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Posts Tagged ‘Sexism’

Last night, on the tenth day of protests in our country, three young girls got together on Twitter to organize a march for justice in Nashville. “Know justice, Know peace.” I had slipped out of my cocoon to visit Whole Foods in the afternoon, and was surprised to follow almost ten state police cruisers back home. Since I’m not a teenager, I was left out of that Twitter loop. But I heard the helicopters overhead as I was creating dinner with leftover chicken and chickpeas, so I tuned into the local news.

Last night, for the first time in a long while, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I don’t cry easily, but something about a big, burly Black police officer taking off his vest and kneeling down on the ground with a young girl just got to me. After dinner, we noticed a young woman with two kids in her car had a flat tire at the end of our street. Bob, of course, came to her rescue and we supplied juice boxes and snacks – it was near 90 degrees yesterday in the shade. Does it matter that they were an African American family? I wanted to hug that woman, but we kept our social distance.

I started to think about some of the Black women I’ve known over the years. The beautiful girls in my college dorm room from Atlanta who told me that the problem was precisely that I’d NEVER known any Black people before. Because I grew up in a White suburb, and all the schools and camps I’d gone to were lily white.

My Black supervisor at Head Start in Jersey City. My first real job as a preschool teacher, and she laughed at me when I wanted to pick up all the broken glass outside the school in the middle of the projects. She told me my students had to learn to play among the broken glass.

And my older Black aide who told me the children had to learn that when a building burned down, the people in charge would put up a fence around the rubble and do nothing. And all the time I wanted to fight that belief system, a system that seemed cruel and unfair.

My younger Black aide who told me they NEVER call the police, they only bring trouble. My privileged White brain didn’t understand this at first. My step-father was a judge, the cops in our town were good people. This was almost 50 years ago!

Today is Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. She was an EMT asleep in her bed when a SWAT team of police with a “no knock” warrant killed her. Is this called “friendly fire?” To add insult to this heinous murder, the real drug-dealing person of interest the cops were looking for was already in custody. Was it a clerical error? At first the news called her a suspect! She was doing everything right, working grueling hours during a pandemic. A family member said, if they can kill Bre, they can kill anybody. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/04/869930040/as-the-nation-chants-her-name-breonna-taylors-family-grieves-a-life-robbed

My phone is reminding me to wear orange today – to take a stand against gun violence. Really? I mean, I am still concerned about the NRA in the pockets of the GOP, but I’m more concerned about police brutality and racially motivated modern-day lynchings. I’m listening and learning about racism and implicit bias. For instance, when the Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, mentioned getting rid of “cash bail bondmen” I had to do some research. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/nyregion/how-does-bail-work-and-why-do-people-want-to-get-rid-of-it.html

“The most fundamental criticism of the bail system is that it needlessly imprisons poor people. In 2010, when he was 16, Kalief Browder was accused of stealing a backpack and released on $3,000 bail, which his family could not afford. Mr. Browder spent nearly three years in jail on Rikers Island waiting for trial before the charges against him were dismissed. In 2015, he committed suicide.” Harvey Weinstein had his lawyer fork over a million dollar check.

It made me think about Sandra Bland, who filmed her own arrest in Texas because she failed to signal a lane change. A traffic stop turned ugly. She was moving to Texas for a new job at her old college, and because she couldn’t afford bail, she went to jail. She was just 28 years old and was found hanging in her cell three days later.

Here is a quote by Toni Morrison at the lynching memorial in Montgomery. “They do not love your neck unnoosed… Love your heart, for this is the prize.”  #SayTheirNames

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People are always asking Bob what’s retirement like; do you miss doctoring, what do you do all day? For an old codger he remains pretty busy. He just started flying again, and will have to study and practice to get his instrument rating up to date. After all, who doesn’t want to fly through clouds? And he packed up a U-Haul truck with some of our furniture, drove it over 500 miles to Nashville, and is currently reupholstering some chairs!

