Category Archives: feminism

The Scars of Evil

            As a woman and a lesbian I wear the first hand scars of the injury done to my soul by sexism, heterosexism, and the not so subtle message that I am “less than.” I also carry within me secondary scars of evil. As a white person, I the carry the secondary scars of racism, as a non-Jew, the secondary scars of Nazism. As a citizen, the secondary scars of violence. As a human being, the secondary scars of intolerance.

I guess I made that up, secondary scars, or maybe have heard in another context, but what I mean is that I and we carry in our persons the consequences of evil that is done to others. We are not separate from that which is perpetrated on others. We are injured either by our complicity or our compassion, whether conscious or not. It is those scars that make it impossible for me to remain silent.

Godde calls us all to confront evil with love and love seems like an awfully flimsy weapon given the depth of evil we are capable of perpetrating on one another. But the activity of love is justice and Godde enlists human souls to do justice and be justice as the antidote to evil.

– from A Gracious Heresy, by ConnieTuttle

Election Postmortem: You Missed the Point

 

Dear Democratic Party,

I write as a Democrat and a fervent progressive to let you know you have missed the point. Utterly.

When you do a post mortem of Hillary’s campaign you miss the mark often and with impudence. You fail to unpack  the inherent and rampant sexism that contributed toward fear and mistrust of her as a leader. I haven’t heard much said about her nearly 3 million vote majority. You curry Bernie’s favor and ignore the million women who organized and marched. (and continue to organize and march, I would add.)

You miss our passion and our concerns. The system is closed. As Democrats, we need a complete overhaul. We need to listen to women. Empower women. Follow women. You are missing it and missing it badly. I don’t want to split off from the party and I don’t want Bernie. Bernie misses the point, too. He addresses important economic issues but it is done at the expense and without the input of women. He does not speak to or for me.

As you think about our diversity in terms of color and class, as you ponder us as a party with a big table filled with disabled people, people of color, poor people, oppressed people, LGBTQ people, middle class people, immigrants, , and others you have forgotten that 51% of all those categories are women.

I am angry that you use my passion and energy for the political ends of the Democratic party and yet my wisdom, concerns, leadership, and rights are ignored. Court Bernie if you like. Your new constituency will be primarily young white men. And if he is true to form you will be left holding some incongruent bag of entitled members who may or may not support our agenda. The entitlement of young white men is much like the entitlement of old white men. And in the end, women are relegated to the gray vastness of ‘how we can be useful’.

The party needs to get serious about its internalized misogyny. The future of this nation and the entire planet depends on the leadership of women. Find a way to get there with us or move over and we will get it done without you.

Sincerely,

The Reverend Connie L. Tuttle

 

 

 

The Power of our Stories

Yesterday we said these words in our Seder meal:  “Laughter and tears life and death, good and evil – these are bound  irrevocably together. We bless them together for we know that with without death we would not fully value life. Without tears we would not fully value laughter. As we learn to maximize the good and valuable, let us  remember the evil we would reject, lest it creep, unrecognized, back into our presence.”

Has Pharaoh crept back into power? In our day ‘pharaohs’ are the ones who live in luxury while families struggle to make ends meet. ‘Pharaohs’ are those who get tax cuts while the most vulnerable lose benefits like meals-on-wheels, childcare assistance, reproductive healthcare, social security, and disability benefits. ‘Pharaohs’ are the ones who wrangle power from the people and centralize it among friends and family.

Today I wonder how we can celebrate the journey to freedom when Pharaoh skulks around every corner working hard to corrode our freedoms. Pharaoh lives in the White House, in the Senate and House. Pharaoh now resides on the Supreme Court.

So how do we become free? We remember our history and tell those stores along with new stories as we begin again our journey to freedom. For those of us in the United States our stories are of our constitution and bill of rights, and stories of our march toward the liberation of all: the abolition movement, the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the movement for LGBTQ rights, for immigrant rights. These are the stories we need to remember

How do we become free? We wake up for the hundredth morning and grope for words to describe what is wrong. We engage in small heroic acts of disobedience until our disparate voices come together into the cry of the people. We continue to move forward even though the way looks impossible and pharaoh nips at our heels.

We open our doors and make ourselves see the crimes of rape, violence, hatred, intolerance, prejudice, and the dehumanization of those called ‘other’ who are really our sisters and brothers and friends. And we care enough to act.

