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.

Dear World . . . Using the power of Birthday Wishes

It’s still my birthday month, plus today is the fabulous Andra Watkins’ birthday, which multiplies the power of birthday wish magic in immeasurable amounts, so I have a few birthday wishes I’d  like  to share.

But wait, you say . . . if I share the wishes then they won’t come true. The wishes I want to share aren’t my personal, private wishes, but wishes that affect many other people. So maybe, if other people agree with my wishes and we all use the power of wishing and birthday magic together, some of the wishes come  true.

So let’s blow out some candles, find a falling star, and make a wish or two for the good of all:

There's powerful birthday wish magic in Andra's decadent looking dessert.

There’s powerful birthday wish magic in Andra’s decadent looking dessert.

 

Wish #1: Educational Sanity

“Whimper, whimper, whimper.”

I pull myself out of my hard-won deep sleep (after a 3 hour bout of insomnia) to the sound  of my daughter whimpering as she crawled into my bed for a  morning snuggle.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?”

She buried under the covers moaning and mumbling something.

“What? I don’t understand?”

“I’m not ready for MCAS long essay. I wish we didn’t move here. I wish I went to school where I didn’t have to take  these tests.”

“These tests are everywhere Sarah. You’ve taken them everywhere, they are  just more emphasized this year.”

“But Massachusetts is in the name of the test.”

“Well, yes, but every state has these stupid tests. That’s the problem. I just want you to do your best and not worry about it. These tests mean nothing about you as a student.”

“I feel like I’m going to fail.”

“I’ll be proud of you if you just try. I don’t care  about these tests. They have nothing to do with you and everything to do with a broken education system.”

“I’ll try, Mommy. I’ll try.”

Okay, so maybe this wish is a little personal. My heart breaks when I see my daughter losing the joy of learning to her stress over achieving some mandatory score on a mandatory test that proves nothing than the fact that these kids know how to take tests. They aren’t learning how to think, to be creative, to challenge themselves . . . they are learning how to take tests.

I wish for a complete education overhaul that does not treat education like a business and teachers like servants who only win rewards if they prove numerically that students are improving, when we all know learning can’t always be proven by graphs and charts. I wish for an education system that embraces creative learning, challenges and questions societal norms, and incorporates all the things I’m passionate including learning through the arts.

Does anyone else wish for some educational sanity?

Wish #2: Governmental Sanity

Okay, since I’m already wishing for the impossible,  I might as well wish for the ultimate impossibility of  a sane and functioning government here in the United States. I am probably naive. I simply do not understand why greed and hatred have such a powerful hold over officials who are supposedly elected to represent the will of  the people. I don’t understand why a body of people can continue to get paid and not fired when they aren’t doing their jobs. I don’t understand why 1/4 of 1/3 of the government (as in 1/2 of the congress which is only one half of one branch of the government) has held us hostage for so  long and can demand unrealistic cuts in the name of more money for the richest few in a country where everyone is supposed to be equal, and get away with it. I don’t understand why we are still fighting for equality for women in 2013. I don’t understand why immigration is such as an issue in a land full of one time immigrants.

I don’t understand anything. I feel we are being ruled by insanity lately, although I must say that some of the people I know who are labelled as “insane” or “crazy” would make wiser choices than many of our elected officials.

It’s a simple wish, bring some sanity back before the US. government destroys everything.

More wishes to come . . . 

I don’t want to overwhelm you with my long list of “soapbox” birthday wishes, but I will explore more for  the next few days, until my birthday month is officially over (although I am actually celebrating into April when I go to my birthday concert so maybe the wishes will continue).

If you knew the power of birthday wishes or any wishes would work, what would you wish for to make this world a better place?

Things that Defy Logic: The Gender Wage Gap

The other day I got an e-mail from someone who had found my blog “after searching for people that have referenced or mentioned salaries and wages.” She told me she was “part of a  team of designers and researchers that put together an infographic showing why the gender wage gap continues to be a growing concern.”  I responded that I was always interested in learning and understanding more, but I didn’t promise her I would spread the information any further.

