Wishing for Equality

Today I choose to use Birthday Wish power on the big issue of the day:

Marriage Equality!!!

I choose to write about this today because today is the birthday of another wonderful woman/blogger/friend, Kathy from Reinventing the Event Horizon. She is also one of the few bloggers whom I have met live and in person.

Meeting fellow bloggers Kathy McCullough and Tori Nelson. Picture borrowed from Kathy's post about the experience. Click on the image to read that post.

Meeting fellow bloggers Kathy McCullough and Tori Nelson. Picture borrowed from Kathy’s post about the experience.

Kathy and her partner Sara are two  of the most amazing, caring, intelligent and talented women I’ve ever met, and I have met a lot of amazing, caring, intelligent and talented women.

They are also one of the most loving and supportive couples I’ve ever known.

Kathy and Sara

They, and so many like them, deserve to marry if they wish.

So today I choose to use the power of birthday wishes, tapping into the power of Kathy’s birthday, to wish that the Supreme Court recognizes that equality for all doesn’t mean equality for only the people who look/think/act/love and behave like one group who wants to define and control everyone else.

Equality for all looks like equality, plain and simple.

Today I Speak for Women

I know, I cannot speak for all women.

But I still have to speak.

I am a woman. I have a brain, a heart, a body, a mind. I have feelings and emotions. I can think for myself.  I can support myself. I am educated, perhaps over educated.

I am a mother. I have also lost a child to a miscarriage.

I am a wife, but I lived single for more years than I ever had a partner.

I have been sexually molested, not rape exactly but molestation. I have only shared that story with a few. In addition,  I have large breasts, and in my younger days they become objects of lust and ridicule. I have felt shame in my body, and fear because of my body.

I have been silenced and I have spoken up.

But no matter what has happened I have always believed that I have value and that I offer more to society then just the ability to give birth. I have always believed that women were equal if not stronger than men. I have always believed that women could stand against tyranny, if they could only learn to stand together rather than compete against each other.

I have always been grateful that we had moved beyond the time when a woman was property of first her father, then her husband. I thought that we were slowly coming closer to recognizing the value of all human beings, no matter what race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or any other defining characteristics.

I guess I thought wrong.

Every day, every piece of news I hear makes me weep or scream! I become angrier and more ashamed of  who we have become with every ounce of injustice that is being introduced into our country, as hypocrites try to push us back in time where women are nothing but property and the only people who matter are the ones who look and act the same as everyone else.

Today I speak for women. Today I speak for gays. Today I speak for immigrants. Today I speak for anyone who is feeling oppressed by a government out of control and a group of righteous people who clamor for their rights to believe what they believe while trying to control anyone who believes differently.

I have had enough!

I decided to reread Lysistrata by Aristophanes, a play about women from different countries who unite together in withholding sex until the men of their worlds agree to declare peace.

After all, this fight has become about sex, religion and power.

What would happen, I wonder, if we gave into the demands of no contraception and no sex before marriage? If we said, okay, don’t give us contraception but then we will not have sex until we are ready. Well, some would argue, it is a wife’s duty to have sex with her husband. Okay, then we choose not to marry until we are ready to have children, until after we have created our careers and lived the lives want to live. We will not marry until after 30 or 35 or maybe we will choose never to marry, and we will not have sex before marriage. Having children will become more difficult, but at least we won’t be on birth control.

Is the next law going to be that women must marry before they are 25? Are we going to become nothing more than property again?

Now I am not foolish enough to think that anything like Lysistrata could actually succeed. The women in that comedy won, because they banished egos and overcame their own libidos to stand strong together for peace. That could not happen now, because there is too much disagreement between women, and because women compete too often against each other. Nor am I foolish enough to blame all men, or only men, for the craziness happening in this world.

The only thing that I seem to be a fool to believe is that somehow people will ever recognize that equality, justice, fairness and peace are more valuable than power, control, money, and war.

I have no answers, but I have a voice that needs to be heard. I can only hope the more I speak, the more I write, the more other people might join their voices.

We can only fight this insanity if we join together as a group, and agree that our diversity makes us stronger. We can only fight this insanity if we recognize that every person in society is valuable, and that nobody is more important than anyone else.

I am a woman, and today I speak for my daughter.

Support or Encouragement?

“I love you and I support you.”

I’ve heard this phrase a lot lately, and for some reason it makes me cringe. I’m not sure why. I thought perhaps I should explore my reaction in order to understand and break away from it.

