I’ve often felt like a bit of a poser during Pride as a married cis-gender heterosexual woman. Pride is supposed to be a party, and while my heart has always been grateful for the party, I often felt like I was invading a space that didn’t represent me. But this year, I felt like I truly wanted to be present to let people I care for know that I truly do stand with them and want them to have their parties and their safe spaces and I want them to feel loved by all, and safe. Veronica mentioned that they were going, so I agreed to go with them. And then I realized they were marching, and we were welcome to march with them.
I was thrilled. I mean who doesn’t like marching in a parade, right? Especially when it is one of the biggest, prettiest parades the city offers up. So much color to see, so many amazing outfits, so much giddy joy. And this was exactly how I felt as we milled around waiting for instructions on what to do, how to march. One of the organizers told us where to get a poster to hold.
The goal was to begin the parade with a group of poeple carrying a poster for each person murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. 50 posters. 50 faces. 50 people dead. I was sad, but kept thinking to of how Pride is the largest party of the year in this area, and we would somehow turn this into a party. Even though we were marching to show respect for their lives, and show Chicago’s unity with Orlando, I was trying to stay focused on the celebration. Incidents like this shooting are why Pride parades exist, after all.
With a shout through a bullhorn and dance music blaring behind us, we formed rows and began a couple mile walk through several neighborhoods in Chicago that I knew would be full of faces, many that I hoped I knew. But I was surrounded by people who were joking and laughing and hugging and so very happy to be together, that I didn’t stop to think how seeing this as a spectator would be. Tens of thousands of people prepared for a party were faced with such visual proof of the murder of 50 people who had been partying in a safe space. A space not dissimilar from the Pride parade.
And as we walked, we all muttered to each other “I didn’t think about how hard it would be to see so many people cry.” And that’s what we saw. So many faces of people crying, people trying not to cry, people looking away so they wouldn’t cry. People who looked us in the eye and said “thank you”. People who hugged themselves and sobbed uncontrollably. I saw several people who I just wanted to hug. I grabbed the hand of a few sobbing strangers and squeezed them, because they were so eagerly reaching out to make a connection with a caring stranger. Grabbing the hand of a man who is crying and saying “thank you” and trying not to cry is hard, y’all.
It’s been 48 hours, and I’m still humbled and awed by the experience. There are a handful of memories that feel “very Chicago” to me, and this is now in that group. I walked for about 4 miles and saw every sidewalk we passed full of people, and in many places the sidewalks were packed deep. There were people on almost every balcony, hanging out of almost every window. I knew this was a well-attended parade, but I’d not realized how many people came out to see it, until I saw all of them. And there are so many faces that I won’t soon forget. These are some of them:
• A young girl of around 7 or 8, asking her mother “So he hurt all of these people? But there are so many of them!” As her mother cried and held her tight.
• Another young girl with a sign that said “I love my two dads.” While her fathers stood behind her, holding her, holding each other, and cried.
• The CTA bus driver in the cooling station taking pictures and blowing kisses to us.
• Two young police officers looking at the signs, reading the names and saying to each other “It’s just too many. Too many.”
• The older drag queen who openly wept without a care for her meticulously applied makeup.
• Two young, very young, women holding a sign that said “Just Engaged!!” while they held hands and cried.
• Two older women, one of whom had a cane, who held each other as one said “We should have done more to protect them.” Her partner replied with “What could we do?”
• The group of young Asian man glammed up and crying with no care about how this looked to strangers.
• So many people my age or older whose chins quivered, faces were wet with tears, who just raised their fists, or flashed a peace sign, or blew a kiss, and several who couldn’t look at any of us but cried nonetheless.
• So many young people who didn’t cry, but who just looked shocked, and a little scared.
The parade passed one of the largest dance clubs in Boys Town, the nightclub likely most similar to Pulse in Orlando, and the group of shirtless men dancing with glee just stopped when they saw us and grabbed hands with each other and others standing nearby.
So many faces. I spent the parade fighting back tears. But I wanted to look as many people in the eye as I could. I wanted to see them. I wanted to see their pain, and their anger, and their hope. I wanted them to see a stranger looking at them and seeing them, seeing how they felt. I wanted everyone I passed to know they were surrounded by people who felt the same way.
