Jim Carter, Wow!

April 3, 2013 § 3 Comments

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

OBSERVER

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media

http://www.womenspress-slo.org/?p=11440

Advertisements

The Stuff We are Made Of

March 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

I grew up in an intergenerational family and spent a lot of time with my grandmother who, next to my mom and dad was the most important caregiver in my world. I spent many nights with her throughout my entire childhood (and later, in adult years), often going directly to her house after school where we’d have dinner and then curl up in bed and watch Entertainment Tonight and 60 minutes. At night she scratched my back with long manicured finger nails painted in deep burgundy red. The smell of her Givenchy perfume floated on the soft pillow down and (high thread count) cotton pillow cases.    I knew even then she had a special kind of grace and class, beauty and femininity, I might not ever attain.  I thought femininity was something mysterious and wondered if, eventually, it would just “happen” to me;  I wondered if I would one day start to smell sweet, and if my fingernails would grow long, slender, and beautiful.     At that time,  I gravitated towards scuffed up black army boots and ripped jeans, and could barely  find the time or interest to even brush my hair.    These memories, and countless others, of being with her in her home as a child are precious and even spiritual to me, an inseparable and beautiful part of my history and my identity — where I come from, the stuff I am made of.

Here we are at my high school graduation, one of the first times in my life I’d ever dressed up!

Intergenerational family also means sharing our lives with people who have grown up in very different historical contexts.  This is an amazing learning experience for everyone in a family, if we are open enough to listen to one another and to care about each other’s lives.

There were a few times in my childhood when my two boy cousins and I were sitting around my Granny’s large oak coffee table and she turned to me (the only girl) to say teasingly “why don’t you make the boys a sandwich, they look hungry.”  This was met with chuckles from us all.    “Over my dead body”  ripped into my thoughts like a self-protective reflex,  and would have been my natural first response to her or anyone else who had such an idea, had my grandmother’s presence not stirred in me a deep respect.   Thankfully, my cousins had the good enough sense to let her know this wouldn’t be necessary.  “Thanks but we’re not really that hungry,” they’d say, trying to control adolescent giggles.  I wondered if my Granny was echoing a long-lost memory of what her mother might have said to her in a now distant childhood, in another era long since passed.  I started to wonder about how she had been raised and what it meant to be a woman.

Well, more than two decades have now passed, and my grandmother, now 95, has very different things in mind when we all get together. She wants to know about my film work and what writing projects I am working on, she uses all the contacts she’s got (home care workers, cleaning lady, neighbours) to eek out important connections for me that might help along my career and my social life.  She saves Maclean’s magazine articles she wants me to read.  She is my ally and coach, and let’s me know with no uncertainty: “You’d better get cracking!”

This Christmas, which took place at my grandmother’s house, I thought of my 2-year-old niece playing in the same livingroom where I played when I was her age, around the same coffee table that I grew up with from the day I was born.   I thought about how, in all likelihood, no one will ever say to her (as it had most likely been said to all of her female ancestors) that she should make a sandwich — or do anything, for that matter — just because she is a girl.  I think of all the other rights, thanks to the ways our culture has evolved,  she has been born into. Of course, there will be other challenges for girls and women of her generation, but I can’t help but to think that in some important ways she has come into the world a whole person: A person who will have equal opportunity to  achieve in math and science, sports or sewing, as she will in English or art, if she so chooses  (I was told in highschool that women aren’t good at science,  math or computers – all of which as been disproved by all statistics as well as through my own experience and successes as a film producer).  Many of the choices of women of her generation, I suspect, will not be made on the basis of gender but on the basis of interest and inspiration.