We have begun. We are marching and speaking and writing and calling and voting. We are wading into a sea and we are in it up to our necks. But our stories give up hope and tell us we will make a way through to the other side. So let’s keep telling our stories and singing our stories as we travel on the road to liberation. Let the children of today represented by the Children’s Choir of Boston sing a story for us and inspire us not to let anyone turn us ’round on this journey.

 

 

 

I Thought I Was A Good Citizen

images-15           The first time I voted I lived in California. It was 1972, during the Viet Nam War and Nixon was running against McGovern. I took my then toddler with me, dressed in a white leotard with a red zipper and a red, star-shaped pull. Over that she wore a red, white and blue striped skirt with the word ‘VOTE’ circling the circumference from waist to hem. I was just twenty and thrilled to be a part of the democratic process. Since then I have voted every time the polls opened.

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I stayed informed. I marched for civil rights, women’s rights, against the death penalty. I gave money to causes I supported. Very occasionally I wrote letters to my representatives. I thought I was a good citizen. After the past three+ months I can now report that I was an under-involved citizen who assumed the democratic process, values, and structures could and would maintain themselves. I assumed that our courts and voting booths facilitated the ‘arc toward justice’ that Martin talked about. Since November 9th I have learned otherwise.

We are living in different times. The future of our democracy and the future of our republic depends on me. And you. And you. And you. And you. It has always depended on us but I, at least, didn’t have any idea to what extent. I don’t believe I am overstating it to say we are living terrifying times. We cannot assume that our very ideals of freedom, human rights, inclusion, shared power, and political discourse are shared or valued so If those ideals are to continue to define and shape us as a nation it is up to us to make it so.

I am learning new ways to be a good citizen. Being informed is no longer enough. If I want to be a good citizen I must act on the information. What bills are coming before the state and federal legislatures? Where do I stand on them? Who represents me? How do I let them know? I have my state and national representatives’ and senators’ numbers programmed into my phone. Their email addresses are in my contacts. Their snail mail addresses are saved in a doc that I can print out on cardstock. (I use postcards instead of lettered mail because letters have to be vetted for ricin, etc. so postcards get to them more quickly). I demand town hall meetings and then show up. I attend state level committee meetings on issues I support or oppose. This is my new normal. I invite you to find and embrace your new normal.


People wonder if it makes a difference. All those small acts. All that time. The  only things that will make a difference is that we actively participate in our democracy, without ceasing. We had become complacent and complacency is no longer an option. Not everyone has the time to go to meetings during work hours or that are held hours away but if you can, DO. Everyone can work to stay informed. Everyone can commit to vote. Everyone can spend 10-30 minutes a day making their voices heard. And none of us can afford not to be good citizens. The future of the republic depends on us.

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We’ve Only Just Begun

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I look back at my last post and wonder at how afraid I was – to the point of saying I was willing to die, if necessary. I thought we might be confronted by the ugliness and/or violence of the misogynistic, nationalistic, neo-Nazi, right. I was willing to take the risk. The night before the march there were riots in the streets of the capitol and hundreds arrested. I expected the police to be on edge. They probably were.

Today I am here to report that 500,000 strong came together in ways I have not seen before. Women’s participation and leadership shaped an atmosphere and embodied a kind of strength that is contrary to the traditional masculine understanding of power. And we shone. Proud. Powerful. Fun. Fabulous. Making all the connections between race and class, immigrants, nationalities, people with disabilities, sexualities, genders, gender-expressions, children, elders, infants, and the planet! This is what we do so well – we see ourselves linked and bonded to one another and to the earth and the sky and the oceans.

We chanted

“This is what democracy looks like!”

The women shouted “My body, my choice!” and the men responded “her body, her choice!”

And “immigrants are welcome here”  and “We’re here, we’re queer and we will not be afraid”

The signs! The AMAZING, creative signs (all correctly spelled):

“the rise of the woman is the rise of the nation”

“I march because a man once told me my opinions about politics were an example of ‘why women should stay in the kitchen’ all the other men in the room laughed. Am I still funny now?”

