Tag Archives: Sexual Harassment

Walking in Gratitude: Thanksgiving 2017

23 Nov

While I am trying to walk in gratitude and be thankful right now, I must confess that it is a struggle. I am exceedingly grateful that I had successful cancer surgery and for all of the many people in my life who have been so loving and so supportive of me! And, I am struggling that now they want me to do six months of chemo. My struggle regarding chemo pales in comparison with how I am struggling to survive living in the United States with a bizarre monster for a president, and today I am committed to being in a place of love and gratitude.

Trump’s support of Roy Moore is nothing less than monstrous. Alas, for today, I offer an invitation to all people: invite some joy and some gratitude. For those of us who are truly fatigued by the Trump administration  and his putting party before country, can we know that we are not going to change the hearts or minds of his base supporters. What we can do is show up in bigger numbers to the polls.

But for today, can we tap into shared humanity and be grateful? I am going to try and hold the messiness and the tension of the horrific ways in which we have treated and still treat native peoples, while also walking in extraordinary gratitude for the amazing and lovely people in my life — people who provide light and love and sustenance for my soul, for my heart is full.

I will hold the tension of our history and invite joy at the same time. I am reflecting on how we collectively, as Americans, conveniently choose to forget the genocide of the native peoples living in North America – the use of bio-warfare?  Yes, multi-generations of white folk have benefitted from the slaughtering of indigenous populations in North America and stealing land. It is ironic that the early survival of the Plymouth colony depended so heavily on the agricultural and fishing advice of the Wampanoag. To all the GOP governors who say “no” to Syrian refugees, I remind you that you wouldn’t have states to defend in bellicose, racist, and — yes — unconstitutional rants if a certain set of religious refugees had been treated similarly 500 years ago.

The whole idea of a “first Thanksgiving” is historically murky at best, with both religious and civil harvest festivals easily traceable to the Spanish in St. Augustine and British colonies in Jamestown and Plymouth. The native populations also had histories of harvest festivals, thus rendering a colonizer’s claim of “first” another in a series of misappropriations. Regular Thanksgiving celebrations as fixed civil events became common much later, dating to the 1660s.

As with so much of early colonial American history, most of what we “remember” is filtered through centuries of creative reconstruction: bucolic paintings, myths of noble savages and honest oppressed British outcasts, grade school songs and pageants. It is understandable that we prefer not to dwell on our collective responsibility for the decimation of whole populations, but it is an important part of our nation’s history. The colonizers’ relationship with the native populations was complex (and occassionally grateful) but seldom benefitted the natives and almost certainly did not involve everybody sharing a lovely meal around a table in peace.

Let us not forget this was no mere land grab but a decimation of Holocaust proportions. Our mistreatment of the indigenous peoples in North America went on well into the 20th Century with the Termination Act, Allotment, and the creation of Boarding Schools where white people thought their job was to “kill the Indian to save the man.”

The root idea of Thanksgiving — shared by the Europeans and the indigenous peoples — as a celebration is a good one. Be thankful for what you have; celebrate the cherished loved ones in your life; take time to remember what is good and bountiful with no expectations of gain other than shared love and thanks. Let us move forward as a nation, correctly learning, remembering, and growing from our history. Let us work hard to return to this spirit of Thanksgiving. It need not be buried in any trivia: upcoming shopping orgies (conspicuous consumption), 437 sporting events, overindulgence for its own sake, or cute “historical” imagery that overlooks a complex history.

We all have people and events in our lives worthy of celebration; that is what we should use today to be truly thankful for. I hope everyone reading this blog will be able to spend time with cherished loved ones, be it families of origin or families and communities we create. I leave you with this a song by Emeli Sandé, Highs and Lows, for I am so grateful for all the people in my life that love and support me through the good and the difficult times.


Dear Catholics…

10 Apr

Dear Catholics, please help me out here. I am truly and desperately trying to understand how those of you who supported Trump did so because of your identity around being Catholic. Sadly, I have family who have used the “we voted for Trump because we are good Catholics” excuse.

Here is some background information. I was talking with a white, heterosexual, cisgender, able bodied, middle class man last week. He was explaining to me that being gay or transgender had nothing to do with gender equity and more importantly that being gay or transgender was WRONG and those people would go to hell. Subsequently, this person explained why he supports Trump: “Because it is God’s will.” Sadly, this white heterosexual man then went into defensive mode by saying: “…by the way some of my friends are gay — they were even at my wedding. While I know they are wrong and will go to Hell, they are friends of mine.” Oy! I wonder if these “gay friends,” assuming they do exist, would consider him a friend?

