Advice for the New Year


Advice From 10 Iconic Feminists To Get You Through 2017

Jenavieve Hatch Associate Women’s Editor, The Huffington Post

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”Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless.”

Activist and writer Rebecca Solnit said this in the foreword to her book, “Hope in the Dark” ― a book originally written during the Bush Administration about avoiding the pitfalls of cynicism in the face of injustice and fear. This year, shortly after Donald Trump won the presidential election, “Hope in the Dark” sold out.

For many women, 2016 was a wildly difficult year, and “hope” often felt like a difficult thing to come by.

After all, we didn’t just watch a man accused of sexual assault win the 2016 presidential election ― we watched him win against a significantly more qualified candidate, who happened to be a woman. We watched him win with a running mate who has spent his career trying to diminish the rights of women. We’ve watched him fill his cabinet with men who have been accused of domestic violence.

But in moments of despair and uncertainty, we can, and should, look to the women who have spent much of their lives fighting the relentless fight against injustice of all kinds.

In the words of 10 trailblazing women, from Angela Davis to Cecile Richards, we can find the comfort, shared rage, and motivation necessary to move forward.

bell hooks

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”Cultivating the mind of love is so crucial. When love is the ground of our being, a love ethic shapes our participation in politics. To work for peace and justice we begin with the individual practice of love, because it is there that we can experience firsthand love’s transformative power.” ― bell hooks, Lion’s Roar, November 2016 

Gloria Steinem

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”We have to stop looking up, especially with Trump now, and start instead looking at each other.” ― Gloria Steinem, in a speech at the Make Equality Reality Gala, December 2016

Angela Davis

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”How do we begin to recover from this shock? By experiencing and building and rebuilding and consolidating community. Community is the answer…Whatever we are already doing, we need to do more. We need to accelerate our activism.” ― Angela Davis, in a speech at the University of Chicago, November 2016 

Cecile Richards

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 “We’ve got work to do, and not a minute to waste. Those of us with privilege have a responsibility to use it as allies in the fight for justice and opportunity for all. And every one of us has a responsibility to stand up for what we believe. Don’t wait for permission or an invitation to get involved ― reach out, start organizing, send a message to anyone who will listen. The election doesn’t define our country ― what we do next does.” ― Cecile Richards, to The Huffington Post, December 2016 

Diane Von Furstenberg

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”We must believe in the values of tolerance and inclusiveness that are the fabric of our country. We must believe we can make a difference and use our influence by creating beauty, optimism and happiness. More than ever, we must embrace diversity, be open minded, be generous and have compassion.” ― Diane Von Furstenberg, post-election email to Council of Fashion Designers of America, November 2016  

Lea DeLaria

THE HUFFINGTON POST

”In this heterosexist society every male is preferable for any position of power than the most qualified female in the world. Maybe I had forgotten this simple fact. Maybe I believed we as humans had moved forward. Maybe I was lying to myself. This concept has once again been made painfully clear to me. I am a radical butch dyke queer activist. I intend to keep my rage.” ― Lea DeLaria, to The Huffington Post, December 2016

Alice Walker

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”Real change is personal. The change within ourselves expressed in our willingness to hear, and have patience with, the “other.” Together we move forward.  Anger, the pointing of fingers, the wishing that everyone had done exactly as you did, none of that will help relieve our pain.” ― Alice Walker, in a post on her personal website, November 2016

Dolores Huerta

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”It always gets better before it can get worse. But it will get better. Like everything else, and like our past struggles, at some point we win, but before that win, there’s always that loss that spurs us on.” ― Dolores Huerta, Santa Fe Reporter, August 2015 

Rebecca Solnit

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”Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.” ― Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark, March 2016 (third edition)

Hillary Clinton

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”Believe in our country, fight for our values, and never give up.” ― Hillary Clinton, in a speech at the Children’s Defense Fund gala, November 2016

 

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Things have been tough since election day. Now we look at a New Year and the the inauguration of a president most of us didn’t want. The “You are not my president” marches continue around the country. Boston is planning a large march. On the 21st there will be a million person march in Washington D.C.

 

It appears that Trump will keep some campaign promises and others he is no longer interested in. We have talked and discussed and worried about the people around us. 2017 will bring us the answers to all that is unknown presently. Women are facing a renewal of sexism and inequality as many other groups will also experience.

