My Body is a Battleground

Dear God,

My body is a battleground. 

All round  sirens blare,

Words drop like bombs.

Boots laced, shield ready,

I wait for the next assault–

A war, You never intended.

My body is a battleground.

Shoved into the back room

Painted with animals,

Like a naughty child

Or a POW–silenced.

My body is  a battleground.

 

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Monday Musings

This month, I’m reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women.

Despite being written 220 years ago, the sentiments expressed still echo the plight of women and how men treat them. I’m saddened that we have not come so far in the fight for equality. Here are a couple of passages that have had me thinking:

Men, in general, seem to employ their reason to justify prejudices, which they have imbibed, they can scarcely trace how, rather than root them out.(33)

Milton describes our first frail mother; though when he tell us that women are formed for softness and grace, I cannot comprehend his meaning, unless, in true Mahometan strain, he meant to deprive us of souls, and insinuate that we are beings only designed by sweet attractive grace, and docile blind obedience, to gratify the senses of man when he can no longer soar on the wing of contemplation. How grossly do they insult us who thus advise us only to render ourselves gentle, domestic brutes!(44-45)

 

Question: What are your thoughts? 

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Celebrating Women: Looking To the Future

Feminism, VDay 2007 and Mephoto © 2010 Julie Jordan Scott | more info (via: Wylio)

 

Where do we go from here?

 

As women, as mothers, as daughters, as sisters… how do we move toward a better future for women? As this Women’s History Month ends, we have chronicled our personal journeys through feminism, shared our struggles as feminist parents, reminisced about women writer’s we adore. Part of me is a bit sad to see this wonderful time of sharing stories—women’s stories, lives, and celebrating the wide diversity inherent in our gender. This month, we celebrated the silenced, the oppressed, the too often trivialized voices of women. We thank each of you participated, wrote, supported us championing this Celebration of Women.

 

But we must move on….

 

We cannot stay here, revel in our past glories of feminism, or continue to rehash our past life journeys. We must move forward. So, where do we go from here? What is the one thing we can do today to improve the lives of women—for us, our daughters, mothers, sisters? While I pondered this one thing, I kept hoping that some great epiphany would descend from heaven, ignite the fire of mind, and reinvigorate my muse. But I must apologize that I have no such epiphany. There it was. The one thing, we women can do.

 

We must stop apologizing for being women.

 

We must stop explaining, apologizing, making excuses for being a woman. Why should we denounce our gender’s unique qualities? We apologize for that special time of the month. We apologize for our overly emotional needs. We apologize for maternity leave. We apologize for our choices of career, family, breast feeding vs. formula. We apologize for championing women’s causes. We apologize for being strong women. We apologize for being submissive women. We spend more breathes apologizing for how nature made us. Why?

 

For too long, we have divorced our identity from its source—our gender’s uniqueness. We feel that we must differentiate between women’s causes, women’s rights and human rights or human causes. Women’s rights are human rights not a bifurcation based upon gender. But we women continue apologizing for wanting more rights for women, for equal pay, for equal humanitarian aide.

 

Today, we stop apologizing for being women.

Women Writing Well

 

 

Today’s post is my first vlog attempt. Please be kind!

I mentioned several books that you may want to add to your collection. So, here are the necessary links to Amazon so you can purchase copies for yourself.

Sandra Bost’s book Massanutten Mansion

Rachel Held Evans’s book Evolving in Monkeytown

Anne Jackson’s book Permission to Speak Freely

Feminism: Through My Life

What does feminism mean to you?photo © 2006 Quinn Dombrowski | more info (via: Wylio)

 

 

No one definition embraces its full scope. No one woman embodies its full vision. No set of words capture it—no matter how raw, graceful, or elegant. It does not exist in unified form; yet, it serves to unify the silenced, the abused, the First World, the Third World, the lesbian, the housewife, the academic, the high school drop out, the faith-filled, the agnostic. Underneath its wings, women grow stronger, more self-aware. They find voices to speak back to power and hegemonic authority. They find the strength to push against the wall of patriarchy and its abuses. Couched in all of its ideological weight rests Feminism. Loved and shunned. Embraced and rejected—Feminism.