Gender equality is something that is learned in childhood, inside our homes.  We learn that women are valuable and worthy of love by how the division of labour is established, or, in the case of divorce, through the equity with which assets are shared.  Inside our homes, we learn that mom matters when mom and dad share the chores —  not because they are “feminists” but because mom’s life has value just like dad’s and because equality and taking care of one another is actually one of the primary foundations of love itself.   Inheritances, similarly, reflect whether or not, and how a family acknowledges the feelings and value of all of its members.  All of these choices and how we make them, have their roots in the historical context that all of us — women and men alike — were born into. If left unconscious and unexamined, it dictates the amount of value we extend to boys over girls, women’s lives and potential over men’s lives and potential, work done by women over work done by men.   The whole world is healed as we move towards equality inside our homes and between the people we love.

When I got a little older, I found out that my grandmother and all the women of her generation (including my great-grandmother as well, obviously)  had been born into a world where women were not even allowed to vote.  I found out a lot of other things about the context in which she was born and lived her life, through many years of studying and reading.   Some of this knowledge hurt me (it is true that ignorance is bliss), and some of it fascinated me, but I discovered along the way that values of equality, freedom, and inclusion are as important to me as the air I breath.  You could say this makes me a feminist, or simply, someone who believes in the worthiness of every individual soul.

In the span of her lifetime, my grandmother lived through nearly every wave of  feminist history, and was there as within only a few decades nearly every expectation of women and centuries of habitual relating, was turned on its head.   When I am in a room with my family, spanning – amazingly! – four generations of  women now, I think about the incredible potential we have for healing not only our societal, cultural and personal pasts, but our entire world, by learning about one another’s histories, experiences, feelings, and memories.

Most of all, I am reminded that women of different generations don’t live our lives in a vacuum, but rather, each of us is part of a vast continuum of women’s history; we are inseparably linked to one another’s lives and experiences.  Our relationships and our memories ebb and flow, interject and mingle with our daily lives constantly, they are the stuff we are made of.

Now, I am off to paint my nails and make myself a sandwich.

The Beauty Myth

February 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

“We do not have to spend money and go hungry and struggle and study to become sensual; we always were. We need not believe we must somehow earn good erotic care; we always deserved it.

Femaleness and its sexuality are beautiful. Women have long secretly suspected as much. In that sexuality, women are physically beautiful already; superb; breathtaking.

Many, many men see this way too. A man who wants to define himself as a real lover of women admires what shows of her past on a woman’s face, before she ever saw him, and the adventures and stresses that her body has undergone, the scars of trauma, the changes of childbirth, her distinguishing characteristics, the light is her expression. The number of men who already see in this way is far greater than the arbiters of mass culture would lead us to believe, since the story they need to tell ends with the opposite moral.”
― Naomi WolfThe Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women

When I grow up I want to be… nice?

August 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

“If you believed you could attract whatever you wanted, you would have said fuck off a long time ago” — Anonymous

Being nice is obviously an admirable quality.  But in my experience, it can also be our greatest downfall.  Niceness is something women have been told to practice since the beginning of time, but how is it working for us these days?  Or, as Janet Jackson once said: “What have you done for me lately…hmmm?”

All too often, our “niceness” is the coverup we’ve used to mask our real feelings or our confusion, or the reality that we actually have no idea how we feel at all — if we are too nice, there is a very good chance that we are completely out of touch with or in denial about our real feelings and our value as an individual. Women are especially prone to this, due to cultural conditioning, but even more so if we’ve been raised in families where being nice was a survival skill.   “Nice” is a good fall back position when you have been  put down or rejected  — or worse– for expressing your real feelings and thoughts. I’d make a bet that this has been, at one time or another, the experience of most women —  something we have  experienced from both the women and the men in our lives.  Many get the message loud and clear that if we are not nice we will not be loveable.  Sadly, this may have seeped into all of our relationships, no matter how mature or evolved we have become.

I believe that being nice — and by nice I mean not expressing the truth of who we are out of fear of the reactions of others  —  worked well for us until we started to do the things that historically men have done: earning our own money, owning our own businesses, buying our own homes, and having relationships based on equality and mutual respect. Obviously, you don’t want to be a “nice girl” in a lawsuit, or Dr. Nice trying to run an emergency room.

