wildfeministappears

A feminist perspective about the feminist perspective

Month: August, 2012

Modern Day Slavery: A Problem for the Whole World

 

I learned a great deal about human trafficking yesterday in my capstone class.  It was inadvertent, as we were supposed to be learning about how to use the library resources, but my topic of human trafficking in the Midwest was used, and most of the time nothing came up.  It wasn’t so much human trafficking as the Midwest that was hard to pin down, but when it came to recent news, there were a lot of pings.  In fact, Google was kind enough to autofill “Human trafficking in Indiana”, where I live.  One woman was so surprised that she read the line out loud.  Human trafficking in Indiana?

A few people laughed uncomfortably, realizing that this should not shock anyone.  But I heard the thought process across the room, because I had heard it out loud before.  Human trafficking can’t happen here!  That’s so third world!

Unfortunately, the case stands.  To believe that you are safe from human travesty is just a self defense mechanism.  Sex trafficking happens in third world countries.  Sex trafficking happens here.

People get sick and die in third world countries because they can’t access health care.

People get sick and die in America because they can’t access health care.

People are raped and beaten with no legal recourse.

And we are all forced to listen to people in power make remarks that hurt us and undermine our lives.

This is no third world experience.  This is the human experience.  And when it comes right down to it, we are no different than our ancestors.  Our house is still a hut designed to protect us from wild animals and intruders.  We still use light to protect ourselves from being snatched up in the darkness.  We still eat animals and food from the ground.  We still live in tribes and defend ourselves from the other tribes.

Empires have risen and fallen, and despite the common idea that America was there yesterday and will be there tomorrow, we still live in a system that allows nations to crumble to the ground and be built back up as new nations.

So yes, modern day slavery in the Midwest may resonate as impossible, but it happens every day.  Ohio just found out that an average of 1000 children are taken into slavery every year in their state.

Don’t deny that crimes are happening around you!  Defend your tribe!  Defend yourself!  Expose the dangers that are taking over our lives!

You do not live in a different world from anyone else.  You just wish you did.

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Dear Mother Jones

Dear Mother Jones,

I know this won’t mean much to you, but my grandmother died on Wednesday, and as odd as it sounds, you were the first people I thought of.  You see, my grandmother and I had a special bond.  She always respected my intelligence, and while she was giving People and other pop magazines to my other cousins, she was giving me Mother Jones.  I always tried to understand what was going on in the magazine; often times she would have to explain it to me.  Still, those times were so  happy.

For the last two years of her life, I couldn’t see her because of family problems.  We didn’t speak, didn’t write emails, and my heart broke because I couldn’t be near her.  But every time I saw a Mother Jones article, I felt closer to her.  I just subscribed this year so that I could hold the magazine in my hands once again.  Your journalism was the standard for my writing throughout high school, and my grandmother kept every article I wrote in a folder, and when I became editor-in-chief, she kept every newspaper.

Now that I won’t even be at her funeral, I can only give my eulogy here.

My grandmother was a great woman.  She achieved a PH.D in Chemistry at a time when women were discouraged from just getting their undergrad degree.  Her career was spent at Eli Lilly, where she helped discover a heart decongestant.  She had a great collection of dolls and books.  She painted beautiful pictures.  And when she retired she devoted her life still to helping people, particularly her grandchildren.  She donated money to Native American reservations, and even started a scholarship for Liberal Arts students from a dying factory town in our state.

She always defended my writing.  All of my cousins ended up being active in sports, a few in music, a few in art, but I was the only one who wrote.  And God love my grandmother, she defended the god-awful vampire story that I wrote when I was fourteen.  She was always proud of me.  And I like to think she would be proud of me today.

My grandmother died the day I went to interview for Planned Parenthood’s internship position.  I was grateful for my husband not telling me until after the interview, because I don’t think I would have made it through otherwise.  But now I have the internship, and although I’m ecstatic about it, it hurts to think that I’ll never be able to have my grandmother be proud of me once again for doing something right with my life.

But at least I can tell you, Mother Jones.  At least I can smile each time I hold your magazine and realize that I’m helping to do something about the problems you report on.  I think my grandmother would like that.

Waste Through Hate

There has been a lot of concentrated backlash against feminism lately.  The “men’s rights activists” are on full alert in forums, and many loyal conservatives are trying to belittle the We are Women march that happened in DC.  Fortunately, I’ve seen little support for them on a large scale, and I hope that people will continue to understand that what feminists are working for is not the degradation of society, but a system of support and equality for all.

What really disturbs me about the backlash is the way that anti-feminists are trying to belittle us.  There is no argument, only snide comments and insults.  They sit and laugh at our attempts of being visible, and invite others to laugh along with them.  I wonder where the honest discourse has gone.  I wonder why we can no longer have different opinions without demonizing each other.  I don’t blame others for having a different opinion from me.  I only work towards making sure that those opinions and lifestyles don’t end up hurting other people.

This active need to tear down others is so saddening.  Gay marriage hurts no one.  Equal rights for all genders and races hurts no one.  But people still refuse to allow these basic rights, and they do it through hate and scorn.