And it was overwhelming. It was physically exhausting to walk from Uptown through Lakeview to Lincoln Park, some of it spent holding a very large sign made heavier by the cooling breeze off the lake. But it was more emotionally exhausting to be a part of the largest memorial I’ve ever seen.
I was doing well through the parade. Tearing up a little, but not really crying until the end. We rounded the final corner and heard Purple Rain blaring out of a speaker. And I looked to my right and saw a dozen people, who didn’t seem to be together, crying. Ugly crying. It was too much. I lost it and looked at Tony who quickly looked away from me so he wouldn’t cry.
We all wore t-shirts that said #weareOrlando. And for an hour on Sunday, I truly felt like we can hold each other and get through this pain and make our world safe for everyone. No matter who we love. I’ve looked in hundreds of sad eyes and I need hope to prevail. I need to hope that the Pride parade returns to being one of every city’s largest parties.
And my wonderful husband created a time-lapse video of his view of the crowd during the parade.
The apology I wanted
Thankfully, very thankfully, Ani Difranco made a true apology. And she thanked people for calling her out. This was the apology wanted. This brings tears of relief. I cry easy, so they’re real tears.
Thank you, Ani.
Open Letter to Ani Difranco
About a week ago Ani Difranco announced that she was going to be leading a retreat at Nottoway Plantation about an hour outside of New Orleans. This retreat would let a select group of attendees receive one-on-one attention from Ani and several other musicians who she has played with and helped get published for years to help them become better song writers. On Saturday, many feminists online began criticizing her decision to have a retreat on a plantation. On Sunday, Ani published a reply to her critics and announced that she was cancelling the retreat. As a vocal anti-racist, feminist, and anti-corporate activist since at least 1990 when she released her self-titled album Ani Difranco, her decision to have a retreat on a plantation was a surprise to many. And her cancellation announcement was a disappointment to many.
Andrew introduced me to Ani in 1996 and to say her words changed my brain, touched my soul, and inspired me to be better would be an understatement. She, her words, her business model, her focus affected me. She got me to critique many things I hadn’t thought about. Her business model affected how I run my own small business and it certainly helped effect how I thought about organizing a craft show for 10 years. I adore Ani, her work, her words, her influence. I had the chance to meet her briefly in 2004 when we saw her at a hotel lobby and I was so nervous that I couldn’t even say hello. So my dear friend and constant encourager Veronica said hello and thanked her for me. I’m still grateful for that.
However, today I’m saddened. A woman whose wise and challenging words have had such an effect on me, let me down. I still adore her. I still love her music and the effect she has had on me. But I hoped for more. And because I’m reeling, my thoughts are all over the board and unfocused and I hope that listing a few bullet points will help me process into something cohesive.
Some basic facts and my thoughts:
• Ani didn’t organize the retreat. A company approached her to do a retreat at an unnamed location just outside of New Orleans. She knew others who had used the organizer and liked the idea of spending the nights in her own bed. This makes sense. Organizing events like this is a lot of coordination and it is easier to have a company with established resources do it for you than to try and do it for yourself. And since Ani still has a young child, I can’t blame her for wanting to spend time in her own bed and see her child each day.
• Ani has spoken out for more than 20 years about how corporate profits and racism and sexism have had lingering effects on American culture and we need to challenge and think critically. I don’t doubt for a second that Ani trusted the organizer, whether that is because she trusted other people who had worked with them, or because she knows the organizers personally, I’m not sure. She says that when she realized that the conference was on a plantation she said “whoa”. I’m not sure what pushed her from being skeptical of the location to agreeing to have continue on with the retreat. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she tried to challenge for a location move and the organizer had her tied to a contract and she took the easier route. But that is an assumption based on my adoration of her, and not based in fact. I strongly feel that as soon as Ani found out the retreat was on a plantation she should have at least done some investigation to find out how the current plantation owners portrayed the history of the plantation, and the history of slavery in general. Why? Because if you’re going to ask women, many of whom are descendants of slaves, to return to a plantation and pay for the privilege of sleeping on ground previously slept-on by slaves or sleep in rooms previously slept in by slave-owners, you better know that the plantation is working to present the crimes of the past in an honest and healing manner.