 

These women each hold up some hope and suggestions for the future. I encourage all of my readers to read and use anything that speaks to you.  I think that as we learn how to respond to next year’s challenges and protect the marginalized around us, we will grow in kindness, compassion, and understanding. Will our words and actions be challenged by some other citizens? It is possible. But as we stand up and speak out, we will be showing our children and our children’s children that we lived our convictions and we cared about injustices that happened to the unfortunate. We care about racism, misogyny, deported immigrants, disabled people, anti-semitism, and Neo-Nazis. We will work to eliminate these hate groups and will protect their victims.

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

 

 

This Will Help to Heal Hearts


Humans around the world have been shocked, saddened and feeling grief. We are all brothers and sisters and we share this one beautiful planet. We all feel pain and grief in the same way and we are grieving in our individual ways.

 

These barbaric attacks bring negative energy to this world we all share.  I heard this and it is one of my favorite songs and one Whitney Houston sang in the movie, the Bodyguard.  This young child has the ability to touch our hearts and lift them up some from pain and death. May God bless him during his life and may all feel the power of love as you listen to him.

 

Please take the love you feel and pass it on to someone else and may the Jihadists know we will rise up. We are the human race and we will oppose every negative thing they do. Also, as we love each other, we love them too. They are also God’s children and we are expected to love all of God’s children. Make no mistake, we will work to stop them in every move they make.  But love is still our best weapon, and we will use it against them, by loving them anyway.

 

Namaste, Barbara, the Idealistic Rebel

 

 

 

 

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Notes towards a poem that can never be written


I have long been a fan of Margaret Atwood.  Her stories and poems always touch me and, more importantly, they make me think.

This poem is from a collection of poems from 1976-1986, and it is no less relevant today than when it was written over 30 years ago.  The sadness in the world has not lessened, the losses are as great, and still we want to look away.

If the world is to be a better place, we must see it for what it is — even, as Ms. Atwood says, through tears.

 

Namaste,

Barbara

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Because we have had enough!

Because we have had enough!

 

 

Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written

 

i

This is the place

you would rather not know about

this is the place that will inhabit you,

this is the place you cannot imagine,

this is the place that will finally defeat you.

 

where the word why shrivels and empties

itself.  This is famine.

 

ii

There is no poem you can write

about it, the sandpits

where so many were buried

& unearthed, the unendurable

pain still traced on their skins.

 

This did not happen last year

or forty years ago but last week.

This has been happening,

this happens.

 

We make wreaths of adjective for them,

we count them like beads,

we turn them into statistics & litanies

and into poems like this one

 

Nothing works.

They remain what they are.

 

iii

The woman lies on the wet cement floor

under the unending light,

needle marks on her arms put there

to kill the brain

and wonders why she is dying.

 

She is dying because she said,

She is dying for the sake of the word,

It is her body, silent

and fingerless, writing this poem

 

iv

It resembles an operation

but it is not one.

 

nor despite the spread legs, grunts

& blood, is it a birth.

 

Partly it’s a job,

partly it’s a display of skill

like a concerto.

 

It can be done badly

or well, they tell themselves
Partly it’s an art.

 

v

The facts of the world seen clearly

are seen through tears;

why tell me then

there is something wrong with my eyes?

 

To see clearly and without flinching,

without turning away,

this is agony, the eyes taped open

two inches from the sun.

 

What is it you see then?

Is it a bad dream, a hallucination?

Is it a vision?

What is it you hear?

 

The razor across the eyeball

is a detail form an old film.

It is also a truth.

Witness what you must bear.

 

–Margaret Atwood

Human Rights Violations in Our World


 

Some days, we all need some humor. I have over a foot of snow here. So you get humor!!!

 

The world calls it FGM or Female Genital Mutilation. I prefer to call it exactly what it is: a violation of a woman’s human rights. Alice Walker has written a book about it and I read it about twenty years ago while I was doing some work for the UN. I was so horrified, I threw up. But I read every word of the truth and went on to do some research.

 

It is Black History month and I decided that I wanted to write about this because it is happening around the world to women of color. It is an old tribal custom that is supposed to make the little girls marriageable. It has been handed down from generation to generation for centuries.