“Fight like a girl”

“Impeach Putin’s pussy-grabbing, tiny fingered, puppet”

“when they go low, we go high” (thanks Michelle)

“YUGE mistake”

“this election was brought to you by the KGB”

“a woman’s place is in the revolution”

“let us not grow weary”

“make America Kind again” and “make America Care again”

“hope not fear”

“they buried us but they didn’t know we’re seeds”

“there is no planet B”

“black trans lives matter”

“amnesty for the dreamers”

“women know how to clean, let’s start with your Cabinet”

“make America think again”

“I will not be silent”

“rapist in chief”

“pussies unite”

“respect our existence or expect resistance”

“What do we want? Evidence based science! When do we want it? After peer review!”

“the power of the people is stronger than people in power” .

We embody the hope, the anger, the passion, and the commitment of women and men across our nation and around the world, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe. We will rise up, engage, work from within and without to take back the heart of our country. We will define who we are as a nation –  not the one painted by neo-Nazi, misogynist, racist, classist, ‘alternative fact’ bullshit artists.

What  can we know now that we may not have realized before? That our story is quite different from the one fabricated by Trump and his hacks who believe his election is the end of the story. It is not. We are.

We will write about the time to come because we are the ones who will make it happen.We will claim our flawed fore-bearers and our own imperfections  while following a shared vision of what is possible. We will work against racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, climate change, and for disability rights, trans-rights, healthcare, equal pay  and all things that contribute to the well-being of each one. We will work to recapture the heart of our nation and tell  tales of all those who champion truth, freedom, inclusion, and justice. We must do the work and be the change so we can teach those who come after us the art of dragon-slaying.

Once upon a time…

 

 

 

“Are You Ready? Come Go With Me”

women's march

Today we pack our belongings – enough to last for three days. Not so much meager as essential. Take only what you need. Underwear, shirts, a pair of jeans, portable phone charger, black sharpie, metro pass, ID, gas money.

In the morning we load up the car. We will wipe the sleep from our eyes and suck down coffee as we face early traffic. It will be a long drive. And we will laugh and sing, pray and cry. Mostly we will feel both our connections and our shared fears.

I am not afraid of dying so much. And perhaps I am being over-dramatic but a friend called this morning and asked if I were sure I wanted to go. There could be violence, he warned. And this, too, is new for a seasoned marcher like me. This march may be more like Montgomery and Selma than the peaceful marches  for women’s rights, against the war, for civil rights, for gay rights that I have been a part of… this might be different.

I am not so much afraid of dying but it doesn’t mean I do not want to live. The Way in which I follow, the one whose life is my roadmap lets me know there are things worse than dying. Not standing for the disenfranchised, whether or not I am one of that number,  is worse than keeping ‘safe’. And what is ‘keeping safe’ any way if I abandon my core principles.

My dad was a soldier. He put his life on the line many days for many years. He, too, taught me that it is important to live in service to something greater than yourself. And he taught me that being brave and being afraid are intricately entwined. He even went so far as to tell me that if I wasn’t afraid then I would not proceed with caution and that was just plain stupid.

No matter the outcome of this  testament to the values we hold sacred, the standing together matters. I will stand with you, my friends, and I will stand for you.

There is a song from my younger days that the Staple Singers sang. It keeps running through my head and it is important for our time as well. I’ve posted the lyrics here. It is my invitation to the nation: come go with me. Go to Washington. Go to your local march. We cannot wait to stand and be counted.

If you’re ready come go with me

No hatred

Will be tolerated

Peace love all between the races

Love is the only transportation

To where there’s communications

If you’re ready come go with me

The boat is after

The ever here to there

No wars will ever be declared

No economical exploitation

No political domination

Take your evil

Come go with me

Genocide

Get ready

Troublemaker

You better get ready now

Liars

I’m waiting on ya

 

 

 

Songwriters

BANKS, HOMER / HAMPTON, CARL MITCHELL / JACKSON, RAYMOND E.

 

 

 

We’ll All Go Up to Washington

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January 21st.

Make plans NOW.

 

It isn’t ‘just’ a protest.

It is a show of force.

 

Let it be known that we have a voice.

Loud

Shrill, if need be

Strong

even when it shakes.

 

We are a force to be reckoned with

We vote

We stand

We act

 

Let it be known that the power rests with us

‘Trump may have the position

but we have the power

the preacher preached the day after the election

We will not be intimidated

We will not be silenced

 

Remember, friends,

there are more of us than there are of them

they will not soon forget a million women

and their allies

strong

vocal

unrepentant

seeking justice for our neighbors

for the earth

for the oppressed

for oursleves.