• The Nottoway Plantation is the largest antebellum plantation in the country, and one of the largest plantations in South when it was active. It had 155 slaves and 42 slave cottages. None of them are still standing, but it is assumed that they were 2-room shacks. It was a sugar plantation built in 1859. The history page on the website seems to smooth over the treatment of slaves and says that slaves were paid a cash bonus based on their output. Each field slave was expected ot produce 270 gallons of dried sugar during harvest. Of all the different types of plantations, sugar plantations were the worst. The work was the hardest, most dangerous type of work. There is no down-time on a sugar plantation. In order to make a profit, there had to be a huge swath of land planted with sugar cane. The cane was planted in February and manually tended daily until October to January when the harvest would happen. Because the harvest often required 14-18 hour days to get done on time, it was common for all sugar plantations to pay cash to the slaves during this time. It wasn’t uncommon for as many as 10% of the slaves to be injured or killed during harvest. Most injuries were caused by the sharp scythes used to cut the cane or being injured on the machinery that the cane was fed into. Because of the high risk of injury, and because of the unending physical labor required by the work, slaves were encouraged to save the money they earned so they could buy their freedom when they were a little older and less valuable.
• Ani’s statement doesn’t contain any of these words: apology, apologize, regret, or sorry. That makes this not an apology. Just a cancellation announcement and her sharing her thoughts. And sadly the tone of her statement seems to be that she is more upset that she’s being challenged than it is that she understands why the anger existed and that she takes ownership of being the source of that anger. For a woman who encourages us all to “dig deeper” and who says “If you’re not angry, you’re just stupid, or you don’t care,” this seems out of character. And this leaves her critics to ask “Are you stupid? Or do you just not care?” And for a woman who has made a career, a business, a support system for other musicians, based on not being stupid and caring till it hurt, this response is erratic. The tone of her statement scolds people for being angry and attacking her for having the retreat there. And her gut told her it was wrong, but she proceeded anyway.
The family who built the plantation hasn’t owned it since 1889. It is now owned by a Australian billionaire who supports many conservative causes. Considering how Ani didn’t want to sign a standard record deal at the age of 20 because she didn’t like limits being placed on her creativity, because she didn’t like her hard work resulting in profits for large companies that she didn’t support, second-guessing this location seems obvious to me. I’m curious what caused her to not second-guess this location, to not do further research into the owners.
What do I think she should have said?
i have heard you: all who have voiced opposition to my conducting a writing and performing seminar at the Nottoway Pantation. i have decided to cancel the retreat. I am sorry I gave approval to have a retreat focused on creativity at a location that glamorizes plantation life and slavery. Thank you for sharing how hurtful this action was and I will share more later.(The bold are her words. See, she started to get it right.)
Why is it wrong to have a retreat on a plantation?
Having a white woman make money on the site of some horrible atrocities against Africans and then African-Americans is a bad idea. Having an expensive (to many, not all) retreat based on creativity appear on the ground where people died brutally and had no rights ignores the history of the land.
So can nothing be held on a plantation? Like Ani says, pretty much everything south of the Mason-Dixon line, and many things to the north of it, were built by slaves. And no matter where in the US you’re talking about, white people stole the land from others anyway. Does that mean she/we should avoid ever doing any events in the South?