 

I am going to describe this procedure because we have to know what women around the world are suffering. And as people are immigrating here, they are bringing this barbaric ritual with them and so it is happening here and in European countries.

 

When girls begin to get their menses, their mothers take them to the tribal woman who performs this cruel procedure on little girls so a man will want to marry them. Their mothers hold them down as there is no anesthesia used. The cutting and sewing are done while the girl screams and cries. It is terribly painful.

 

Now, the reason for this barbaric act is that they cut the labia or sew it up so there is only a small spot for urination. If she has sex, it would tear her apart. Sometimes, the clitorus is removed so that she will never feel any sexual pleasure. If there is no pleasure, then the girl/woman will not stray because sex is painful and causes bleeding as well as pain.

 

At first I was very upset with the mothers, then I realized it was the way they all grew up and they didn’t know any better. They didn’t know that the majority of women do not have this experience.My horror was so deep it was a physical reaction to the words.

 

Whether you are male or female I realize that most of you would react in horror. But the men brought up with this ritual feel that they own the woman and since women are inferior to men, it is a way to keep her from wandering into another man’s bed. We all know how women seduce men and that the men are innocent.

 

Men are so solidly behind this ritual that some of them have their wives sewn shut before going away on business to ensure her fidelity. Some check their wives’ genitals everyday to make sure she is intact.  Childbirth is even more painful than usual because of the mutilation these girls/women go through. Some die from infection, some try to run away. It is nothing but pure torture and misogyny.

 

It is a serious problem and it isn’t disappearing. Some girls/women just don’t get married so they won’t have to have it done. Others are tortured and killed. Humankind is a dysfunctional species living in a dysfunctional world. Men and women need to know what is happening so we can get the practice stopped.

 

Since the governments are trying to curb this atrocity, families are now taking girls farther away from home.

Since the governments are trying to curb this atrocity, families are now taking girls farther away from home.

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                                         This little girl has survived the procedure.

 

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             Tears are still streaming down her face.

 

This is the procedure being performed.

This is the procedure being performed.

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Darren Wilson resigns


Copyright NPR 2014

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Resigns

November 29, 2014 6:46 PM ET

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, shown during his medical examination after he fatally shot Michael Brown, has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, the AP reports. Wilson has been on administrative leave since the Aug. 9 shooting.

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Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown nearly four months ago, is resigning, according to his attorney.

Wilson’s resignation was announced Saturday by Neil Bruntrager, who says his client’s resignation is effective immediately. Wilson had been on administrative leave since Aug. 9.

In his resignation letter, Wilson writes that he hopes his resignation “will allow the community to heal.” The Ferguson Police Department has not confirmed that it has received this letter.

A grand jury spent more than three months reviewing evidence in the shooting incident before deciding that the 28-year-old police officer would not be charged in the case. The confrontation and grand jury decision sparked continuing protests in the St. Louis suburb and across the country.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted the full text of Wilson’s resignation letter:

“I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process.”

 

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I am sharing this article with you because not only am I a feminist, but I am a humanist. I believe in certain actions that make up civilizations. I am not writing about the grand jury decision. I am writing about a man, it could be any man, who is capable of killing someone and going on with their life as they always did.

 

Darren Wilson spent his time between the murder of Michael Brown and the verdict moving from house to house. He feared for his life. He feared for his life…as Michael Brown must have at those last few moments of his life. Hands up. No longer running. He turned to face the officer who was chasing him. He was doing the right thing and he was shot in the head and killed for his effort.

 

Darren Wilson said he feared for his life. That seems very cowardly to me. Police officers are supposed to be men of rational thinking and bravery. This officer running after a kid who may have stolen some Cigarillos and walked in the street. Was Michael’s behavior without fault? No it wasn’t. He exhibited the behavior of a teenager with raging hormones. Mouthy, not listening to adults and breaking rules. I have four teenage grandchildren and I have stood toe to toe when they got angry.

 

But angry they were, for about 20 minutes then the kid I knew returned. Should they have been murdered for their actions? No. They get grounded and there is a talk about anger management.

 

Now, there is Officer Darren Wilson who got paid administrative leave for being a coward and shooting at Michael’s head knowing he was going to kill him. They say he got death threats and he had to move around for safety. He also got married. In a very quiet, under the radar ceremony, he married a fellow officer.

