Tag Archives: human rights

Attention-Seekers: The Women’s March on Washington

“The best protection any woman can have … is courage.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton

***

“We’re with a group of strong, beautiful women. We’re fine.”

metropicThese were the words that my travel companion and dear friend Cassondra uttered to her concerned mother by telephone as we made our way into Washington DC by metro train for the Women’s March on Washington early on the morning of January 21, 2017.

I’ve had to replay Cassondra’s words many times in my head in the days since. I’ve needed the reminder that those simple words provide. I’ve needed the strength, the affirmation, the love.

Because, let me tell you, the days following Saturday have not been easy.

The only way I know how to describe it is that I’ve walked out of a sea of love into a swarm of hatred.

I live in a small, conservative area. I don’t mean to use the word “conservative” with a negative connotation, but I’m just going to have to say it like it is. The minds around me tend to be small. They can’t (won’t) stretch far enough to take in all that is out there in this big world. I’ve become used to it. I’ve become accustomed to the responses I receive any time I go against the flow (which is pretty often). This is nothing new. I knew there’d be negativity. I was prepared for it. It’s pretty much the status quo for me.

But what I wasn’t prepared for?

What took me surprise?

The response from some of my friends.

My FEMALE friends at that.

“I’ll march at the ‘we’re all a bunch of hypocritical asshats that love to point out the splinter in another’s eye while ignoring the log in ours’ protests.”

“I didn’t ask anyone to march for me.”

“No one ‘fought’ shit. You guys walked around getting pats on your back from people who already agreed with you.”

“They’re just a bunch of attention-seeking whores.”

Lovely, huh?

And, oh no….these were not comments that I just plucked off of the internet, mind you. These were said by women I know personally. Women I considered friends. In fact, one of them was one I had even considered one of my best friends right up until the moment my eyes met those words.

I feel shell shocked.

I’ve been running their words over in my mind.

Attention-seeking whores.”

Women (and men) just looking for “pats on the back.”

I suppose there is some truth to some of it. Really. For example – attention-seeking? Okay, actually yeah. That’s exactly what we were doing. Exactly. Drawing attention to the things that get swept under the rug. The drastic wage difference between men and women. The daily cat-calling, condescension, and groping that women are submitted to.  The men who make their eight-year-old daughters cry because they want their hair cut but daddy refuses to “let them” because the Bible says they’ll go to hell. (Oh yes. True story.) The Brock Turners of the world who serve three mere months in jail for damage that a woman will live with forever, because it may have hurt his little swimming career.

The men who brag about grabbing women’s pussies against their will because they have the power to do so, and yet advance to become the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Are we wanting attention? Well, yeah. I suppose you can say we are.

So, attention-seeking – I’ll give you.  Whores?  Hell, I don’t know. Maybe some of them out there have been paid for sex. Me, though? Notsomuch. So I’m gonna have to pull a snopes on you for that one. FALSE.

Now. Are we looking for “pats on the back”?

Hmmm. Actually, I think that might be the other way around. We were there to give those pats on the back.

nastywomanmanTo the woman I overheard trying desperately to hear on her cellphone as the crowd thickened and the decibel level rose because she was calling to make sure her son made it to soccer practice? Yes. That woman deserves a pat on the back. So, here. This pat is for you.

To the man who married a “nasty woman” and showed up to show his support and love for her and all women like her? This pat is for you, sir.

To the woman carrying the sign that said, “I’m the lesbian daughter of a Muslim immigrant?” This pat is for you, you strong, beautiful, brave woman. And here’s another one for your mom.

babyTo the many women in the crowd who carried their babies on their person for hours at a time so that they could be a part of an historical event to have their voices heard? This pat? Yeah. This one is definitely for you. What a story you’ll have to tell them. Kudos to you, momma.

To the little latino girl on her daddy’s shoulders beaming as she watched 6-year-old Sophie Cruz, daughter of Mexican immigrants, give arguably the most rousing speech of the day? That smile that covered her face as little Sophie told her, “I am here to tell the children, do not be afraid”?  Oh yeah, that one gets a pat on the back. And it would have gotten the biggest hug you’ve ever gotten from a ginger stranger if I could have reached you, you sweet little thing you.

hatefearTo the teenager holding the rainbow sign showing the USA and the words, “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here”? A pat on the back for you, little warrior woman. I know full well how tough it is for a teenager who is “different.” How brave you were to walk through the streets of that big city and show the other kids of the world that you were on their side.

