Category Archives: Womens Lives

The Baltimore Riots are about rage, oppression and dominance.

At approximately 8 am on the morning of April 12, a man named Freddie Gray was arrested by two Baltimore Police officers. He was placed into a police van, and although witnesses say he asked for help because he couldn’t breathe, he didn’t receive any medical help.  The police van made 4 stops while driving to the station to book Freddie. When the van arrived at the police station at approximately 9:30 that same morning, Freddie Gray was unresponsive and was rushed by ambulance to a Trauma center, where he died a week later due to complications from a severed spine.

Freddie Gray’s funeral was held on April 25, and following his funeral riots broke out in Baltimore.

I get the riots, I get the anger…. I am angry too!!!

In my opinion, the riots were a response….an angry response…..to Freddie Gray’s death….his murder…….. and nothing being done to the officers who arrested him (murdered him), besides them being suspended from the Police Force while the matter was being investigated.

Photo credit www.huffingtonpost.com

Photo credit www.huffingtonpost.com

I think the Baltimore riots were also about a community being tired of:

being afraid,

not being heard,

being marginalized,

being poor,

suffering.

When looked at in this way, the riots are at the most basic level, about an oppressed group being infuriated and tired of living in a  society that doesn’t think that black lives are important.

On April 27, reporter Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in an article in The Atlantic, “When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con” (Coates, The Atlantic). He is speaking about the politicians who were asking young people in Baltimore to remain peaceful and ‘nonviolent’. His point about that being a ‘con’ is well.

In order to understand my perspective I need to introduce you to a word: hegemony.  This is really what is at the base of racism, sexism, homophobia, and every other “ism” I can think of, and a word that needs to be understood.  Once people understand what Hegemony really means, they usually have an “a-ha” moment.

Hegemony is defined as a “cultural dynamic by which a group claims and sustains a leading position in social life” In other words, “hegemony relates to cultural dominance in the society”

In this context it is obvious to see Ta-Nehisi’s point, (which I agree with), that the “representatives” of the state who are asking the people of Baltimore to act in a nonviolent manner are themselves the ones who are the oppressors, and therefore the perpetrators of the violence. Police, who have authoritarian power over society, are group that uses that power in a way that is unequal with society as a whole. In other words, if minorities, and in this case a young black man, is arrested and subsequently dies, the police, while being culpable, are not held accountable, because that does not fit within the idea of “hegemony”, which are the societal standards that are the norm within American culture.

In fact, when a group is disenfranchised, and oppressed, and not allowed to prosper by the dominant group, it is inevitable that the inequality would cause violence. By asking for this group to act in a “nonviolent” way, the state representatives are asking them to be okay with their disenfranchisement and oppression. That is only going to lead to more anger and more violence.

The only way to move forward as a society is to remove the hegemony (and the white dominance) that our society is structured around and create a level playing field for all.

Remove the oppressive institutions, derail racism, and allow access to quality education, safe shelter, and healthy food to all members of the society.

Not just the ones who have enough money to afford those things. If they were accessible to all, society as a whole would benefit, and America would indeed be the world power it claims to be.

I agree with Ta-Nehisi’s tweet about rioting: It is an expression of anger. Some humans riot because their school lost the big game. Others because the State can’t stop killing them.

#Blacklivesmatter #womenslives

 

 

Women should be in control of their own bodies!

I have always been an advocate of reproductive rights for women. Every woman should have the right to decide for herself when and if she wants to have children. This decision is a very personal one, and each woman should have the right to make it for herself. Without interference from parents, siblings, spouses, and especially from the government. There are two points I would like to make. The first is that I am deeply offended by the anti abortion people using the phrase “right to life” as their catch phrase. As if being pro-abortion rights makes you somehow “against” life. That the only group that values life is the people who are against a LEGAL medical procedure. That is the bottom line for me. An abortion is a medical procedure. A LEGAL medical procedure. If people looked at it that way would it remove some of the volatility? Could we look at a heart transplant, or an appendectomy, or tonsillectomy through the same lens? NO, you can’t remove that organ because it was given to you at birth and since you are a GOD created being, it is God’s appendix, so you MUST keep it, even if it kills you….  Women should be in control of their own bodies!

reproductive rights

Think about it. The argument against abortion usually stems from a religious basis. That it is against God’s law to “take” a life. Well, what if that “life” threatens the mother’s life because of where the cells chose to implant themselves, or what if the “life” was created from a violent act of rape or incest? At what point does the woman within whom these cells are growing get to have agency over her own body? Why does her agency stop due to religion?

