Archive for July, 2010

What Is Feminism?

Posted: July 30, 2010 in Feminism, Politics, Sisterhood
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“Feminism is the movement of social, political, and economic equality of men and women” (Baumgardner). This basic definition of such a strong organization of the female gender in our society has undergone years of history; filled with dilemma and triumph. Women such as Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, and Dorothy Day were some of the great pioneers of the feminist movement. These empowered women helped create the basis of the withstanding feminist code. So when the women of our society find themselves divided by matters of opinion on life issues, especially abortion there is always controversy. Since the majority of persons who call themselves feminists are pro-choice, it is said that women who are pro-life, are not true feminists. I advocate that feminists who possess pro-life views are true feminists, and I intend to prove that based on the strong convictions many women, civilian and celebrity, have changed public policies because the basis of their acts is with regard to the equality of women and political consciousness. The best way to understand how far pro-life feminism has come, we must look into the actions taken by the founders of such a movement.

Before her life began the world was ignorant to such a revolution that would change the lives of women and men alike, this revolution began with the birth of Susan B. Anthony in 1820. Susan began her miraculous work with her fellow citizens during the temperance movement, which was one of the original feminist movements in the United States. Anthony then moved into working for the American Anti-slavery society and soon after published the New York Liberal Weekly called “The Revolution.” “Susan demanded that women be given the same civil and political rights that had been extended to black males under the 14th and 15th amendments…She led a group of women to the polls in Rochester to test the right of women to vote.” After being arrested for her efforts Anthony adopted a fire that burned to fight for the rights of all women in the United States in order to pass the federal woman suffrage amendment. With the alliance of fellow feminists around the nation who weren’t afraid to stand up to general societal beliefs set in stone by the government and what was said to be men’s better judgment, the 19th amendment was established and thereafter began the race for better and equal rights for every citizen in the United States.

     The women’s suffrage movement continued on for many years after the ratification of that amendment, and modern feminists today, pro-life or pro-choice, say that it still continues today. In 1920, because of the efforts of women striving for a better environment and society, the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor was formed. This bureau worked to collect information of all working women in America and helped to create better conditions for women.

     In furtherance to the rise of the strength and equality of women in society, the late 1960s produced the National Organization for Women (NOW). “The largest women’s rights group in the U.S., NOW seeks to end sexual discrimination, especially in the workplace, by means of legislative lobbying, litigation, and public demonstrations” (Imbornoni). 

These historical landmarks were the building blocks that allowed the everyday, independent woman to live her lives without limitations set forth by authoritative male influence. When branching off into the opinionated groups of pro-life and pro-choice feminists, there is still room to grow. It has been made aware of all persons in the U.S. that the pro-choice feminists won their first battle during the trials of Roe v. Wade in 1973. Since this legislation, pro-life feminists have relentlessly put out the stops to overturn such a devastating decision that allows our country to take lives and the matters of life and death into their own hands. Jennifer O’Neill who is now the spokesperson for the Silent No More campaign that gives real testimony from men and women who have personally dealt with abortion, as well as, nurse Jill Stanek from the Chicago suburbs who single-handedly brought forth attention to Congress of babies who were being born and left to die because they were unwanted. Stanek got Congress to pass the Born Alive Infant Protection Act in 2002. Norma McCorvey, who was the plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade landmark Supreme Court case, is now an avid pro-life feminist, alongside Congresswomen Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. and Melissa Hart, R-Pa. All these women and many more have single-handedly worked to change society based solely on their pro-life beliefs. Although pro-life advocates haven’t won the war of getting legislation passed to overturn Roe v. Wade, we have come a long way from just baking blueberry pies in the kitchen all day.

Pro-choice feminists say that the main reason women who are pro-life do not make the cut for the “true feminist code,” is that they are lobbying for a huge decision that would no longer allow women to have the choice to even consider not keeping their child. Pro-choice advocates say,” It is taken today as a truism that in order to be a feminist you must be ‘pro-choice’. The right to abortion is often deemed to be the most fundamental right of women, without which all others are said to be meaningless. Gloria Steinem, the self-appointed matriarch, holds that ‘pro-life’ feminism is “a contradiction in terms”. At ‘pro-choice’ rallies, banners have been held up stating that “a woman’s right to abortion is equivalent to her right to be”, while the US-based Fund for a Feminist Majority has defined a feminist as one who is ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-ERA’” (Hoskings).

