Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

Wishing March 7, 2011

Filed under: Anecdotal,Religious — Addicted to Yarn @ 10:47 pm
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Sometimes, I wish there was a god. Not because I want miracles or a deeper meaning to life. Not because I want to imagine that my family and friends that have died are still existing on another plane. No, sometimes I wish there was a god because I wish that there was a supernatural, higher-power being to seek absolution, forgiveness, from. Not that I have so many “sins” to be forgiven for. I do not feel guilt for fooling around with my boyfriend in high school, though we both moved on to marry others and by the definitions I grew up with, we both committed adultery (or something that brushed very close to it). I do not feel guilt for being a crappy mom. I’m a totally adequate mom and I am comfortable with that. I do not feel guilt because I have a crush on a man who is not my husband. I do not feel guilt for leaving the church, though it hurt my family and friends.

No, none of those things are what keep me up at night. No, during that interim period between wakefulness and sleep, when my brain flits from one thing to another, from thoughts about what I ate for dinner to what Jael should wear to school tomorrow, from thinking about my current knitting project for my cousin’s baby to her mother and from there to her grandmother, the guilt that keeps me awake is not the guilt of commandments broken or faith not had. No, no, no. The guilt is for an action that was taken because I had too much faith.

I believed in God. I believed that the Bible was true. I believed that God would fulfill his promises in the Bible. So when the Bible said that we could heal the sick in Jesus’s name, I believed that. When the Bible said that we would do even greater things than Jesus, I believed it. I believed that God would heal my aunt from brain cancer if I sacrificed, humbled myself and prayed over her. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, as my family did not believe in the “gifts” of healing and whatnot. But I obeyed the commands I believed I had been given. I fasted and I prayed. I told my husband that I had to go. He joined with me in fasting and prayer. We prayed the entire drive to Marysville, Kansas. Cancer had already destroyed the woman I remembered but it did not deter us. She was unable to walk unaided, unable to speak, and who knows how much she understood. We knew that it would simply make God’s miracle that much more amazing. We knelt beside my aunt’s recliner, we read from the Word, we laid hands on her, we prayed for her, we annointed her head with oil, and finally, we commanded her to stand up.

I will never forget the look in her eyes as she tried to explain, with a body that no longer obeyed her commands, that she could not stand up. I will never forget the feeling of having a dying woman look guilty, as though she were a personal disappointment because she was unable to “faith” her way to a healing.

That is what keeps me up at night. That is what I wish I could ask forgiveness for. I wish that there were a source of ultimate good that could lay hands on my soul and apply a healing salve to the portion of me that committed that crime.

I am so sorry, Uncle Roy, for walking into your home and wasting one of your last days with your wife in such a disrespectful manner.

I am sorry, Grandma, that you had to bury a child after someone had read Bible verses to you that said God would heal her.

I am sorry, Dad, that I raised false hopes.

I am sorry, Debbie, that your mom died, despite what I read and said and prayed.

I am sorry, Kendra, Bobby, and Liz that your grandmother had to spend some of her last hours on earth with such an idiot.

I am sorry, Brycen, that you never got to meet your great-grandma.

I am sorry, Aunt Judy, that God isn’t real. I’m sorry that he wasn’t there to heal you. I don’t know if I caused you to doubt him or not but if I did, I am so incredibly sorry for casting doubt on your faith in your last days on earth. I am so sorry.

If I could take an eraser to one weekend  of my life, that would be it. If I could rewind, delete, and continue on, those two days would be what I deleted. If I could apply bleach to my memory and destroy one event, this would be the one I bleached out of existence. But I can’t. And I will, most likely, continue to think of this until the day I, too, cease to live and I will continue to wish, in the dark of the night, when sleep eludes me, that there was a god to seek forgiveness from for the sin of believing in him too damn much.

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Our Deist Forefathers November 8, 2010

“Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to his nephew in 1787. Thomas Jefferson and the other early writers of the American colonies, understood the ideals behind the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was, by definition, “a movement of intellectuals who popularized science and applied reason to human affairs” (Bishop 301). Reason – that, oh-so taken for granted trait that sets humans apart from the other primates – was the driving force behind the Age of Enlightenment, the impetus behind the movement’s key values, and is clearly seen in the United States Declaration of Independence.

