Posts Tagged ‘support for women

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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28
Jan
15

Get out of your way!

Get out of your wayDo you find that most of the time the thing that stops you from pursuing your dreams or reaching your fullest potential is yourself?

It’s that one voice inside that tends to drown out all the others with words like can’t, don’t , shouldn’t, wouldn’t.  It tells us not to do it.  What is “it”?  Well, think back…when was the last time you wanted to do something that would help you grow or take risk (that wasn’t about being practical and responsible) and you didn’t do it?  Whatever it was, that was the “it.”  It could have been signing up for a class, starting a business or simply choosing to spend time or money investing in your own personal growth.

There are so many things that I want to do and experience in my life that I fear I won’t have the time to do them all.  I certainly don’t need to put another obstacle in my way, but it continues to be a battle to drown out that inner voice of doubt and judgment.  However, I recognize that I am not alone.  The universal power of this conflict was once again brought to my attention while reading a book about women in the mid 1960’s.  The overriding struggle of the women in the book was with that voice, but for them the voice was also more externally pronounced.  In the time during and after the Cold War, many women felt trapped by prescribed social roles and didn’t pursue their dreams for fear of looking like a bad mother, doing something at the expense of their family’s well-being or seeming unfeminine.  Does this still sound familiar?

Despite the fact that that way of thinking was over fifty years ago, it was still only fifty years ago.  In other words, it takes time to change the thinking and/or perception of a society’s gender norms.  And that change begins and ends with us.  We must be the first to believe and say “no” to that voice from the past which tells us no!  It’s a constant battle to retrain the brain.  Why does it seem easier to tell others what they should think or do?  Most times we can see things more clearly from the outside of a situation which is why it is vital to have trusted friends who can encourage us to combat old patterns of thinking.

We can’t erase the past, but we can recognize and identify our mistakes and learn from them.  Sometimes it can be easier and safer to listen to that inner voice.  However, if we do, we not only deny  our true selves, but we perpetuate a false social philosophy which prevents us from obtaining the freedom which we all deserve.  If we are torn within ourselves, we will not be unified outwardly with others.

So let’s get out of our own way!

08
Jan
15

Let’s get busy!

let's get busyMake any New Year’s resolutions?  I did.  Actually, I’ve been thinking of it for quite some time and began it with my last post made in December.  “What was it?” you may ask.  It was to get busy!

The book and motion picture “Wild,” has been getting a lot of attention.   Society’s response to a strong female and her journey through grief to self-discovery has been encouraging.  It’s also been an awakening to the media for the need for more pivotal female roles on the page, stage and screen.  During a radio interview with Reese Witherspoon, the star and producer of the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” Witherspoon referenced the lack of complex roles for women and responded by not only saying, but putting into action her comment:  “…nobody is doing this work.  I might as well get busy and do it myself.”

Obviously we don’t all have the resources like Witherspoon, but we do share the same perspective.  As a result, instead of expecting others to address the needs which have already been identified, I have decided to join Witherspoon and “get busy.”  What does this mean?  I believe that in each of our lives in our own way, we can make a difference to bring about change for gender equality.  From standing up for ourselves or others when confronted by sexism or working to make more opportunities for women available, we all contribute to society’s transformation.  No action is too small, so we must not minimize our efforts.  It’s changing our very way of thinking as a community; embracing our egalitarianism.

Awareness, education and recognition are vital.  However, without following that up with action in our daily lives, our society tends to find contentment with labeling gender discrimination as simply one of many issues which need addressing.  “Issues” tend not to have the same concern as crisis.  Why is it not a national crisis that women do not receive equal pay for equal work?  Why is it not a global crisis that women are surrounded and trapped by violence, rape and sex trafficking?  When perceived as an issue, it weakens the urgency of our condition.   This is nothing less than a crisis which demands action.

So let’s get busy!

Read interview with Reese Witherspoon

 

Support women artists by buying the book “Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed and see the movie.

17
Nov
14

the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?

01
Jul
14

who owns your body?

who owns your bodyWhen will women’s bodies have only one owner?

An alarming report came to my attention a few weeks ago:  women prisoners in California are being sterilized without their consent.  Hearing this immediately took me back to a history lesson on eugenics.  This was only uncovered through audits performed at the prisons.  Which begs the question:  how many have not been revealed?