To the woman wearing the race bib on your shirt that said “Sarah bear”? Being a runner myself, I had to ask you about it. I thought it was yours. When you told me that you were wearing that bib in honor of your young daughter who had just passed away? I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring. You definitely get a pat on the back. A big one. You possess a strength that I couldn’t possibly know. You are my hero.

To the woman who wrote this sign we found propped against a fence at the white house:

sign

This blog would go on forever if I kept up with all of these ‘pats on the back,’ so I’ll finish it up with one final one.

To the woman who stood by my side through it all. The woman I watched feed a homeless man; defend a woman who was being verbally attacked by a stranger on the street; force a parting of the crowd to help a woman break through to find her son. The woman who continually asked people’s stories. Who felt people’s pain. Who engaged everyone in conversation. Who shed tears on countless occasions simply because she was standing where she was and doing what she felt in her heart to be right. The woman who never wanted to be in front of the camera because she was too busy behind the camera –  documenting the happiness, the strength, and, sometimes, the pain. The woman who lost her job while we were on this trip because of a landslide in our small town, yet who set that worry and grief aside long enough to focus on the matter at hand, and do her part in preserving a piece of history. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I raged with her.

We became sisters.

cassondraSo, to Cassondra? An extra special pat on the back for you, lady.

*THIS* is what this trip was about. This is what this weekend was about. This is what that day was about. This was what that march was about.

Sisterhood.

Togetherness.

Connection.

Strength.

Love.

Determination.

We are going to be there for one another. We just are. Not just Cassondra and me. Every woman that stood there side by side in a collective love.  That day was just the start. The start of something big and beautiful.

And I will not…I repeat, NOT…let pettiness stand in my way.

There will be more stories to tell, I promise. Cassondra is a photographer and there will be photos coming that will blow you away. Her photos will tell stories that my words never could. Wait for them.

We are not through yet.

I just had to get this out while it was weighing on me.

I had to fight back against the oppression, even if it was coming from friends.

We won’t be stopped. You don’t have to understand this now. But one day you will.

One day you will.

not-over

Sign left outside a café the morning after the march in DC

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Controversy

“I’m not an activist; I don’t look for controversy. I’m not a political person, I’m a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights. I care about human rights.”
– Ellen DeGeneres

So, here’s an idea. I know it might sound crazy, but hear me out.

So you’re sitting there and this crazy controversial issue pops across your radar.  Let’s say it’s…oh, I don’t know…Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) And let’s say that your uber-Christian beliefs tell you that Bruce (not Caitlyn – because you refuse to call HIM Caitlyn) is going straight to hell as fast as the little fire-breathing demon chauffeurs can get him there. And let’s say that you think, “Hey! You know what?! I think the whole world needs to know that Bruce is going to hell” and so you decide the next logical step is to post something about that on Facebook. And let’s say you lean back, prop your crossed-legs up on your desk, place your self-righteous hands behind your self-righteous head and wait, with a “God loves only me” smile, for the ever-supportive comments and likes to roll in like the waves at high tide.

ConflictBut then…wait.  What is this?  Oh no!  You drop your feet back to the floor, sit forward and stare at your computer screen in utter disbelief.  Right there, in the midst of the support you receive from your like-minded friends, suddenly a comment pops up that….*gasp!*….goes against your opinion.  Whaaaaat?  Oh yes, ’tis true. There it is. Right in the middle of the self-righteous (have I used that word already?) rants from you and your cronies, there is a comment that has the audacity to imply that you might just be wrong in your stance. A comment that suggests that CAITLYN Jenner is, in fact, not going to hell and that God actually loves HER just as much as He loves you.

Whoa, nelly!