 

People protesting and grieving around the country and then even in the world. I have tried to imagine what Michael Brown’s parents must feel like but I can’t. Not really. I have lost a husband and it was the most horrible experience. I can’t even imagine the pain of losing a child. Both of his parents have done their best to mourn in public, to try to receive justice from our country and from the world.

 

They are so very courageous in my mind. They are not the only parents in America that are dealing with grief, sorrow, injustice and pain because their child has been shot in the bloom of his life.

 

Thousands if not millions of people are grieving in the world for their children who do not have justice. Officer Darren Wilson is celebrating his nuptials and starting a new life. He is not grieving and he has denied being remorseful. A civilized man would not be living in joy after taking a life, even in the call of duty. Shame on you Darren Wilson and shame on your bride for celebrating your joy when you are responsible for the pain of Michael’s family and friends.

Is Gratitude Trivial?


I saw the Neurologist this morning. We had an unusual conversation. We talked about gratitude. I learned some interesting facts. Most of our conversation was taking place around the concepts of past, present and future. They are doing more and more research on the way the mind works.

 

I think this is a very important direction for neurology  to go into. So little is really known about how our minds work. How do each of us learn best?  How do we survive trauma and violence? What can we learn about how to deal with mental illness and the part it plays in violence in our world? Why are some people drawn to violence and some completely repulsed.

 

They know some victims of violence, have a brain that rewrites itself. It goes around the areas damaged by the pain, trauma and fear in the past. But do they all rewrite the same? Probably not, because some abused children become serial killers and some are good citizens who care about others.

 

Writing is one thing that scientists suggest as a way to deal with the traumas in our lives. When you sit down to write and put pen to paper, what comes out is the real truth and sometimes what we aren’t aware of on a conscious level. Free writing is putting pen to paper and just write without stopping. Write for thirty minutes. If you hit a block, write stuck, stuck, stuck until the words begin to flow again.

 

Scientists are doing case studies about going back to basics. To start at the very beginning. To go into a meditative state. Breathe in and out slowly and put your awareness on how the breath flows, how your heart is beating and how your lungs are taking in air and pushing used air out. As you finish the outbreath and are beginning to take your next in breath say thank you with an open heart. The thank you is for the fact that your body works. There may be parts that are not working right, but the basics work. Your body will take you where you need to go. Even if it constantly hurts, it is still working and you are here. So thank you is all that is required from you. It is pretty easy, yet it effects your mind and how your subconscious works.

 

The subconscious mind lets go of pain, trauma and fear. The future becomes brighter and manageable. The scientists have determined that chromosomes elongate and we begin to feel younger. I don’t think any of us would mind feeling younger.

Namaste to everyone.

 

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Feeling a little bit younger is good.

Feeling a little bit younger is good.

 

 

Don’t live with Violence


If you are living with violence, you must protect yourself and your children and get out. We all go into a relationship feeling love and having dreams. Your wedding day was just what you had wanted it to be. You had a beautiful honeymoon and you were so happy and so in love. It was a perfect wedding night.

 

Now, you are dressing for dinner. The two of you had had such a lovely afternoon and a delicious dinner. People toasted you in the dining room and when the band began to place you danced in your husband’s arms. A nice man asked to dance with you, but your husband said no. He was pretty quiet for the rest of the evening.

 

He decided you were going to go up to your room. You didn’t really want to leave but tomorrow was sightseeing. He says nothing on the way to your room. You are thinking about the nightgown you are going to wear to bed. He walks into the room behind you; then shuts and locks the door. You turn around with a smile on your face and he opens up his hand and hits you so hard that when you look in the mirror, you see the red hand print.

 

You are stunned. What happened? He is yelling and calling you names and telling you are a slut because that man asked to dance with you. You face aches. He grabs your arm and twists it while telling you that you will never dance with anyone else. He is shaking you so hard that your teeth chatter. You are trying to get away and are terribly afraid. What is going on?

He walks out, slamming the hotel door. You stand there with tears running down your face. Why did he get so upset? What should I do? You clean up and carefully get ready for bed. Carefully, because your face is very sore and your arm hurts. You cry yourself to sleep.

