We have to talk about this

It is not okay that we live in a world where women have to write posts like this On Being an Object, and then Not Being an Object and like this It Should be Said. I am so glad they have spoken out, but women should not be treated as objects. The women who wrote those posts are brave enough to share their stories with their readers. I am not ready to share mine. I wish with all my heart that no woman ever, ever had those stories to tell.

Women are not objects, to be leered at, touched, and taken advantage of. Most men know that. Some don’t. This is not okay.

Tell your daughters not to let anyone touch them or talk to them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Tell your sons that, too. And then tell them not to do that to anyone else, either.

Speak out when you see men treat women (or girls) badly. Speak out when you are treated badly. Speak out when other women speak out. If we all make our voices heard, maybe we can change the world.

Book Review: Fly Away Home

Cover of "Fly Away Home: A Novel"

Cover of Fly Away Home: A Novel

I just finished Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner. It was a good book. I don’t really have anything to say about it except that I enjoyed it very much and it certainly made me think about the choices I have made in life, the choices every married woman makes, and that are magnified ten times over for the wives of politicians.

And since I don’t write about my personal life online, that’s about all I do have to say about it. I wouldn’t be writing this review at all, because one paragraph hardly makes a book review, except it came to my attention (reading the comments on a post over at Uppercase Woman) that one is not supposed to like Jennifer Weiner. Somehow, her books are not considered Literature.

I want to make it clear that the commenters over at Uppercase Woman were disregarding this, and even found it somewhat ridiculous. But it occurs to me that, in the list of books that one is supposed to be ashamed of reading, are an awful lot of women authors.

Why should we be ashamed of reading authors who make their characters come alive, who present real people with real problems to be solved, and make us interested in the solutions? Why should we be ashamed of reading women authors who write about women, for women? And there, I think, is the key. Just as women’s voices have been marginalized throughout history (Oh, they have nothing to talk about except family and home) now we see women’s voices being marginalized in Literature. Oh, they only write about other women. Oh, they don’t write about real issues.

And while others have said these things before, and better than I can, I want to say it again. Because it is only by bringing these thoughts into the open that we can fight them. No one can fight shadows, and so we need to bring our lights and shine them on Literature until all good writers are included, not just those who won their battles already, or never had a fight at all.

Versatile Blogger Award/International Women’s Day

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and I won the Versatile Blogger Award. What is the connection between those events, you might ask? Well, as part of accepting the Versatile Blogger Award, I agreed to pass it on and link to 15 other bloggers. In honor of International Women’s Day, I am linking only to other amazing women bloggers. (Sorry, guys, I know some of you have really cool blogs, you’ll just have to wait for another time.)

First, the award.

Now onto the award. First, thanks to Betty Bead, aka BlackSheepBeadery, for nominating me for the award. Also thanks to NELdesigns, who also nominated me.

Next, according to the Rules

  1. Thank the person who awarded you and link back to them in your post.
  2. Tell 7 Random facts about yourself.
  3. Pass the award on to 15 new found bloggers.
  4. Contact each blogger you want to pass the award on to and let them know you’ve done so, and let the giver of your award know you accept it.

I am supposed to tell you 7 random facts about me:

  1. I just learned to touch-type Dvorak a few months ago, and I still make a fair number of mistakes. Which can be fairly amusing, since the Dvorak keyboard places the most-used keys next to each other. (fun becomes fin, or gun; love becomes live)
  2. I started several volunteer groups in college (and I doubt anyone who knows me is surprised)
  3. I have a dry sense of humor (but you knew that already, right?) :)
  4. I started Lizbeth’s Garden, my tassel-making (among other things) business because I couldn’t find fan pull tassels I liked at a price I liked, but I still haven’t gotten around to making any for myself
  5. I started writing better poetry after reading A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
  6. I grow my own vegetables, and I have started leeks and celery for the coming planting season
  7. I have never been skiing.

And now for the nominations:

  1. Lemon Tree Tales
  2. Gus and Lula
  3. Uppercase Woman
  4. Kavita
  5. SassyBelle
  6. Queen of Creativity
  7. An Artist’s Journey
  8. Celebrating a Year
  9. signed…bkm
  10. Musing by Moonlight
  11. Jingle
  12. broken sparkles/Scent of my Heart
  13. Jessica’s Japes
  14. Cage Free Family
  15. Pretty Babies

Okay, enjoy reading these blogs from these amazing women. (You might think that is a random list, but they are all amazing. Really.)