Today I’ve decided to share that infographic, for reasons I’ll explain below. Click on the image to reach the original web source.

Provided by: LearnStuff.com

While I acknowledge that my salary struggles may have more to do with the  inequity in how universities and colleges pay adjunct faculty, who do the same amount of work (or more) per credit hour as full-time faculty but often get payed ridiculously low wages, I can’t completely prove that my gender does not play a role. As a matter of fact, I know that in the past I have been paid less than my husband for similar work, despite the fact that his highest degree is an MFA and I hold both an MFA and a PhD.

But that’s not the only reason I’m sharing this.

The other day I had an interesting conversation with some of my female students. You may recall that I am teaching a course at a university in another state that is known mostly as a business school. This reputation means that the percentage of enrolled female students, though growing, is nowhere equal to the percentage of male students. When I’ve taught theatre classes of any type at other schools, the females usually outnumber the males in my courses. This differed, sometimes, in my Freshman Comp and Research Writing courses, but overall I would say that throughout my career teaching in academia I’ve taught more women than men.

In this course, Studies in Drama, 12 out of 26 students are female. That’s almost half, you argue, but it would have been a greater difference if I hadn’t scared away about 7 males on the first day of class. While there have been a few duds, overall this class has been excellent. In general, however, the women spoke more than the men throughout the course.

One of these women was checking in with me about some research she was doing on the effect of sleep deprivation on college students. (What does that have to do with theatre, you ask? That answer will have to come in a later post, when I am able to share specifics about their creative final project I mentioned a while back.) She showed me her annotated bibliography for an article entitled “Sleep Habits and Patterns of College Students: A Preliminary Study” from the Journal of American College Health. In the abstract of the article it says,

 “In their sample of 191 undergraduates at a rural southern university, they found that most of the students exhibited some form of sleep disturbance and that women, in general, reported more sleep disturbances than men did.”

“That’s interesting,” I said.

“What is?” she asked.

“That women report more sleep disturbances. Do you think it’s because women feel more pressure to succeed?”

“I think it’s true at this university, at least,” she said. [Note, these might not be her exact words, but the gist of what she said.]

This led to a discussion about how women perform at this specific university. “I think we try harder because this is a business school with more men,” my student said. “We make sure we’re prepared. We take the lead in projects. We lead discussions.” Another female student agreed with her.

In my experience of this class, she’s very right. The women in this class work hard to stay ahead and compete against the males. I would add, however, that in my experience of almost any class I’ve ever taught, women almost always take the lead.

Of course there have been hard-working, outspoken males in all my classes as well (there are a few in the Studies in Drama course), but I’d say that the predominant leaders in any of my classes were female.

Is that because I am female and enjoy mentoring female students, or is it because these women were more committed toward succeeding in my classes and in school overall?

Here’s what I realized as I thought about this conversation and looked at the infographic, the only reason men get paid more is because they have a penis.

That defies logic.

All of my students in the Studies in Drama course are seniors. The majority of them will find work before they graduate in May, or continue on to graduate school. At least one of the women has already found a  job, while many of the men have been going on multiple interviews. Most of them will be working in business or accounting or some related field.

Most of these women will be paid less, despite the fact that they will work harder at their jobs to prove themselves and do well.

That defies logic. It makes sense to pay a person more who:

  • performs better
  • has a higher degree or more training
  • works harder
  • takes the lead
  • contributes new ideas
  • has special skills that contribute to job success
  • etc.

It does not make sense to pay a person more who

  • has a penis.

As the above infographic shows, this is an issue that should concern everybody, because the way women are treated affects every other aspect of society.

Disrespecting anyone based on gender, race, sexuality, or any other defining characteristic  that is outside their realm of control, defies logic.  In my opinion, glorifying and rewarding anyone based on those characteristics also defies logic.