What is hard to understand is that yes, we all have different viewpoints and opinions on each and every issue that affects our lives, but how can all women who are feminists as a whole, simply abandon the original feminist goals and teachings. Are we putting ourselves right back to where we started?

All of these events and actions opened up a whole new world for women that allowed them to explore beyond the “Pleasantville, white-picked fence” in which we would still be confined. Although I believe it is crucial for all feminists to stick together on the basic issues our foremothers worked so hard for, it is our right to stand up for what we each believe in. Since both sides of the spectrum, involving life issues, have this right, the core resolution to this argument is that pro-life feminists are still as tried and true to the “feminist code” as the pro-choice feminists.

Fight

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Inspiration
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Fight because you’re strong.

Fight because people tell you not to.

Fight for the existence of doubt.

Fight because you are a woman.

Fight because you are a man.

Fight because you know what’s important.

Fight for what you believe in.

Fight for your voice.

Fight for your right to be heard.

Fight for your ideals.

Fight for your dreams.

Fight for the truth.

Fight for your family.

Fight for your friends.

Fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Fight for justice.

Fight for your country.

Fight for your brothers.

Fight for your sisters.

Fight for ideology.

Fight for those who came before you.

Fight for fear.

Fight for love.

Fight for peace.

Fight for uncertainty.

Fight for the human race.

Fight for life.

I Fight…

“Cause I never met a mountain high enough.

Because I don’t believe in the word enough.

Because I always find my second wind.

Because I set my own limits and break them.

Because nobody pushes me harder than I do.

Because I dream big and always make it come true.

What are you fighting for?

In New York City, there was a boy whose “father was a strict disciplinarian with a harsh temper, and [he] was often the focus of his father’s rage…” The boy grew up, and after many circumstances in which most of the outcome was failure, “He took an apartment on Fourteenth Street in Manhattan, near Sixth Avenue, on a stretch of city block that was then heavy with homelessness and drug dealing. One of the doormen in the building, with whom [he] was close, was beaten badly by muggers… [and] in 1981, [he, himself] was mugged by three black youths as he entered the Canal Street station one afternoon” (147-148). Are you beginning to think this man is bound to hit rock bottom or explode with repressed rage? His name was Bernhard Goetz, and in 1984 he got on a train, in one of the most awful transit systems in the nation, and shot four young black men who were tormenting him. Many people, including psychologists and most of the general public would say it was bound to happen because of Goetz’s life history and a lot of psychological problems. Would you agree that “Crime, isn’t a single discrete thing, but a word used to describe an almost impossibly varied and complicated set of behaviors [?]…To say someone is a criminal is to say that he or she is evil or violent or dangerous or dishonest or unstable or any combination of any those things” (138). What is to be proven in this paper is that Goetz committed those crimes because of the environment that he lived in; the crime was inevitable because the environment he was surrounded by was closer to hell than any other in the nation. To prove this, one must look into the meaning of the Broken Windows theory and the Power of Context; which are both crucial parts to the epidemic theory of crime.

     No one hears of epidemics these days, when we think if it, what first comes to mind is something like the plague or a sickness, but no one thinks of the larger epidemics that have been occurring in society for twenty to thirty years at a time. According to history, the crime epidemic has fluctuated tremendously, and the time period we’re focusing on, 1980s-1990s, was a heat wave no one could forget; especially if you lived in New York. What is an epidemic? What triggers them, and what is the tipping point that allows it to devour society?

Gladwell, in explaining how the Broken Window theory applies to this epidemic theory of crime, says, “[The Broken Window theory] says that crime is contagious—just as a fashion trend is contagious—that it can start with a broken window and spread to an entire community. The Tipping Point in this epidemic, though, isn’t a particular kind of person…It’s something physical like graffiti. The impetus to engage in a certain kind of behavior is… from a feature of the environment” (141-142). In this particular instance, the New York transit systems’ conditions were so appalling, a key figure William Bratton, said “it was like going into the transit version of Dante’s Inferno” (137). Graffiti covered the trains from top to bottom, so much garbage it was hard to see the floor, and “fare-beating was so common it was costing the Transit Authority millions of lost revenue annually.” The epidemic of crime was at its peak because the environment people lived in gave them the assurance that it was acceptable to commit crime and trash the city because no one cared and no one was going to do anything about it. The message the streets of New York, as well as elsewhere throughout the nation, was giving off during the 1980s was the reason for such misconduct.

As criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling wanted to put the Broken Windows theory into action, they hired David Gunn as the new subway director for New York to oversee the rebuilding of the subway system. Gunn turned the transit system into something that was such a turn around to what it had been, it could of passed as ‘Pleasantville’s’ regular means for transportation. By not allowing for garbage and graffiti, subconsciously the citizens of New York reacted in a ‘treat others the way you would want to be treated’ sort of way. While this project lasted from 1984-1990, William Bratton, the new police chief, was the next ‘disciple of the Broken Windows theory’ to step in and finish off the second part of this new epidemic to clean up the city. Focusing on the fare-beaters in the transit system, Bratton said, “The idea was to signal, as publicly as possible, that the transit police were now serious about cracking down on the fare-beaters” (pg.145). Bratton’s creativity in outfitting an old city bus into a rolling station house was the brink of the tipping point that brought on such a stifling drop in crime by the mid- 1990s; “the idea was to send an unambiguous message to the vandals themselves” (143). By centering their plan on the small things that were the root cause of the major problems society allowed, was just what the doctor ordered to bring an end to this relentless crime fever.

If the source of crime is in the small things within what our environment provides, how do we determine what they are? To introduce the Power of Context one must know it as an environmental argument. “It says that behavior is a function of social context… [and] you don’t have to solve the big problems to solve crime” (150). The Power of Context suggests that the psychological make-up of a criminal has little to do with why he commits crime; however, it has everything to do with the message that is being sent by the state of his community. “The essence of the Power of Context is that the same thing is true for certain kinds of environments—that in ways that we don’t necessarily appreciate, our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances” (152).

Of course one would question this radical idea because we have always been told that the reasons for why someone becomes a criminal lies in the individual himself. Common ideas of this concept include: 1) “Psychiatrists talk about criminals as people with stunted psychological development;” 2) individuals who grew up without good role models and have had bad relationships with their parents; and 3) the genetic composition of the person. There are more familiar concepts such as 4) “crime [being] a consequence of moral failure;” 5) having a distinguished personality type; 6) people who are not properly taught what is right from wrong; and lastly, 7) individuals “who grow up poor, fatherless, and buffeted by racism and don’t have the same commitment to social norms as those from healthy middle-class homes” (149-150). “What [psychologists] are suggesting is that this is a mistake, that when we think only in terms of inherent traits and forget the role of situations, we’re deceiving ourselves about the real causes of human behavior.” (158) The truth is yes, thousands of people have psychological, emotional, and psychical problems, and they will always be there; they don’t die off or magically recover when the crime wave goes up and down, but it’s the atmosphere that surrounds those people, and the tipping points that compel them to be criminals.

Many scholastic and psychologically driven tests have been done to prove whether these theories are in fact true, or just another opinion. Some have been outrageous, some have caused the most average people to become evil or insane, and some have tested the mere innocence of children. Although these concepts are extremely controversial, “we need to remember that small changes in context can be just as important in tipping epidemics, even though that fact appears to violate some of our most deeply held assumptions about human nature.” (166) It seems that if the theories remain in practice within current community systems, we could see more and more change throughout our nation in the years to come.

Reference: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Alva Belmont (1853-1933)

Suffragist, Reformer, Philanthropist

“I have been crying in the wilderness for wealthy women to give up their leisure and do something to justify their existence- in vain- no reforms appeal to women who have everything,” bemoaned Alva Belmont, who, unlike the rich she criticized, was a major benefactor of the women’s suffrage movement. Belmont, a divorcee, then widow, of two affluent men, gave of herself as well as her fortune. She was a founder of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and it’s successor, the National Women’s Party.

In 1912 she led a suffrage march in New York City, and five years later, she gave her Washington, DC, house to the NWP as its headquarters, serving as the organization’s president from 1921 until her death. Belmont campaigned for decent working conditions and fair wages for laboring women, supporting the 1909-1910 New York shirtwaist-maker’s strike. She not only raised funds for the cause, but personally went to court to bail out strikers. The owner of several lavish homes, the untiring Belmont also pursued an interest in design, becoming one of the first female members of the American Institute of Architects.

