Are You a Feminist?


domesticviolence_logo What makes people decide to be a feminist person? For me it was reading about the witch trials in Europe and how women who understood the healing power of herbs and were in attunement with animals were called witches and killed in various horrible ways. Millions of women, men and children were killed for being witches. It was a mass hysteria which took over most of Europe and England. As always, there were sexual favors that might save your life. But torture was always a part of it and men were usually the jailers, guards, judges and executioners. Add to that the abuse from my childhood,  and feminism was what made sense to me in this crazy world, though this was the seventies. We still live in a harsh, unjust and often uncompassionate world.

 

I got involved with Domestic Violence. And I was proud and excited to be able to help women and children; to be a feminist.  “Feminist” is the only tag I will tolerate wearing. Many women live feminist lives and just don’t label themselves as such. I have known women who just never thought of themselves in these terms; but they lived it and passed it on to their children.

 

Feminists are like trees in a woods. We come in all sizes and shapes. Some are intensely passionate, as I was, and marched and picketed for women’s rights and children’s rights. Some quietly lived their lives without giving a thought to what kind of woman they were.

 

Every woman who has taught her sons never to hit a woman is a feminist, whether they use the term or not.

 

Every woman who has taught her sons that “no means no” is a feminist.

 

Every woman who insists their family functions with justice for all members is a feminist.

 

Every mother who teaches her daughters how to take care of themselves is a feminist.

 

A feminist isn’t a weird aberration of what a woman is. A feminist simply believes that all human beings are equal, regardless of sex.

 

He or she believes that women’s work is as important as a man’s, and they should be paid equal wages for equal work.

 

Feminists believe that no one should be owned. We do not believe that marriage means that one partner now owns the other. A couple, married or not, should be equal partners, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses:  a compliment to each other.

 

Feminists believe that no one should have control over a woman’s body except herself. Doctors and the government do not even try to tell men what to do to/with their bodies, yet it is acceptable for them to do so with a woman.  Not to a feminist.

 

Feminists and Humanists believe that  we are all brothers and sisters living on one planet together. We also believe that every child deserves a good education and corporate America should not benefit from these kids financially.

 

Feminists and Humanists believe that lives should be free from fear and violence. If you are in a violent relationship, get out. Call the hotline number on this blog and get the help you deserve.

 

 

It is time for a woman president. I strongly feel this. Men should not have all the power and control in governments and it is time to change this. There have been a few women leaders in countries around the world and now it is time for America to step into the future.

 

The time is way past the days of “the little woman at home, cleaning, taking care of children, and cooking dinners for the boss”.  Those days, rightly, died out in the forties. They died out because of a man, Hitler who brought the world to the brink of destruction. Men were drafted to fight and push the Nazis back into Germany. So our government needed women to go to work. The icon of that age was “Rosie the riveter.”

 

Until the War, a woman had been told she only had value in the home, and then found out she had value in work outside of the home. Some even found out they enjoyed that work outside of the home; it made them feel needed and important. When WWII was over, women were forced back into the home to make jobs for returning vets. For some this was great. For some this chaffed like cheap wool on sensitive skin.

 

Then Betty Friedan wrote a book called the “Feminine Mystique” and the simmering pot boiled over.  Many women wanted to work; others wanted to be home with their families. Many wanted to both have a job and family.  Some women didn’t want to have children, and didn’t feel that made them incomplete, or less of a woman.  None of this had to be an either/or choice. And suddenly, women began to realize that we do, indeed, have choices. We could be the woman we were meant to be. We weren’t less than men, and the choice we could make didn’t make us less of a woman, or more of a woman. Whatever we chose, we could be gloriously all we were meant to be, and all we wanted to be.

 

Progress is coming and women will be a part of it. We will partner in the future with feminist men and make this a better, fairer, kinder world. There will be equality for all lives. All lives will have quality. Hunger will end and disease will be cured not just for the wealthy but for the less fortunate also.

 

Whether you are a silent feminist, an outspoken one or not a feminist doesn’t matter. The future is coming and together we will make it be better than it has ever been.

Namaste, Barbara

 

Embrace your world and make it be whatever you want.

Embrace your world and make it be whatever you want.

 

fgm11

Still I Rise


Holden Beach, NC Photo by Barbara Mattio

Women are not born feminists. Some are born tom boys, some are girly, some are born strongly principled. Some girls have a deep spiritual longing.

So then, what makes a feminist? Life creates feminists. Lovers bring joy, happiness and relationship to life. Some of them not only break hearts, they break our trust. Some of them break an arm or a rib or perhaps,”just” tell us we are nothing.

Women grow up and most go to college and some find that some professors don’t like women students. Some women have to be subjected to sexual harassment . Some women are bullied because they aren’t pretty enough or they are smarter than many of the males in class.

Women sometimes get all dolled up and go out with the girls. Some men think this means they are prey and stalk until they can go in for the kill.

All women realize that today we make $.77 for every dollar a man makes. For the same work. In addition, some must work in a hostile workplace.

I became a feminist because of some of the above scenarios and because I read a lot of history. I became aware that women have always been treated as possessions. Women have “needed” to be owned and controlled. I began reading about the European witch trials and found out that millions of women and children were horribly murdered because their knowledge of herbs and knowing which ones to use for healing made them different. This was a very serious matter if the was no man around to keep her in check. You could be in trouble for being good with animals. Today, we call that being a dog whisperer. or a horse whisperer. It used to mean you were a witch.

When I wanted to have a tubal ligation to prevent further pregnancy I had to bring a paper home from the doctor. This was 1972. My husband had to sign it for me to have the surgery. It was my own body. It belonged to me. But society didn’t see it that way, it belonged to him.

Have you ever gone shopping and hid what you purchased in the trunk? Did then later on sneak it into the house and your closet? That is the sneakiness that develops when we don’t have our own money and are not allowed to make our own choices.

We have gotten past the part where women are not encouraged to go to college unless it was to find a husband. Many women today have advanced degrees and still make less than a man or the same work and same degree. Women continue to be the minority in math and the sciences yet millions are capable to earning degrees in math and science.

Young women today don’t understand that they are entitled to be an equal partner in their relationships. They have the right to make their own money, to practice contraception and to have sex only when they want it. They don’t have to cooperate with their partner unless they wish to.

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But, still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise.
I rise.
I rise.

——Maya Angelou

I dedicate this blog to all of the oppressed peoples in the world. I especially dedicate it to those who have died due to hatred and violence. We won’t give up or go back!

Holden Beach, NC Photo by Barbara Mattio