 

Make plans now.

Carpool.

Stay with friends.

Bring snacks

and gloves

and scarves

and wear your warmest coat.

 

We must stand together.

Now more than ever.

January 21st.

Make plans NOW.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-march-on-washington-official-tickets-29428287801

(register, it’s free. Go to link above)

 

 

 

We’re All in This Together

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There is one thing we can’t afford to do. We cannot afford to say there is only one right way to respond to growing hatred and fear in our nation. If we do we will lose the gifts, the energy, the voices of many of our allies.

              We are an aggregate of women, men, non-binary folk, African-American, white, Mexican, Middle Eastern, straight, LGBTQ, young and old, with differing abilities. And if you don’t feel included in the list above, my apologies – because you belong on that list and we are in this together with you, too.

We have a lot to learn about one another. About races other than our own, other faiths than our own – or people who are outside any religious tradition –genders other than our own, sexual identities other than our own, experiences other than our own… you get my drift. All of us are valuable and have something important to contribute.

It may small daily acts, it might be phone calls, it might be marching in the streets, it might be attending anti-racism workshops, it might be offering a safe space for others to speak or grieve, it might be standing up for others even when you, yourself are terrified. It might be becoming politically educated and politically involved. It might even be wearing a safety pin to let people know you are a safe person and that you will stand with them.

We need to empower one another to speak with the voices we have, however disparate. We may need to educate others who stand with us now who not have been visible before.

Are micro-aggressions real?  Absolutely.

Does misogyny need to be recognized and addressed cross-culturally?  Without a doubt.

Is now the time to confront our own internalized homophobia? Of course.

Do we need to recognize and allow ourselves to be challenged by our different beliefs, cultures, and experiences?  For sure.

But if we forget that what binds us is a passion for justice and freedom, if we don’t affirm the humanity of each one, if we refuse one another’s gifts, then we are not nourishing a sustained commitment to one another for this fight.

So here’s my point: we are all in this together. Let us make room. Let us encourage one another to stand and to work in the ways we are able. Let us honor the different abilities we have to do different kinds of work. We have  to listen through the things that that trigger us and engage where necessary but we cannot let our differences stop us.

What we share is a commitment. If they fracture us, then they win.

One Thing We Learned

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Today I need words. Great words. Large thoughts. I need to rise to the challenge of my faith to face hate with love, sorrow with comfort, and fear with hope.

Last night’s election was terrifying. Incredibly sad. Revelations about who we are as a nation shock and terrify us. The underbelly of hatred, fear, persecution, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny reared up and surprised us with the breadth of their power. And we need to talk about it.

We need to name the miscalculated and often denied venom of misogyny. Racism drove the election, absolutely and in no small ways. Xenophobia drove the election, without question and to our deep shame. But clearly revealed, often not spoken, perhaps unconscious driver in this election was the visceral fear of women in power. Even from liberals and millennials. Even from women. If we are to move forward toward a more just and kind world we must name this form of inhumanity that crosses race and culture and make change. It is some of the most important work before us. Just as it is clear that we are not in a post-racist time, we are surely not in a post-sexist time.

Today I challenge all the young women who told me women’s battles have been won.I challenge all men of good will who have never grasped the depth of our cultural hatred of women. I challenge all women who accept misogyny as status quo.

It is difficult to make this argument  given the privilege some women have because of race or wealth, but they are not immune. Race and wealth do not give women the protections we think it does. It rears its head when we are dehumanized by the porn industry and the fashion industry. It bays at our heels when we are dehumanized by sexual assault – either verbal or physical  –  and hides under our beds passing as a misdemeanor or worse that ‘boys will be boys’.  Women and men need to make misogyny a central political and spiritual issue because we live in an age when leaders can brag about ‘grabbing pussy’ and still get elected, when sports heroes are given a pass for rape, and when a perpetrator of repeated incest with a 12 year old gets 6 month jail sentence.

This call to arms  does not mean we rest in our fight against racism. It does not mean we  rest in our fight for the rights of sexual minorities.It does not mean we rest in our fight for those who have no voice: for the powerless, the poor, children and the elderly. But we also must not rest in our fight against the often invisible, multi-cultural hatred of women.

Wow. I said it. Hatred of women. But that’s what misogyny is. Using the word misogyny just sounds better than saying that the hatred of women drives our culture and politics. Wikipedia’s definition is:

Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or  girls.   Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including social  exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual  objectification.

