Tag Archives: Patriarchy

Girl Scout Cookies

10 Jan

I am getting ready to go for my second round of chemotherapy. I am dreading it and I know I have to have it. The first round was far more difficult and miserable than I had anticipated. I have to say this is the hardest thing I have ever done, and it makes sense to me why the nurse at the end of the first chemo treatment ended the seven hour session with: “Thank you for coming in and doing this–you did it!.”  As you all know, I named the tumor Pat, short for Patriarchy (we need to kill Pat), and the port in my chest is named Mueller. After the seven hours of chemo, there is one more chemical that is slow release through a pump via Mueller. I have named the pump Nancy Pelosi to help Mueller kill Pat. During the five days of being horribly sick with nausea (and a whole host of other side effects), I have a lot of time for reflection and sadly, sometimes I fear I start to spiral down into a very dark space that does not help me kill Pat. This reflection was spurred on by my wanting to order Girl Scout Cookies.

I love the Do-si-dos and Robert and I both love the thin mints. I told Robert to ask our neighbors to order some Girl Scout Cookies for us. Internally, I did a nose dive into an abyss of fear. My strange and irrational brain went to: “Wait, what if I die and Robert gets stuck with all of the Do-si-dos cookies? He is allergic to peanut butter. Is it irresponsible of me to order the cookies?”

Having cancer really sucks. For me, I constantly worry and I know I have to figure out a different way to navigate this journey. I have started to try some guided meditation. For those reading and have also gone through a similar journey, what are ways you found helpful in coping with the trauma and the everyday perseverating–am I burdening and fatiguing my support network?

My ask is this: support the Girl Scouts, and if people have advice from lived experience, please do share.

Women’s History Month 2013: Ashley Judd

11 Mar

Ashley-JuddToday we honor and celebrate a powerful woman who embraces the term feminist and stands strong against double standards. Ashley Tyler Ciminella was born in California in 1968 to Naomi and Michael Ciminella. By the time she was in school, her parents had split and her mother took her and her half-sister Wynonna back to her home in Kentucky. The girls were raised with their mother’s birth name, Judd.

Ashley attended a number of schools, graduated, and went to the University of Kentucky. She studied French and women’s studies, including a semester abroad, while she began to develop an interest in acting. Rather than graduating with her class, she drove to L.A. and worked as a waitress while she looked for acting jobs. She found some television work (including a stint on Sisters opposite Swoosie Kurtz) and quickly picked up movie roles. She has worked steadily as an actor for two decades.

During that time, she developed a passion for activism and civil rights. She is an active member of the Board of YouthAIDS. In her travels for that organization she became increasingly aware of the global problems of poverty and has worked tirelessly to engage with organizations and leaders dedicated to broad political and social change. She has worked with Women for Women International and Equality Now and in 2011 joined the Leadership Council of the International Center for Research on Women.

Fully aware of how Hollywood treats older actresses, she also continued her formal education, receiving a a Master in Public Administration degree (MPA) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2010. As a well-known celebrity with strong opinions, Judd has frequently come under fire by the Right and the press. She takes what comes and fires back, brilliantly using any attacks as an opportunity to expose hypocrisy and patriarchy.

Judd has indicated some interest in running for the U.S. Senate; she would oppose Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) in the 2014 election if she runs. The Teahadists are so afraid of her strong, smart presence that they’ve already started the attacks. Karl Rove is running context-free quotes in ads that slam her as an “out-of-touch Hollywood elitist”–elitist theatre, white power and privileged, sounds like Rand Paul to me. Conservative e-rag Daily Caller ran an ugly piece attacking her for having nude scenes in some of her movies. (Strange that Scott Brown’s centerfold spread didn’t seem to matter to them…)

Judd takes it all in stride, simply repeating that she is a feminist and a progressive and that her values translate well to what the people of Kentucky need.  Given the hollow grandstanding exhibited by McConnell’s junior counterpart, Rand Paul, someone with real values and a dedication to justice would be a welcome addition. The idea of a Sen. Judd joining Sens. Gillibrand, Warren, and Baldwin is pretty exciting.

No matter what she chooses to do next, we can count on Ashley Judd to stand up for women and for the marginalized everywhere.

Ashley Judd Tackles Patriarchy

11 Apr

Today it’s a pleasure to celebrate the words of a woman who clearly understands our world, misogyny, and its power structures. I’ve found Ashley Judd to be a strong voice for social justice, surprisingly so given her upbringing and fairly vapid relatives. A strong advocate for youth empowerment, a voice for HIV education and prevention, and an activist against exploitative mining practices, this ardent feminist has a powerful voice that needs to be heard!