Will we ever live in a world that realizes that a penis is really only necessary for a few biological activities and has nothing to do with a person’s ability to work, to achieve, or to lead? I certainly hope so. If not, I think it’s time for vaginas to take over.

I’d Like to Say I’m Proud . . . But I Can’t

For years I have found it difficult to say, “I’m a proud American.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the number of people who executed their right to vote yesterday, and I’m quite happy with the results. I’m thrilled that so many States voted for marriage equality, and so many people stood up for the rights of all, not just the wealthy few.

But, after an ugly and vicious election campaign, where the voices of other parties were drowned out by the yelling of the big guys and more money was spent on horrific ads then ever (as Andra Watkins so eloquently pointed out in a post called The Campaign Daisy Chain Election Complex), I can’t help but see how broken our system really is, and how far we have strayed from the principles that could make us great . . . could make us truly proud.

In his speech last night, President Obama said,

“This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich.  We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong.  Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.”

But that’s not true. Factually we aren’t the wealthiest (although we are among the top ten). We are, technically, the most powerful military, but I personally question why we should be proud of that. As far as university and culture, maybe we are the envy of some people, but we are the laughingstock of others.

Yesterday I read a commentary by German writer  Jakob Augstein called “America Has Already Lost Tuesday’s Election”. His basic premise is that, no matter who won, the USA has already lost because “total capitalism is America’s true ruler, and it has the power to destroy the country.” He writes:

“The truth is that we simply no longer understand America. Looking at the country from Germany and Europe, we see a foreign culture. The political system is in the hands of big business and its lobbyists. The checks and balances have failed. And a perverse mix of irresponsibility, greed and religious zealotry dominate public opinion.

The downfall of the American empire has begun. It could be that the country’s citizens wouldn’t be able to stop it no matter how hard they tried. But they aren’t even trying.”

I hope to think this man is wrong, but the reality of the past few months where greed and hatred seemed to rule every discussion indicates there is something severely broken in our country.

I just hope we can fix it.

How do we do that? I don’t know the answers. If I did, I would run for office. I have opinions, of course:

  • We need to better provide education that works for everyone, and I don’t mean teaching to the test. I mean providing education that suits the needs of individual learners, incorporates new perspectives, encourages creative and independent thinking, and values the arts as much as the technical skills that can “get you the job.”
  • We need to re-evaluate the control of money in our society. In some ways I wish we could live in a world of barter, but I know that’s not realistic. I don’t know how to solve the problem, but as long as money controls power, we have nothing to be proud of.
  • We need to recognize that the most powerful thing in existence right now is mother nature (evidence of that devastated New York and New Jersey just last week) and adjust our attitude toward life in a way that makes Mother Nature proud.
  • We need to focus on the reality that the world is a crowded place, and we all need to help each other. It can’t be us and them, it has to be WE.

When I spent time living in Japan many years ago, my eyes began to open to the ridiculous-ness of blind national pride–of walking around acting superior simply because we are American.  National lines and cultural identities are imaginary. We are born where and when we are born because of . . . I don’t know fate, God, destiny, or perhaps simply a sperm meeting an egg at the right moment in time. We should only be proud of our cultural and/or national identity if we use that identity in a way that makes us deserving of pride.

President Obama went on to say:

“What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.

The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations.  The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights.

And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism.  That’s what makes America great.”

I agree with the concept of a shared destiny, if we acknowledge that destiny is shared with every living creature on the earth. I believe we do have obligations to one another including those of love, charity and duty–but those obligations extend in every direction, beyond simply patriotism.

When we have recognized that our position in the world is a privilege and a responsibility; when we have taken steps toward fixing what is broken and making the world a better place for ALL not just for self or for country; when we have dropped the horrendous squabbling over human rights, superiority, power and money; then–and only then–will I truly be able to say “I am proud to be American.”

Artists vs. Zombies

This is a repost of a post I originally wrote on June 23, 2011 for Sandra’s “Old-Post Resurrection Hop” at A Writer Weave’s A Tale. Since I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of the arts, and the power of the arts to challenge ideas, I thought I would revisit this post. Enjoy!