Religion removes a woman’s agency over her own body in more ways than just the abortion argument. What does the religious right say about contraception? Or about her right NOT to have children? In many cases a woman’s ONLY value is about bringing babies into the world and being her husband’s “helpmate”. And before anyone argues that I may not understand, I wish to let you know that I was married to a man for 9 years and we belonged to the fundamental Church of Christ church. While I was a member of that church I was not allowed to speak during services, not allowed to teach men (because MEN are the head), not allowed to hold a leadership position in the church, and was taught to be quiet, meek and subservient to my husband. Those of you who know me in real life might understand how these directives affected me. For those of you who have never met me, you need to know that I am a strong, opinionated, passionate, intelligent woman. Having to squash all of that in order to “serve God and my husband” was a heavy chain around my heart and soul. The yoke of religion can be a burden women have to bear, not the spiritual uplifting I think a truly loving, kind and just God would want for us.

However, getting back to reproductive rights, I am ALL for them. There was a time in my life when I was 18 and dating a very sweet young man named Ron. We were both in Hospital Corps School, and were just about to embark on our Navy career. I got pregnant. I was completely distraught. I knew if I continued with the pregnancy I would not be able to continue my Navy schooling, and it would change my career and educational aspirations. I was only 18. I was not ready to be a parent. Ron wasn’t ready to be a parent. We decided to terminate the pregnancy. My mother agreed and I flew home to Connecticut from Chicago, and she took me to a clinic to have a LEGAL abortion. This was in 1984.  As we neared the clinic I noticed there was a chain link fence around the entire building. The fence was there to keep protesters away from the front door of the building. As I neared the fence there was a throng of people standing by the gate holding signs and shouting at me. They told me I was evil, and sinful, and that what I was doing was murder and I was going to hell. My mother grabbed hold of my arm tightly and just steered me through those people. To be honest I was afraid of them. They seemed so angry and so incredibly judgmental.

protestors outside a clinic

I think about that day sometimes, even now. Less now than I did when I was younger. I think about the fact that I could have a 31-year-old child. I think about the fact that I would probably not have married my ex-husband if I had chosen to have that child. Then I wouldn’t have my two amazing beautiful boys my ex and I created together. My life would have been so different. I can’t say that it would have been better or worse. I may have still married, I may have had more children, it my have been a beautiful life, but it wouldn’t be the life I have now. We can only theorize about “what if’s” so much. To dwell on them would make me crazy, so I choose not to do that.

What I do know is that I love my life, and I am incredibly blessed. I do mourn that child, and it still makes me sad, but that is what I believed was the right thing to do for myself at that time in my life, and I am INCREDIBLY thankful that I was legally able to obtain an abortion. Thankful that my parents supported my decision. Thankful that I had access to a safe clinic. Thankful that I had access to medical care from qualified people. Thankful that I was able to decide for myself what I wanted to do with my body. Thankful that I had reproductive rights.

I think EVERY woman should have those same opportunities, same access, and same ability to choose for themselves. Until this happens, we are not truly free as human beings. And Women should be in control of their own bodies!

#womenslives

The stories about women’s lives are important! #Womenslives

I have been blogging for 5 years.  I have been very fortunate to have had my stories featured on BlogHer, Ten to Twenty Parenting, mom.me, The Next Family and Seattle Lesbian.  I have been extremely fortunate to have a couple of posts syndicated, but none of  that was quite as big as my excitement when I opened my email this week and received and email from SheKnows Media with this information:

“I’m writing to invite you to participate in a media partnership with She Knows Media and Public Radio International on a groundbreaking journalism project launching tomorrow, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, called Across Women’s Lives.”

acrosswomensliveslogo

The email went on to explain what this is all about:

“Across Women’s Lives seeks to change the conversation in news media, because women’s lives are newsworthy. It is an in-depth series by PRI that will reveal the strong connection between the empowerment of women and girls, and economic development and improved health around the world.

PRI is combining deep-focus reporting on women throughout the world with unprecedented outreach so that these stories are heard and can make a difference. It’s funded in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

OMG!!!  Breath, Carol…….

That was truly a squeeeeee moment for me.  I am a feminist to my core, and women are a vital part of my life.  To have the opportunity to tell women’s stories is an amazing thing.  News stories about women comprise only 24% of all news coverage is about women and PRI and SheKnows Media intend to change that!  I am going to do my part to change that as well.

This is definitely a labor of love, because although the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded part of PRI’s coverage nobody who participates in the campaign is being paid.  We are participating because we know it is important and #womenslives matter!!

So let’s tell some stories about #womenslives!!