The Age of Enlightenment began in the marketplace of ideas. As nobles rubbed elbows with the middle class in the salons of Paris (Bishop 301); as the upper and lower classes mingled in the coffeehouses of England (Jurich 5); as the ideas of the one were shared with the other and vice versa, “new ideas percolated” through them both (Bishop 301). Just as the “exploration and colonization” of the New World widened their physical horizons, this exposure to new people widened the horizons of the mind. The philosophy behind the Enlightenment was largely “[i]nspired by the Scientific Revolution” resulting in an increase in “intellectual inquiry” (301).

This newfound increase in questions and the tool of Science with which to answer them led to many key values, three of which were: 1) the belief that “politics and history” follow natural, universal laws just as gravity does; 2) the understanding that reason could bring a “prosperity” that superstitious beliefs could not; and 3) an understanding that the “chief barrier to human progress and happiness was not human nature,” as was taught by the Christian faith, but rather “social intolerance and injustice” (301).

The Declaration of Independence, the paper that formally severed ties between the thirteen colonies and their overseas oppressor, is a document which embraces these ideals of Enlightenment. With language such as “Laws of Nature” (retrieved from ushistory.org) regarding the rights of the people, the writers reveal their belief that politics are governed by natural, universal laws, not just the laws put in place by men. By the fact of their parting with the King, who the Christian church taught was appointed by God (Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” NKJV), the writers revealed that they understood the second key value: reason trumps religious superstition. They did not see a god appointed king. They saw a king who was not doing his job. They looked at the facts, applied reason to their situation, and decided that a merit based, rather than religiously based, government would bring the colonies greater prosperity. They revealed their understanding of the third value with the famous sentence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (ushistory.org). The traditional belief was that human nature, being corrupt, needed to be ruled by one appointed by god, be that a religious leader such as the Pope or a civic leader such as a king. The writers of the Declaration of Independence believed, in accordance with the Enlightenment, that the impediments to happiness, success, prosperity, and progress, rested not in a fundamental flaw in humans but in the flaws of the systems surrounding them. They understood that injustice, inequality, intolerance, and ignorance were the obstacles that needed to be overcome. It is clear from this early American document that its writers were writing in agreement with Enlightenment philosophy.

The Enlightenment had many impulses and factors affecting its development but the primary force was reason. It was reason that led to the Age of Enlightenment, reason which formed the key values, and reason that led Thomas Jefferson and others to draft the Declaration of Independence. As Benjamin Franklin said, “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason,” and it is clear from the Declaration of Independence, that was not an option.


Works Cited

Bishop, Philip E.  Adventures in the Human Spirit. 6th Ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2011.

Declaration of Independence. 24 October, 2010. <http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/&gt;.

Franklin, Benjamin. Poor Richard’s Almanack. 1758. 24 October, 2010. <http://atheistempire.com/greatminds/gmtext2.html#BenjaminFranklin&gt;.

Jefferson, Thomas. 1787. Letter to his nephew. 24 October, 2010. <http://atheistempire.com/greatminds/quotes.php?author=2>.

Jurrich, Nick. Espresso: From bean to cup. Seattle, WA: Missing Link Press, 1991.

 

Read a Fairy Tale, Find a Value September 29, 2010

Filed under: educational,Religious,writing — Addicted to Yarn @ 3:55 pm
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Here is another brilliant essay from yours truly. Am I proud of this and the last few? No. Are they earning me an A in a class I detest? Yes. So here it is. Another brilliantly bullshitted piece of work from Becky “makes-shit-up-better-than-anyone” Walker. Without further ado, I give you “Read a Fairy Tale, Find a Value.”