Now, if you were to ask ME what his retirement is like, you might get another story. A therapist once told me that he explains it this way to the men he counsels: “Imagine you’re still working, and your wife comes into your office and sits down by your desk every day. And never leaves.”

Is that transparent enough?

The first time I heard the word transparent to describe people and not paper, or windows, was from my psychologist brother, Dr Jim’s lips. Years ago he was talking about people from California, because he’d married Anita in Big Sur and chose to live and work there among the tomato and wine vineyards. In general, he was describing  someone who is happy in their own skin, who is not guarded.

Think of Woody Allen movies, where the lighting is so scorchingly bright on the West Coast, and diffuse and dark on the East.

The next time I heard about transparency was while writing for The Berkshire Eagle. I learned that reporters could access any and all public records. You may not remember this, but back in the day when women had to be married to get birth control and credit cards, many records were sealed, including our own medical records! And then we the people passed “Sunshine Laws!”

Through sunshine laws, administrative agencies are required to do their work in public, and as a result, the process is sometimes called “government in the sunshine.” A law that requires open meetings ordinarily specifies the only instances when a meeting can be closed to the public and mandates that certain procedures be followed before a particular meeting is closed. The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C.A. § 552) requires agencies to share information they have obtained with the public. Exceptions are permitted, in general, in the interest of national security or to safeguard the privacy of businesses. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Sunshine+Law

The Freedom of Information Act was passed by Congress in 1966 and not surprisingly was spearheaded by California Congressman John Moss. If you’d like to look up a Citizen’s Guide to Using the Freedom of Information Act and the amended Privacy Act of 1974, you will find the following quote from our 4th President who lived right over the hill at Montpelier:

“A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.”  James Madison

So we should arm ourselves with knowledge. That. Bears. Repeating. I’ve been thinking alot lately about how this Russian thing is a “Prologue to a Farce,” or perhaps even a tragedy in the form of treason.

Now the third time I thought about transparency was after being elected to a school board. Because it really wasn’t until I found myself on the other side of the table, the side that held closed meetings to discuss policy and personnel, that I realized there is a Yin and Yang, a dark and a light side to everything. Of course we didn’t want to disclose “on the record” why a teacher wasn’t getting tenure, and of course that teacher’s union could appeal to an administrative law judge, but in reality Due Process takes time…

These are the times that try our souls. Mr T has been celebrating Bastille Day, which is like our Fourth of July, in Paris. He was parading around, shaking hands a little less forcefully, while still defending his dear boy Donald Jr from the “Witch Hunt” of “Fake News.” One glaringly inappropriate, if not sexist, remark to Brigette Macron, the First Lady of France, stands out. Looking her up and down he said:

“You’re in such great shape,” then Mr T turned to her husband Emmanuel Macron, nodding approval and delivered one word, “Beautiful.”

Maybe he hasn’t seen many 60+ year old women in his tower, after all he’s traded in trophy wives a few times. We have a lecherous ex-Miss Universe owner for a President who is running our country like a reality show. To quote Olivia, “Let’s get physical, let’s get into physical. Let me hear your body talk.” Is that transparent enough?

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What to do, what to do. It’s almost Shakespearian what’s happening in politics today. In order to differentiate herself from Bernie Sanders, Hillary is not content with listing their voting record on gun legislation; no, she is crying “sexist” in her tea.

“You know,” she began—clearing her throat to signal the sound bite ahead—“I’ve been told to stop, and I quote, ‘shouting’ about gun violence. Well, first of all, I’m not shouting. It’s just [that] when women talk, some people think we’re shouting.” The audience hooted, screamed, and cheered. Clinton grinned. “I will not be silenced, because we will not be silenced,” she declared.       http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/10/hillary_clinton_is_smearing_bernie_sanders_as_a_sexist_it_s_an_insult_to.html

I’m guilty of picking up on it. Oh yes, Katy Perry was all dressed up like Super Girl Hillary and I double liked their Instagram message about how people think women are shouting, when in fact, we are simply talking. After all, any woman over 50 has had to face down sexism. The job interview that becomes a typing test, along with the lingering leg look (or boob look if you’re built that way). The calm training to be more “assertive” and less “aggressive.” The inability to receive credit in our own name! So I “liked” her message without realizing she was attacking Bernie – when in fact this is what he said in the Democratic debate:

“All the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence.”