“Nice” functions well in relationships that are based on fear, but it doesn’t work in relationships that are based on equality and real love.  Equality by its very nature requires honesty, as one cannot have a relationship — any relationship — based on dishonesty and equality at the same time.

The famous psychotherapist Carl Jung believed that integrating our shadow side (the disallowed parts of ourselves) was an essential step towards what he called “individuation” — a coming into wholeness with the totality  of who one is.  All of us have a shadow, even the nicest among us. For example, if you are very quiet you might have a secret wish to be the centre of attention — this is the disallowed part of yourself.  This unlived shadow might  come to manifest in strange ways, for example, you might  “accidentally” break or lose things of your loved one rather than speak the truth of what is in your heart and mind.   A disallowed shadow side often (albeit sometimes unconsciously) seeks power rather than love.

As long as we are nice, the kind that suppresses our true thoughts, feelings and experience due to fear, we cannot know equality, and we cannot evr experience real love.

David Richo writes: “Human fulfilment happens in the alchemical transmutation of our dark ego into the gold of our spiritual Self.”

In fact, we can’t reach the fullness of our light if we have not touched our darkness.  Remember that all heroines from Joan of Arc to She-Ra have carried a sword.  A friend of mine was recently expressing her anger at someone in her life.  She was quite passionate about her feelings and while she was talking to me and she looked very strong.  Later, she confessed that she felt embarrassed and guilty about “this part of herself” — the part of herself that is self-protective, capable and aware of justice.

Actually, without “this part of our self” – our shadow side — we cannot protect ourselves — our goodness and our niceness — from danger.  We need our darkness in order to protect our light.

When we drop the niceness pretence something else far more powerful — and honest — then has the chance to bloom, and that is the possibility of love itself.

I want to apologize if this post has offended anyone…. (kidding).

Truth Telling and Other Terrors

August 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Marianne Williamson once famously wrote that “our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.”

I believe that the power we seek “beyond measure” can only happen when we have summoned up the courage to tell the truth about our lives.  Often times we hide from the truth because we can’t stand the pain that might lurk inside it: Your boss isn’t ever going to promote you, you have a dead end job and no plan for the future, or  the guy you like hasn’t called you in weeks, and you spotted him just yesterday out to lunch with a supermodel.   Often times it’s just so much easier to live in a false reality  (She’ll promote me one day! He’s just scared of love!) than it is to face the truth of a situation and move on.

Maybe we haven’t asked for that raise at work because deep down we know our boss isn’t going to give it to us, or maybe we haven’t applied for that job we really want because we fear we won’t actually get it.  We’d rather live in fantasy…”when I get that amazing job!”… than stomach the pain of a possible failure.

Or maybe we are avoiding talking to a friend or family member about a very important topic because we are afraid of the truth — maybe they won’t change for us or won’t see our point, or won’t even care.  Maybe we know this already but simply can’t stand to face the pain, the anguish of that truth.  When other people won’t change, the only option then available to us is for us to change. And maybe we don’t want to change, or aren’t ready to.    And oftentimes, when we do tell the truth, relationships do change, and sometimes they even end; understandably we’re not always ready or able to deal with that.

So what do we do?  We don’t tell the truth.

Instead we live in fear and hurt, frustration, bitterness, or expectation.  We deny ourselves the truth of our lives and live in a fantasy of what could have been or might one day be.

I would imagine it is kind of hard to be “powerful beyond measure” when we are experiencing any or all of the above.

One of my favorite writers, Sharon Butala, wrote in Perfection of the Morning: “We haven’t yet told the truth about our lives. Until we tell the truth out loud, no matter how humiliating or painful or at variance with society’s version, we will not come to know what we are, what is truly our world of experience…”

What this means, is that if we hide from others, we hide from ourselves and we remain hidden, disempowered… in this situation our true selves cannot emerge. We cannot step into our power because we have not stepped into the truth of our lives and experience.   Until we do, we continue to bump up against that metaphorical glass ceiling.  We hurt ourselves then, and — you guessed it– we also hurt others.