Betrayal is how The Arabian Nights begins. It is a betrayal of such magnitude that it births the rest of the story into existence. The betrayal of one unfaithful spouse leads to the revelation of another, which leads to a King who seeks “refuge from women’s malice and slight” (7) by marrying anew each night and having his ‘wife’ executed each morn, least she dishonor him the next day. Three years later, this leads a young girl to offer herself as ‘a ransom for the virgin daughters of Moslems and the cause of their deliverance from his hands” (8). In order to forestall her death, Scheherazade, for that was the girl’s name, begins to tell tales, each leading to the next, and thus, The Arabian Nights is told. Every culture has values and those values are revealed in the culture’s literature. Just as one will find that the Western European culture values childhood by reading the stories of Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood, or beauty by reading Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, so will reading through the introduction and the first two tales Scheherazade tells the King, The Fisherman and the Jinni and The Ensorceled Prince, reveal to the observant reader values which are important to the Islamic culture; the values of faithfulness, justice, and cleverness.

It is clear from the very beginning that faithfulness is highly valued in the Islamic culture. Before the tales truly begin, we are introduced to two kings whose wives are both unfaithful. Shah Zaman, upon seeing the adultery of his queen, was overcome with “excessive grief” (2) and his health began to suffer. When his brother, King Shahryar, had his wife’s unfaithfulness revealed to him, he cried, “By Allah, life is naught but one great wrong” (5) and together the brothers left their kingdoms until they could find another who shared their “calamity” (5). After finding such a one (who, the kings said, had suffered a “greater mishap” (7) than they), King Shahryar returned to his kingdom with the aforementioned vow which led Scheherazade to tell her tales. The second of her tales features yet another example of unfaithfulness. Again a man, this time a young Prince, had been “cockolded” by his wife. When he saw the betrayal with his own eyes, he was mad with grief. Repetition of a theme reveals its importance and thus, it is revealed that in the Islamic culture, as in many others, unfaithfulness is a thing to be dreaded and avoided while faithfulness is something to be valued and valued highly.

As faithfulness is valued, unfaithfulness is met with justice, another value the Islamic culture merits highly. Shah Zaman enacts the death penalty upon his adulterous wife and her lover immediately upon discovery. King Shahryar commands his Wazir to take the Queen and “smite her to death for she hath broken her plight and her faith” (7). The young Prince who was betrayed by his wife is unable to enact his own justice as she, through dark magic (another betrayal, this time of Allah himself), turned his lower body to stone. However, in his stead stands a Sultan, who upon learning of his plight, promotes the cause of justice by restoring the Prince to health, his people to humanity, and his kingdom to its form, and also by bringing the sorcerous to justice by ending her life. These punishments, harsh as they are by modern standards, show how deeply the Islamic culture values justice.

Unfaithfulness leads to justice and justice to the manner in which it is enacted and that is through cleverness. Cleverness, Arabian Nights reveals, is also seen as a virtue. It is, perhaps, valued higher than the others as its theme is repeated more often – in every tale, in fact. It first appears in the introduction. The two kings, while searching for one who had shared the injustice of infidelity, come upon a Jinni who has stolen away a woman on her wedding night and has kept her locked away at the bottom of the sea so that no man may have her but himself. In retribution to such a heinous act, she has taken over 570 lovers saying, “Of a truth this Ifrit bore me off on my bride night…that I might remain chaste and honest, quotha! that none save himself might have connection with me. But I have lain under as many of my kind as I please” (7). Scheherazade, before going into the King’s chamber, told her sister, “Note well what directions I entrust to thee!” and proceeds to instruct her in how to convince the king into letting Scheherazade tell a story, “delectable and delightsome” (12). Her first tale is The Fisherman and the Jinni, which tells of a fisherman who finds a stoppered bottle while he is fishing. He removes the stopper, releasing a Jinni who had sworn to kill whomever opened the bottle. The fisherman pleads and begs the Jinni to spare his life but the Jinni is adamant that the fisherman must die. It is only when the fisherman is able to trick the Jinni into returning to the lamp, using the old “How didst though fit into this bottle which would not hold thy hand…I will never believe it until I see thee inside with my own eyes” trick, that he is saved (16). The Sultan, who released the young Prince from his curse in The Ensorceled Prince, also uses trickery to enact justice. He pretends to be a slave (the infirm lover of the adulterous woman), convincing the sorcerous queen to restore the Prince to his previous mobility, the people of the Prince’s kingdom to their rightful forms (having previously turned them into fish) and his kingdom also to its rightful form (from a pond back into a kingdom), before revealing his trickery and ending her treacherous life. Thus, in each story, cleverness, or ingenuity, plays a pivotal role, which communicates to us how highly it is valued.

