrown back into the crowd, their issues unresolved and no promises given other than a weak plea to employers to raise the minimum wage.  How does this address the inequality issue?

Not to mention the fact that nothing is mentioned regarding birth control or pervading sexism.  How can we continue to be ignored?  I think this address by our “representing” leader shows exactly how.  His speech has shown us that we are unimportant, not a priority and can be brushed aside.  After all, we should just be happy that he even mentioned inequality, right?  If he says it, then others will listen.

At this point, words have no power if there is no intention to follow through on the actions necessary to support them.  Women do not receive equal pay for equal work.  Tell us something we don’t already know.  “It’s an embarrassment,” he says.  To who?  You?  To our country?  Try to the women who’ve been living with it all their lives and also happen to make up 50% of this country’s vote.  No wonder we feel like second class citizens.  Women continue to be patronized with promises.  However, in this case, no promise was even made.  So what’s it going to take?  Looks like we need to answer that question for ourselves.

16
Jan
14

armchair activism

Ever encounter fiction that reflected real life but the real life seemed less fathomable than the fiction?

Today I began a huge endeavor of bringing to life a scene from one of the most compelling pieces of fiction in theatre:  the play by Lynn Nottage called Ruined.  This play depicts the story of men and women struggling for survival in the Congo.  The author hones in on the women of the play and how they are stripped of their identity just like the land being stripped around them.

Though this is a piece of fiction, the stories of these women echo true in todays’ society.  The war and atrocities associated with the plight of these characters is happening, now.  And that is the goal of the author, to not only bring awareness by giving these women a voice, but to move us to action.  I can only hope that I can direct this scene in such a way which will also inspire those who see it to reach out and make a difference.

armchair activistIt’s so easy to become an armchair activist.  We can sit from on high and look down on all the problems that need addressing in the world.  But when it comes to rising and taking part in the efforts to change or bring relief to those in need, we feel weak and helpless, sitting back in our comfortable, safe and distant seats away from the stage.

Sometimes we just don’t fully understand the complete conflict.  Other times we don’t want to know.  But if we don’t know then how do we discover how to help?  How do we truly find the root of the issue?  And how do we address the immediate consequences of the problems?  It’s easy to throw money at a cause, but where does that money go?  And would your investment be better spent if instead of giving money you give time or training or awareness or education or other donations?

The world is a big place but we are not alone in it.  I find it difficult to listen to the news because of all the pain and difficulty.  But I realize more and more that I have a part to play.  And sharing the message of Ruined with others is one way of getting off the couch.

Here are some links about the war in the Congo:

http://www.warchild.org.uk/issues/conflict-in-democratic-republic-of-congo?gclid=CPP6oaHv57sCFUsV7Aod7h8APg

http://www.warchild.org.uk/issues/sexual-violence-in-congo

 

09
Dec
13

policing ourselves

policing ourselvesDo we police ourselves?  Has the government become a power so strong that we enforce its control on ourselves?

Today as I drove to school I noticed a motorcycle cop at an upcoming intersection.  The light turned red as I approached and I came to a stop.  It seemed strange that when the light turn green for the opposite traffic, that the police officer did not go.  Instead, he waited until I got the green light and proceed to merge into our traffic using his light.  He came up behind me and I started to feel a nervous pit in my stomach form.  What had I done?  Did I do something wrong?  I must have or be doing it if he’s stopping me.

Thankfully, he was flagging the vehicle just behind me to pull over.  I’m not sure what for as it occurred behind me, but I was glad I was not in that driver’s seat.  The incident made me wonder though, why I immediately felt guilty despite my innocence?  I was readily and willing to believe a complete stranger’s judgment of my actions and behavior before my own!  What is the source of this mistrust in ourselves and our innocence?

Have we given so much power to the government that they have become not only our law keepers and enforcers, but our very conscious?  How have they infiltrated our minds in a land of “freedom” and “innocent until proven guilty” to believe that we are wrong and they are right because they wear a different uniform?  Perhaps this is my own paranoia, but I believe that we should not fear those who should be serving us.

I hope that next time if I see a police officer my instincts won’t cause me to question myself, but to view them as my ally to whom I can take my questions.