When she was recently attacked in the media for daring to look “puffy” during an interview, Judd spoke out. The whole article is required reading, serving as a brilliant indictment of the power of patriarchy. She starts with a smart analysis of the fact that most of what poses as journalism is attack pieces and pop culture obsession. Dismantling the 24-hour frenzy on her puffiness, she notes that she was attacked both for possibly having had plastic surgery AND for not doing enough to improve her appearance on TV. That one interview led to reporters picking apart her every appearance (including scenes shot when she was in character for a show), leading Judd to observe:

the remarks about how I look while playing a character powerfully illustrate the contagious and vicious nature of the conversation. The accusations and lies, introduced to the public, now apply to me as a woman across space and time; to me as any woman and to me as every woman.

Building on these observations, Judd smartly observes that many of the attacks came from women, demonstrating an ugly internalized misogyny:

That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly.

She then clearly articulates why she chose to use this personal public moment to start a conversation and makes a call to action:

I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate?… What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about? What is the self-righteous alleged “all knowing” stance of the media about? How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment?… Is what girls and women can do different from what boys and men can do? … I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women. It doesn’t actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others—and in my case, to the actual public.

It’s also worth noting that Judd is healthy enough to generally ignore the press pieces about her. She understands her own power and privilege and knows that irresponsible journalism is a consequence of that position. Brava, Ashley Judd, for taking this opportunity to craft a brilliant teachable moment about larger issues and how we must evolve as a society to ever achieve true equality.  Brava, Ms. Judd!

Number 3 Bigot of the Year Award 2011: The Ruling Class

30 Dec

Number 3 Bigot of 2011

The Ruling Class or what is now better known as the 1% of Americans who control both the power and distribution of wealth in the United States received many nominations.  I think Sara, a regular TSM reader, put it best when she said:

…the U.S. Ruling Class, which upholds and promotes white, male heterosexual patriarchy throughout the world — at the point of a gun where it can get away with it and with pious proclamations of patriotism and self-righteousness at home. Shamelessly!

I will add to what Sara said and talk more specifically about the distribution of wealth and power in the United States and disproportionality.

ONE % of the population controls 47% of the net financial wealth of the country; the next 19% control another 44% of the wealth, which leaves 80% of the population of the country to try and get a share of the only 9% remaining wealth and resources available–not exactly a wise distribution of power.

The grossly disproportionate distribution of wealth aligns directly to the distribution of power. It is not a great surprise that the 1% is composed of mostly white, heterosexual men who identify as Christian. What is sad is that this 1% is clearly out of touch with at least 80% of the population of the country.  What is worse, is that there is a growing trend of much of the 80% voting against their best interest, due to fear rooted in religion.

It is not a big surprise that our current House of Representatives is composed primarily of the top 2% that hold wealth and power and continue to vote against women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigration rights, and yet call themselves patriots.  The currently Republican-controlled House of Representatives also put up barriers for average Americans by trying to block President Obama’s payroll tax cuts.  These are the same group of avarice that threw temper tantrums to protect the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans and demanded full health care–damn the rest of Americans who cannot afford health insurance.

The Ruling Class should be known as the class of  “I have mine–I don’t give a damn about anyone else,” now that is the American way!  It is easy to see why the Ruling Class in the United States earns the #3 Bigot of the Year Award for 2011.

Flashback to 2010:The Number 3 Bigot of 2010 was shared by NOM and Iowa Voters.

Rick (The P is Silent) Santorum Strikes Again…

17 Apr

I Will Check Every Bedroom For Gay Sex

The ever charm-free Rick Santorum was using the quote Fighting to Make America  America again.  This quote is from a poem by Langston Hughes and  supports unions, social justice and racial equality.  The functioning illiterate Santorum, when informed that this quote was from Hughes, a black homosexual, quickly dropped his new campaign slogan.  I suppose it would not play well for Santorum to quote a poem by a black homo, when he just told Glenn Beck’s radio audience that states should be allowed to outlaw gay sex.  Do we need to worry that Santorum is going to personally police this? Will Robert and I wake up one morning to find Santorum’s nose prints on our bedroom window again?  All I’m saying is that he sure does think about gay sex an awful lot for a “straight” man.  I’m sure the Tea Party must be so proud of Rick–he stands for everything they do: Hate women, hate the homos, hate blacks, hate anyone who is not a white heterosexual christian.  Click here to read the full story, if you can stomach it.

Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex

11 Apr

Equal Rights Equal Pay

As we witness the most vicious attack on women’s rights in my lifetime, I am reminded of what Karl Marx said: Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex. How true these words ring today and how unfortunate we have yet to learn our much-needed lessons from history. Of course, many of our elected officials don’t even know how to spell history, much less have read any (Michele Bachmann et al.).  Last night my husband and I watched Made in Dagenham which I strongly recommend.  While the movie reminded me of Norma Rae, a brilliantly done movie, Dagenham addresses workers’ rights and the need for bargaining. I especially appreciate how Made in Dagenham confronts the issue of gender disparity.  The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 In Great Britain. While the United States passed an Equal Pay act in 1963, it is a matter of but not of practice.