Helen Gurley Brown (born 1922)

Writer, Magazine editor

In 1962, after nearly two decades spent navigating the worlds of white-collar office work and single womanhood, forty-year-old Helen Gurley Brown penned the best-selling self-help guide Sex and the Single Girl. Her book raised the confidence and encouraged the independence of unmarried professional women everywhere, helping to inspire the feminist movement.

Three years later Brown, who had no editorial or journalistic experience, became the editor-in-chief of the fledgling literary monthly Cosmopolitan. She infused the publication with style and bravado and introduced the phenomenon of the modern-day cover girl. Cosmo quickly became one of the country’s most popular magazines, its circulation, under her leadership, increasing from eighty thousand to over two million readers in just a few years. Brown remained Cosmo’s editor for over thirty years, coaching a generation of women to achieve success in love and at the workplace. In 1997, when she took a new post as editor of the magazine’s fifty-nine international editions, the New York Times wrote: “Rarely has a magazine been so strongly identified with one editor for so long.”

Get it girl! Xoxo

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

British Novelist

Her countless complex, silly, endearing, shameful, and inspiring characters remain dear to readers today, but Jane Austen hardly grew up expecting to become one of the most highly regarded authors in the English language. Daughter of an English clergyman, Austen received a casual education at home and enjoyed a close relationship with her sister, Cassandra, while surrounded by six brothers and the young boys enrolled in the Austen’s boarding school. She began writing at an early age, developing a light, satirical voice while expertly delving into human nature in depictions of daily life and human interaction.

Source: Women Who Dare, from the Library of Congress

I started writing this small article a few years ago, I began writing when I was dating a guy for about 8 or 9 months and couldn’t quite figure out what was happening. It wasn’t love, but our connection was strong. I stopped writing after we grew apart; I dated several men after that but no one came close. Then, after a few unexpected, dramatic events changed my life forever, I met someone who was so far from anyone I had gone for in the past. I didn’t know anything about him, but after our first conversation, I knew I would figure out a way to get to know him and date him. In retrospect, I realize that what we discovered and created from each other was not love. What seemed so strong was more lust than anything- which is actually terrifying when you finally realize it. Our connection was not based on the core values two people need in a relationship; nevertheless, now that he is forever in my past, and I have come to terms with exactly what went on in our overly-complicated, addicting virus of a relationship, I have decided to share this article with everyone. It may seem simple and without meaning, but from my point of view this was created during the peeks of relationship high.

So I dedicate it to you- you know who you are- I have realized the mistakes we made and even though I still do not know what love really is, what it feels like, what it tastes like, I post this to allow our misinterpretation to be set free. I appreciate the experience because it taught me more lessons in what love is not. Our relationship was a disguise. It wasn’t love.

One thing only women understand is that it’s all very well to have a good husband, but if you don’t have a good hair colorist, aerobics instructor, car mechanic, baby-sitter, all of the above, you might as well be dead. But, if you could only have one of those things, which would you pick? If you picked any options other than a good, faithful husband, I urge you to discontinue reading this article immediately. You’re simply not ready. If however, you chose the latter, you must have some concept of faith, hope, or even love. Because in reality, would your car mechanic hold you close at night, would your baby-sitter do anything for you and expect nothing in return, would your hair colorist try to think of a million different ways to be funny only to hear the bewitching sweet sound of your laugh over and over, and would your aerobics instructor vow to stick with you through good times and bad, in sickness and in health? I think not.

What is love? Well, love is a mystery. Love is patient; love is kind, love means slowly losing your mind. Although, every individual whom can attest to being suddenly whisked away on that passionate and foolish magic carpet ride must be obliged to concur that the very second you feel it, there is and never was anything mysterious about it.

All women acknowledge there are universal attributes to a man that make him desirable; Bernard S. Talmey, M.D., embraces these “masculine virtues which impress true women [such as] physical strength, courage, nobility of mind, chivalry, and self-confidence. These virtues constitute the beauty which arouses the woman’s love.”

Love is when you never want to make a mistake, and you can’t help but make a fool of yourself. You make mistakes over and over, but none of them count when you’re falling in love. There is no judgment, no regret. Love takes over you, and you happily surrender. Some say they knew from the very first date that it was time to raise that little white flag. Even my own father proposed to my mother the very first time he met her. Naturally, she said no, but nevertheless, they were never parted from each other from that moment on.