The control of women’s bodies has been an ongoing battle.  It seems simple enough; one’s body belongs to oneself.  But history has taught us through slavery, labor camps, rape, mail-order brides and the sex trade that no matter what race or gender one might claim, others hold the power of bodies in their hands.  Society labels bodies in order to make actions against bodies “acceptable.”  Society teaches women to believe that their bodies do not belong to them or that they deserve abuse.

Women’s bodies are powerful: they bring life.  To allow someone else to take or control that power is abominable.  Why does someone else need to be consulted for women to make decisions about their own bodies?  How can people justify the right to sterilize a woman without her consent?  More women than men have been sterilized without consent – why is that?  Is there more to sterilization than simply stopping someone from procreating?

These actions continue to remind women that they are not in control of their bodies.  Someone else out there, probably whom we have never met, is making decisions about the care or abuse of our bodies.  How can we take back the control?  When will the body only belong to its owner?

To read the story click here: Sterilization in CA prisons.

 

30
Apr
14

double edged sword of sexuality

double edged sword of sexualityAre women sexual beings without men?

Women’s sexuality has been a source of war and peace (not to sound cliché).  At one moment a man finds comfort in a woman’s body and in another he abuses it.  A woman’s sexuality seems to be something that for centuries has been taboo; perhaps too dangerous to be out in the open like a man’s accepted, “natural” sexuality.  After all, women aren’t sexual beings unless men make them that way, right?

Within one day, I witnessed two perfect examples of our current patriarchal culture’s view on women’s sexuality.  In one class, we watched videos of various performance artists who do work that is very counterculture.  One man performed naked while literally creating art with his own blood.  But that wasn’t what was shocking to society.  What really got people in an uproar was a woman performing naked.  This was an abomination.  The same artist made some recordings which were sexually explicit and were also deemed extremely offensive (while rap artists have been sharing their highly sexual and violent songs for decades).  All I could think of is the contrast between the two; because one was a man it was acceptable and viewed as serious art while the woman was condemned, considered hypersexual and irresponsible.

Upon leaving class I overheard a group of girls talking in the hallway.  One of them said that she was thinking of bringing a man at her work up on sexual harassment charges.  Her friends seemed shocked by this until she shared the absolutely lewd comments made in her presence, commenting on her body with another coworker.  My thought was to ask what kind of work environment was this that made this male feel that it was acceptable to speak that way?

Women’s sexuality is a double edged sword.  We do not have the same freedoms as men to celebrate and embrace our sexuality without condemnation, but we also fight against man’s objectification of us as purely sexual objects.  So how do we navigate this injustice and redefine our sexuality outside the patriarchal society?  Or are we satisfied with remaining merely objects?

26
Apr
14

a chance meeting of vaginas

a chance meeting of vaginasTonight I witnessed and participated in the power of a woman’s voice.

Not only did I get to see the Vagina monologues performed for the first time, but the cost of my ticket was donated to save the education and prevention program at SAVS; Sexual Assault Victim & Prevention Resources.  The statistics are staggering and yet they are not enough for the federal government to find it in their budget to fund this program.  It was an amazing experience to see how a small group of women rose up to fight for this much needed organization by hosting this event.  And the community responded.  Tonight it was sold out!

Make sure it is sold out the rest of weekend or find out more information on how to donate to SAVS at the following:  http://www.vdayoc.com/index.html

What was even more moving and inspiring to me, was the woman I met tonight by happenstance.  There was one empty seat beside me and she took it.  In a matter of minutes she shared that only recently had she taken the journey from being a victim of sexual assault to a survivor, despite the fact that the violation occurred decades ago.  She was afraid to speak up; told to be silent; her culture, her family demanded it.

Yet here she was; beautiful, strong and unafraid; the first night she had gone out by herself in years.  What an inspiration.  She shared how she didn’t know how to get to the venue; didn’t know where to park but found a spot directly outside.  Didn’t have money for the meter and someone generously gave it to her.  She didn’t even have a ticket to the sold out performance, but as she walked up to the window someone was selling theirs back.  And then she and I met.

“It was all meant to be,” she said.  I believe her.  I have never gotten into a car with a stranger, but we were no longer strangers.  She had shared her secret with me.  And it was no longer a secret; no longer shameful or dirty.  She was free.  And I got to witness it.  She was beautiful and hopes to pass on the strength of her voice to others.  She certainly has to me.