If we are female we probably have this “little problem” to a different degree than men. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t too long ago — and it still happens around the world today! — that women were considered to be the property of their fathers, brothers or husbands, burned or stoned to death in “honour” killings, and burned at the stake for acting autonomously.  And now you want me to tell you the truth of my experience?! Can we as women really do this and not feel at least some of the terror of what our ancestors have felt before us.  In many many ways, telling the truth about our lives and experience is still a very recent and scary concept.

I really believe that when people start becoming honest,  the world  then opens up.  When we are honest we step into our power. We might not be liked very much but at least we can go to sleep at night with the knowledge that we have integrity and are living our real lives.   We might wake up in the morning as our real self.

But please, just don’t ask me to go first.

Have Pride

July 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

“If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.  Lesbian women inspired me from childhood on to claim the space of my own self-definition.” — Bell Hooks

Last year I walked in Salt Spring’s Pride Parade, which is quite an eclectic assortment of individuals  both gay and straight who come out in droves to support the gay community on the island. Now, even though I am not gay, I felt moved to participate in the march last year for no other reason than that I care about equality, justice, and human rights. I also happen to have a dear cousin who is lesbian and have had many close friends throughout my life as well who are gay and lesbian. Why should these precious individuals ever experience any discrimination because of their sexuality. It takes all of us — gay and straight alike — to change the status quo and to take a stand.

I recently read “Feminism is for Everybody” by Bell Hooks — a mind-blowing fantastic author who I should have read many years ago!  Hooks is a straight black academic woman who teaches at City University in New York, and she is also a revolutionary feminist thinker.

In one of her chapters she talks about the advances that were made for women’s rights due to the work of lesbians who “helped form the women’s liberation vanguard.” She notes that simply being gay does not in and of itself make one a feminist, of course, and yet, many of the advances that took place for women in our society were spurred along by courageous lesbians who were willing to speak out for justice and to live lives of their own choosing.

Bell writes: “Our freedom as women to chose who we love, who we will share out bodies and lives with, has been deeply enhanced by the struggles of radical lesbian women both on behalf of gay rights and women’s rights.

“Without radical lesbian input feminist theory and practice would never have dared to push against the boundaries of heterosexism to creates spaces where women, all women, irrespective of their sexual identity and/or preference, could and can be as free as they want to be. This legacy should be continually acknowledged and cherished.”

This year, I pay homage to the courageous women who came before me, many of them lesbians, who had to confront numerous challenges in order to be themselves — they changed the world and made it a better place for us all.

Get up, Stand up

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

The day before I turned 34, I was riding the ferry home to the island following a long trip to Vancouver and picked up a copy of BC Bookworld. Inside, I read news that a local writer, Brian Brett, was recently awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence for his memoir “Trauma Farm”.

The excerpt in the magazine read:

“As the ninth recipient of the LG Award, Brett got a strong response from the audience for saying the honour he was accepting had not been accorded to a woman since P.K. Page was the first recipient in 2004.

Deep sigh.

I love to read the stories of men who stand up for women — they’re out there; they’re everywhere.

Realisation.  My feminism includes men, lives inside the hearts of men. Men who value justice and equality and human potential.  These men are everywhere but rarely do we take note of them, rarely do we notice how… — sorry I have to say it —  how beautiful they are. Remember, they don’t experience the injustices that women experience.  They may experience injustices for other reasons but not because they are men, unlike women who around the world experience injustices simply because they are women. These men stand up for what they believe in because they want to see a different world where their colleagues and lovers and friends are allowed their full potentials as human beings.

On the second little ferry that I took home to Salt Spring island later in the evening, I was offered a ride home from a zen teacher and writer.  On the way down those familiar country roads he told me of the years he spent translating an important Japanese poet into English and of how this ancient thinker believed that men and women were equal in every respect.  If the words of this teacher could gain more exposure, it would change the world, he told me.