Here is where I need some help. Please do chime in and illuminate and educate me. Does your God really support a man like Trump — a man who said it is okay to grab a woman buy the genitals? A man who appoints a white supremacist as the attorney general? A man whose behavior has demonstrated nothing but great avarice? A man who publicly mocked a man with disabilities? Is that the God you worship? Who would Jesus hate?

Furthermore, I thought Catholics were against divorce and adultery. How is that you are able to give Trump a dispensation here? Do the rules only apply to those who are poor and cannot afford to buy off a fraud case for $25 million dollars?

Just a quick history lesson here, for those Catholics that are climate change deniers and think science is just a bunch of poo poo, let us remember that in 1633 Galileo was locked up by the Catholic Church for heresy for asserting that the earth was round and revolved around the sun, which countered the wrong geocentric model the church subscribed to at the time. Damn that science! It took over 300 years for the church to acknowledge it was wrong and that Galileo was right. I’m horrifically sad to see that we seem to be repeating history.

Again, I am truly trying to understand how and why Catholics supported and still seem to support Trump and his administration. From my understanding of Catholicism and Christianity, his behavior seems antithetical to the teachings of Christ. I am also exceedingly sad for this man’s children. What if one of them is gay or trans-identified? This man made it clear he feels obligated to judge them and condemn them. Maybe it is just me, but this does not seem like good parenting, nor does it seem very godly. I welcome all voices on this issue to help better educate us all.

The Supreme Court and Chrisley Knows Best: The Death of Social Justice?

4 Apr
Heads They Win/Tales We Loose

Heads They Win/Tales We Loose

While at first glance,The United States Supreme Court and the reality television show Chrisley Knows Best may seem like two very disparate platforms, they are sadly very similar when it comes to eroding social justice.

To my great sadness, Chief Justice Roberts and his inhumane colleagues voted to remove financial caps on donors to federal candidates.  Re-enforcing Citizens United, the Supreme Court has made it abundantly and painfully clear that money trumps democracy. The exceedingly misguided Chiefly On the Wrong Side of History Roberts tried to defend the 5/4 decision with a bastardization of the 1st amendment:

There is no right in our democracy more basic than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.

That would hold some truth if we had a categorically different distribution of wealth in the United States.  Fortunately, Justice Breyer offered an unprecedented dissent from the bench that perfectly captures the many inequities this decision puts in motion:

…the majority opinion is a disturbing development that raised the overall contribution ceiling to the number infinity. If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision may well open a floodgate.

Well done, Justice Breyer.  I’m at least grateful that four of the nine justices understands the power of money and how it ties into buying elections, continuing to disenfranchise already targeted populations, and fostering an increased cynicism in our election process.

So how does this have anything to do with the rather awful television show, Chrisley Knows Best?  Sadly, this show is about how money trumps all!  If you have enough money you can now buy yourself a television show and create more wealth while obtaining a bizarre and shallow status of “celebrity.”  This vapid tv show is nothing more than an obnoxious display of conspicuous consumption, misogyny, and a reckless celebration of bad behavior.  Are we really supposed to feel bad for a white 17 year old boy because his father put a boot clamp on his $100,000 Range Rover.  Really? What does this say about us as a culture?  While I am the first to admit that I enjoy what I call popcorn television, is there no limit to how awful the impact might be of pop culture?

What happened to a purported government that worked towards equity and removing barriers from voting? We don’t even seem to offer the pretense of equity and equality.  Now we just have huge For Sale signs tagged to elections.

What happened to television shows that were amusing and didactic both? Shows like Maude, The Jeffersons, and The Mary Tyler  Moore Show seem to have been replaced by the uber wealthy that can buy their own “Reality” tv show.  What isn’t for sale now?

Call to action: Here I invite all of you to recommend ways in which we can both collectively and individually works towards social justice — work towards making the world a better place for all.

Women’s History Month 2014: Anita Hill

28 Mar

Anita HillToday it is an honor to have the opportunity to celebrate a woman I treasure, someone who is an amazing role model for women in the United States. Today SJFA celebrates Anita Hill. I also need to thank my dear friend Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write about  Ms. Hill.