Faithfulness. Justice. Cleverness. Three values which, as revealed by The Arabian Nights, are highly regarded in Islamic culture. Just as a pure heart and kindness to strangers is a cultural value seen in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, so are faithfulness, justice, and cleverness seen as cultural values throughout the tales of The Arabian Nights.

Works Cited:

Sir Richard Burton. The Arabian Nights. 21 September, 2010. <http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/arabnit.htm#BULL> (page numbers come from cutting and pasting into OpenOffice, Font: Times New Roman, Font size: 12)

 

Enemy… September 22, 2010

Filed under: educational,Political,Religious — Addicted to Yarn @ 7:59 am

Richard Dawkins at the “Protest the Pope” rally, 18 September, 2010

Joseph Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity. He’s an enemy of children whose bodies he’s allowed to be raped and whose minds he’s encouraged to be infected with guilt. It’s embarrassingly clear that the church is less concerned with saving childs’ bodies from rapists than saving priestly souls from hell and most concerned with saving the long-time reputation of the church itself. He’s an enemy of gay people, bestowing on them the bigotry that his church used to reserve for Jews before 1962. He’s an enemy of women, barring them from priesthood as though a penis was an essential tool for pastoral duties. He is an enemy of truth, promoting bare-faced lies about condoms not protecting against AIDS, especially in Africa. He’s an enemy of the poorest people on the planet, condemning them to inflated families that they cannot feed and so keeping them in the bondage of perpetual poverty. A poverty which sits ill beside the obscene wealth of the Vatican. He is an enemy of science, obstructing vital stem cell research on grounds not of true morality but on pre-scientific superstition. Ratzinger is even an enemy, he is even an enemy of the Queen’s own church, arrogantly dissing Anglican orders as quote absolutely null and utterly void while at the same time shamelessly trying to poach Anglican Vicars to shore up his own pitifully declining priesthood. Finally, perhaps of most personal concern to me, Ratzinger is an enemy of education. Quite apart from the lifelong psychological damage caused by the guilt and fear that has made Catholic education infamous throughout the world, he and his church foster the educationally pernicious doctrine that evidence is a less reliable basis for belief than faith, tradition, revelation, and authority. His authority.

Watch the whole speech here:

 

What? You can’t take undocumented children out of the country? January 31, 2010

Filed under: Anecdotal,educational,parenting,Political,Religious — Addicted to Yarn @ 7:56 pm
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Uh…duh…These people are retarded. I’m not trying to be inflammatory but seriously, how much thought does it take to realize that you are going to be suspected of child traffficking if you take a bus load of undocumented children out of the country? Oh, you were just trying to help? Really? A likely story. And I’ll bet every child trafficker out there says, when stopped by the police, “Oh, you caught me. I was planning on selling these children into prostitution.”

I understand that there are kids who need help in Haiti. Well, really all of Haiti needs help. But it’s kind of like being on a moving job. Let me explain.

My dad ran a moving company for many years. We could empty a house, load two large U-Hauls in a day with my dad, me and one, maybe two, helpers and not break a thing and everything go as planned, or mostly as planned. The other way of doing it is the way this guy we moved did it. He was a popular guy and he had EVERYONE and their dog come over to “help.” We must have had 15 people trying to help us. My dad never left the truck. He just tried to fit things in. The problem is, you can’t just load a truck with random crap. You have to load it carefully so that everything arrives the way it should. Heavy furniture on the bottom, medium stuff in the middle, and light, randomly shaped things on the top and progresing to lighter and lighter loads as you move towards the back of the truck. When he’s being brought random stuff and never has a chance to go back inside and see what should go next, it ends up really sucking.

So the truck is loaded badly.