 

Refusing to be hemmed into a succinct definition, feminism’s history is a piece quilt of the women who embrace it and who shun it. We feminists revel in the glory of suffrage. Our fledging step onto the stage of the public sphere. We take pride in those women who broke through the gender role barrier during the 1960’s. Those women who sought for gender equality give us hope. We celebrate the women who forced academia to consider gender differences in learning, to rewrite the literary canon so women writers could take a seat, to allow more women to showcase their intellectual triumphs. Yes, all of these are wonderful depictions of feminism, but they don’t fully show feminism’s deep influence upon me.

 

My definition of feminism cannot be grounded solely in academic language or rallying cries for women’s rights. How can I ever define a movement that embraces women and repulses women at the same time? How do I begin to write about my innermost womanhood that is so intertwined with feminism, but has not completely manifested itself even to me? My lived definition comes from my culled knowledge of feminist theory, rhetoric, and daily choices. The beauty of feminism is the beauty of mutual contradictions. Your definition may contradict mine, but we can embrace our common ground underneath this shared banner of feminism.

 

I choose to define my feminism is this manifesto:

 

My feminism embraces the whole experience of being a woman. Not limited to gender roles, but neither excluding those women who choose to stay within society’s prescribed mandates. A woman has the right to choose her path without fear of scorn for her choice.

 

My feminism embraces the grand meta-narrative of humanity. Both female and male voices speaking together without clamoring over one another. A beautiful dialogue of harmony, peace, and love.

 

My feminism embraces the mystery of faith. A faith grounded in love. A faith rooted in the ideology that we speak up for the poor, the widow, the orphan.

 

My feminism embraces ethical living. My lifestyle should never inflict suffering on others within my immediate community, my home nation, or the world.

 

Question: What would be on your feminist manifesto? If you disagree with feminism, what reasons do you have?

 

A Celebration of the Fairer Sex

We know February is Black History month, and we may be aware there is a Hispanic history month.

But how many of you know whose history month comes in March???
Writing!photo © 2009 Markus | more info (via: Wylio)

That’s what I thought. Eclipsed by other celebrations of people groups excluded from the traditional historical narrative, Women’s History Month does not receive as much attention as it should. And as a feminist, I’m not cool with Women’s History month getting slighted.

This Women’s History month, I will collaborating with my friend Veronica and bloggy friend Alise in a joined effort to celebrate the unheard, under-appreciated voices of women. For five weeks, we will be exploring our women have shaped our views about ourselves, women’s rights, parenting and relationships with others, our writing style, even ways we can improve women’s rights.

For this to be a true celebration of women, we need your voice added to ours. We want to learn about how women inspired, influenced you. We invite both men and women to join our voices and celebrate the women who made us who we are. You can participate every week or pick and choose. Here is our tentative schedule for posting:

March 2: Share your personal narrative about how you became the woman you are today or how women influenced how you became the man you are today.

March 9: Our blog posts will focus on strong women/feminism. How you see each one playing out in your life, views, thoughts? Feel free to disagree, but always in kindness.

March 16: We will be sharing how feminism or being a strong woman affects our parenting style for both our daughters and sons.

March 23: We will focus our thoughts on a woman writer who has influenced our writing style or whose writing we adore.

March 30: Our final posts will look toward what still needs to be done to raise awareness about women’s rights either locally or globally. What women’s causes really need to be addressed and how would you address these issues?

Each Wednesday, we will post a linky to so we can join together our posts celebrating women. Also, if you follow us on Twitter, you can use the hashtag #CelebrateWomen to find other Women’s History month posts. We will also be passing along your posts as we read them as well.

Please consider joining our voices as we celebrate women during the month of March.

The Waiting Room pt 2

This is Part 2 of a short story that I have written. If you missed Part 1, here you go!

Clara started suddenly from her bittersweet reverie. She had been waiting for about an hour when she dosed off on an uncomfortable chair. Her eyes full of tears waiting to flow, but a wrinkled arthritic hand stayed the tears’ course. She smoothed the wrinkles of her navy dress with white roses printed over the fabric. Clutching a small handbag containing the usual insurance information that every doctor’s office requested from each patient, Clara sat in a typical doctor’s office with its uncomfortable gaudy thrift-store furniture. The décor of the room belonged to another decade with its faded gold carpet and orange patterned wallpaper. The artificial light cast an eerie yellow glow to the golden and orange jumbled menagerie of floor coverings and wall treatments. The room had no windows for the natural, cheery sunlight to peek through, but the synthetic light gave the office a deadly stillness.

Shifting uneasily in the chair, she remembered that ten years had nearly passed since the death of her husband Edward—Ed for short. She recalled that day ten years ago when she walked into the same office and sat in the same chair. She smiled as she remembered how his gentle, rough hands felt holding her hands that day—but, no more, Clara chided herself for allowing her suppressed memories to resurface again. She glanced at her two companions her daughter Annabel and son Jason each one engrossed in different activities. Her daughter was once somewhat pretty—nothing out of the ordinary—she was now middle-aged and the effects of aging showed visibly upon her visage. Life had made her complacent and accepting of society’s edicts. Jason was a successful businessman who fell in love with himself for his moneymaking abilities. Clara’s two children had accompanied her to the doctor’s office only because Clara had insisted upon it. Neither one of them would have been there except they believed that it was their duty for Clara. Annabel sat pleasantly cross-stitching while Jason paced about the room speaking harshly into a cell phone. Clara just watched them with her eyes full of memories of their happy childhoods.

“Mother, stop worrying. The procedure is painless—remember? Dad didn’t worry as much when he went through this. Relax,” scolded Annabel, “Remember, he called it ‘embarking on a new journey’ or something like that. Dad was always a philosopher at heart.”

“Yes, dear? I know it is painless, but I’m afraid, I mean, I still want to …”

“Mother, no more of that kinda talk,” snapped her daughter, “what you are doing is for the greater good of society.”

Clara was taken aback by the harsh language of her daughter, yes, she had heard all the rhetoric about the “greater good,” and when she was younger she believed it. The phrase the “greater good of society” was tossed about so frequently that it was now a meaningless catch phrase for every situation or person that did not agree with society. She questioned in her own mind the seemingly harmless decisions of her past now affecting her today.

Another Small Ripple…One Large Tidal Wave

Memory is a fickle device but oh, so glorious. I love how certain random events—riding on the back of a motorcycle, smelling a warm apple pie—conjure up a vast array of snapshots of my past, pleasant or not. Memory over time eliminates the busyness of the event by focusing on a key detail or sensory impression. Beautiful images which always live in sepia tones…ah, memory.

This memory begins as many do…I recall the sunshine, the familiar drive from Wards Road shopping area, in Lynchburg, Virginia. I’m not sure what year it was, but I was married with two kids, three dogs, and a mortgage– typical for the average American woman. That day, mom and I were driving back from shopping ,listening to the music from her childhood— the 1960’s. She remarked off-handedly that I truly missed an exciting time in the 60’s. No further remarks after that…we unloaded whatever we had bought that day, and I tucked her comment back in the recesses of my memory. I never thought much about how I missed such a turbulent social period in America—the boiling point of civil rights, women’s rights—until now.

This summer has brought the overturning of California’s Proposition 8 which should begin giving equal rights to those who have been denied the rights of heterosexual couple. A small ripple in the water.

This summer has brought a proposed Muslim community center or mosque near the hallowed Ground Zero. Still bleeding hearts gather in the streets protesting, supporting, or just trying to ignore the latest building project in NYC. A small ripple in the water.

This summer has brought the anniversary of women’s right to vote in elections. With the passing of the 19th amendment, women could begin gaining entrance and voice in the public sphere. After 90 years, women still struggle for the same rights that men have especially women in developing nations. Those caught in human trafficking, the sex trade. When do they get to speak? A small ripple in the water.

While I am no psychic, I see these small ripples gaining strength and churning up a massive tidal wave of social upheaval. We need it as a kind of mirror. A mirror shows us a reflection of how we are harboring prejudices, fears, all of which need to be purged.

Question: How do you see the overturning of Prop 8, the mosque at Ground Zero, and women’s right to vote relate to each other? Why is it so hard to notice prejudices so that we don’t need major social upheaval?

Do YOU Know What YOU Are Selling? Part 2

After posting on modesty and its patriarchal influences in Part 1, I realized that this would not be a one post, the “I’m done” type of topic. I have too much to say, and I couldn’t get the this question out of my head. If we teach that women are more aroused through the other senses but sight is the lesser sense—what do we do with the Old Spice Guy?

First, he is aesthetically pleasing, a fine specimen of God’s creation(the Christian version of “damn, that man is FINE, HOT, whatever adjective you like). He prances about with a towel, short, jeans, but never a shirt which would cover up the fine physical specimen. Secondly, his voice is silky, smooth, sexy. Finally, his message channels every badly written online dating description of “what I want in a man.”

How does this relate to modesty again? The main lesson in most sermons on modesty is men are visual so don’t entice their weakness through a women’s clothing choice. This allows men to walk around showing off their boxers, shirts off, or the white tank top undershirt because women are not stimulated visually. Here again, Old Spice Man is still a visual image, designed to stimulate women(of course, so they will be duped into buying Old Spice which I do actually truly love and adore because it does smell wonderful… I like it LONG before the Old Spice Man came around).

Can we fully disconnect the visual image with the delivery of the message? Would this commercial be as effective if it were a radio advertisement? I don’t know because I can’t go back and act like I haven’t seen the commercial. I do believe that we need to redesign how we speak about men’s modesty not just how women are modest. Again, I’m not arguing for women dressing like trashy sluts, but the disproportionate message that only women need to be modest devalues the female body and objectifies it.

Question: What does modesty for men look like? What does modesty for women look like? How would you address the Old Spice guy with your daughters, sons?

Mondays in Monkey Town

Christians have all the answers…or at least, they believe their answers sufficient for any crisis—marriage, loss of employment, natural disasters, and perhaps, even the current gulf oil spill(this usually leads to the game of blame shifting toward the executive branch of the national government).

ALWAYS ANSWERS, never questions.

What does one do when the scaffolding of answers comes crashing down underneath the burden of questions—questions about faith, the Bible, even the goodness of God? How does one sort through the pile of rubbish?

HOW DO WE MAKE SENSE OF A FAITH CRISIS?

This is where the answers cease, and the questions begin.

What attracts me to Rachael’s writing is the similarities between our two faith experiences—both products of Christian homes, Christian college educations even the same major in English. I began reading Rachael’s blog because I loved her simple, elegant, intellectual way of creating a discursive space—a community of those who ask questions. A community for those displaced, thrown out, or guilted out of the evangelical community…a place to ask questions, be heard, and perhaps, heal from the wounds left by those who come in the name of Christ.

Her book Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions continues in the same spirit and refreshing writing style as her blog…no simple, bullet point answers, merely an openness of her faith crisis.

In “Evolving in Monkey Town,” Evans introduces the reader to wide range of faith challenging characters—June the Ten Commandments lady, Adele the Oxymoron, and Sam the Feminist—while skillfully interweaving her story of faith as it intersected with these characters. As I was reading this book, I found a kindred spirit in Sam the Feminist when she said:
“Now, I’ve got no problem with Jesus. But it seems to me that if evangelical Christians were the only ones to have God all figured out, then they would be the kindest, most generous people around.[…] Most Christians I know are only interested in winning arguments, converts, and
elections(201).
With these simple words, this character and this book put into words all the turmoil of feelings, doubts, and lack of answers that have been mulling inside my faith journey. Rachael has written a book that has provided me with a place of solace, healing, and encouragement—that not all followers of Christ are using their faith has a weapon; some are living out their faith through questions.