“Feed me brains!”

Zombie Sam from terror4fun.com

The Zombie Leader lumbers towards an unsuspecting group of people who blithely go about their business reading, writing and creating. The Zombie Leaders intent to devour their energy and independent wills does not seem to faze them, until he makes his way to each one devouring brains and creating more zombies.

The Zombie leader does not discriminate when it comes to brains, but he especially enjoys feasting on young minds because of their potential to absorb energy and ideas at an overwhelming rate. Catch them young, he thinks, and they will never learn, grow, or threaten my Zombie Kingdom. Of course, he doesn’t really think this with as much insight as that. Really, his thought process is limited to “Brains!” but inside he knows that destroying a thinking, creative populace is what has made him strong and will make him more powerful.

Caught by this creature’s never-ending lust for domination and power, the young people turn into zombies quickly because they have yet to learn how to defend themselves from his overwhelming control.  As his army of brainless drudges grows, the Zombie King gains power over event those who have the skills to protect themselves and others from him. Why? Because these creative people often get so absorbed in their individual projects that they don’t sense his putrid, decaying presence until it is too late.

The more creative energy one zombie can devour, the higher in the ranks of the zombie world he/she rises. And with that strength comes more power and control over the ever-growing army of mindless drones and crucial elements of society which would help the diminishing group of rebels continue to fight the good fight.

But here’s the secret that they don’t understand (if they understood anything, which is a challenge when your brains are in someone else’s stomach):

Zombies cannot exist without artists!

Yes folks. Artists created zombies . We drew them, designed them, wrote stories about them. And while we focused on creating them, they grew stronger and more powerful. They grew to resent us, and their thoughts began to focus on our destruction. They exist because we gave them life,which suggests that we have the power to destroy them.

But I don’t think destruction is the answer. No! As artists our power comes from creation, not destruction. So, if we want to defeat the zombies and protect the creative minds of young and old alike, we must use of the power of our art itself. We must wield our pens, brandish our paint brushes, strengthen our words, mix our colors, build our connections, sing our songs, pronounce our monologues, grow or gardens, dance our dances, create our puppets, share our knowledge, and dream our dreams.

The zombies will try every trick they can–including destroying the foundations of equality and justice. They will attempt to suck the brains out of anyone, especially a leader, who leans towards valuing something other than power and money.

But in the end they will lose because artists never die–we live behind our words, our pictures, our songs, our sculptures, our ideas, and the power of our dreams. We are even capable of turning zombies back into fully functioning humans, or, at the very least rainbows. All it takes is a sprinkle of fairy dust and a lot of hard work.

Artists can rule the world!

This is a Blog Hop! Join in!

What Am I Fighting For?

Official portrait of Vice President of the Uni...

Official portrait of Vice President of the United States . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I’d like to ask you one question right now: Of all the issues important to you, what’s the bottom-line reason you’re with us in this fight?” (e-mail from Joe Biden)

Yes, I know, this was not a personal e-mail. It is an e-mail sent out to anyone who has shown support for the Democrats in the past, and I am on that list.

But the question gave me pause to think.  What am I fighting for?

The list of suggestions in Biden’s e-mail included these important issues:

“For some folks, it’s making sure we’re continuing to create millions of good jobs here at home, and building an economy that’s made to last — not for the next election cycle or the next couple years, but for the long run. Or the idea that we ought to be protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare for future generations of Americans.”

But are those the issue’s I’m fighting for?

I don’t know that I can name a bottom line issue. Why? Because it is all intertwined. Because the things that I get most passionate about involve fairness, justice and equality. All of the things that this country was supposedly founded for, but, in my opinion have disappeared to the gods of greed, supremacy, and war.

I am fighting to regain a country that I can be proud to call my home.

So, what am I fighting for?

  • I am fighting for the rights of children to be educated in a system that supports teachers and supports learning, which does not always mean teaching to the tests, and does mean incorporating arts into the process of learning, because the arts teach us how to be human.
  • I am fighting for the rights of women to achieve all their goals, be payed equally, and have nobody intruding on their rights over their own bodies and medical decisions.
  • I am fighting for the rights of all races, to not have to live in fear of being thrown out of the country for not having their papers, or to be shot down for the color of their skin without justice being served.
  • I am fighting for the rights of the unemployed who got trapped in a system that values money over individuals and now face the reality that greed controls whether or not jobs are created.
  • I am fighting for victims of bullying everywhere, including those who have been bullied by our country. Right now I don’t think the US holds any moral right to judge anybody, when day by day someone attempts to strip rights from someone else in the name of  “God” or children commit suicide because society supports and models a system where the bullies have the power.
  • I am fighting for equality. For gay, straight, transgender, black, white, brown, asian, rich, poor, male, female, atheist, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, undecided . . . the one thing that seems to get lost in all the bickering is that fact that we are ALL HUMAN!
  • I am fighting for the future of our planet. I don’t care how much money gets made or spent, if we don’t find alternative solutions to energy and a kinder way to treat our planet, even the richest will fall victim to their own greed. The ultimate power here is mother nature, not human kind.
  • I am fighting for the right of every individual to have quality affordable health care, and to have access to life-saving medicine without lining the pockets of the wealthy.
  • I am fighting for the right to live and think and be free in a country that is supposed to have been built on the premise of freedom.

So Mr. Biden, I can’t answer your question with one statement of a bottom line issue. The craziness of this country right now cannot be boiled down to one campaign issue, because each of them affect the others. We cannot be a free country if money controls power. We cannot be a free country if one attitude toward religion dominates all, or religion plays a role in politics. We cannot be a free country if men control women. We cannot be a free country if everyone does not get treated equally. That is my bottom line.

Learning the Power of Words: Words and Power

I just read a post called “Why Are Women Letting Men Wage a War Against Them? Cut Them Off, Ladies!” after Good Ole’ Woody linked my post from yesterday to his. In it, he too mentions the “deny sex” option. That made me laugh.

However, as I was reading, I suddenly became very aware of the dangerous power of language and our choice of words. I felt that power surge through me yesterday, as I tried to craft a piece of writing I could be proud of that truly spoke from my heart.  I am, indeed, proud of that post.It seems I always write my best posts on Fridays, when fewer people read. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

In the above post, Good Ole’ Woody wrote:

“Men, women are smarter than you. Let them control their bodies. Let them be involved federal conversations about laws which affect them.  Let women have the leading voices.  Experts agree: We would be a better country if women ran it. We, men, cannot look with pride on what we have done to America. Yes?”

Now, while I agree with the sentiment of this statement, I found myself stumbling over the choice of words. “Let them . . . Let them . . . Let them . . . ” When we let someone do something, it implies that we have the power to stop them, and we give over that power. Women are indeed, and have been for a long time, letting men control the reins. However, men shouldn’t have to “let us” take control over issues that concern not only our bodies and our freedoms but the very future of our country.

This is by no means a criticism of Good Ole’ Woody’s post. I admire and am wowed by the men who recognize that women are their equals if not their betters, and that this whole situation is ludicrous. I only use this as an example of the dangerous power of words, and the danger of using words for power. Like it or not, our language guides our perceptions. In languages like Japanese, the power dynamics of male vs. female become more evident, when even the characters show dominance and power.   For example the Kanji for man combines the characters for rice field and power:

The kanji for “wife” in Japanese (Kanai), combines two kanji 家内. The first represents house, the second inside. The symbol for “husband” 主人 is even more demeaning to women, combining the symbol for “lord, chief, and master” with “person.”

I am not trying to teach a Japanese language lesson, but using what little I know of the language and its construction to show how deeply language can affect perception in any culture. English is no different. The words we choose to use can unintentionally establish dominance or weakness.