Note to Scott Walker, Paul LePage, and John Kasich you are NOTHING without the laborers and unions. Back to history, I recommend the three of you look at Hegel’s master/slave dialectic.  I realize those are big words for you.  Again, we need a mandatory literacy test for all elected officials.  If the ever -growing disparity between what CEOs earn in contrast to union laborers does not bother you, you are not paying attention. Eliminating 38 million from the budget in order to save tax breaks for the rich and for corporations simply does not make sense.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.  Karl Marx

That Whacky Draconian Tea Party…

22 Mar

What madcaps!

The overwhelmingly misogynistic and overall misanthropic Tea Party is proving far more sadistic than I would have thought possible in 21st Century America. While I’m sure most Americans, when not consumed with the life of Charlie Sheen, are aware of the anti-woman and anti-choice legislation currently being introduced.  But now we have people like Mark Christensen (R-NE) going so far as to introduce a bill to legitimize the murder of abortion providers by classifying such homicides as “justified.”

But wait! It gets worse. The Georgia Legislature is creating a regressive sales tax on food that would then finance a brand new corporate tax cut–makes great sense to protect corporate profits in a time of increasing homelessness and poverty! Speaking of Corporate America: Scott Walker went so far as to statutorily bar  workers from ever again collectively bargaining.

But wait! It gets worse.  Sen. Jane Cunningham (R-MO) has proposed to eliminate child labor laws that would allow corporations to employ any kid under 14 and would terminate restrictions on the number of hours that kid can be forced to work. How nice of the Tea Party to bring us back to the 1850s.

Is America paying attention? The Tea Party is moving a national conversation of governance so far to the right, that the center has now been obliterated. Click here to read about even more legislation that is sick, twisted, and does nothing to help, protect, or defend the American people.

Bell Nuntita: Transgendered Woman’s Road to Fame

20 Mar

Bell Nuntita: Inspirational

Thank you to my friend Tim Jung for sharing this story and inspiring me to write an article for TSM. I’m also happy that I get to publish this story during Women’s History Month.  While I’m quite sad that anything that is gender non-conformist and unacceptable under the Patriarchal heteronormative power dynamic is deemed less than worthy, I take hope in the triumph of Bell Nuntita. Nuntita recalls the bullying she experienced growing up, before transitioning:

They’d always made fun of me, called me ‘fag’, ‘drag queen’, but what could I possibly do?  And my dad never accepted [me] for what I am. The worst, he once beat me badly. He tried to beat me until I quit being gay. I want to tell my dad that I love him, and that I made finally it now.

I applaud Nuntita for living her life honestly and for inspiring future generations. I hope you watch the entire video and read the subtitles, it is difficult not to cry while watching.   Click here to see the full article and video.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 18

18 Mar

Honoring Mandy Carter

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Mandy Carter. Carter is a true do-gooder! She is best known for her dedication and commitment to social justice. Carter describes herself as: “southern, black, lesbian, social justice activist.”

Carter is a founding board member of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), which is the only national civil rights organization for black LGBT individuals and their allies dedicated to fostering equality by fighting racism and homophobia. She currently sits on the boards and/or advisory committees of Durham’s Ladyslipper Music, Detroit-based Triangle Foundation, and Vermont-based Kopkind Colony.

In this particular time of American history, when we see politicians like John Boehner wasting tax dollars on defending discrimination (DOMA) and when we see what I would call a neo-racist movement, it is nice to see that we still have heroes like Mandy Carter using her voice for the oppressed, disenfranchised, and marginalized. Thank you for your work and inspiration. Click here to read more about Mandy Carter.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 11

11 Mar

Gloria Steinem: National Treasure

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Gloria Steinem. Steinem is an icon of social justice for women, the LGBT community, and the disenfranchised. Steinem has dedicated her life to creating a level playing field for women, while at the same time embracing and working on issues for all marginalized peoples. In my humble opinion, Seinem’s voice is one of the most important in the 20th and 21st Centuries. My first reading of Revolution From Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, spoke to me as a gay man and how institutionalized oppression can take its toll and how we must unite to speak our own truth. As most of you know, Steinem co-founded Ms. Magazine and helped a culture learn about the power of words: Miss, Mrs. and Ms. I have heard Ms. Steinem speak three times and each time I left in awe and inspired. I don’t understand any of her detractors, for she speaks with such love and compassion. Listening to Steinem, one realized how fully she understands deep rooted patriarchy, misogyny, and oppression. I dare say, her detractors have never heard her speak, nor have ever read anything she has written. Yes, she supports a woman’s right to govern her own body–a controversy that would not exist if there were legislation trying to control what men could do with their bodies. I applaud Gloria Steinem for her courage and for her contributions to social justice. Click here to learn more about Gloria Steinem.

%d bloggers like this: