One Hundred Years

I’m not sure what a Feminist, by definition, is.   Is it wrong for me, a woman in 2018, to announce I’m unclear as to the classification of Feminism and the voice it should have?  Maybe. But I’m sure I’m not alone.

When I hear or read the word ‘Feminist’, the image of Gloria Steinman immediately pops into my head.  She standing at a podium with her shoulder length hair and aviator glasses, demanding equality for women; equal work, equal pay.  Sexual harassment is wrong and is abhorrent on all levels.  The fight for social programs, abortion rights, resources for women in domestic abuse situations.  Is that dating me?  Probably, but I’m not so old that I don’t understand this ‘new’ movement which really isn’t new, in so much as it is different, somehow.  Different in only that it was brightly lit by the glare of the Hollywood sign and the women who decided they’ve had enough hiding and not enough justice. We’ve had our champions the past one hundred years, or so.  Suffragettes, Frances Parker and Emmeline Pankhurst started it with protests for the right for women to vote only to be imprisoned where they were violently force fed with tubes shoved down their throats AND up their rectums when on hunger strikes for their cause. Held down by doctors and ‘wardens’ as the tubes were shoved into them to ‘sustain their life’.  More like, sustain their suffering.   The torment they were forced to withstand was not without lasting physical affects, later causing strokes and serious health issues. Men stood with them, also being imprisoned for helping women, be…well, women.  The right to vote, to have a voice in the future of their country.  To be heard.  To be accepted and valued.   Women suffering for their issues is nothing new.

And here we are, some 100 years later….

The fact that the issue of women’s rights is still an ‘issue’ is both appalling and horrific.  Sexual harassment in the workplace, in the classroom, in the doctor’s offices, in the PLAYGROUND…not to mention domestic abuse, workplace equality – being treated like a human being is, apparently, a difficult task these days.

Will this movement fade into the background like it has so many times before when the media gets tired of the same stories told repeatedly by different women?  When the male editors of the newspapers and the producers of the news outlets decide that ‘we’ve given them enough air time, on to something else’ and the collective consciousness takes a breath and it’s all whisked away into the foggy murky unknown. Again.

When do we stop blaming ourselves for the egregious actions of men, and start demanding they take responsibility for their actions and words and bad decisions? Probably around the same time we discard the notion that standing up for ourselves is ‘unlady-like’.  Or try to undo the brainwashing of pretty = perfect, or the million other ridiculous traditional insidiousness that was meant to ‘put women in their place’.  Whatever ‘place’ that was supposed to be.

We continually put ourselves in the background, in the category of “oh, it’s okay, I’m fine, thanks.” When really we aren’t.  Fine, that is.  At all.  None of this is ‘fine’.  When the old fashioned ‘traditional’ raising of ‘girls are sweet and quiet, boys are rough and ready’ should be abolished along with chastity belts and silence = permission.

I don’t proclaim to be a ‘feminist’ but in my mind, if you identify as a woman, you are by nature a feminist.  You stand for being a woman.  To be respected, valued and heard like Every. Other. Human. Being. On. The. Planet.

I support the women who have been abused by a man or men and have not received what they need to become a whole person again. It’s not something to ‘get passed’ or ‘to forget about’.  It’s a violation of trust.  Of human dignity.  If it’s as simple as an apology, THEN LETS HEAR IT, if that’s what she needs.  Justice if that’s what is necessary.  Jail time. Penile amputations.  You know…WHATEVERSHENEEDS.

Let’s remember this is an ongoing ‘issue’ (ugh.) social constant?  ONGOING BATTLE? Whatever you choose to name it #Timesup or #Metoo, it needs to disappear. A history of suffering is enough for any one species to endure.

Let’s make #Itendshere

I like that one better.