Then, there is the fact that random people don’t know shit about moving furniture. And they don’t listen when you tell them they are doing it wrong. At the time, I was 19 years old. One of the older men (probably in his late forties) was putting a file cabinet on a box dolly. I said, “Oh, don’t use that. If you put a filing cabinet on a box dolly, the ledge of the dolly will pop the bottom out of the filing cabinet. You have to carry it.”

He ignored me.

He took it down two stairs before the ledge of the dolly pushed through the bottom and the whole thing tumbled down the stairs spilling LOOSE sheet music everywhere. I helped him pick up the mess he’d made, while biting my tongue to keep from going ape-shit on him.

The entire move was like that. One mistake, one bumble, one screwed up thing after another. And it took much longer than it should have because nothing went smoothly. It was chaos and disorganization and frustration.

And that is what needs to NOT happen in Haiti. What is happening in Haiti is terrible. A bunch of yahoo’s running down there and “helping” when they don’t know what they are doing is going to make it more terrible. Imagine that you are a parent who has been searching for your child only to find out that “someone” took them out of the country to “help” them. Is that going to reassure you or freak you out?

In closing, IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, STAY OUT!

 

My, oh my, how times have changed December 22, 2009

Ignorance...it's so much easier.

Prior to opening Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions, I had a fairly narrow view of feminism and the many different issues the broad umbrella of “feminism” entails. All the info I had on feminism came from Hollywood, shock jocks, overheard conversations, and 20 years worth of indoctrination into the conservative Christian tradition. Though I had largely rejected my religious upbringing and had begun to question many of the opinions which I’d thought were fact, many remained, simply because they were unexamined. The readings from Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions have caused me to examine my views of feminism, the role of women in society, the patriarchy, activism, and cosmetic surgery. Two readings in particular have proven catalytic in broadening my mind; Feminist Politcs, written by bell hooks, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude, by Amy Bloom.

In Feminist Politics, hooks provided me with a definition of feminism I couldn’t not support (ironically, it was also the first definition I’d heard, despite having a strong, albeit ignorant, opinion about feminism): “Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” (2000, p. 40). Hooks went on to address why this is not a commonly understood and accepted definition of feminism and I had my eyes opened again. I was not a big believer in the “patriarchy”— the idea of a group of men in expensive suits, sitting around a cigar-smoke-filled room, conspiring to keep women oppressed seemed preposterous. With a simple phrase, “[Most people’s] misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media” (p. 40), I realized that it didn’t take a conspiracy of peers to oppress a group of people.

The term “radical feminist” was a cause for concern to me before hooks explained the difference between “reformist feminism” and “radical feminism.” Reformists want, primarily, “equality with men in the workforce” while the “original radical foundations of contemporary feminism…called for reform as well as overall restructuring of society so that our nation would be fundamentally anti-sexist” (2000, p. 41). Reforming our current, sexist society is not enough. Gaining equality in one area (such as equal-pay-for-equal-work), is not enough to end (or at least push back) all the ‘ism’s that oppress millions every day.

The second reading that cataclysmically altered my point of view was written by Amy Bloom. In Hermaphrodites with Attitude, Bloom writes that infants born with “ambiguous genitalia” are more common than those born with cystic fibrosis, about two thousand times a year in the United States alone. (2002, p. 244)

I myself am not a hermaphrodite, nor do I know anyone who is (that I am aware of). Prior to this reading, I had done no research about the subject whatsoever. And yet, I had an opinion about hermaphrodites and people I considered “gender confused.” My thought was naively, “Whatever genitals are most prominent, that’s what you are. Just be that.” Very few hermaphrodites are true 50/50 splits so this seemed an easy judgment to make.