The Rules

Rules rules rules
What we always tell boys
Follow the rules or be fools
Rules rules rules
You must be cool or suffer ridicules
When the news says you’re not strong alloys
Rules rules rules
What we always tell boys.

For Monday Poetry Potluck.

Movie Review: Over The Hedge

I saw Over The Hedge the other day. I know I’m a little late reviewing it, since it came out over 4 years ago, in 2006, but in my defense, I don’t watch many movies.

While I was uncomfortable with the way the wild animals were thriving on human junk food (umm, no, human junk food is really bad for wild animals), the rest of the movie struck me as, well, a movie. Until my little daughter asked, “Mommy, why did they make the woman a bad woman?”

If you haven’t seen the movie, there are two main human characters. One is a parody of an exterminator (male), and the other is a single, well-dressed woman, president of the Homeowner’s Association, and the villain of the piece.

I told my daughter that they (the makers of the movie) hadn’t made the woman bad because she was a woman, but because they needed a bad person, a villain. I ended up explaining how a movie plot generally works and left it at that.

Until I started thinking more about the original question. Because, on second thought, the woman seems to be a caricature of a high-powered female executive. She’s dressed in a power suit (or expensive-looking pajamas), her hair is nicely styled, and she’s always on the go. She doesn’t seem to have a family, or even a significant other, just a snooty Persian cat.

She’s portrayed as obsessive, uptight, and terrified of wild animals or anything else disturbing her precious orderly neighborhood. Why should the single woman doing well in life be the villain? I can easily see a mother being much more worried about the wild animals in the neighborhood — what if they bite one of her children, she might think.

But no, the one mother in the movie who has a speaking part is portrayed as kindly and concerned for the animal, although she doesn’t want her children to touch it (understandable, considering it’s a possum playing dead).

Now, the traits of the villain I have described could easily also apply to a high-powered male executive. So why don’t they? What is it that makes the villain perfectly cast (if such a term can apply to an animation) as a woman?

If you know me, you know that I don’t generally consider myself a feminist. And you know that I don’t rant on about discrimination against women. But sometimes, I still feel the need to speak out.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the way this woman is portrayed in this movie (and the way she is humiliated at the end) makes me think that the directors are threatened by competent, capable women and felt the need to bring them (or at least one) low.

It makes me sad that my little daughter (and my son) saw this humiliating portrayal of women and that strong women need to be brought down.

Ode for the Dead (not for all audiences)

Just a warning, this is not an easy poem and touches on mature themes.

Ode for the Dead
Who are we? Who have we been?
What are we? What have we done?
We are sisters, mothers, friends,
Simply women, living.

Living our lives, day by day.
Poor, not, girls, women.
They came for us.
Men, youth, our mothers, fate.

Torture, murder, stoning.
Disaster, war, rape.
Every day, we die.
Innocent. Silently, screaming.

This is part of an ongoing project of mine. I think it’s evolving. This poem is going to be part of a collage I’m working on about this. The collage is still in the works, my work on this issue takes a long time for me. I’m not sure where it’s going beyond this poem and the collage, but I want to write more about the women and girls who die because they were women, because they were girls, because no one cared because of their gender.

I’m not the first person to be bothered by this, and there are many earnest people, women and men, working very hard on this problem every day. For now, I am focusing on my own response to this issue, and the many complicated emotions it brings up for me.

If this is an issue you want to learn more about, I can help you find resources and information about other people and groups working on it.

A couple comments about the poem itself. It started as alternating iambic tetrameter (four metric feet) and iambic trimeter (three metric feet) although a trochee or two crept in. However, I have made a conscious choice not to use strict meter (the lines are a little shorter than they ought to be) and shorten the lines as the poem progresses (the last line is an exception) to convey the shortening of the women’s lives and the abruptness of their deaths.

And, if you are wondering about the literary terms, I refer you to the books on writing on my books page on this blog.

Updated 2/15/10: I am updating this to add an audio file. I made some changes to the poem when I read it, this is still very much a work in progress. I decided not to change the words written above, they were what I meant the day I posted.

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