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We are no longer establishing ourselves as the brightest beacon for freedom or opportunity.

I will never forget my children’s words that day.

I remember where I was when I got a phone call from a friend, who knows I don’t watch much television, and especially not news.  It was early in the morning; the kids had just left for school.  I was cleaning up breakfast.

Turn on your television.

What? Why?

Just turn it on, I don’t even have words, I can’t…. just turn it on.  Turn on the news.

And then, hours of staring in disbelief as one of the Twin Towers was in flames after being plowed through with an airplane.  Then the second airplane. The second Tower. The people running covered in dust and ash.  The horror.  The tears and emotions I couldn’t even describe or put reason to.

I lost all track of time until my youngest son, only in Kindergarten, so only half days at school, came in the front door.  It took me a second to register that he was standing at the door looking at me.  I immediately called him over to the couch to sit with me.  I put my hands on his head, kissed his head, his face, and pulled him close.

How are you?  Did you see what happened?  Did they say anything at school?

Mommy, it’s so sad.

I know Boo.

He turned at looked at the TV, stared for a minute.  I could see so many thoughts going through his young mind.

What are you thinking?

There are so many kids without their mommies or daddies.  So many kids that won’t get hugged tonight.

This child blew me away.  I thank the stars for his incredibly sensitive teachers.  I don’t know that he came to that realization on his own or with their help, but I do know that if they had not been very sensitive to the fact that they had very young and impressionable children in their care, while they were trying to deal with their own emotions that morning, he could have had a very different outlook that day.

Those words would be enough, the enlightened realization that other children would be not just suffering, but unable to find comfort from their parents.

But, from the mouths of babes we find real truth.  I’ve told this story before, maybe 20 times.  But it has not felt more poignant than today.

President Bush came on the television later that night.  The kids and I all watching, listening as he said “America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”

Then, as the President ended his speech, he quoted a bible verse and said, “May God Bless America”.

Now, I am perfectly fine with that in general.  I believe that if you are American, you should pray to whatever your version of God is, that America stays safe.  That’s cool.  I’m even ok with the President quoting a bible verse, even though I do feel there is a little mixing of church and state in that, which by all technicality shouldn’t really be done. But, since the President is Christian, and he is doing his praying to his belief of who God is, ok, he’s entitled as well as any of us.

What surprised me, and has stuck with me is my oldest son, then 11 years old, looking at me, a million questions in his eyes, and saying,

Didn’t the people who flew the planes into the Towers do it because they think their God is better?

Sort of.  These people were very extreme, but yes, they claim they did it because we don’t have the same faith.

Then why would the President say God bless America? Isn’t he doing the same thing?  Isn’t he saying our God is better than theirs? Won’t they come do something else to prove their God is better?

And then my 3 young children and I had a pretty incredible conversation about how the pilgrims first came here to flee religious persecution, and why that was the main reason our Founding Fathers created a government that was separate from any church, so that religion would not guide the way our country ruled itself; allowing the tired, poor, huddled, homeless and tempest tossed because they understood that religion can rule the home, but should not rule the state.

We talked about how the President’s words could make people like those who flew those planes want to hurt us more, but that freedom is what our country is standing for, not God.  That’s why we have freedom of religion here.  Some people don’t want freedom for everyone, they want to control everyone instead; and very often they use religion to control. Being ruled by one religion is exactly the opposite of what our country stands for.  Freedom is what our country is founded on and what we hope to preserve.

It has been so difficult to watch the events of the last year, as the freedom our country stands for is being turned on its heels, when the words of President Bush,

“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”

“Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened.”   (Emphasis added),

have been twisted and turned in on themselves.

We are now in a time when our beacon of freedom and opportunity have been shut off.  Our doors are being shut to the religiously persecuted.  We’re pushing out or shutting down anyone that doesn’t suit the religious beliefs of the ruling party, fit the physical description of the ruling party, or the ‘class’ of the ruling party.

We’re being regularly lied to, gaslighted, slight-of-handed, and fed a stream of incompetence disguised in power.

On one level, this has been very good for the awakening of the people to see how we just haven’t come as far as we thought.  Merely pushing things under the rug, doesn’t make them go away.  Hiding under “that’s just the way it is”, isn’t going to work anymore.

Now more than ever we need the prayers, to whoever you see as God, to pray for America to make it through this intact.  Those who help build our country, feed our country, and strengthen our country, have had their sense of security and safety threatened… by our own government.

Those lucky of you not to feel threatened by this, try to understand that just because you don’t feel threatened, doesn’t mean no one else does.