In the extended article these observations were made by sociologists and philosophers:

According to sociologist Allan G. Johnson, “misogyny is a cultural attitude of hatred    for females because they are female.” Johnson argues that:

Misogyny …. is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as   such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from  jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be   taught to feel toward their own bodies.[4]

Sociologist Michael Flood, at the University of Wollongong, defines misogyny as the hatred of women, and notes:

Though most common in men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by             women against other women or even themselves. Misogyny functions as an ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male- dominated societies for thousands of years and continues to place women  in subordinate positions with limited access to power and decision making.

[…] Aristotle contended that women exist as natural deformities or  imperfect males […] Ever since, women in Western cultures have   internalized their role as societal scapegoats, influenced in the twenty-first century by multimedia objectification of women with its culturally sanctioned self-loathing and fixations on plastic surgery, anorexia and             bulimia.[5]

It is painful to look when a light is shown on the power, pervasiveness, and insidiousness of misogyny when there are many men we love – fathers, sons, cousins, friends, lovers…                                                                                                        Women of all colors, all ethnicities, all classes, all sexualities must learn to recognize and name misogyny. We must choose to refuse to hate ourselves. We must speak our truth to power, even to men we love, – only then will we change the world.

Today I call on all good men, all thoughtful women, all institutions of power to name and challenge misogyny where you find it. Everywhere you find it. You will get a taste of what people of color experience when they talk about their experience of racism and are told how they are too sensitive and how much things have changed. You will be embarrassed because sexism is a more acceptable form of oppression, more tolerated, even by good liberals, that you might  hesitate to speak up.

But we must speak up. Just as people of color and white people must recognize and speak out against racism, tolerating the discomfort and backlash. So must women and men must learn to recognize and speak out against misogyny and sexism and be willing to tolerate the discomfort and backlash.

Until we do and until we begin to actively work against the real hatred of women we cannot have lasting change for the human race.

 

 

That Time A Man Grabbed My Pussy

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A storm of memories hit when I heard Donald Trump bragging about being able to grab a woman’s ‘pussy’ without repercussion.

Like most, if not all, women I have been subject to unwanted advances, sexual innuendoes, lecherous remarks, and crude invitations. I have been and felt threatened to be by myself at night. I know the drill. We learn to navigate it. Our awareness becomes second nature and, eventually, not even consciously recognized.  As a woman who embraces my sexuality I encounter men who think I ‘deserve’ the unwanted attention, however sordid.

I was twenty-one or so and worked in a bar around the corner from the Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia where I volunteered backstage for their theatre productions. One evening, after the opening of a play, members of the audience crowded in for a nightcap before going home. It was a crush. I placed a slew of drink orders at the bar and carefully placed over ten mixed drinks on my serving tray. Lifting it over my head and pushing my way through the throng I smiled and joked with the customers as I passed.

Then it happened. I gently pushed through a group congregated in the middle of my path. These folks were dressed to the nines. Women in evening clothes, men in suits. The crème de la crème of Columbus society. As I made my way  I felt a hand reach between my legs from behind and grab my pussy.

As if he had a right.

I pivoted on a dime in the tight space, wrenching myself from his trespass and smashed my tray full of drinks into his face.

“Get your hands off me!” I screamed, shaking with outrage.

I couldn’t believe anyone would be so arrogant as to grab me like that, in public, with his wife standing nearby. Without my permission.

He told the bar owner that he hadn’t done a thing. I insisted he had. The owner told me that as his employee I was considered his ‘ property’ and I should have come to him. Then he did something the Donald would love, he sneered at me and said, “You’re Fired!”

So when I heard Donald Trump bragging about what he is able to do (in his mind) without permission I was forced to remember the time I was powerless to defend myself. Did I mention I was a single mom supporting my daughter? The man with the money and the power and the arrogance to assault me like that suffered a little embarrassment and the enjoyment of having me fired. I suffered both assault on my most  intimate self and financial insecurity.

So thanks, Donald, for helping me remember what it is like to have a rich and powerful man assault you with impunity. Thank you for reminding me how the women who have come forward are brave and righteous. And, finally, thank you for revealing yourself as an arrogant, entitled, misogynist who has no idea how your actions of a moment affect the women you manhandle for a lifetime.