Let’s start with the dictionary definition of “Support”. According to dictionary.com support means:

“1. to bear or hold up; serve as a foundation for.
2. to sustain or withstand (weight, pressure, strain, etc.) without giving way; serve as a prop for.
3. to undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission; tolerate.
4. to sustain (a person, the mind, spirits, courage, etc.) under trial or affliction: They supported him throughout his ordeal.
5. to maintain (a person, family, establishment, institution, etc.) by supplying with things necessary to existence; provide for: to support a family.  . . . “
 There are  many more elements to this definition, but I think I can end it here as the two definitions that I’ve highlighted give a hint to my discomfort; particularly number 3.
I don’t want to be tolerated as I figure out my next steps in life. I don’t need the support of anyone else. But what I do need is encouragement. I need belief. I need enthusiasm. Maybe that all falls under the definition of support, but I guess in my own warped and twisted view of the world that word implies that I am incapable of doing something without someone else providing for me. That is not true.
I am capable of supporting myself and supporting my family. But, I do acknowledge that it is easier with a partnership where nobody bears the burden of support–where we collaborate to achieve in equal parts.
I guess it is all about semantics.
Are there any words or phrases that rub you the wrong way? 

A World Sliding Backwards

I had a little wrangle with bureaucracy today and gave up in a fit of frustration (or maybe a temper tantrum).

I simply wanted to accept my current reality and change my driver’s license from Colorado to Kansas. I admit, I clung to the Colorado license for a couple of reasons. Ostensibly, I held onto it because we owned the house in Durango, and I thought it would be good for one of us to still be considered a resident. In reality, though, I did not want to say good bye to Durango, and even more I didn’t want to embrace my existence in Kansas. There was also the fact that they took a really cute license photo last time, and I didn’t want to let it go.

But, we officially closed on the house and it looks like I’m stuck living here for a while longer, so I figured it was time to give in and get a new driver’s license.

“Do you have your birth certificate and marriage license?”

“Well, no.”

“A current passport will do. We need you to prove your married name.”

“But I didn’t change my name when I got married. I’ve had this name on every license since I was 16.”

“We need your passport or your birth certificate and marriage license. Oh, and proof of address.”

“Well, I’m moving into a new rental in a few weeks. I was hoping I could put that address on.”

“Not without proof.”

Needless to say, I still have my Colorado license for a while. I have my passport, but I could not deal with the bureaucracy anymore today. Besides, I feel like the passport isn’t going to be enough, because I kept my name when I got married. Its like I did something wrong, daring to maintain my identity and keep my last name.

Don’t get me wrong. I see nothing wrong with taking your husband’s name when you get married. But for me, it didn’t feel right for a number of reasons. I reserve the name change for my future (imaginary) career as a radio talk show host a la Dr. Ruth–then I will become Dr. Lisa Lee the Love Dr.

We could be twins. 😉

What really bothers me about all this was the implication about my name. I suddenly recognized that marriage, in the eyes of some laws, means that I am the property of my husband, or at the very least his legal responsibility. I mean, nobody asked him for his marriage license when he changed to the Kansas license last year. Why should I have to provide mine?

I am the property of nobody. I am responsible for myself.

Is that craziness, or just Kansas?

Well, after I finally finished jumping through bureaucratic hoops (I also had to pay for my tags today–a nice chunk of change) Sarah and I got lunch at the only coffee shop in town. I read the Tulsa paper as I was waiting only to be repulsed by the fact that Kansas is trying to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, while also forcing them and two other agencies that provide abortions to go through some inspections to grant them the right to perform abortions–inspections which might inevitably fail in pulling those rights (they’ve already yanked it from one of the three). That would make Kansas the only state to not provide any resources for this as well as the first state to pull all funding from a State Arts Council.

So basically, I believe I am now living in a state that wants me barefoot, pregnant, and the property of my husband without the ability to support myself by doing the work I do the best which involves Arts Education.

You know what scares me the most? The potential that our country could easily continue to slide in this horrific direction–backwards to a world where equality exists only in the mouths of men.

 

The Balance of the Detail

When I created my little award the other day, I sparked an interesting discussion on the role of detail in writing.