Now I’m pretty sure Bernie didn’t mean all of the women shouting in the world. In fact his voting record on women’s rights is exemplary, and always has been. He not only cherishes women, he wants us to be equal partners in the world. And Hillary shook his hand when he defended her “honor” about the emails! So this ploy, in my opinion, seems entirely disingenuous.

Particularly when Ben Carson is equating abortion with slavery. Yessiree folks, that’s what he said, what if abolitionists didn’t agree with slavery but just said you could go ahead and do whatever you want? This soft-spoken former surgeon is living in a fundamental, Christian world of his own, with 1.1M Seventh Day Adventists in the US waiting for their savior to return to earth. “The church’s traditional, global focus is now bearing fruit in new ways. Newly arrived immigrants in the United States often come from parts of Latin America or Africa where Seventh-day Adventism has long-established churches, schools and hospitals.” http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-03-18-Adventists_17_ST_N.htm

The GOP and Carson’s kind of thinking, his religious fervor, have nothing to do with the way our country operates. Nothing! It’s enough to make this old feminist’s blood boil over. And Dems, don’t bring out the sex card unless you really mean it. Let’s stop dressing up like super heroes ladies, let’s act like one.

It’s time to screw our courage to the ballot box once again.

Bob's processed meat breakfast sandwich - the epitome of courage

Bob’s processed meat breakfast sandwich – the epitome of courage

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On this beautiful Fall Saturday, I found myself reading about the term “Gaslighting” and watching the documentary film Miss Representation on the OWN TV channel. Now if you don’t know what channel Ms Oprah has moved to, you can just go to the website and put in your demographic info:  http://www.oprah.com/own

Well this got my feminist hackles up, my social justice juices flowing, and made me re-think my plans to go to the gym. Let’s burn our bras ladies and take to the streets! Oh no wait, we did that. But it seems, it didn’t take us very far.

You have got to see this film! It is a documentary call to arms for all of us, women and men, written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.”  http://missrepresentation.org/the-film/

And now about “Gaslighting.” It is an old term, taken from a famous 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman, titled Gaslight.  The plot is simple. Her husband wants her jewels and her money, so he arranges to have the turn of the century gaslights flicker all over the house. When she complains, he tells her she’s wrong. They are NOT flickering, she must be going mad I tell you, MAD! Then he can have her committed, and you get the rest. The term has come to mean in psych circles that a person is being manipulated by another into distrusting their own reality.

This happened to me once. It was The Case of the Missing Charm Bracelet. In the wee small hours before a trip, I had asked Bob to hide my Mother, the Flapper’s, priceless charm bracelet. When we returned, he swore I never asked him and he didn’t hide it, and I ripped the house up, down and sideways looking for it. For 2 years he insisted the bracelet would show up. I insisted he was gaslighting me to anyone who would listen to my rant. And when it did reveal itself, in his desk where he actually had hidden it, he was pretty sheepish about telling me. I wasn’t sure if I should cry or smack him upside the head. 

Thank you to my niece, Jocelyn, for posting this article by Yashar Ali: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yashar-hedayat/a-message-to-women-from-a_1_b_958859.html

The take away here is to love yourselves ladies, just the way you are, and don’t let anyone else gaslight you. Reject the sexually stereotypical media messages about women. Speak up, stand up, and share the light. Think what we could do if we had real parity in government and board rooms around the country. Oh, and I did forgive my hubby, eventually.

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