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The Power of Words

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore
I heard this quote a couple of weeks ago when I was re-watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I knew I loved it and had to use it. I just wasn’t sure when or in what context. I do now.
A lot has happened, not just in the world, but in my little world. Free speech has become a focal point of conversation and not just in the verbal sense, but more in the written form of expression. Opinions, good or bad, warranted or totally off-colour, have been splashed all over the place. It’s as if people have lost all sense of common sense and simply spew whatever the hell they want and hide behind the phrase ‘Je Suis Charlie’. It’s like if you spread that phrase, it covers you from any backlash that may come your way. I disagree. There remains a sense of responsibility when writing anything and publishing for the world to view. That responsibility lies solely on the shoulders of the creators and the publishers. There is a responsibility at its basic sense, to the intended audience of your diatribe. You are responsible for your words and expression and how to portray your opinion without slander, prejudice or discrimination. At least, that’s how I see it.
Je Suis Charlie’ has become a theme song, an anthem; almost a patriotic stance on free expression of ideas and creative thought without fear of persecution and violence. When the men and women in France were slaughtered in the name of terrorists seeking some kind of twisted ‘revenge’ for portraying caricatures of their prophet, the world stood up and raised hands in rage and ire. A horrible tragedy that only exacerbates an already tormented world. The global environment took to their pages, took to the streets and took to social media proclaiming the terrorists have crossed lines not only killing innocent people, but also in thwarting the freedoms we hold near and dear; they have killed in the name of their prophet over animated caricatures. Ones they found offensive and blasphemous. The freedom to print and write and draw our opinions and publicly display those opinions is a right to all persons in a democratic society, offensive or otherwise. The option to object to the offensive material, to demonstrate and disagree is an option these terrorists decided to ignore. Instead, they chose violence.
The world profusely declared Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom to your opinions and views. Disagreement of those views is allowed, and welcomed. If we do not have differing opinions, we do not have valuable discussion and discourse on what is ethical and what isn’t, what is right and what is wrong and what is allowable in a civil society. Physically threatening the creators of the ideas, in the name of disagreement, is abhorrent and criminal. ‘Je Suis Charlie’ I will rant along with everyone else.
Just when I think freedom of expression has reached a valuable and justifiable position, I read an article like Pathetic in Pink. This article appeared in a local newspaper, The Northeast Avalon Times and has caused a backlash of epic proportions. Moms of little ‘white girls with blond hair and blue eyes’ everywhere, me being one of them, were appalled, disheartened and angered by the author’s words. They were spelled out paragraph after paragraph, denouncing the colour pink; the apparent ‘superiority complex’ that these little four year olds possess as they prance around in their convertible Barbie cars and princess tiaras. The author states, “I actually dislike little girls with princess wands and blonde hair. I react to them the same way I do when I turn over a log or a stone and find creepy albino bugs wriggling around underneath.” That’s right. She compared little girls to creepy albino bugs. She called the late Princess Diana a “suicidal, bulimic, pitiful, manipulative neurotic”. The late Princess publicly suffered from depression, a debilitating mental illness and the author’s description of a beloved Princess, while offensive, is ignorant as well. Princess Diana brought world-wide attention to the growing AIDS epidemic among children. Her charities continue to raise money and assist children in need in third-world countries and her memory is living on through her sons. I personally think Harry is a hoot. Not bad for a blond-haired blue eyed Princess.
After this article hit Facebook and the torrent of angered moms roared, the slightest of defenses arose, I believe from the author’s camp, saying this article was supposed to be ‘satirical’, and a column on modern parenting. I’m not laughing. Neither are a lot of other people.
Freedom of the press? This article was her opinion of how she views what she calls ‘princess girls’ and their ‘pinkness’ is repulsive to her. If she was trying to sway people to acknowledge that gender stereotyping is wrong and that children should not be compartmentalized into one single hollowed-out hole, but should be allowed to play and be who they are without prejudiced and judgment, then just say that. Why go on a journey of offensive language portraying CHILDREN as superior princess-wannabes who have ego issues and attitude problems?
I’m all for freedom to express your opinion in any form you like, but I’m also an advocate for objecting to those opinions and the freedom to disagree, peacefully. So I’m disagreeing. Strongly.
The author has refused to comment on her article and I find that disturbing. Were you aware the backlash that awaited you when you wrote this? Don’t hide behind a banner that was forged through bloodshed and say ‘Je Suis Charlie’…freedom to express my opinion. Where does the responsibility lie? Take some. When the opinion borders on language so offensive as to set off a firestorm of ire, I think that banner is waning a bit and there needs to be discussion. From both ends.
Je Suis Charlie lives on in all forms of expression and when we disagree, we are opening dialogue, inducing change and forging freedoms for all in the future, but it also comes with a responsibility. When you use the public forum to express your opinion, be prepared to justify and clarify. Take this opportunity to attempt to explain the intent of the article, instead of letting it stew in the collective conscience. Peaceful and constructive discourse is a cornerstone of democracy and just as the author has a right to her opinion, so do the public in responding and disagreeing if they so choose. I don’t hear anyone asking for a recanting of the article nor for an apology. I hear outrage, disappointment and a defense for pink-wearing, fairy-winged blond princesses, everywhere.
Words arecapable of inflicting injury, and remedying it….”