This opinion was challenged upon my reading about the “corrective” procedures, which, “if necessary” involve “some enlargement of the vaginal cavity by metal dilators, inserted by the parents daily for six months….Monthly dilation of the seven-or eight-year old continues into adolescence to prevent the narrowing or closure of the vaginal cavity” (p. 244). Further challenges arose when reading about the mentality of those performing such procedures. Bloom quotes a doctor as writing, “After stillbirth, genital anomaly is the most serious problem with a baby, as it threatens the whole fabric of personality and life of the person.” One must wonder how much more a baby’s personality will be shaped by having non-consensual genital surgery and by the postoperative “dilation” in order to make her vagina “normal” than by having a “genital anomaly.” Bloom quotes Dr. Richard Hurwitz, in the instructional video “Surgical Reconstruction of Ambiguous Genitalia in Female Children” as saying, “The finding of ambiguous genitalia in the newborn is a medical and social emergency.” There is a common understanding among doctors and surgeons that a boy can not have a fulfilling life with a small penis and a girl can not have a fulfilling life with a large clitoris and therefore, “corrective” surgery must be performed as soon as possible. These same doctors believe that parents are incapable of truly loving a child whose genitals do not conform to the “normal” standard of genital conformation. The American College of Surgeons training video on how to treat female genital abnormality makes clear that they believe it highly important to appear normal while making no mention of functionality or feeling. (Bloom, 2002, p. 248)

My ignorant opinion that one should just “be what they are” was challenged and ultimately destroyed upon reading about Klinefelter’s syndrome, AIS, PAIS, and CAH, all of which result in fairly “normal” looking genitals but with various hormonal or chromosomal abnormalities which result in varying degrees of natural variations, such as a man developing small breasts but not the typically “male” traits such as a hairy chest, deep voice, and heavier musculature.

This essay also reaffirmed to me the dangers of homophobia. Dr. Philip Gruppuso (quoted in Bloom, 2002), speaking on the treatment of infant hermaphrodites said:

“…in the history of treating these kids, there is an element of homophobia…If you look back at the standard texts of the fifties and sixties, the underlying concern was that people who were ‘really’ male but looked female would want to have sex with males, and the same for females who appeared male. Homosexual sex was the underlying fear.” (p. 247)

While understanding that homophobia was dangerous and damaging to adults, I had not realized the extent to which the irrational fear of consenting adults having relations with other consenting adults of the same sex was causing harm upon the most innocent and defenseless people in our midst.

I know that I have many more ignorant and judgment views remaining to be examined, but due to the writings of bell and Bloom, there are at least some which are no longer mucking around in my brain.

References

Bloom, A. (2002) Hermaphrodites with attitude. In S. Shaw, J. Lee (Eds.), Women’s voices, feminist visions. (2009). (pp. 244-249). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

hooks, b. (2000). Feminist politics: Where we stand. In S. Shaw, J. Lee (Eds.), Women’s voices, feminist visions. (2009). (pp. 40-42). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

 

How Feminism Has Effected Me…so far. December 19, 2009

Rebecca Watson - Third Wave feminist

I love talking politics and government but I hate being ill-informed and ignorant (largely because I spent the first two decades of my life ignorant and opinionated before having a change of heart). My desire to not be ignorant is what led me to major in Political Science. I wanted to be able to speak with surety about the things that were going on in the political theaters of the U.S. and around the world. But my quest for knowledge was just that…a quest for nothing more than knowledge. I just wanted to be able to talk about politics. I didn’t want to do politics. One of the reasons for this was that I didn’t recognize a need for change. I, as a white female, was adequately represented by my elected leaders and feminism was done. I believed in, as what Deborah Seigel called, “the trendy notion that we are living in a ‘post-feminist’ era” (The Movement That Has No Name, 2007, p. 34). Seigel’s essay and Patricia Hill Collins’s Toward a New Vision were instrumental in changing that misconception.

In my studies of politics, I’ve learned that representation is key to achieving a group’s goals. Upon reading The Movement That Has No Name, I realized that feminism was not done and there was still much work to be done before the goals of feminism (equality for all and an end to sexism) could be said to be realized. Siegel writes, “Polls proclaimed that 22 million unmarried women did not vote in the 2000 presidential election” (p. 33). Seigel writes that

Sarah Margaret Fuller - First Wave feminist

younger women are highly involved volunteers, grassroots organizers, and activists. These women are not voting, not because they don’t care, but because they “disillusioned” (p. 36). This disillusionment exists because in a world where the cost of running for office is in the millions of dollars–$3 million for a seat in the House and over $21 million for a Senatorial seat (projected costs for 2010), and over $300 million spent on President Obama’s campaign (as reported by Thomas E. Patterson in American Democracy, 2008)–women only own “1 percent of the world’s assets” (Siegel, p. 35). Is it any wonder, then, that women only make up about 16.4% of American Congressmen? Only “20 percent of full professors” are women as are only “17 percent of partners in law firms…Only 10 Fortune 500 CEOs are women” (p. 34).