So, for the sense of clarity, I’m going to go a little more into detail about what I meant. 😉

I’m not arguing for long, drawn out passages of purple prose that try to paint a picture for the reader that would be better done through a visual. Nor am I arguing for sentences that wrap words around each other in a complex convolution that ultimately has no meaning or does not move the story forward. I’m the first person to skim through those verbose passages as my inner vision never matches the description anyway. I will put down a book that tries so hard to be linguistically beautiful that the author says nothing with a lot of words.

No, the magic details that I referred to are those simple details that bring a story or a passage to life. Those details could be expressed in a few words, but with those few words an entire character/place/emotion comes to life. Those are the details that I want to learn to weave more strongly into my own writing.

I’ve been reading argument paper drafts this morning. One of my students wanted to argue about gay marriage, and why it should be allowed. Now, I obviously support gay marriage, but this particular student’s paper was completely unconvincing. The only argument he used was the fact that in  America “every man is created equal.” He kept repeating this argument throughout the paper, until he threw in a list I’ve seen before of sarcastic arguments about why gay marriage should not be allowed. (He also did not cite the list properly, but that’s a whole different issue).  We all know that our country doesn’t  really practice what it preaches, and gays are not the only ones who suffer because of it. So, without more details, his argument suffered because it wasn’t really an argument, it was a rant.

That’s my problem, rants without support. Rants without details.

As I was thinking about this post this morning (since about 4 am when insomnia struck again) I remembered a poem I wrote a while back that I haven’t really shared. Why? Because this poem came from the details around me, and I think those details support its meaning. It is not perfect, but I thought I would share. I am putting this in as a PDF, since I can never figure out how to make the formatting on my poems work.:

HOUSE OF BITTERNESS

So, to sum it all up, don’t worry that I am going to bore you with long, detailed descriptions of meaningless drivel. My challenge to myself is to learn to  perfect my use of  details, not to abuse them.

Finally I will share with you a couple of images I am stealing borrowing from my brother, because I love the details.

I’d Like to Introduce . . . Myself

“”This is Lisa Kramer, the wife of our new Technical Director.”

“This is Sarah’s Mom, Lisa”

“This is Lisa Kramer who has a Ph.D. in Youth Theatre.”

These are the ways I have been introduced lately, or some combination of them. Most often, and most disturbingly, is the introduction as “Nathan’s wife.” Not that I mind being Nathan’s wife, but around here it seems like I can only be identified in that way, and it bothers me. In parting the other day a guest theater artist actually said “So will I see you later Nathan and (pause) wife.”

His wife’s reaction to that was as disturbed as mine was. I love Nathan. I love my family. But I am the last person to see myself as a super successful wife or mother. I’m too selfish for that, and too desirous to be identified as someone or something else. How’s that for a blatant, ugly truth about myself?

Here is the thing about these introductions: THEY DO NOT EQUAL ME!!

For example, the most professional of these identifications pigeonholes me in a frustrating way. True, I have a Ph.D. in theatre for youth. But, in the eyes of many professional theater artists, Theatre for Young Audiences is the bastard stepchild of the theater world. I love it, and I love the power of arts and theater to change the world. I also, love doing theater with and for adults.  My first terminal degree is an MFA in directing. I worked as hard, in different ways, to achieve that degree. In many ways that is the more meaningful degree. (There is a long story behind that).

Also, despite those being my degrees, I have spent the past 5 years teaching research skills, writing, honors, and general education programs. Where does that fit into this definition or label of who I am professionally?

Whenever I ‘m asked to write a bio about myself, I struggle with what to put in and what to leave out. I find it impossible to define myself.

I remember going to a mini-high school reunion once (actually it was a retirement party for my high school drama teacher) and running into someone who I knew when he was a baby. I asked him what he did, and his response was “I’m a dad! I don’t like to define myself by my job.” He said that with a positive sense of identity. He was so proud of that particular role in his life. He had a good job, but chose to identify with his role as family man. I was impressed with that, because most men don’t do that. I don’t do that.

I wonder if my struggle with identifying myself as wife and mother is connected with my desire to see women as capable of anything in this world. Or is it simply my ego at work? Probably that.

I’d like to introduce myself, but I can’t because I cannot put myself into a simple definition.

So, for now, I am Lisa Kramer, a complex version of me.

Does that work?

*******

I’m adding this the next day, thanks to my friend Sue who pointed out that best thing that I can be is a friend. So . . .

Hello, I am Lisa. Good friend to wonderful people like my partner, Nathan, my daughter, Sarah, and all of the other people who make my life so rich, like Sue.

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