I actually had the great pleasure of meeting Ms. Hill several years ago. No surprise, she was absolutely brilliant, gracious, and far more compassionate than I would have been. I was able to have breakfast with Anita Hill shortly after the bizarre phone message left on Ms. Hill’s answering machine demanding an apology.  I have no clue as to what kind of “Tea” our Ginni was drinking during that Tea Party.  I can hardly believe it has been nearly 23 years since they put Anita Hill on trial for being sexually harassed by the now Justice Clarence Thomas.  I suspect many of us share Ms. Hill’s feelings regarding his appointment:

“I believe in my heart that he shouldn’t have been confirmed,” she said in a recent interview, acknowledging that it irritates her to see Justice Thomas on the court. “I believe that the information I provided was clear, it was verifiable, it was confirmed by contemporaneous witnesses that I had talked with. And I think what people don’t understand is that it does go to his ability to be a fair and impartial judge.”

Although she is a very private woman whose life was practically destroyed after the hearings in 1991, we can finally learn more about this amazing woman in the documentary of her life that was released on March 21, “Anita.”  While the documentary does not reveal her current impressions of Justice Thomas’ history sitting on the High Court, it does show how far we have yet to come regarding how we treat women and how sexual harassment is still a very real issue. How terribly sad that we still blame women and worse yet, we have devolved into a culture where we try to justify rape.

I hope people get to see the documentary and I hope we can stand in solidarity with women who experience the horrific violation of sexual harassment.  Thank you, Ms. Hill for being a hero to so many.

Women’s History Month 2012: Myra Sadker

18 Mar

Myra Sadker

The late Dr. Myra Sadker is probably best known for the book she wrote with her husband David Sadker, Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls.  Myra dedicated her life to advocating for girls and educating people about gender bias in the classroom.

Sadly, in my 20 plus  years in education, I have found Myra’s observations regarding gender bias still true today.  Myra was a pioneer who challenged gender bias and inequities.  She specifically addressed the subtle gender bias that occurs in classrooms every day. Myra provided the research that documented gender bias in America’s schools, “…from grade school through graduate school, from inner cities to rural towns.” Myra uncovered not only blatant gender discrimination in textbooks and sports funding, but also subtle inequities that shaped the way students were taught.  For example, how boys, or male students are called on six times more than girls.

As someone who helped to found a Girls’ School, I still see the need for secular single sex education.  Perhaps I see a secular non-sectarian Girls’ School starting in Portland, Oregon by a social worker from Portland State University in the next two years.

Sadly, Dr. Myra Sadker died from breast cancer in 1995.  Thankfully, the work she did lives on and inspires many to address gender inequities and power distribution. Thank you, Dr. Myra Sadker. Click here if you would like to learn more about Myra Sadker.

An Endorsement for Herman Cain (?)

1 Dec

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Well get my smelling salts! Another woman has come forward to report her relationship with Herman Cain.  Honestly, if the relationship was mutual, it is none of our business how many extra-marital affairs Cain has.  What is our business is the number of women he has sexually harassed and dismissed his behavior with his cavalier comment of, “why not focus on all the women I did not sexually harass?”

There are so many things that I really despise about Cain, his misogyny, his homophobia, his dismissal of the poor and disenfranchised, but I think I also am frustrated that he identifies with the aggressor.  He is a black man who works to re-enforce a white political power structure–what is that about?

I try to mitigate my anger about Cain by finding humor.  Jay Smooth, is a multi-racial man, with a white mother and black father, much like our President. Smooth’s mock endorsement of Cain helped me laugh.  I hope you will watch other videos by Smooth.  He does a great job of addressing race and power.  Click here to see the mock endorsement.

Herman Cain: Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical, Bigot…

12 Nov

I Paid Good Money for Them to Keep Their Mouths Shut

If you have seen the movie 9 to 5, you recognize the stream of adjectives, as they aptly described Franklin Hart.  How sad that 31 years later and 20 years after the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings, we see a black Republican running for President who has said explicitly that he will make sure no Muslim holds a place in American government, that us gays “chose” to be gay, and now we have learned that he sexually harassed several women and paid them not to come out and expose him.  To sum up Cain’s response to the allegations of sexual harassment: “But what about all of the women I did not sexually harass? Why don’t we focus on them?”  Really? Really? That is your response?

What alarms me is the current state of misogyny and that we have learned nothing from history.  Apparently, it is okay to sexually harass a woman and still go on to become an incompetent bigoted Supreme Court Justice with no ethics.  Are we to presume that a man guilty of discrimination against Muslims, the LGBT community, and even calling Black people racist if they don’t support him–is this Presidential material?  If so, sign me up to move out of the United States.