“The low turnout among young female voters during the 2004 election doesn’t mean that all women under 35 are apathetic but rather, perhaps, that many are turned off and disillusioned by politicians who fail to take on their issues” (Siegel, p. 36), for without the resources that men have, getting one of their own in a position of power has proven extremely difficult.

As I finished reading Siegel’s work, I began thinking of ways to organize my peers, give them a movement they can stand behind and can support them. Siegel believes a principle cause of women thinking their “personal” problem is not political is the lack of just such a movement to support them (2007). I was left with the question, “How does one go about doing such a thing?”

Catherine MacKinnon - Second Wave feminist

Patricia Hill Collins’s Toward a New Vision gave me some of the answers I was looking for. She writes, “[C]hange starts with self, and relationships that we have with those around us must always be the primary site for social change (1993, p. 76). It is easy for me to forget how central personal relationships are. Before I met my good friend Alex, I gave little thought to the unique struggles of the partially disabled. Until my atheist husband joined the Air Force, I had given no thought to how oppressively Christian the military can be. Until I begin to share what I have learned and experienced, many around me may remain ignorant of the issues facing women today.

Collins also urges us away from “additive analyses of oppression,” (p. 76) as such is based on either/or thinking. Collins points out some of the “dichotomous” thinking with, “Black/white, man/woman, thought/feeling…” (p. 77). I add to that list other dichotomies that plague, not just the study of oppression, but the study of politics and government as well: good/evil, right/wrong, Left/Right, pro-life/pro-choice, pro-gun-rights/pro-gun-control, against war/patriotic. The list of divisions goes on and one. Dichotomies such as these tear people apart and create divides where none needs to be because dichotomous thinking means that only one side can be right and that side is 100% right. Therefore the other side (any side that isn’t right) is 100% wrong. The pro-life side does not see the pro-choice side as supporting choice. They see them as anti-life. The pro-choice side does not see

Becky Walker - feminist

the pro-life side as pro-life; they see them as anti-choice and pro-oppression. The pro-gun control does not see the pro-gun-rights side as pro-Constitution or pro-self-defense. They see them as pro-murder and mayhem. The pro-gun-rights side does not see the pro-gun-control side as pro-safety and anti-violent-crime. They see them as anti-Constitution and anti-family. Each side vilifies the other while elevating themselves to sainthood. Such thinking will ultimately destroy much more than it builds.

While my passion remains government and politics, feminism has “lit a fire” under me, so to say. Previously, my goal had simply been to understand politics, to be able to intelligently discuss government systems without embarrassing myself, and perhaps, to write the odd free-lance article. Now, armed with the knowledge that, 1. my voice, as a woman, is less heard than men’s voices; 2. There is great need for a cohesive feminist movement that young women can stand behind and be supported by; 3. Such an organizations will come about through personal relationships; 4. My fight to end dichotomous thinking in my own life is a good start but I must also spread it through those I’m in relationship with, I think perhaps I can and should do more with my education than just “have an education.” I must constantly challenge myself to remember these points and fight for the change I wish to see least I fall again into the ranks of the ill-informed, ignorant, and ultimately, powerless.

References

Collins, P. H. (1993). Toward a new vision. In S. Shaw, J. Lee (Eds.), Women’s voices, feminist visions.(2009). (pp. 76-84). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Patterson, T. E. (2009). The American democracy. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Siegel, D. (2007). The movement that had no name. In S. Shaw, J. Lee (Eds.), Women’s voices, feminist visions. (2009). (pp. 31-39). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.