It’s hard, if not impossible to find a stain-free location in this country to host something where no one was treated unfairly, killed undeservedly, or taken advantage of. However, having a vocal anti-racist, feminist, activist be the figurehead for an event on any plantation that isn’t run to promote anti-racist and feminist work is problematic on its face. And even though the original ruling family isn’t earning the profits, the location does seem to either minimize the effects of slavery on the slaves while glamorizing the life and the family who owned and ran it. Ani is right that there are many locations in New Orleans that have slave quarters and now rented out as apartments or hotels or used as guest houses. And I don’t think they should be torn down and have something new rebuilt in their place. But their presence shouldn’t keep us from criticizing her choice to be the figurehead for a retreat on a slavery plantation. I did a short google search to see if there was another location just outside of New Orleans that would have been large enough to host an event of this size that is run with the intention of providing a more accurate history related to slavery and I couldn’t find one. My hope is that one exists, but it is possible that this was the only location within a short driving distance that provided the amenities and had room to host the number of people expected. So, I’m not sure where else she should have had the retreat. And, I’m honestly not sure what should be hosted on a plantation. But, if your even the slightest bit curious what it would be like for a black American to work on a plantation now while interacting with the public, then you have to watch the Ask a Slave. It is hilarious and sad at the same time. More items like this are needed to help us create the healing and understanding. I hope that plantations don’t always gloss over the hard parts of our history to make it easier for white people to ignore the truth. It is very likely that the great-great-grandparents of myself and anyone reading this post were affected directly by slavery in some way, even if they weren’t a slave or directly owned a slave.
What are your expectations of Ani now?
I would like her to apologize. Succinctly accept that she made a mistake, apologize for making that mistake and for deflecting the understandable anger in this statement. I would hope that the organizer is able to present a better location for the retreat so everyone interested (and able to afford to go) can get the experience they were hoping for. I would love to see her explain, likely more eloquently than I, how to accept the history of our country while honoring the positive and hopeful and peaceful changes in the world that she has strived for with her music. I would like to see her answer some of the direct questions that her fans and women of color have asked her. I would like to see her lead a conversation that explains to all of her fans why it was problematic for her to agree to have a retreat on a plantation, especially to the many out there who didn’t see what was wrong with it.
I would like her to
Dig deeper, dig deeper this time
Down beneath the impossible pain of our history
Beneath unknown bones
and let us all dig with her.
How to be an ally
I spent a lot of time writing about feminism as I began blogging, and for several years after that. And then I stopped writing about feminism, I barely read much about feminism, I even find myself not really thinking about feminism being one of the first words I use to describe myself these days. And that is mostly because I’m not up to date on the feminist world and I’ve not had the energy or brain power to write much of anything for years.
And this week, that has made me very, very sad and disappointed with myself. Feminism gave me a framework to process a lot of the feelings and thoughts and perspectives I had but couldn’t truly understand. And for me, feminism has never just been about gender. It has always been about how class, and race, and sexual orientation, and gender identity, are entertwined and related and embedded in each other. I’m grateful and feel very lucky to have had teachers in college, when I was beginning to learn about feminism, challenge me to have a truly intersectional approach, even if I didn’t hear that word for many years.
One of the first, and one of the most enjoyable classes I took as I worked toward my minor in women’s studies, was a class on feminism and African American literature. I was one of 2 white students in the class, at a university where it was rare to have 2 students of color in any smallish class I took. It reminded me of being in high school. On the first day of class, my professor who was African American, a lesbian, and seen as being the “perfect” teacher by many of the teaching assistants I’d talked with as I tried to map out the classes I would take, asked me and the other white woman in class: “So, what the hell are y’all doing here?”
I answered first: “I’m here to learn about how feminism is portrayed in African American literature.”
My professor smirked, asked the second woman the same question (I don’t remember her answer), and then turned to the rest of the class and said, “Now, what they gave as answers represents their personal opinion. They do NOT speak for ALL white women. Keep that in mind as we discuss things. Feel free to attack, dissect, or question their opinions, but do not expect them to speak for or defend every woman who is white in America.”
This floored me. And I welled up, and I was so unable to process my thoughts, and even 20 years later this still seems so weighty that I can’t process all my thoughts about how I feel about this statement and about how safe this made me feel in class. And it worked. We had amazing conversations. I learned so much from my classmates and from my professor and from the texts that we read. I could almost feel my brain and my heart growing after every discussion.
And at the end of the class, as I got my final paper back (a paper I came across recently) I read my professor’s comments. “You have learned enough in this class to be an ally to all black women in the United States. Thank you for pushing yourself. And thank you for making me think. Keep asking questions.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)
And that comment made me feel so very proud. I still feel my heart swell remembering reading that for the first time. But I had no idea what she meant by being an ally. I never got the chance to ask her, and it was years later when talking with gay rights activists that I truly understood what it meant to be an ally. And I sort of shrugged in an “of course” kind of way. I mean who could consider themselves a feminist and not be an ally.