He said that when he was a child growing up on the east coast of the USA, his culture taught him to stand up when women entered the room.  Women back then had no power, he told me, but they were respected.

He was taught to stand up for women. Today this gesture isn’t necessary, and yet, there are men who are still standing up for women all over the place, standing up with their voices andtheir words, and their ideas and their vision of a world of equality in all cultures, countries and families.

I remember that feminism is about the possibilities of love.  I remember that men and women are partners in the long journey home.

The Stuff We are Made Of

January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

I grew up in an intergenerational family and spent a lot of time with my grandmother who, next to my mom and dad was the most important caregiver in my world. I spent many nights with her throughout my entire childhood (and later, in adult years), often going directly to her house after school where we’d have dinner and then curl up in bed and watch Entertainment Tonight and 60 minutes. At night she scratched my back with long manicured finger nails painted in deep burgundy red. The smell of her Givenchy perfume floated on the soft pillow down and (high thread count) cotton pillow cases.    I knew even then she had a special kind of grace and class, beauty and femininity, I might not ever attain.  I thought femininity was something mysterious and wondered if, eventually, it would just “happen” to me;  I wondered if I would one day start to smell sweet, and if my fingernails would grow long, slender, and beautiful.     At that time,  I gravitated towards scuffed up black army boots and ripped jeans, and could barely  find the time or interest to even brush my hair.    These memories, and countless others, of being with her in her home as a child are precious and even spiritual to me, an inseparable and beautiful part of my history and my identity — where I come from, the stuff I am made of.

Here we are at my high school graduation, one of the first times in my life I’d ever dressed up!

Intergenerational family also means sharing our lives with people who have grown up in very different historical contexts.  This is an amazing learning experience for everyone in a family, if we are open enough to listen to one another and to care about each other’s lives.

There were a few times in my childhood when my two boy cousins and I were sitting around my Granny’s large oak coffee table and she turned to me (the only girl) to say teasingly “why don’t you make the boys a sandwich, they look hungry.”  This was met with chuckles from us all.    “Over my dead body”  ripped into my thoughts like a self-protective reflex,  and would have been my natural first response to her or anyone else who had such an idea, had my grandmother’s presence not stirred in me a deep respect.   Thankfully, my cousins had the good enough sense to let her know this wouldn’t be necessary.  “Thanks but we’re not really that hungry,” they’d say, trying to control adolescent giggles.  I wondered if my Granny was echoing a long-lost memory of what her mother might have said to her in a now distant childhood, in another era long since passed.  I started to wonder about how she had been raised and what it meant to be a woman.

Well, more than two decades have now passed, and my grandmother, now 95, has very different things in mind when we all get together. She wants to know about my film work and what writing projects I am working on, she uses all the contacts she’s got (home care workers, cleaning lady, neighbours) to eek out important connections for me that might help along my career and my social life.  She saves Maclean’s magazine articles she wants me to read.  She is my ally and coach, and let’s me know with no uncertainty: “You’d better get cracking!”

This Christmas, which took place at my grandmother’s house, I thought of my 2-year-old niece playing in the same livingroom where I played when I was her age, around the same coffee table that I grew up with from the day I was born.   I thought about how, in all likelihood, no one will ever say to her (as it had most likely been said to all of her female ancestors) that she should make a sandwich — or do anything, for that matter — just because she is a girl.  I think of all the other rights, thanks to the ways our culture has evolved,  she has been born into. Of course, there will be other challenges for girls and women of her generation, but I can’t help but to think that in some important ways she has come into the world a whole person: A person who will have equal opportunity to  achieve in math and science, sports or sewing, as she will in English or art, if she so chooses  (I was told in highschool that women aren’t good at science,  math or computers – all of which as been disproved by all statistics as well as through my own experience and successes as a film producer).  Many of the choices of women of her generation, I suspect, will not be made on the basis of gender but on the basis of interest and inspiration.

