Thursday, January 22, 2009
We swim in it daily in our homes, our work and from the media.
While nothing should be considered any worse than the buying and selling of human beings, fairness dictates that we look at the status of ALL women who were brought to this country.
Not just the ones in chains, as were the slaves, but those bound just as tightly by the religious rawhide that classified all women as a possession, by father, husband, son or any male relative.
Not many years ago, women, no matter their color, were chattel. They were not citizens, they were not allowed to gain employment of their own choosing, they could not own property, they were forced to marry the man chosen by their male relatives. They were banished with no means of support unless they agreed to remain as an unpaid, family servant for life.
A few privileged women were allowed some rudimentary education but most were punished if they tried to access it on their own. Her husband could banish her from her home on a whim and take her children from her. The home and the children she bore belonged to her husband. Marital rape and beatings were commonplace and considered to be a husband's right.
It took immense courage and many years for a few fantastic women to change this. The changes came slowly and only after great effort and sacrifice. We saw a great surge in the 60’s and 70’s, after that, women just coasted believing the fight was won.
Not all women, of course. There were many that still suffered from the great gap in pay for equal work or the restrictions on the type of position a woman might aspire to. But the grassroots burned out as the Woman’s Movement moved itself loftily above the common woman and devoted itself to feminizing everything back into the same old mold society was more comfortable with.
Our youth looked for other inequities to champion against and many found the treatment of African Americans one cause they had to support. It was in this same spirit that many women of the present day devoted themselves to helping a black man become president.
But many more women and supportive men saw that real change and progress was in a woman, Hillary Clinton, whose qualifications towered above a Johnny-come-lately, Barack Obama, who had no ties to the Civil Rights Movement; whose family had never known slavery.
When these women and men listened to Obama’s inauguration address they heard the emphasis on founding fathers and MLK as if no woman ever existed along that trail of history – only men. No Sojourner Truth, no Harriet Tubman, no Rosa Parks, no Corretta Scott King was even alluded to or acknowledged for their part in the Civil Rights Movement.
He called for everyone to pitch in and work for his better America and we remembered his gestures and misogyny during the Primary campaign. We women heard him call for sacrifices in Medicaid and Social Security that would grossly affect the old and the ill – the majority of these being women. Since women are paid less than men over their working life, their retirement packages are smaller and they depend on Social Security benefits.
The media still raves about one sentence of POTUS’ Address. We paraphrase it for a more relevant, realistic twist:
Women “have tasted the bitter swill” of misogyny and sexism. We swim in it daily in our homes, our work and from the media. It does not abate; it grows stronger and comes continuously from many sources unrestricted by the very government officials that should be condemning it.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
When someone appropriates one persona after another, it is difficult to ascertain just who the hell they are or who they will be tomorrow. Obama is such a person, slithering in and out, portraying the famous; appropriating their wisdom, passion and ideas because he has none of his own.
We cannot forget how he morphed into President Jack Kennedy while on the campaign trail with uncle Ted and daughter Caroline; Or the elaborate columns and settings where he evoked MLK and Julius Caesar with everything but a wreath around his head and a scepter in his hand.
And what of the omnipotent declarations from his campaign? Just like the Supreme Being in many religions, he was held forth as THE ONE - The One we have been waiting for. JC incarnate? No, nothing less than the All Mighty.
The Hopey-Changey mantra prayer satisfied the masses of youngsters and media but when substance was needed he just took from everyone without sourcing. He denounced Senator Clinton’s proposals one day and the next day claimed many of them as his own initiatives. His cabinet choices have been called, Clintonesque, because he chose several people from former President Clinton’s administration.
Which persona will be taking the oath of office? Some think he will be Lincoln for inauguration day - a reprise of his staging in Springfield, Ill, when he first threw his hat into the presidential ring. Certainly the preparations appear to indicate that.
It’s reported that the bible used to swear in Honest Abe will be used for Obama to swear on, and the food for the Congressional luncheon will be based on Abe’s preferences and served on replicas of Mary Todd Lincoln’s china.
The luncheon’s theme is "A New Birth of Freedom," to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln on Feb. 12. Women, gird your loins and prepare for the birth pangs.