We are no longer establishing ourselves as the brightest beacon for freedom or opportunity.  Our government is trying to close off entrance to our bright minds, our families, our doctors, scientists, our workers, that come from Muslim countries our government doesn’t have business interests in, or Mexico because “they’re not like us”.

Our government is not only trying to rule using religious beliefs as a motivator, it’s trying to push an elitist, xenophobic, misogynistic back-peddle.

I know it’s going to hurt a lot of feelings out there, but America is not a Christian nation.  We are a nation that allows freedom of religion.  Our founding fathers separated church and state on purpose, so that we could not have a national or state religion.  You cannot claim to stand by the Constitution and also say America is a Christian nation.  You can’t, it’s not true; the First Amendment makes that idea illegitimate.

Church can rule the home, but it should not rule the state.  Choose to or not to use birth control, depending on your beliefs, but NOBODY’s personal religious beliefs should be determining the choice of other Americans.

I don’t believe in abortion personally, I have never had one, but my belief should not rule out the ability of another woman to make that heartbreaking choice.  It’s their choice.  Let God do his own work in the end, it’s His/Her/It’s decision on who is ultimately “heaven” worthy, not ours.

I understand the concept of it being murder, but while there is no viable ability for the fetus to live outside the womb, it’s inside her body.  That gives her the choice to choose how to best take care of her body.  Some people take vitamins, some people take a prescription to keep their bodies and minds healthy.  Sometimes, a woman may need to terminate an unplanned pregnancy to keep her body and mind healthy.  It’s never an easy choice, it’s not made lightly, and it’s none of anyone else’s business.  Trying to create laws about abortion is a religious verdict, and has no right to be part of our country’s laws as such.  And planned parenthood does SO MUCH MORE than abortion services.  Abortion counseling, that happens before any services are rendered, clearly indicate and elaborate on options other than abortion.  Planned Parenthood also offers adoption counseling….

They say it’s so unfair that Muslim men “make” their women wear hijabs, (to cover themselves, to protect themselves from unwarranted stares).  They must stay covered up? That is terrible.  That is abuse of male power.

But, yet it’s acceptable to “make” someone have a child, no matter the circumstances.  No matter their ability to emotionally or physically or financially take care of the child.  It’s acceptable to “make” someone risk getting pregnant, risk getting sexually transmitted diseases, risk not detecting breast cancer.  That’s ok.

It’s morally right to have no option for gynecological health care, but to make someone wear a head covering, no.

And yet, a woman who is raped, will be asked that horrible victim-blaming first question, “What were were wearing?”

They say it’s so unfair that Muslim men “don’t allow” their women to have freedom.  They must be accompanied always.  They’re under their man’s thumb constantly; that’s so terrible. That is abuse of male power.

But yet, it’s acceptable to “not allow” women to have a legal foundation to argue upholding or gaining their legal rights as citizens, because American citizens are still allowed to be treated differently by gender.  Women face far more difficulty fighting for their rights as citizens, if those rights have been violated because they are women. The government can still pass laws that consider men and women as different kinds of citizens.   Yes, still. Yes, in America.

I don’t want any more terrorists in America.  But I sure don’t want an America that sits inside its walls shivering in fear either.  That’s what Shrump is trying to do.

‘Everyone that doesn’t fit into the plan, OUT.’  ‘Quick! build the walls, their coming to get us!’  ‘Aren’t we great?  Look all the bad guys are out there now.’ ‘America first, America only.’ ‘Why doesn’t anybody like us? We’ve been so good to them before.  Look at all those good things we did, very good things, the greatest things, that’s why we’re great.’ ‘Fine, we’ll show them!’

All the -isms are being put out in full force for the masses to feed on.  It’s so familiar.  We’re ok, the -isms don’t affect us.  The -isms are only going to find the bad guys. Only bad guys fall into the -isms, and they’re all bad guys.  Sure, there’ll be a couple mistakes along the way, but it will be mostly the bad guys.

America, wake up.

Please.

This isn’t going to make America great.  It’s going to make America fall.

I want a great America, for my children, for my future grandchildren.  I want a great America.

But, for that to happen, we need our beacon turned back on.  We need to stand for freedom and equality for ALL. We need to have compassion, dialogue, and a standing respect of the land.  Greatness does not come from supreme powers, greatness comes from shared values, mutual respect and understanding.

It certainly doesn’t come from cozying up to Putin, or devaluing the media, or having no ascertainable ability to tell the truth, or repeating propaganda, or hiding personal ties to whatever, or telling everybody in the world fack off, America first, or religious persecution, or racial profiling, or any of the astounding non-American things that have happened in what is days away from only the first MONTH of Shrumps administration.