In a most romantic love scene from The Blue Lagoon comes this quote that captures all desire fired by love; “As she looked at him like that, he suddenly and fiercely clasped her in his arms. He held her like this for a moment, dazed, stupefied, not knowing what to do with her. Then her lips told him, for they met his in an endless kiss.”

What we call love, can be dangerous and challenging. Love is the most powerful force the human race could ever embrace. All major life decisions involve love; it is the common denominator in all things valuable in this world. It is something that can never be described one way; it is different for everyone, yet astoundingly the same in that once you’ve fallen in love, everyone can attest to that feeling of uncontrolled emotion, great happiness over small things, and finding desire within you that you never knew you had.

It is something you cannot seek out, you can’t buy it at the grocery store, you can’t search for it in vintage shops, or abandoned cities; it is a connection no one can know but the two people it captures. It is such a mixture of all our emotions, thoughts and feelings we rarely feel at once, feelings we never knew another person could bring out of us. When I found love with another person, it was the most exhilarating yet horrifying feeling I have ever experienced. Wasting time trying to figure out what you’re feeling, trying to rationalize your thoughts and decisions. The things you find yourself doing just to make him or her happy. When you laugh for no reason, at any given time, just because you thought of them or were reminded of them. When you find yourself crying because of overwhelmed desire, or not being able to control what your mind and heart are telling you, or when you can’t figure out yet another way just to get closer to them.

Love can dwell on for months, years, and even forever. If you’re lucky, your love can last forever with the one person you’ve chosen to spend your life with. Sometimes it makes us afraid; it intimidates us and therefore leaves us in a shaded place. Whether it ended well or poorly, you will carry the love you had with that person forever. Sometimes it slips away, and you spend forever trying to understand why. As singer/songwriter Adele describes in her song Best For Last:

 “Why is it every time I think I’ve tried my hardest, It turns out it ain’t enough cause you’re still not mentioning love. What am I supposed to do to make you want me properly? I’m taking these chances and getting away. And though I’m trying my hardest you go back to her.  And I think that I know things may never change. I’m still hoping one day I might hear you say:

I make you feel a way you’ve never felt before
And I’m all you need and that you never want more
Then you’d say all of the right things without a clue
But you’d save the best for last
Like I’m the one for you.

The days grow short as the nights grow long. Time is slipping by, why not take a chance? When you’re in love, wasting time is the devil’s game. Small arguments over jelly in the grocery store, or leaving the toilet seat up seem so insignificant and minuscule compared to the power of your connection. Infuriating it may be, when they press all your buttons and push you to the edge; but you can never remain upset for long. If you’re like me, you know what it feels like to want to be in control. I’m determined to make sure I am the only one who can control my schedule, my car, my remote, my feelings, and my relationships. I am the “feminazi” that will argue sandwich making into submission. It used to be that compromises were only made to satisfy my needs. I rarely considered where my partner was coming from, or how I made them feel, it was always about how they were affecting me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve built a wall around my heart, always guarded; never showing my true feelings, never one to show weakness- like crying, never trusting others, and never one to believe love is 100% real. Oh what a rude awakening it is when this type-A personality tries to control a true relationship with someone I wasn’t quite aware that I was falling in love with.

You know who I’m talking about. This someone makes you nervous and weak; someone who can make you cry for the simplest reasons or no reason at all. You want to be a part of their joy and their happiness, their sadness and despair; you want to be their false and their truth. Times you wish your day just wouldn’t start unless they were there. Every day is beautiful when you’re with them; rain or snow, tornado or hurricane, the sun somehow finds a way to shine. What I’ve come to discover, that I never thought I could endure once again, is the dark abyss of torture and lonely hell one feels when they cannot be with the one they love. It seems so unfair that once you have come to this point, after countless bad dates, the handful of failed relationships and the all the assholes you had to run over in order to get here, you still can’t quite reach it. Why is that? Will we ever get what we want? How do you know that what you want is right for you? How can you mend a broken heart? These are questions that some of us will never find the answer to. All I know is that, a core-shaking love, finding that unbreakable connection which changes you forever, will never ever be forgotten. I will never forget how you made me feel. I will never forget your kiss, your touch. I will never forget your smile, your laugh, your happiness. I will never forget you.

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers–
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot…
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours–your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.