I have begun to find my voice in writing, as I keep returning to writing things about and for women, justice and equality. Sometimes I fear I come off as a man-hater, although I never intentionally lump all men in one lump. Sometimes it seems like I cannot avoid making sweeping statements about groups of people, when I know that individuals within certain groups do not represent the whole. I am limited however, by words. It can become utterly unwieldy to try to write in completely non-judgmental, non-gendered language.

The limitations of language can be frustrating, especially for someone who loves to write.

I won’t let it stop me though. I will just be much more conscious as I craft my words, so that I can be heard and understood.

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.

I Have Something to Say!!!

Warning! This is a statement about politics, religion, female issues and sex! Read at your own risk!

I am a woman, and my voice deserves to be heard.

Do you believe women have a right to be heard? Then why aren’t there more women out there screaming about what is happening in our society?

Where are modern day feminists? Being feminist is not a bad word. It means that you believe that people are people no matter whether they have a penis or breasts.

I am a feminist. I believe that women can do anything men can do, except for a few limitations based on biology. We don’t grow as big as men. We aren’t quite as strong. But what we lack in physical strength we make up for in intelligence, talent, stubbornness, and the ability to withstand pain.

So why are so many people trying to push us down? And, more importantly, why are we letting them?

I don’t care whether or not you are pro-choice or anti-abortion. I don’t care whether you are Republican, Democrat or something else. The issues have moved beyond that. This is about power. It is about control.

Control our bodies, control our ability to make decisions about when and how we have children, limit our access to justice when we are raped, control our choices about whether or not we work–and you have made us second-class citizens. Again.

This is what some men want. Why? Because they are afraid of our power. What would happen if women joined together in true feminine power to stand up for what is right? For justice, equality, kindness and sensitivity.

I’ll tell you what would happen, if we can learn to support each other as women rather than tear each other apart because of difference:  the world would become a better place, and men would lose control.

It’s all about power. It’s all about control.

Perhaps you believe that women should be subservient to men, or that the Bible or some other religious tome tells you to behave certain ways or believe certain things. You have a right to your beliefs, but don’t I have a right to mine? This country was made (after destroying the Native American Peoples) because groups of people from all over the world wanted the right to believe as they pleased. What happened to that idea?

Perhaps these books came from a religious source, a God, but they were written down by MEN. The ideas, the rules, the practices were all interpreted by men. The possibility of misinterpretation or intentional misinterpretation can’t be ignored.

Doesn’t that give us something to think about?

Believe what you want. That’s fine. But I want more for my daughter. I want her to grow up knowing that she has a voice in our society, and that she has control of her body. True story, I have been on birth control since I was 16 years old. Go ahead, call me a slut, but here’s my reality– I did not lose my virginity until I was 24 years old. Then why was I on birth control? Because my periods were debilitating, and I could not function without regulating them.

Lose access to birth control, and you are going to see a lot more bitchy women out there.

I also lost a child. I blamed myself because I had started taking an anti-depressant that was not for pregnant women before I knew I was pregnant.  I was crushed! I was devastated. Yet, some of the laws being pushed today would have made that time of my life even worse, because I could have been accused of murder. Miscarriages happen all the time, but if some of the laws pass, women who cannot prove it was accidental can be charged with murder.

Yet, a man who rapes a woman and impregnates her may get off, because this society often blames the victim.

This is no longer about who is the President, or who controls the budget or any of the other divisive party issues out there. This is about freedom and it is personal.

It’s time ladies and gentleman, to stand up for equality for ALL. Women, men, gay, lesbian, transgender, black, white, hispanic, mixed race. It doesn’t matter. We can no longer sit by quietly and let a few pompous, wealthy, arrogant white men clutch to their power and their own fears while making everyone else a second class citizen.

We seem to be lacking in the leadership of women like Gloria Steinem and others who led the feminist revolution. But, we have something they did not, we have the power of social networking. Revolutions have begun because of Facebook and Twitter, isn’t it time for us to stand up against these vicious attacks?