This guy is what is going to make people like those who flew those planes want to come back again, not saying God bless America.

 

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The Pendulum

The Pendulum

Today, this morning, my heart is heavy.  My soul is crying.  Every place I go, people harm each other.  The -ism’s abound. Racism, sexism, ageism, etc.  The historic ruling method of betterism is as rampant today as it has always been.

I am better than you.  My god is better than yours.  My house is better, my land is better, my job is better, my skin color is better.  My army is better than yours.  My views are better than yours.  And so the Pendulum swings.

Pendulum

One side getting pulled up, having maximum potential.  And as he comes crashing down at those below him, he meets resistance.  The other side demands, cries out that they must be equally high!

And they are right.  But, if they only want to be equally high on a Pendulum that swings back and forth, with brute force in the middle as they meet, only transferring energy from side to side. No one wins.  Equality will never be found.

We HAVE to stop the Pendulum.  We have to get off the ride.

depositphotos_10208334-Pendulum-ride-at-the-amusement-park.jpg

On this ride, no one gets to be equal in anything except their turn at fear.

We are passengers on the Divide and Conquer Pendulum, throwing insults and violence as we careen back and forth on the fear ride.

And this isn’t even a fair assessment.  White Privilege makes one side heavier.  White Male Privilege makes it even heavier.

The Pendulum is only being swung from one direction, knocking into everything else, causing only chaotic energy at the bottom, enabling a few to get pushed upward on the other side of all those in the middle, who are just getting smashed into, feeling the energy moving through them, with no way to get anywhere with it.

All the -ism’s are different ends on the same ride, different end balls getting smashed into by the same originating force.

Many people say I can’t understand what it is to be a black American.  That is undeniably true for the most part.  But, as a woman, I can understand more than you give me credit for.  All women, regardless of color know harassment just by being women.  We know the victim blaming that will come no matter how we were dressed or behaving. We know the fear and risk of deciding to walk down a street alone.

No, I cannot completely understand.  I cannot.  I know that as well.  My status as a white woman has given me privilege, that even as much as I understand, still provides me with more just because I am white.

But I can and do empathize with a great deal of understanding.  And because of that, I also know that the only way for all of us to get equality, is to stop swinging the Pendulum.  To get off the damn ride. To refuse to play.  To STOP killing, harming, insulting, and believing in the betterisms.

YES, it is far more dependent on those who have the privilege to stop swinging their balls.  I know.  I fight for it all the time.  I get into discussions regularly with people who say “I’m not racist.  I’m not privileged. I have black friends.  I treat girls well.”  Who also catcall and judge every girl walking down the street.  Calls anyone or anything that doesn’t behave they way the want a “nigger”.  People who turn their backs on, or blame Person A when a tragedy strikes, because Person A should have …..  People who blame ALL of this group because a few did something horrific.  People, everyday people, riding the ride, comfortable in their discomfort because it’s what they know.

We need to get uncomfortable.  We need to be willing to throw away Betterism first.  Once that one is gone, we can show that all the other ism’s are a form of betterism, and they too can be discarded.  Then, can we look at each other as equal.  Equal in our decision to get off the ride.  Equal in our humanity.  Equal in our choice to stop giving our money and time to fear of not being ‘as good as’.  Because, ‘not as good as’, is a strand of betterism, it’s the fear of not being enough, of being unworthy, of not being significant, of being deprived.  Betterism hits all the basic human fears.  And all negative actions begin in one of these fears.

fears

 

We need to be brave, face our fears, be accepting of each other, stop, JUST STOP needing to be better than in order to feel self-worth. And for Pete’s sake, STOP KILLING EACH OTHER.  STOP BEING VIOLENT.

I support the #BlackLivesMatter movement in part because I have a black son, but more importantly because any mother of a black child shouldn’t feel guilt for having had their child, shouldn’t feel fear every time they leave the house, and shouldn’t have to go to  their child’s funeral because someone else couldn’t face their own fears, and chose to be violent instead.

#noonedeservesviolence  NO ONE.

We have had amazing leaders who proved that peaceful protest is better than war, better than violence, unites instead of disenfranchises, and gets things done quicker.  When the aggressor feels there is justification in being aggressive, it only strengthens the viciousness of the cycle.  Peaceful unity, standing together in all of our understanding that we don’t really know how to do it just right because we’ve never had an example of how to before.  All we know is that we want to give our children a future that doesn’t involve the Pendulum; a future where we have stepped off the ride; a future where we are equal, blessed in our diversity, but equal in our humanity.

