Wednesday, February 9, 2011

what's your story?

This post is based on a blog post written by the Organic Sister called the “It’s Not You, It’s Me (Except When It’s You)” .

When I read the above mentioned post I realized a few things about myself. The Organic Sister is good at making me do that.

I’ve been trying to be a more authentic person, to be true to myself, to allow myself to be honest with everyone. This has been a difficult journey, because many of my opinions and perceptions are vastly different from the ones that were taught to me as a child.

I’ve been frustrated lately because I felt the people who have been closest to me my whole life didn’t show me all that I could do as I became older. Now I am beginning to understand that they showed me what was best in their minds and hearts. I shouldn’t hold a grudge towards the people who have helped me become who I am now. They did the best they could, and now it is my turn to do my best, and for me, the best does not include unnecessary bitterness or anger.

I’ve written before that I felt like the choices presented to me were to marry (young), own a house, have babies, teach public school, and stay close to home. I’ve been planning my wedding since I was a small girl, and now all of that seems… confining. I no longer wish for a wedding of any kind, and I wonder if it would have ever been on my mind if it hadn’t been put there by my family and society at large.
Now I see families telling their children the same things, and I feel like these children are being limited. I want to step in and tell the kids that there are other choices. But if I do that, then I am giving their parents and them the burden of my story and my reality, which isn’t their own. It is my responsibility to do my best now that I am an adult and raise my own child to know about all the opportunities and discoveries that await her.

Similarly, I have gotten angry and frustrated when I hear women say the sexist things that keep women in the societal spots in which we seem stuck.
A few months ago, I became obviously annoyed when I girl spoke highly of her experiences of strip clubs. There are a couple of issues there, like the objectification of women and the way that sex workers in general are treated like shit. But instead of calmly thinking about what I would say and making an actual point, I became bitchy. I didn’t do any good, I simply showed others a side of myself that I don’t like. I was later told how I’d acted, and that too made me angry, but now I see that I was acting immaturely and from an inorganic place.

Now I need to learn to own my reactions and my stories and my past so that when I interact with others, they see the best parts of me, so that I am giving myself and those I love the best parts of me. I need to realize that my stuff isn’t the reality for everyone else and allow them to have their reality. I can share my stories and thoughts with others in ways that will make a difference, and if I am doing it from an authentic and loving place, then I am doing my best. It isn’t my job to make others speak and act from the same sort of place as me, but it is my job to come from that place myself.

Now come the challenges.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Alta published this untitled poem through Shameless Hussy Press. It satirizes middle-class feminists who could not begin to grasp the realities of her life as a single-mother caring for her two children.


that chick is so REVOLUTIONARY
she dresses poor on purpose.
She eschews the boozhwa comforts like
washing machines, males lovers, &
flush toilets. I mean she is
EVERY KIND of revolutionary!
She’d bum off her friends before she’d work
in a counter-revolutionary government job!
(How come she can afford to be so revolutionary?)
I mean, this chick is SO REVOLUTIONARY,
she laughs at housewives, agrees that
we’re an inferior breed.
She would never have had a kid if she could have
an abortion instead? Get it? This chick is
super chick ta daa!
Even her period glows in the dark.

Ruth Rosen writes in The World Split Open about how feminists appear humorless. She points out that, “Fighting for institutional and cultural change required determination; excavating sexual crimes called for convincing debate; ignoring gratuitous insults required the patience of a saint. Rape and domestic violence weren’t funny, nor was sexual harassment. Male jokes about feminist goals only deepened activists’ anger.”

Today we are sadly far from solving the problems of rape and domestic abuse. There is still anger to be felt at every turn. It would seem that the hurtles of defining rape would have long been behind us, but instead we are now not only hearing “new” discussions about what is considered to be rape, but also looking at a provision to be passed that would give doctors the right to turn away a pregnant woman needing an emergency abortion to save her life, and the doctor has the ability to allow a woman to die because he does not want to give her an abortion.

Still even in the midst of such mind-boggling things, humor can be found. Feminists are seen with a sense of humor more than ever in the present, but tell a man that you’re reading a history of the women’s movement or anything that may slightly ring of the f-word, and you’ll be met with a sad smile and shake of the head. Even reading a book can be revolutionary!

It is moments like this that still occur in everyday life that bring my anger to a boil. This has happened more than once, and I work on a college campus. I don’t forget that I’m in Arkansas (ever!), but I do realize that I am on a campus.

These is no class devoted to Women’s Studies or Women’s History (that I have been able to find) offered for me, an MA student in the English department. How can it be 2011 and this still exist? There isn’t even a course to read literature written by women alone, which can cover so many backgrounds and time-periods.

These are the things that make me continue to research and study, on my own. These are the things that make me realize that feminists are still needed, actively working today. These are the things, the every day occurrences that keep pushing me forward. This is my vow and my please.

Do more. Read more. Spread the word more. Use social networking to spread the cause. Find the articles that mean the most to you and comment intelligently on them. Laugh at feminist humor and share it with your friends. Encourage women artists of any and every discipline. Love yourself and be yourself.