When he announces the members of his administration, he informs us that he is emulating Abe’s "team of rivals". He will also go by train to Washington DC via the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, just like Lincoln did.
The Sunday before the glorious Holy Day, he will hold a rally at [wait for it] the Lincoln Memorial. One can but wonder if he will eschew the Charmin for the old log cabin staple, corn cobs, to wipe his royal a$$.
Too bad there are no Lloyd Benson’s of the Lincoln era who can come forth and tell us, “I knew Abe Lincoln, he was my friend. Obama is no Abraham Lincoln.”
Sunday, January 11, 2009
As many in the world are focused on honoring our next selected president, I honor two old friends who have left the battle field of life and gone on to The Rainbow Bridge. http://www.petloss.com/poems/maingrp/rainbowb.htm
They came to me at the turn of the century. Two small bundles of feathers, one brown, one black and white. They arrived in a big cardboard box and were not pleased at being jostled around during their ride to my backyard which would be their home for the next nine years.
I named the Barred Rock, Xena, and the New Hampshire Red, Gabrielle, and there was no doubt that they would carry out their tasks like the warriors they were named for. On being de-boxed, they flexed and fluttered their feathers into order and immediately began a fight against bugdom that would not cease until they died.
I grow most of my food and am fortunate that my yard is enclosed on three sides with a stockade fence which keeps dogs and most other vegetable tramper-downers out. Not so with woodchucks, who just dig under the fence [but that's another story] or other predators of the insect kind. I will not use pesticides so Xena and Gab were hired on as exterminators. A job they were not only fitted for but one they took on with alacrity.
Besides their diligent warrior-work they kept me supplied with fresh eggs and added their contributions daily to my compost pile. Bird droppings are so rich that they would burn plants if used on them directly so they have to be composted first.
Perhaps best of all and most memorable was the great pleasure they gave me. We often conversed as they followed me around the yard. They had noticed that I stirred up insects which they quickly eliminated so they found uses for me other than food and shelter provider.
They lived off the land most of the year, the exception being when the cold and snows of winter came. I shoveled paths in the snow to a "bath" constructed in a dry sandy area of the yard. It was just a tarp covered area where they could periodically find sandy soil to nestle into and work it through their feathers to clean off the dregs of "cabin fever" induced by days confined to their residence.
We had few differences. The greatest was disagreement about bedtime or roost time. They would happily stay out to near dark on lovely warm summer nights but I knew of the lurking fox and other predators. So I would walk them toward their quarters and just as we got to the door, each would shoot off in opposite directions. Just one example of how smart they were. They quickly learned that when I picked up a shovel it meant worms and they would fly to help me dig them.
And, like me, they got older. In September, Gabby refused a proffered worm and went to her nest box. I stroked her head and thanked her, wishing her a smooth transition. Xena endured on into the next year but she was so lost without her friend and with the cold weather coming on, I fixed up quarters for her in my sunroom. She was a great house guest, entertaining the cats and announcing visitors with a stern warning to behave themselves.
For awhile she rallied and joined into the life in the big house, then she too let me know it was time. I fixed up an open end box and filled it with more of the sweet, dry grass clippings full of summer fragrance that was in her old nest box. I do not grieve their passing, I honor their life and their patience with me. And I miss them.
"I think I could turn and live with animals, they're so placid and self contain'd,
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.
So they show their relations to me, and I accept them;
They bring me tokens of myself - they evince them plainly in their possession."
- Leaves Of Grass by Walt Whitman
Sunday, January 04, 2009
It’s been nearly a hundred years since the Great Depression [GD], and now here we are on the verge of another one. It’s been 89 years since women’s brave and persistent efforts won them the vote. For a timeline of their efforts to achieve this: http://www.thelizlibrary.org/suffrage/index.html
The GD lasted for 10 years and during that time forward, women held onto their slim gains of equality by the skin of their teeth. While men of property and wealth were devastated and several corporate fat cats defenestrated, women, always the most depressed class, suffered more than any other group.
A revival of the movement followed some time after the end of the depression, advanced by WWII, which provided the need for women to work outside of the home. They were magnificent; building planes and ships; working in factories and on farms.
Although on balance, this period ushered in several years of change for the better, some of the changes were cosmetic. Many women took their newfound freedom and ran with it – right into the pits that their mothers had so recently dug their way out of.