My hope and prayer is that enough people feel the same, that we can collectively get off the ride quickly.

Love and light to you all.

 

Happy International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day to all of you.

Though it is a day to celebrate women, it is also a day to remember.  A day to remember strong women like Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, Mother Theresa, Marie Curie, Maya Angelou, Tina Turner.

Maybe more importantly it needs to be a day to remember the not as popular, not as well known, and even the not as strong women.  They are the reason we need the strong and public women to continue to rock their badass selves. 

The unspoken women.  The trying to fit in women.  The not sure what to do women.  The I want to be brave, but someone might hurt me women.  The don’t know any different way of life women.  The under someone’s thumb women.  The just living every day women.

They are the reason we need an International Women’s Day.  A day to recognize that women are just as vital, just as capable, just as deserving of the rights of life, as a man.

But, for me, most importantly, we need to remember that women, start as girls.

Recognize the diversity, the importance, the strength in girls before it is systematically stripped from them.  Before they are repeatedly taught to believe they are less than, let’s remember.

Celebrate the humanity, the capacity, the ability in our girls.  Don’t insist they must be a round peg to fit in the round hole that social norms created.  Give girls the belief that they are, because in fact they are, capable of learning, doing, being, wanting, finding, creating anything they choose to.

As this International Women’s Day comes to an end for me, my wish is that, from birth, we give our girls what they need to be the strong women we are preparing the world for. That we continue to recognize the worth of women.  That we respect the difference and diversity of women.  That we carry on with the work to bring light to the injustices of objectification and minimalizing.

Light and love to you all.

 

Understanding how deep we are invested into the abusive cycles.

Understanding how deep we are invested into the abusive cycles.

Once upon a time I loved Elvis Presley.  My parents played his music all the time.  I knew every hit song by heart.  My sisters and brother and I would swing dance in the living room to Elvis and lots of other oldies.  His musical movies were a highlight to my not so light childhood.

Fast forward through troubled early teens and into an abusive marriage and through to finally getting divorced.  On the upside of that fast forward, I was lucky enough to have been a full-time at home mother to my three amazing children.

So those first few years of their spending every other weekend away from me, were exceptionally difficult.  Not just because they were the first times in their lives I’d ever been apart from them for more than a school day, but also because I knew they were spending the weekend with a man I had divorced because of his violent, manipulative, controlling and harmful behaviors.

I can’t even describe the first weekend.  But I made a plan, of sorts, for the next few.  And one of those included going to my childhood happy place and watching an Elvis marathon.  I rented every Elvis movie at the Blockbuster down the road.  Yes, back in 2002 Blockbuster was still open.

I made popcorn.  I got Twizzlers.  I was set to get through a weekend in a happy place that ignored the real world and existed in song, dance, and “the good ‘ol days”.

And then I started watching and what caught my eye, even back then when the self-loving person was just being formed.  When I was barely learning how to see abuse for abuse, I stopped watching after the 4th movie. I had seen Elvis hit a girl in every one and couldn’t handle that reality.

Here I was finally learning it wasn’t ok to BE in a situation where daily concern for what would happen was normal.  I was finally learning how to stand up for myself and not accept abusive behaviors.  And I here in my happy place, I was seeing that it was in fact ok and accepted by one of my childhood idols.

In my last post a fellow blogger and Elvis lover mentioned that he does not hit a girl in every one of his movies.  At first I was going to re-watch them and check for myself, to make sure, because I did make a blanket statement.

However, I feel that even if he doesn’t hit a girl in every single movie, which I will easily admit I may have exaggerated with saying every single one, the comments on the blog I feel prove my point better than describing the movies.

This is in NO way a personal note.  This blogger’s comments represent the ideology I was addressing in the last post, the idea that we are all in on this brain washed, brain washing dance of abusive cycles.

It’s not her, but she helps illuminate how we’re caught up, how often we don’t recognize the beginnings, the first ways that we are taught how to be victims and that violence is acceptable.

So please, be understanding and know that I am not using the comments in a personal way, but in a so many people think this way she just happened to be the one that said it, it’s not about her it’s about what the comments represent generically.

“….he only hits ronnie to try to revive……The Trouble with Girls is to sober Sheree North up –

and he also disiplne spanks a girl in Blue Hawaii and threatens a spanking in Fun in Acapulco –

it’s the response to girls too young and otherwise, it’d the girl actying hysterical….”