And then I remembered sitting at the National Organization for Women conference in Columbus, Ohio in 1996. I was there with a press pass to write an article for the student newspaper at The Ohio State University. I was covering the final discussions to determine what the political agenda would be for the organization. It was my first experience with something so official and formal and huge. The discussion was held in the same auditorium that had help the family of my high school graduating class. And it wasn’t packed, but the auditorium was full.
Toward the end, a woman to my left filed a motion to ask that NOW include transgender women’s issues. I don’t remember the particulars, but I remember looking at the faces of the several women seated to my left. They were nervous and anxious. The request was turned down. The tone was almost dismissive. I was shocked. And I kept thinking, “but they’re women. Why can’t we include them in this?” And as the session ended, I turned to the woman nearest me and I said “I’m sorry that didn’t go in your favor. I can’t understand why it wouldn’t. If I had a vote, I would have voted in your favor.” She shrugged and the group of women continued talking amongst themselves, obviously angry. And I felt shame in an organization that I had admired and looked up to.
And this was the first instance where I began to realize that how I felt was not typical. And I’ve seen many other instances over the years where the large organizations that I looked up to and that I supported financially and emotionally were not supporting everyone. They were cherry-picking, and in many cases their executive directors were rude and disrespectful toward non-white, non-middle-class, non-straight issues. And I’ve grown appalled and I’ve grown weary.
And I think my disheartened feelings have contributed to my withdrawal from reading about feminist issues and participating in the feminist blogosphere. There have been many times where I’ve seen something that made me angry. But I didn’t process or write about it. I saw things that people would write or say and it would anger me, but I would slough it off and shrug it away.
And this week, I want to apologize for not being a more vocal ally. Hugo Schwyzer made me uncomfortable, but I couldn’t figure out why so I just ignored him for the most part and thought that maybe by following him on Twitter I would figure out what irked me about him. But I rarely read his tweets. And I was conflicted because early proponents of the feminist blogosphere that I read were publishing his writing and speaking positively about him. And because I firmly believe that men CAN be just as feminist as women. And because I truly do believe that redemption is possible and that we must forgive people who commit wrongs but learn from them, I chalked my unease up to being uncomfortable with his past and I trusted other feminists to do the work for me.
But the problem is that I trusted white feminists to do this work for me. I don’t read many blogs these days. And many of the blogs still in my RSS stream that were written by African American women have been silent for a long time. They’ve changed urls, or pseudonames and I haven’t followed them.
I don’t think that if I had followed these people that I would have spoken out about him, and about the attacks he levied on them to the white bloggers of note who I would occasionally read. But I might have. At least in the comments. I don’t have the authority or the power to change things. But I could have let women of color know that I supported them, that they weren’t alone. I could have been a better ally. But I haven’t been a good feminist, let alone a good ally of late.
I’m disappointed in Jezebel, I’m disappointed in people I’ve respected. But now, I also have a new bevy of people to follow on Twitter and blogs to add to my reader and readings to absorb. My computer time is still limited, but I hope to make better use of it. I hope to remove this sensation of being “disconnected” from the world by expanding my horizons. I’m disappointed in people who supported him despite misgivings (just like myself) without looking to see who else he was hurting and how.
I’m grateful to all of the women of color who have spoken up, who have shared their frustrations, but who are willing to continue talking instead of shutting down. I’m hoping that a release of anger, combined with white women quietly listening and trying to understand, will push things toward change. I’m grateful to the women of color I’m lucky enough to know in person who have tolerated my ignorance and helped me to learn. I have a lot to learn, but I intend to work on that.
And I want to close by suggesting you read this comment about what the difference is between racism and white privilege. It’s making me think and chew.
Fired for speaking out
So, I wasn’t sure I would ever read, let alone link to something on Jezebel, ever again. But then I read this story(and I can’t believe I’m linking to them) on a woman who was fired for complaining publicly about sexism at a tech conference. Sexist comments that were made while a speaker was discussing how important it is to make women feel welcome in tech, btw.