 

In the morning, you wake and his side of the bed is empty. You are shocked and very confused. Then the door to the hotel room opens and he walks in. He looks awful. You can tell he has been crying. He has brought you a huge bouquet of red roses. He is sorry. He never meant to handle you in a violent way. He loves you and it will never happen again, he swears. He kisses you and cuddles you and you make up. Your world becomes whole again. He is so wonderful to you, considerant and thoughtful.

 

Life goes on. Everything is fine. And one day, a girlfriend calls and asks you if you want to go shopping. You said, “Sure.”

You quickly get ready to meet her at the Mall. You leave a note on the kitchen table in case you will be late coming home.

You and your friend shop, have lunch and a couple of glasses of wine. It had been such a fun day. You are now a little bit later than you expected, but you left a note. No problem. You walk into the house and call out, “I’m home.” Your husband walks into the living room where you are hanging up your coat and  begin to show him your purchases. His voice drips with sarcasm. “Where have you been?” You mentioned the note you had left. He says you hadn’t had his permission to go shopping. What? What is he talking about?”

 

He grabs you and punches you in the face. You hear a crack and then another punch. You go down to the floor and he begins to kick you. He kicks you where bruises will be covered with clothing. You are screaming at him to stop and he is screaming at you. He accuses you of meeting a man and cheating on him. He picks up your purchases and throws them everywhere. You can’t stop crying. He holds up the nightgown you bought to wear for him and he rips it apart. He screams you had worn it for your lover.

 

He took you to the hospital and refused to leave you side. You had taken such an awful tumble down the stairs. The staff allows him to stay. There isn’t much they can do for you. They bind your torso, give you pain meds, suggest you carpet the staircase which your husband agrees is very important. You go home with your discharge papers and he gently helps you out of the car when you reach home.

 

He is again sorry. Terribly sorry. It will not happen again. Please don’t leave him. He can’t live life without you. He will kill himself if you leave. You are in agony, the pain pills are making you fuzzy and soon you just fall asleep.

 

You used to discuss this type of incident with your Mom and your sister. You met a woman who is being battered but what she suffers is so different from what happens to you. As the months and years go by, your lady friend went to a Domestic Violence shelter. You never see her anymore. The shelter moved her to a new state so she could start again with a new identity. Your mom develops Cancer and he gets edgy when you go to see her. The day your Mom dies, you feel totally lost and there really isn’t anyone to talk to. You don’t realize that he has gradually isolated you from all of your friends and your sister. He calls them trouble makers. He is the one who really loves you. The only one who loves you.

 

Now, you just do what he says. Nothing matters anymore. Then one day you think about the battered woman you had been friends with. You wonder if the Domestic Violence Shelter is still in town somewhere. You get ready and call a taxi. You tell the driver what you need and he delivers you at the Shelter.

 

You talk with a counselor, have a bite of lunch. They explain what they can do for you, including legal representation. You decide to go home and pack a suitcase. You have to get away from him. So you go home. The shelter gave you a list of things to bring. You are moving as quickly as possible and try not to forget anything like your medicine. You hear a small noise behind you and you turn. Your husband is standing there screaming that you cannot and will not leave him. He pulls a revolver out of his jacket and shoots you dead. The neighbors hear the screaming and the gun shot and call 911. You are dead on arrival at the ER.

 

More women are killed trying to get out of a battering relationship than at any other time. Abusers have a motto. I call it a motto because it every one that I ever worked with would tell the woman, ” If I can’t have you, no one will.” I can tell you from my experience that they mean it.

 

Does this mean you should stay? No. Never. But the leaving must be planned in advance and in secret. No one can know where you are going. There is an underground railway to move women who are in the greatest danger. Some abusers are just much worse than others. Though none of them are good. Usually a well executed plan can take a month or more to put into place. Don’t go back. He will kill you in time or you will kill him trying to protect yourself. There are so many women and men working to help abused women. You are never alone. Domestic Violence is a crime. The court system will punish him for what he did to you.

 

If you are a man being abused I must give you the same advice. Abusers don’t stop abusing. Male or female. They will simply move on to another partner and begin the battering again. People care about you. So try to get out. Try to get to a safe place, a shelter or even a hotel. Talk to counselors and the police. No matter what, it is never all right to hit another person. You deserve better. You deserve to not live in fear and violence.

 

 

Zentangle by Barbara Mattio. Copyrighted 2014

Zentangle by Barbara Mattio. Copyrighted 2014

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