Part of  me is crying on the inside because I know that I used to believe that there were acceptable forms of violence as well.  It has been one of the most difficult processes within myself to see how deeply I have been invested into abusive cycles.  It is overwhelming to see how deep we are all invested in them.

I am also very lucky to have been in many more non-violent situations than violent ones, as an adult.

Because of that luck I can say with full knowledge that there is NO reason to revive, sober up, or discipline a girl with violence.

I have passed out from drinking too much and been revived without a single hit or smack to any part of my body.  I was revived with gentle hands pushing hair out of my face, a glass of water to my lips and requests to drink.  I was revived with a helping shoulder to get me to stand up.

I had a seizure in Mozambique when I got Typhoid Fever.  I was not revived with any form of violence, not even a shout.  I came to with people around me worriedly saying my name, holding my head, and basically protecting me.

I have had multiple panic attacks since my attack/ assault in Mozambique.  None of which were met with a smack to calm me down.  In fact, I think I would have completely lost my mind if someone had smacked me at that point.  And not in the mental institution way.  People spoke calmly to me, helped me get my breathing under control through their words and their own breathing.  They sat beside or spoke with me on the phone.  No one even hinted at thinking about smacking me, even when I seemed completely hysterical.

And, unless you are playing out an agreed upon sexual role play fantasy, there is absolutely NO time it’s ok to spank, (even if I was ok with spanking small children), a full grown girl because you think she’s misbehaving.  It is violence meant to assert dominance and superiority.

I don’t need to watch any more Elvis movies to show that they did their work.

The idea that there are acceptable times and forms of violence against women continues to be imbedded into our generation.  Spanking, hitting, smacking are all ways to hurt, intimidate, remind of “place”, and dominate.  None of them are ok.

They are not even ok with children.  We are not our children’s dominators – we are their teachers.  We shouldn’t try to control their actions and commit them to submission to what we think is right for them.  We need to teach them to discern what is right for themselves and how to think through situations to make their own conscious decisions for their behaviors.  They are not our property, we are their mentors.  We are how they learn to adult.

Hitting children teaches distrust and fear.  It also teaches them to believe there are acceptable forms of violence.

The beginnings of the cycle are difficult to discern because it’s a circle, it’s the chicken and the egg.   But the only way to stop it, is to see it.  We, as a society, are so very deeply rooted in these cycles that it’s extraordinarily difficult to see the pattern.

SO I ask you to rethink the answer to the question:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

So she didn’t get eaten.

That chicken finally realized that no matter the amount of feed, hay, barnyard fun with the rooster, or whatever else made its life the norm it knew; that chicken finally realized at the end of the day it was going to get eaten, so it left.

Elvis, is not to blame for the violence in his movies.  He didn’t write them, he only acted and sang in them.  And, he is also a product of the ideology that violence against ‘people seen as less than you’ is acceptable.

We all have the moments when we feel that someone is less than we are.  We are taught to.  If we hadn’t been taught to for generations, there would be no reason to have to bring awareness to the rights of others.

We have to bring these awarenesses because, through White Privilege, we have been socially conditioned to believe that any one not a white, affluent, heterosexual, Christian male belongs in a hierarchy of ‘LESS THAN’s’.

We have to bring awareness to minority rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, etc because we are ‘the less than’s’.  Through standard Divide and Conquer practices, all the ‘less than’s’ are fighting separately and therefore remain less than.

And we all subscribe to it.

Minority women and non-minority women are fighting over whose women’s rights are more valid to fight for.  Though the LGBT community stands together on some fights there are still the lesbian activists that are anti-man, gay or not.  There are gay people who are racist and black women against immigration rights; the list goes on and on.  One of my very good friends fights hard for LGBT rights, but still thinks the Confederate flag, a symbol for fighting against the US government in order to maintain slavery, should fly proudly – because that’s what he was raised with.

If the Confederate flag had represented fighting the US government to maintain enslaving anyone identifying as gay, he would think differently about that flag.  But the divide and conquer approach works really well.

We remain glued to what we’ve been taught, right or wrong, even while trying to fight for our own power back.  Our need for habit and creature comfort keep us in the cycle, keep us from seeing the cycle, keep us divided, and keep us abusing and victimizing each other.

Violence is one major part of the abuses that keep the ‘less than’s’ subdued, controllable, and less than.

We, all of us, have to see abuse as abuse and stop it.  We have to see all forms of violence as abuse, and stop it.

There are no acceptable forms of violence.

No one is above consequence for violence.

No one deserves to live in fear.

No one deserves violence in their lives.

What do you think?

.

 
 
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