And now I feel like I have to comment. From the perspective of a manager, and from the perspective of a business owner (even without employees), but if I’m paying someone to attend a conference on my company’s behalf, and if my company is sponsoring an event, AND I find out that my employees were making sexist jokes at the event with my name attached to their body, you can bet I would dole out punishment. If they were making these jokes at a bar, after hours, without their badge on, I’d probably have a discussion and make sure my expectations were clear. But if they’re sitting in the audience within earshot of anyone who is attuned to the issues of sexism in the tech biz making sexist jokes and not caring about who is connecting MY business to their comments, I think I would fire them. At the very least, there would be severe punishment. But if after a discussion and they didn’t understand why their actions were wrong, I would have no qualms about getting rid of them. Especially in this economy where it isn’t hard to find someone else who can fill their shoes. So, yes, I do think these dudes deserved to be fired.
I would also say, that if she were working for me, I would prefer that she handle this situation privately. I don’t mean confront these guys (that isn’t her responsibility), but a DM to the conference organizers would have been better than a public calling out. That said, I think firing her was a bad move on SendGrid’s part. Now their name is brought into the story. Which is probably not what they expected. OR it is what they were hoping for and now they’re reveling in the publicity and the attention of all the dudes who are happy that she’s gotten fired. Either way, I would not work with their company. That said, Adria will be answering questions about this in every interview she gets for the next several years. But it shows how calling out sexism gets you punished in our society. And that’s the bigger problem here, eh?
Roe vs. Wade at 40
This piece was written as part of NARAL’s Blog for Choice Day.
40 years ago the right of a woman to receive a medical abortion administered in a safe, secure, and clean environment was granted by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Since then, only the women who have been able to afford to exercise this right have been able to have abortions.
Shortly after abortion became legal, a group of mostly African American women gathered to talk about how the right to Choice was a limiting discussion because it only covered the legal right to obtain an abortion. The discussion wasn’t involving the stories of all the women who were told they could get an abortion, but only if they agreed to tubal ligation or hysterectomy. The discussion wasn’t involving the stories of women who wanted to keep their child but couldn’t because they couldn’t afford to. The discussion wasn’t involving the women who wanted an abortion but couldn’t afford one, women who became mothers against their will and if they were women of color weren’t able to find adoption centers willing to find homes for those unwanted children.
This is a very loose explanation of what reproductive justice was all about. This Wikipedia entry explains it all in much greater detail and in a national framework. I suggest reading it if you didn’t realize there was a difference between the Reproductive Rights movement and the Reproductive Justice movement.
Many people, myself included, criticize many of the national organizations that work toward reproductive rights because they exclude the (I believe) very important aspects of the reproductive justice movement. And because the reproductive justice movement is seen as a movement for women of color, this means that the stories, the needs, the involvement of women of color is missing at a national level.
But being a feminist and criticizing the reproductive rights movement is dangerous territory. It puts you into a position of defending your right to criticize the organizations and the movement you believe in. I believe that reproductive rights are important. Without the work of these women, the lives of millions of women would be very different today. However, these goals are not the only goals we should be fighting for. I think focusing on only rights is limiting. I feel that it treats women like a womb (which is what we criticize the anti-choice groups of doing) instead of as a whole being. And I firmly believe that the Reproductive Justice movement treats women as a whole.
This great article by Dani McClain for Ebony.com not only explains why women of color are so rarely seen telling their stories, but it talks about the Chicago Abortion Fund and describes how the Executive Director Gaylon Alcaraz works tirelessly to not only provide the much-needed funds to women in Chicago who are unable to afford an abortion on their own. But it also describes some of the ways that she has taken this small organization and raised their activity to support the lives of their clients, not just a single need they may possess. I’ve had the honor (and I do believe it is an honor) to meet a few of the women working on their Advisory Board and these women have impressed me. Not only are they passionate about what they share, not only are they wise about the needs of their community, but they are warm and genuine and open to sharing their personal story with the hope that it makes others feel welcome. That isn’t an easy thing to do. For anyone. The Chicago Abortion Fund may be a non-profit organization. And technically they may offer a form of charity to the women who come seeking their help. But the main thing they offer is acceptance, love, understanding, and hope. Not just hope to get through their current struggle, but the struggle of everything in their lives to provide them the tools to take control of their reproductive health. Their overall health. Their future health. The ability to provide better reproductive health information to their friends, families, children. They leave CAF’s organization stronger, smarter, and healthier than when they first placed a call for help.