Why are we so obsessed with how others make themselves happy?  Life should be happy, and we should be praising each other and building each other up for being so happy!  Instead, some people make it their personal prerogative to destroy happiness that doesn’t even affect them.  Their concern is solely for themselves.  They worry.  Worry that somehow, this is going to come back around to them.  Make them less moral, take rights from them, raise their cost of living.  It’s just not true.  Equality has time and again shown to improve the lifestyles of people, and if the morals of others damages your own morals, then you weren’t convicted enough as it is.  Besides there’s no harm in your morals being changed so that you are a more accepting and loving person!

We should be working together against what really makes us unhappy.  What really takes away our rights and raises the cost of living, ruins our lives and the lives of those we love.  We should be working together to end sexual violence, poverty, abuse, and a myriad of other issues that ruin lives every day.

I don’t know you, but I love you.  I want you to be happy and to have a fulfilled life.  I want you to do something that makes you proud of yourself, that lets you know that you are worthwhile.  Hating others is never going to give you that feeling of joy.  So if your first action is to attack that which doesn’t hurt you, take stock of why you want to hurt others.  Question your own values and the purpose of your attack.

On a practical note, being hateful is going to get no one on your side but those who already hate as much as you.  You can mock and laugh together, but at the end of the day, nothing gets done.  Nothing changes.  The only difference in that day is that you took action to hurt someone else, and there is no joy in that.

Constant Little Reminders

Once I became a feminist, I found that there was no getting away from the constant reminders of needing to be a feminist.  From the anti-abortion billboard a few blocks from my school to the protestors at the women’s clinic down the street from my house, the church board saying “Eat more chicken” to the emails begging me to sign the petition against the human rights travesty of the week, I see why I need to fight.

We live in a time where the lines are deeply drawn between two opposing sides.  Standing in the middle is nearly impossible, as even the local news has an opinion on where we should go from here.  And I certainly can’t stand in the middle.  I can see both points of view, because they are there, always, for consumption.  Our blogs, facebook, twitter, news, friends, family all have their points of view branded on them.  But there is no way for me to let both sides “live and let live”.  The side that I stand on sees the other side as hurtful, ripping people’s rights away so that they can stay with the status quo.  I see them mocking my loved ones, calling them names for being who they are and loving who they want.

I can’t take it.  I can’t allow them to hurt the people around me.  I have to stand my ground.  And these constant little reminders help me to stay to my convictions, because I can see the fight everywhere.  It isn’t a small thing that we do!  We fight for those we love, whether they want us to or not.  Whether they see the purpose or not.  I don’t mind.  Because I love them.  I love the people around me, and I love the potential of the world.

Don’t get worn down by these reminders.  Take them as little pushes to do what is right, to stand your ground.  You can see the problem clearly, so the solution isn’t far off.

Saudi Arabia’s New Project

Yesterday I found a story that fascinated me.  The anthropologist in me wants to study this story from the very beginning, but the undergrad in me knows that without previous research, I’ll never get it approved for my capstone.  So, I’m just going to work on it here!

Saudi Arabia has found a way to work around Sharia law and allow its educated women to move into the workforce.  The project should start next year, in the Eastern part of Hofuf, and should create about 5000 jobs just for the women.

How are they doing this, you ask?  They’re creating an entirely woman run city.

That’s right.  The only way they can find to allow their women to work is to bring them into an area where men will no longer be allowed to go.  Women will be working on all parts of the work process, including managerial, and the project should bring about 133 million dollars into the economy.

To be honest, I am nervous about this project.  Violence against women, especially women trying to gain or who have an education, is horrifically prevalent.  Many of them will probably be walking to that area alone, and call me pessimistic, but in many violent areas women are grabbed and assaulted when they walk anywhere, and I’m afraid this will be no different.

I’ve never heard of another project like this, so I’m anxious and excited to see how it will work out and change the culture.  I’m also curious about what culture will develop in that area.    I’ll probably be posting about it whenever I find new information, so expect updates!

Related Links

The Raw Story

Guardian

The Jane Dough

RT

NWO Truth

New York Daily News

My Birthday Post

Well, my birthday is this Sunday.  I’m turning 26, and while that isn’t a big age to jump into, it does lead into my last year of college.  I’m both thrilled and daunted by this.  I’m thrilled that I’m going to finally finish my degrees, but I’m also daunted by the fact that I have yet to start any leads on a full time career after the fact.

Although this blog does pay big dividends in self esteem, it does not, in fact, pay real money.

But I’m so excited for my birthday!  I get to spend the day with my family and a few of my friends, I get to eat out somewhere fancy, and I’m guaranteed to get my Necron army for Warhammer 40K.  Provided I can kick my ass in my schoolwork, the year should turn out great.  I have a full year anthropology capstone coming up, and I’m hoping to do something over sex trafficking, although I’m having a hard time pinpointing what I want to focus on.