And what a boon to men it was when these women took the attitude that they could be and dress and do anything they wanted to. What the women called freedom, the men saw as their just deserts – women were accepting their proper place as serving mankind – continuous eye candy.
Women were allowed better jobs and education by acts of Congress but for many of them it was a bloody battle to secure and keep these rights. The money and power still belonged to the establishment. For many women, to get along meant to go along. It meant to go along with the sexism in the workplace and campus – just laugh and pretend it didn’t hurt.
Others resisted and fought back. Some have recorded their experiences and written about them as fiction to avoid threatened lawsuits. The Gutenberg Project chose one of these, Wild Justice, for their on-line book collection. Anyone may read or download this ebook at: http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/1/5/152/152-h/152-h.htm
One of the most horrific things in the Woman’s Movement for Equality is the incidence of woman on woman misogyny. We can celebrate the many men who support our cause despite the real risks they take from the brotherhood, but oceans of tears cannot remove this blatant perfidy of women.
The mere fact that a superbly qualified woman could win the most votes and the most delegates in her Party’s Primary and be denied the candidacy by the illegal acts of the men and women of the Party should tell you something.
Amy Siskind wrote in A Year Ago Today, about her awakening to the fact that the Democratic Party did not support women. She wrote graphically of how our children have been programmed to hate women by the media.
“It’s when your 5th grade daughter’s friend gets into your car after school one day. And her friend is crying because a gang of boys had acted out on her. And the girl is told she is a “bitch” and a “whore” by a pack of circling boys for breaking up with their friend. And then you see that it starts very early. And then you notice the familiarity of those words as having heard them in prime time on the cable news. And then, with eyes now open, you realize that you can no longer sit at the sidelines and still live with yourself.”
Many women woke up just recently when the male national media went absolutely ga ga at pictures of Obama in bathing trunks. They realized that hard bodies are what many men really desire to look at and admire; women’s bodies were only for carnal conquest and possession.
[We are generalizing here. There are men who have evolved beyond the juvenile developmental stages of reporters and Democratic speechwriters.]
To many men, women’s bodies are in the same class as their cars, sports, boats etc which they own. This may be the true indicator of why they have no compunction in the way they refer to her as bitch, c*unt or barnyard animal. It may also explain why the “preferred” or “prized” woman is a stick figure with breasts.
Many men admire the bodies of a Putin or an Obama and admire the men too, but are content with their own appetites and the resulting beer bellies and DD size drooping male boobs, er, pecs. They walk around our beaches dressed only in shorts. They are kings and privileged to display and enjoy themselves by right of gender.
Women, even those with good healthy bodies or even the “Twiggys”, must keep certain areas of their bodies covered in public. Although décolletage is allowed as it “appeals sexually” to the male, a woman may not breasts feed a baby in public without consequences. As one person said, “women’s breasts are to fondle, not to feed.”
Sadly, many women spend their lives trying to obtain bodies our society approves of, bodies like those that are constantly taunting them in commercials, TV and movies. They may even forfeit their health to attain them.
So what sank the Woman’s Equality Movement? Probably a long list of things but we think at the top of the list was the use of the word feminist and then the splitting off of various groups: economic, sexual preference, race and age for example. Then, and still continuing, came the creation of various cults such as Post Feminist, Neo-Feminist etc, as academia beat the hell out of any common sense, united type movement.
Now we see Blogs attempting to rally women to activism and mercifully they are not all using the feminist word. Just when we need all our strength to pull together, really great, well-meaning people may be pulling us apart. Who has the time and money to support all these great efforts?
Here are just 3 that appear to be making an effort to politically and actively unite women to actively fight against sexism and misogyny: Puma, 51 Percent and The New Agenda – and they are just the tip of the iceberg, there are many more. Is there any way to unite all of us to make a powerful movement that will make it clear that women will no longer tolerate misogyny and sexism?
We saw how easily many women, who formerly supported HRC, turned happily to Obama, ignoring the misogyny and sexism of his campaign.
Will the women of ’09, who are again being hit hard by the economic depression, persevere and rise united again stronger than ever? Or will they just jump out of the windows of expediency again?
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