So, what do you do? You pout. You and your friends gang up on the commenter and tell her how wrong she is and how “rude” she’s being by going against what you have to say.  About how she and anyone who agrees with her are on the wrong path and had better turn from sin and see the light. And then…in a display of utmost maturity…you DELETE said comment so that your post remains nice and one-sided like the good Lord intended.

There. That solves that.

But wait….along come other comments that go against your beliefs. What?!  There are more heathens out there!? “Delete!” Pretty soon, after tedious editing on your part, your post sits there just as you like it, with only the supportive comments accompanying it.  Shew!  That was a close one.

Oh, but wait.  You’re not done just yet. Since you know the initial commenter’s mother, you decide you had better tell her what her teenage child did. You proceed to send the mother…let’s hypothetically name her…oh, I don’t know…”Melissa”… a private conversation you had with her daughter (where you contacted her to tell her how rude she was being by disagreeing with you) and then sit back to wait for the mother’s wrath to ensue upon the kid.

But uh oh. This didn’t quite turn out like you thought it would.

Momma Melissa doesn’t quite agree with you.  In fact, Momma Melissa is actually PROUD of her daughter. Can you believe that crap? What kind of mother actually encourages her child to stand up for what she believes in and to speak out against something she feels is an injustice? The NERVE! What kind of mother has raised her children to believe that just because someone is different from you, that doesn’t make them wrong? What kind of mother would not only not punish her child for voicing her opinion, but would actually congratulate her for doing so?!

What is the world coming to?

But no worries. At least you’re not the one going to hell, right? Those poor lost souls….

So, back to my point. That crazy idea I had, remember? How about this? How about you not post controversial things unless you want a controversial response? Hmmm? How about that? How about you realize that Facebook is a public forum and, as shocking as it may be to you, there are actually people out there who think differently from you! I know, sweetie. It’s insane, it really is. But alas, ’tis true. Some people out there don’t sit at their computer pushing the little “share” button on articles knowing that they sit at the right-hand of God and that they alone are his chosen one. Seriously. Some people out there feel that we’re all created equal and that, if there is a God up there looking down on us, he wants us to love each other and save the judgment for him to take care of and decide for himself what he deems judgment-worthy.

I know, it’s weird, isn’t it?  But darling, these people do exist. Sad as it may be to you…they exist.

And those Momma Melissas of the world?  Sheesh. Look out, lady. You try to tell them that their kid has done something wrong, when they know good and well that they haven’t…well, be prepared to hear about it.

In fact, the really crazy Momma Melissas out there?  Ha!  They might even have a blog and might write about it and call you out in it.  Crazy, right?

People these days, man.  I tell ya….

***

“Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.”
– Chauncey Depew

The Basic Human Rights Struggle…um, I mean The Same-Sex Marriage Struggle

 “Gay rights is just one of the social issues I’m interested in. I think that people might be less tense about it if we would all accept the fact that not everyone is wired the same way.”
– Charlaine Harris
Let me start this out by saying that I’m the least informed person when it comes to politics that you may ever meet in your life. Why is that? I don’t know. I just have a brain block or something when it comes to that subject. I don’t like things that don’t have a clear-cut right or wrong answer. To me, politics is just a massive pile of personal opinion being thrown around that ends up creating laws that force others into submission, regardless of how they may feel about the situation. Call me crazy, but I just don’t like that crap.

And you know another reason I stay out of it?  It’s pretty simple, really.

I HATE when people don’t agree with me.

I do. Oh my gosh, do I hate it. Why are other people so darn dense? Why can’t they see that I’m always right??? Sheesh.

Which brings me to one of the current topics of political discussion these days. Same-sex marriage.

Unless you live under a rock (and hey, if you do – scootch over, I’m coming in too), you have heard that same-sex marriage is a hot topic these days. And now, it has made it to the supreme court. Hearings started yesterday and the outcome is not expected to be heard until June 30th.  June friggin 30th.

protestSo, let me get this straight.  (No pun intended.)  A discussion is going to start on April 28 and is going to continue throughout TWO FULL MONTHS before the final decision is made…and it’s all about whether or not two people who love each other can get married?

