April 24, 2012
Photo by Léna
When Adrienne Rich died last month, it made me think back to my twenties when she rocked my world. Ms. Rich wrote incisively and shockingly about the complexities of women’s lives. She dared us to use our power (personal and political) to upend everything that was understood or accepted as ‘for women.’ It was the early 1980’s and I was trying to figure out the mundane stuff like how I was going to pay the bills. I wanted to do it on my own terms. I wanted a future that was rich in creativity and productivity―not just marriage and motherhood.
I wanted to live a ‘feminist worthy’ life but I wasn’t sure what that meant. Adrienne Rich is one of the women’s voices that made a searing impression. The essay titles in her book of nonfiction, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence were provocative : “Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying;” “Motherhood in Bondage;” “Conditions for Work: The Common World of Women.”
She held up a vision of a social movement that I wanted to be a part of “a politics of asking women’s questions, demanding a world in which the integrity of all women―not a chosen few—shall be honored and validated in every aspect of culture.” I wanted to find a community of women (and later men) who shared my aspirations. Without the dreaming and writing of women like Adrienne Rich, I would not have known what I was missing or what was possible.
I and all the women and girls I hold most dear owe a debt of gratitude to Adrienne Rich because she made me brave, and encouraged me to question and think. And now I’m teaching my girls to do the same; Ms. Rich would expect nothing less.
April 17, 2012
Posted by Traci Underwood under Politics
| Tags: abuse
, domestic violence
, Trayvon Martin
|  Comments
My parents met at a gun club. I grew up in Georgia where guns are everywhere. I could get to at least one (loaded) at any given time in the house I grew up in. I played with them and showed them to my friends. Nothing catastrophic happened. I (and my parents) are stupid lucky.
Others have not been so lucky. Bullets have been flying around western Washington lately: an eight year old accidentally shot in her classroom, gun fights in south Seattle, children killed because they were playing with guns. The high profile shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida has shone a light on the controversial stand-your-ground laws in many states. This “I have the right to fight back” attitude combined with easy access to guns is obviously a deadly combo.
You could argue that the world we live in is dangerous, and it is up to us to protect ourselves. As an advocate for victims of abuse, I am keenly aware that danger (even in your own home) is a reality for many families. I can understand the been-knocked-down-scared-threatened-too-many-times emotional roller coaster that has some folks turning to guns to feel powerful again, to feel safe. I also know that the majority of domestic violence homicides in Washington State are committed with firearms, and whether or not those who were killed are the victim (as are most) or the abusive partner, this act still ruins more than one life. Nobody wins.
Do guns really make us safer, or does it just make those who carry feel safer? Are more guns in our communities a recipe for safety? I’m not convinced.
April 10, 2012
While I have no children of my own (yet), I provided childcare for many years. I’ve also been a sex educator, and for me, it is easy to see the connections between these two seemingly very different fields. Consent is one of the biggest. As a feminist sex educator, the subject of consent was one that came up often: what it means to give informed consent, who is able to give consent, and how to best obtain consent.
Children and tickling is a great example. It can be really fun, right? And who can resist the contagious and adorable laughter and squeals? But how many of us have continued to tickle when a child says no? Regardless of the intent, the effect of continuing the game is to teach that child that no does not mean no, and that as an adult, we can trample over their attempts at boundary-setting any time we want. Those lessons influence their own interactions and they carry that with them into adulthood.
What would it look like to teach consent to our children from a very young age? To teach them respect and bodily autonomy through our words and actions? I see this as a crucial component of prevention. I believe that children who grow up understanding that they have control over their own body and practicing consent will be far less likely to abuse and/or rape when they are older. This post from Vibrant Wanderings offers some thoughts and suggestions on how to do just that. (There are some great discussions in the comments, too!)
April 3, 2012
Posted by Ankita Patel under Abuse
| Tags: Barbara Ehreinreich
, human trafficking
, runaway youth
, women and children
| Leave a Comment
Recent conversations with friends and colleagues have me thinking about the world of human trafficking out there. Now I’m wondering, how can we develop a curiosity and care about what’s happening right here, right now?
Let’s consider the very small snapshot of runaway youth in Seattle. According to YouthCare, a local Seattle program, many youth run away from home due to abuse, neglect, and rape. Within 48 hours, young women are approached by pimps. And once they are in “the life,” inevitably they experience more sexual exploitation, criminal charges, and isolation from friends and family. Such is this world we live in. It is the world where my parents come from, it is the world where I come from, and it is the world that exists down the street from me.
Human trafficking calls for urgent action.
As Barbara Ehreinreich puts it, “the challenge is: could we stop meanness, the relentless persecution of people who are having a hard time? … We’ve got to stop kicking people when they are already down, and move toward reaching out a hand.”
We need to stop with our judgment and bias, and start being curious about how laws, policies, and attitudes impact poor and homeless people, young people, immigrants, women and children … right here, right now. Because that is the world I want to live in.