Stand together as women. Stand together with us, men who recognize that women are partners. Don’t let political parties and religion push us back into subservience.

This is my rallying call! If you support it, pass it on or write your own.

I am a woman, and I demand to be heard.

Here are some other posts you should read . . .

Caitlin Kelly at Broadside wrote this post which inspired me to write out my own frustration.

This post, from a (former) Republican, lists many of the attacks being made against women, and why that is so problematic.

The Anatomy of Others

“They are like animals.”

“They smell bad.”

“They are all thieves. Be careful.”

“They just want to take from us, and they are lazy. They do not want to work.”

These are phrases from my past, but they are also phrases from my present. They bring back unlived memories of people being pushed into cattle cars, torn away from their homelands, herded into showers, and ultimately destroyed. They are the words of rape and destruction, of death and abuse, of war.

They were the words used to describe the Roma as we traveled through Slovakia.

I woke up this morning in a moment of writer’s epiphany. While I am no closer to clearly explaining what story I wish to write, what novel I will commit to living and breathing for as long as it takes to finish, I have recognized something important. Every story that I think of involves being different, being other, and learning to look beyond those differences to our common bonds.

I see no difference here. Do you?

I have grown up feeling like the Other. I have always been defined by the things that made me different: my intelligence (which separated me from my peers in school); my religion (as there were only a few other Jews in the classroom and I got to “skip” school on Jewish holidays); my height (always in the front of the line, always working harder to keep up); my financial status (I wasn’t wealthy enough for the other kids in Hebrew School, and when I went to college I actually had to work my way through); my race (live in Japan or Hawaii for even a short time, and suddenly you realize that you will always be gaijin or haole); even my pursuit of theatre and the arts as a career. I feel separate and different, not better or worse, but simply unable to be fully understood because I am OTHER.

I’m sure everyone can define their Other-ness, because in reality the one thing we have in common is that everybody is different. Everybody is Other.

Yet, this attitude of Us and Them or defining ourselves by our groups is the ultimate failure of humankind. Look at our world today. We fight wars of Otherness. In the United States, which was built on the premise of letting people live as they wished in all their glorious difference, certain factions of the government are trying to reestablish the Otherness of men and women and create a world where men have all the control and all the power.

After all, defining Others is really about Power.

Think about it. In Slovakia the hatred between the Roma and the Slovaks has existed for hundreds of years. They all eat. They all drink. They all dream. They all love, hate, dance, sing, smile, laugh, hurt cry.

Shylock:
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter
and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.

The Merchant Of Venice Act 3, scene 1, 58–68

Polski: Kopia zaginionego obrazu Maurycego Got...

Image via Wikipedia

Replace the “Jew” with this speech with anyone from any group (Roma, Muslim, Black, Gay, etc. etc. etc.) and the words ring true throughout all time. That’s why Shakespeare was the master.

The Roma choose to live a life that is different, where their roots and values lie in a different family structure and an old tradition of wandering. While they really are not longer wanderers, their different perspective on life threatens the norm. Anything that threaten’s the perception of what  a majority sees as normal causes a defensive attitude, because after all in a world that sees things as black and white, there can only be one right. If we allow people to live differently, it threatens our power.

So the world becomes a constant battle between Us and Them.

What happens, though, if we recognize that we cannot survive without difference? What happens if we recognize that our differences make the world a fabulous, vibrant place? What happens if we recognize that grasping for power while destroying everything we don’t like will ultimately lead to our own destruction? Eventually, if someone controls difference completely, someone else will come along with a new idea of what is “normal” and what is good. The battle against the Other will never end.

So, whatever I write, I will be writing to celebrate difference and encouraging a life where being Other is how we live and is truly wonderful.

Vive la différence!

A little later. . .

 Beth over at It’s Just Life wrote a post called “Gratitude Dance’ today that included a YouTube video that really fits with my thoughts today. I can’t seem to get it onto this post, so please go visit Beth and watch the video.

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