Excuse me while I scratch my head for the next two months straight because I don’t know what the heck is happening here.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a voracious reader. I constantly have a book going. Actually, I usually have at least three books going at any given time. I listen to audio books in the car, I carry a paper book with me wherever I go, and I have audio books on my phone so I can listen to them when I’m running. Now, for someone who reads as much as I do, there’s a massive potential for me to be supremely intelligent, wouldn’t you say?  I could be reading “how to” books and history books and current events books. But nope. I just listen to novels. Made-up stories. Not anything earth-shattering or informational. Just pure old-fashioned entertainment. But every now and then, a little nugget of awesomeness slips through from one of these novels. Let me share one with you. This is from The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett.

(Young girl to a nun): “What would the church say about something like that?” (Nun’s answer): “No, the question is what would God say. And that’s between her and God. It’s none of our business.”

Now, did you catch that? It’s NONE OF OUR FRIGGIN BUSINESS. Why in this world is it going to take TWO MONTHS for a bunch of supreme court justices to sit around and decide the fate of something that is none of our business? It just blows my little novel-reading, politics-ignoring, pea-sized mind.

Am I looking at this too simply? Perhaps. But is the world making this much more complicated than it needs to be?  YES. For God’s sake, YES.

I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but Christianity is not the only religion in this country. (I’ll pause here while some of you catch your bearings. Breathe. Just breathe.) Thus, that whole separation of church and state thing that everyone ignores. We are a country of diversity. Beautiful, precious diversity. Why is it any of my business what the neighbors are doing with their personal life? Why? If same-sex couples are not allowed to marry, are they all going to suddenly break up, repent, see the error of their ways, and get back in straight relationships where they belong? Puh-lease. This is a formality. Straight people are straight, gay people are gay, and there is nothing that a supreme court is going to be able to do about that. It’s nature, people.

I was recently at a conference for my job. Now, I work in real estate, mind you, and guess what topic came up at this conference? You guessed it. Same-sex marriage. A local North Carolina county register of deeds was the guest speaker and she was speaking about the changes that have been enacted in relation to same-sex marriages being filed with the court. While same-sex marriages are supposed to be recognized in the state of North Carolina now, many court workers have refused to participate in the preparation and filing of the licenses. So, how has North Carolina responded to this little problem? They have allowed the workers to refuse the work if it goes against their beliefs. Oh, same-sex couples can still be married, mind you. But they have to wait to be sure the register of deeds herself (or himself) is present because they, unlike the other workers, are not allowed to refuse. What the heck?

Scene. Okay, I’m a worker at the register of deeds office. You with me? I’m sitting there playing solitaire on my computer and in walks my ex-boyfriend. Yep, that sorry, no good ex-boyfriend of mine that broke my heart into a million pieces. And who does he have with him? The good-for-nothing little blonde that he LEFT ME FOR. And what’s he there to do? Get a marriage license. Are you kidding me? Oh HELL NO! That jerk doesn’t deserve to be married. So, nope. Not gonna do it. Why? Because my BELIEFS say that this lowlife doesn’t deserve marriage like the rest of us do. Why not? Because he’s a cheating bag of scum. So there. BAM! No marriage for you, sucker.

And guess what? I get to keep my job. Nanny nanny boo boo.

Oh, wait. That scenario is different, you say?  Pray tell me how? That was me letting my personal beliefs interfere with my job. Why on earth do I get to continue working there? Shouldn’t I have to do my job or get the heck out? What is it about this that I’m not getting, people?  Help me out here.

At this same conference, the register of deeds was talking about all of the new e-filing systems and how technologically advanced North Carolina is when it comes to those matters. Somewhat under her breath, she followed that up with, “North Carolina: technologically advanced, but legally backwards.”

Amen, sister.

I_Support_All_Kinds_of_Love_by_Hazel_AlmondsWhat’s my point of this blog? Nothing really. Just a rant, I suppose. Just some rambling thoughts about an issue that affects people I love. Will what I say make a difference to anyone?  Probably not. But should I keep saying it? You betcha. If one person out there knows that one other person in this world has their back, then my job here is done.

Why can’t we just love and let love?  I just don’t get it….

***

“If Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t. And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?”

– Chief Justice John Roberts, April 28, 2015