New Initiative

This came in on my Twitter Feed this morning, and I am so excited about this I had to post right away. I hope you will read this, join, and share, to help spread the word about the #1 killer of women:

Do we still need a women’s movement?

I came of age in the 60s. I graduated high school Class of ’66 and went to Nursing School, graduating Class of ’69. I remember the protests and bra-burnings; the anti-war protests; the Civil Rights marches. But none of it really registered with me until I was out in the real world after nursing school. Here’s where I began to see why the women’s movement was necessary.

I could not get birth control pills unless I lied to a doctor to say I was getting married soon and wanted to get on the pill before the wedding.

When I was searching for jobs, I could only apply for the jobs in the column under the heading “Jobs for Females/Women”.

I was turned down for a job because I was pregnant.

I could not have a checking account or any kind of credit in just my name; my husband had to co-sign.

When I had a job and discovered I was pregnant, I had to transfer out of the unit where I was working into a ‘safer’ work environment.

I was sexually harassed at work by the doctors, who called me honey, sweetie, girlie, and lots of other things not as innocuous.

If a doctor came into the nurse’s station where I was sitting writing notes, I had to stand up as long as he was present.

I was turned down for jobs because ‘those jobs need to go to men who have to support their families’ even though I was the sole support for my family at the time.

The list is almost endless.

Today, we seem to be devolving back to those days. There are certain legislators who think that women are second-class citizens. Our culture of rape is alive and well. Women are still being abused/raped/killed by their significant others. And what’s most alarming is that many young women accept this. I had a discussion today with a young women in her 20s who saw nothing wrong with a t-shirt that proclaimed “Keep Calm and Rape”. I have talked to other young women who think if their boyfriend hits them or verbally abuses them, they must have done something to deserve it. There are women, young and old, who think Feminism is a dirty word.

There are days I feel totally discouraged. Days when I think we are losing the war. I feel as if I am a lone voice of reason against a sea of ‘good ole boys’ and their followers. I wish I were more articulate, more charismatic, more able to voice what is wrong with a culture that thinks rape and abuse of women is okay; a culture that proclaims a corporation is a person; a culture where suppressing voters is acceptable. Today is one of those days when I am feeling disheartened almost to the point of tears. I am feeling too overwhelmed by comments from those who think women who have been raped can’t get pregnant; who think it’s okay for a rapist to sue for visitation rights for the child he helped create when he raped someone; who think that women don’t deserve legal protection against violence; who think that women should not have to be paid the same as a man for the same job; who think that any woman who is raped did something to provoke the rapist by the way she dressed or comported herself. And I am most disheartened by the women who think this is all okay.

I never, ever, want to go back to the days when abortion was illegal and deadly, even though I will do whatever I can to make sure an abortion doesn’t happen; when birth control was not legal for unmarried women; when women were confined to a few low-paying jobs; when abuse of women was acceptable and not prosecuted; and on and on. There are those, men and women, who say we need to ‘get over it’ and we need to stop whining and get on with our lives. But until we are truly free and considered as equals, we can’t and won’t ‘get over it’ and we will not stop fighting. We owe it to those who came before us and to those who will come after us.

Tomorrow is another day and “once more into the breach, dear friends.”

A beautifully written piece about the young woman in India who was gang-raped and died from her injuries.

Olio talk by Suchitra Kaushiva


So then, what is it about this 23 year-old girl who raised the conscience of India on December 16, 2012?

Was it the barbaric way in which she met her end?

Was she the last straw that broke the back of an overladen camel?

Was it her young age, her thwarted ambitions and aspirations, or her
parents’ unfulfilled hopes, dreams and expectations?

Was it her last wish, to be able to survive and make it out of her nightmarish ordeal?

All the above perhaps, and maybe just something more.

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Body Image

We women have bodies in every size and shape. The range of hair color is amazing. Eye color, too. So why are we never satisfied with what we have, with the way our bodies look? We are short and tall, thin and not-so-thin, have hair that is blonde, brunette, black, red; that’s wavy, curly, or straight. Our eyes are brown, blue, hazel, green, violet, black. Whatever we have we want something different. If we’re short, we wish we were tall; if we have straight hair, we wish it was curly; if we have curly hair, we wish it was straight. Some of these things we can change; colored contact lenses, perms, straighteners, hair dyes. But our bodies are something different. We can’t be what we are not, even though there are those out there who tell us we can.

And I’m not totally blameless here, either. I’m short and wished I were taller. I’ve never, ever, had a perfectly flat belly. I’ve fought my weight since puberty. Then somewhere around the age of 50, I began to truly understand that I would never have the body I thought I wanted. My body is determined to stay the shape it is and nothing I can do will change that.

I came of age in the 60s, when Twiggy was the latest thing in fashion. Her boyish body made all of us feel fat, even if we weren’t. Fashion model figures are unobtainable for almost all of us, so why do we still try? The few top fashion models are fortunate that they have the body shape and bone structure to look the way they do. And they have to work hard at maintaining that famined look. I was happy to see there is an 80 something fashion model who is still working; that there are more models out there with curves instead of sharp angles; and there are now plus-sized models who are well-known.

Change comes slowly to society, and it has to be demanded by the majority, and it has to be sold as absolutely necessary. I often ponder some of the things we women are expected to do and be. Who decided that hair on women’s legs and underarms was a bad thing and should be removed? Who decided that women wearing dresses or skirts had to wear stockings or pantyhose, or tights? And who decided that women’s breasts had to be confined and constrained in corsets and bras? Who came up with the idea that women had to wear makeup to look good? Many of us have bought into these ideas and now can’t imagine not doing some of these things. We were raised to think these were good; not doing them was bad. I admire the women with enough courage to break the mold. They are the women we should appreciate as good role models.

I have learned to love my body. It is the only one I will have in this life and still works wonderfully well considering how old it is. It isn’t perfect by society’s standards, but it’s perfect for me, and that’s what’s important. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have a model’s body; that I will never be tall; that clothes never fit quite right. But I can also alter clothes so they do fit well; I can carry myself with good posture and grace; I can continue to eat healthy foods and exercise with the goal of being fit. I have this one body, this one life, and feel blessed to have it.