This is what we should be striving for. It is important that we maintain the right to an abortion. It is important that we have doctors who are able and willing to perform this often life-changing procedure (not always life changing). We need clinics that can perform these needed abortions. But we also need people to be provided the tools to help themselves and others be in a better position to control their reproduction. We should all be fighting the fight to eliminate the need for an abortion through education, support, better financial opportunities. I’m grateful that the Chicago Abortion Fund exists to do just that. I challenge every other abortion rights and abortion fund organization to join in this battle for true control of our lives. All of our lives.
Blog for Choice
January 22nd is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade stating that women have the right to decide when they become a parent. I’ll be writing more about my thoughts for choice on that day as part of the Blog for Choice Day activities.
New Year's Resolution: Express ALL the Rage
I’m generally not a very angry person. I get angry. I express it in my own muted and reserved way, but I’m not all THAT angry. I’m generally happy about that, in no small part because of the “angry feminist” stereotype that gets projected onto me and I like dispelling that.
But I’m kinda angry. This year hasn’t started off well for women. There is the story of the woman and her friend who got onto what looked like a city bus but where her friend was knocked unconscious and she was raped for hours while the bus drove around town. The rape happened in India, but she died in a hospital in Singapore.
Then there is the story, uncovered by Anonymous (a group of online hackers), about a teenager who was raped repeatedly by several members of a Steubenville, Ohio high school. Her attacks were filmed, posted online, talked about in online videos, tweeted about, bragged about, and more. I honestly can’t stomach reading all there is to read about the story. I’ve BEEN there. I’ve got family that LIVED there. And the police are covering it up. The Prosecutor is the mother of one of the young men who is being accused of being involved. The coach of the football team sure seems to know more than he’s sharing. But despite all the evidence the story is being investigated by online geeks and seemingly not by the local police, or the semi-local police
Then there is the Violence Against Women Act. You’d think people would be able to say “Violence against women is wrong, I’m okay with their being an act that helps women get out of abusive relationships and provides funds for investigation and prosecution of people who abuse women.” But several members of the GOP decided they had problems with the rights being extended to immigrant women (cause we don’t want immigrant women, legal or non-legal, to be able to press charges against non-immigrant men)*, with the rights being extended to LGBT women (because if we say that their relationships are equal when it comes to abuse then they’ll want to get married legally and stuff)*, and to Native American women on reservations (because it should be okay for men who don’t live on reservations to abuse women who do live on reservations)*.
And then today, someone posts a pledge to ask tech-dudes to agree to not join a panel if there are no women on the panel. And the tech-dudes I know and respect are all “Hey, sure. I can do this.” And then some jag-off who has written books with horrible cover art says that he doesn’t even want to look at anyone who would do something so “stupid” as to not join a panel because it’s all-dude. Seriously? And to state that publicly? Well, not that I’m planning a tech-conference anytime soon, but if I did he wouldn’t get invited, let alone allowed to speak.
So, I’m angry. And I’ve done no justice to any of the serious issues I’ve raised above. Not a drop. But they’ve all made me angry. Like sick to my stomach and unable to take deep breaths angry. Like get up from the computer and storm away to make another cup of tea angry. Screw up and sew all my fabric together backwards angry. Rage—I haz it!
So watch out. Seriously. Cause if I’m angry enough to read a 19-page Congressional Research Service report, then you know I’m fired up.**
*Oversimplified, snarky, and not-entirely-true. But I’m proving anger here. If you don’t like what I’m saying then go read stuff somewhere else.
**Being angry never feels good to me. I don’t like the physical effects it has on me. But I’m angered and I gotta let it out. That’s why people blog, right?
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