Gender equality is something that is learned in childhood, inside our homes.  We learn that women are valuable and worthy of love by how the division of labour is established, or, in the case of divorce, through the equity with which assets are shared.  Inside our homes, we learn that mom matters when mom and dad share the chores —  not because they are “feminists” but because mom’s life has value just like dad’s and because equality and taking care of one another is actually one of the primary foundations of love itself.   Inheritances, similarly, reflect whether or not, and how a family acknowledges the feelings and value of all of its members.  All of these choices and how we make them, have their roots in the historical context that all of us — women and men alike — were born into. If left unconscious and unexamined, it dictates the amount of value we extend to boys over girls, women’s lives and potential over men’s lives and potential, work done by women over work done by men.   The whole world is healed as we move towards equality inside our homes and between the people we love.

When I got a little older, I found out that my grandmother and all the women of her generation (including my great-grandmother as well, obviously)  had been born into a world where women were not even allowed to vote.  I found out a lot of other things about the context in which she was born and lived her life, through many years of studying and reading.   Some of this knowledge hurt me (it is true that ignorance is bliss), and some of it fascinated me, but I discovered along the way that values of equality, freedom, and inclusion are as important to me as the air I breath.  You could say this makes me a feminist, or simply, someone who believes in the worthiness of every individual soul.

In the span of her lifetime, my grandmother lived through nearly every wave of  feminist history, and was there as within only a few decades nearly every expectation of women and centuries of habitual relating, was turned on its head.   When I am in a room with my family, spanning – amazingly! – four generations of  women now, I think about the incredible potential we have for healing not only our societal, cultural and personal pasts, but our entire world, by learning about one another’s histories, experiences, feelings, and memories.

Most of all, I am reminded that women of different generations don’t live our lives in a vacuum, but rather, each of us is part of a vast continuum of women’s history; we are inseparably linked to one another’s lives and experiences.  Our relationships and our memories ebb and flow, interject and mingle with our daily lives constantly, they are the stuff we are made of.

Now, I am off to paint my nails and make myself a sandwich.

Don’t Keep it in the Family

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

“What all unhealthy families have in common is their inability to discuss root problems. There may be other problems that are discussed, often ad nauseum, but these often cover up the underlying secrets that make the family dysfunctional. It is the degree of secrecy — the inability to talk about the problems — rather than their severity, that defines both how dysfunctional a family becomes and how severely its members are damaged.

A dysfunctional family is one in which members play rigid roles and in which communication is severely restricted to statements that fit these rolls. Members are not free to express a full range of experiences, wants, needs, feelings, but rather must limit themselves to playing that part which accommodates those played by other family members.  Rolls operate in all families, but as circumstances change, the members must also change and adapt in order for the family to continue to remain healthy. […] In dysfunctional families, major aspects of reality are denied, and rolls remain rigid.

When no one can disucuss what affects every family member individually as well as the family as a whole — indeed when such discussion is forbidden implicitly (the subject is changed) or explicitly (“We don’t talk about those things!”)  — we learn not to believe in our own perceptions or feelings.

Because our family denies our reality, we begin to deny it, too. And this severely impairs the develpment of our basic tools for living life and for relating to people and situations […] We become unable to discern when someone or something is not good for us.”

– Robin Norwood

The Perfection of the Morning

January 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

“As I read and wrote and dreamt, it began to seem clear to me that all our women’s lives in this century were false to the extent that we had only one model for life and it was the one devised by males for us, and that we were lost and twisted and at sea and would not find our own strength, the rightness of our lives, and the beauty of our womanliness until we found out who, in our deepest female essence, we are.

We haven’t yet told the truth about our lives. Until we tell the truth out loud, no matter how humiliating or painful or at variance with society’s version, we will not come to know what we are, what is truly our world of experience…

I began to believe I had to write out of that deep, abandoned, forgotten, ignored and discredited place in myself”

Sharon Butala, The Perfection of the Morning  

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the The Feminine category at Safran Films.