Our Rachel Maddow does a marvelous job of exposing Herman Cain for the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot that he is.  Click here to see the video of Maddow.

Take Action: In this huge ball of Crazy known as the Republican Presidential candidates, get accurate information–which means turn off Faux News.  Read up on the sexual harassment allegations on Herman Cain or his bigoted statements that alienate much of the 99% of Americans, but let’s face it–the current crap, I mean crop of Republican Presidential candidates are all working exclusively for the 1% of Americans.

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (?)

9 Aug

We Need You, Helen

In 1968, Phillip Morris introduced  cigarette brand, Virginia Slims.  The catchy slogan was, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. Yes, nothing says women’s equality and equal rights like lung cancer.  Aside from the lung cancer issue, it did feel as though there was real progress being made in the late 60’s and early 70’s to create some parity for women.

When I read the article about “Mini-skirt Monday,” I reflected how severe the backlash on women’s rights has been. A woman in Utah was fired from her job after filing a sexual harassment civil complaint against Lone Peak Controls and D&L Electric Control Company.  Trudy Anderson reported that her boss, Derek Wright, sexually harassed her for years.  Anderson documents the harassment and refers to a memo prescribing how she should dress for the week:

On top of “Mini-skirt Monday,” the schedule called for “Tube-top Tuesday,” “Wet T-shirt Wednesday,” “No bra Thursday” and “Bikini top Friday.

I suppose I am just naive, but do men really say things like this? I feel like I had a bad touch just reading the article. I can’t imagine how horrible Anderson must have felt to have to endure this type of harassment.

I also reflect on the past few months and how anti-woman the House of Representatives has become, thank you John Boehner. What really leaves me nonplussed is how many women are so horribly anti-woman.  I see Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin and women of their ilk fighting against women’s health and fighting against reproductive rights.  I don’t understand the mentality of “save the fetus, but who cares about the baby.”  I will conclude with, “There is a long way to go,” rather than “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.”  I need to thank my friend “Voice from the Trailer” for sharing this article with me.  Click here to read more.

Breakfast with Anita Hill

8 Jun

What an extraordinary treat to have breakfast with Anita Hill.  As a volunteer with Planned Parenthood here in Oregon, I was able to hear Dr. Hill at breakfast and even steal away some private time with her, well long enough for a couple of questions and to tell her how much I love her.  The past 20 years have done nothing but make her even more eloquent and amazingly gracious given how ill she has been treated.  Not even the nefarious Ginni can dampen the indomitable spirit of our Anita Hill.

I remember watching the Thomas/Hill hearings in 1991–what a horribly dark period of history for the United States.  What is worse is the legacy of installing the bigoted and ethically challenged Clarence Thomas as a supreme court justice. Hill’s speech was gracious, hopeful, and inspiring.  She addressed the issue of the economy and how it pertains to women’s health issues, quoting Susan Faludi: “All of women’s aspirations, whether for education, work or any form of self-determination, ultimately rest on their ability to decide whether and when to bear children.”   How sad that 20 years after the attack on Anita Hill, we now witness a full scale attack on women’s health and reproductive rights: Indiana is just one of 8 states that has now completely dismantled Planned Parenthood, which will result in an increased financial drain on the healthcare system.

It is painfully clear that Thomas has landed on the wrong side of history, as his behavior has revealed he did in fact sexually harass Dr. Hill.  Fortunately, the Thomas/Hill hearings did bring the issue of sexual harassment to the forefront.  While there is still so much work to be done regarding sexual harassment. Anita Hill had the courage to use her voice and hopefully will inspire others to find the courage to use their voices.

Russian Judge has good news for Clarence Thomas

6 Feb

Thanks to my friend Jen Lockett for sharing this article with me. Oy! Even after reading the article twice, I was in disbelief.  A story in yesterday’s Telegraph, made me wince in pain for women all over the world and harkened back to the pain I felt for Anita Hill during the hearings where Ms. Hill must have felt violated twice. The article addresses a judge in Russia that ruled against a 22 year old female, stating that: “employers were obliged to make passes at female staff to ensure the survival of the human race.”  Really? Really, did you say that out aloud? Well, this must be good news for Clarence Thomas and his Tea Party wife, Ginny.  Click here to see the full story.

Just trying to ensure the survival of the human race.

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