I know, I’m rambling about myself a lot for my Friday post.  I’m sorry, and we’ll get back to the normal schedule come Tuesday.  But man, what a year!  I went to a Feminist conference, my first rally, Washington DC, became regional and state director for Unite Women, wrote my English capstone about the word “feminism”, made new friends that I love, my blog is more successful than I expected it to be, my twitter account is still thriving, and I’m more at peace than ever.

So, without boring you further, I leave you with pictures of little old egotistical me, and I hope you all have a good weekend!

 

Just a Quick Thought

I don’t think feminists are causing your unhappiness.  I think you don’t want your failures on your shoulders and you want to believe that by feminists giving women more freedom, you were forced to make choices that made you unhappy.

Go to the source of unhappiness.  Make peace with your mistakes and stop blaming others.

Work Hard, Be Loud!

I thought these pictures might go along nicely with my previous post. Enjoy!

 

The Anonymous Feminist

In junior high, I had my first little bit of activism.  We had a perverted gym teacher who graded us on our breast size (a strange distinction considering we were all about the same size).  He also peeked into our locker room to watch us as we changed, and we became quickly tired of hiding in the corner while getting into our gym clothes.  All of the girls marched down to the front office and demanded that he be fired.

The front office, being as unbiased as possible, had us all write down our complaint.  We had the choice to stay anonymous, and I took that choice because I feared repercussion from my family if they found out.  Unfortunately, our complaints led to nothing and the gym teacher stayed on.  The two girls who signed their names were yelled at, and as I watched them take the blame for all of us, I felt a twinge of guilt.  I wanted to walk up to him and tell him that I had also complained, and that his excuses were nothing to us.  But I never did.

I still feel guilty about my decision, although at the age we were at, it was hard to make that kind of sacrifice.  But how would the tables have turned if we had all signed our names?  Would he have been able to yell if he had to look at all of us, with our accusing eyes, the boys having no choice but to hear what he was talking about?  Would we have won?

This is how I feel about feminism now.  So many women have made the sacrifice, to stand up without fear and say that they are tired of dealing with the bullshit.  And there are so many others who agree with them that decide to stay silent and allow them to be yelled down, to be told that they were wrong because they were the minority, the children, the delinquents just looking for trouble.

When you admire first, second, and third wave feminists, but refuse to take up the name with them, you’re taking away what little agency they had in the first place.  You’re standing behind them, far away behind them, saying, “Good for you, but I won’t add my voice to the fight.  I refuse to sign my name next to feminism.  It’s too much for me”.  You let them guard you from the punishment that will come.  Your friends, mentors, leaders and models are protecting you and giving you rights.  And you refuse to stand on the line with them because you’re scared.

But how amazing would feminism be if we all took up the name?  The stigma would wash away because we would all stand with our collective voices against the perverted enemy.  The enemy would have to look us in the eye, and explain himself to all of us.

We’re not just a scattered group!  We’re a powerful force, and you have harmed us!  You have done wrong, and now you must answer to us!  We are not the minority!  We are feminists!  What do you have to say to that?  Now you have to answer with the world watching, judging you instead of us, because we stood together and signed our names to the cause!  There is nothing anonymous about us!

Take a moment and think about whether or not you’re being too quiet.  Imagine the enemy staring down at a few speaking out, and then imagine that same enemy backing down because now he has to answer to all of us.  Tell the enemy alongside your fellow feminists that you will not take his excuses, that you know what he’s doing, and that he has no right to do it.  Admit that you’re a feminist, and stand with your heroes.  You’ll soon find that speaking out is less frightening with other feminists at your side.

 

Put Down Your Shovels

Okay, I’m pulling out the Oxford English Dictionary on this one, and someone’s about to feel like I’m yelling at them, but that’s not what’s happening.  I’m simply clarifying a linguistic pet peeve of mine.

Feminism cannot be dead, because it cannot die.  Ideas do not wither up under scrutiny and time and fall into a grave of their own insecurity.  Even if you took the word “feminism” out of the language, the idea would still be there, stirring up controversy.  People will always search for equality, and women have always struggled to gain and keep their rights.  The movement may appear to “die off”, but there will always be someone working towards the goal.

Saying that a movement is dead is just a way for people to discourage others from joining that movement.  When they say that feminism is dead, they really mean that they don’t believe it has power anymore and can no longer sway the public, or that the word has become so smeared that using the term can only hinder the cause.  This is simply not true.  The word “feminism” has been around for too many years.

Oxford English Dictionary traces it back to at least 1887.  From there on people have been attacking feminists for their agenda, and nothing has ever changed.  Newspapers have time and again placed feminists in the center stage when it came to social change for women.  Even if the people fighting for women’s equality refused to call themselves feminists, other people would still call them by that name.

This is not a testament to the power of words; this is a testament to the power of a strong ideal.  You cannot strike it down.  You can’t kill it, and it can’t die.  So stop asking “Is feminism dead”.  Feminists, Femininjas, Feminazis, Femi-whatever, we’re still talking about working towards equality for all, and there is no grave for you to bury it in.  So put down your word shovels and go do something else.

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