Tag Archives: women

She is Me and I am her

This is a post from guest writer, Barbara Osborn. I like her way with words.

Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my being lay a wonder of a woman.  Untouched by humans as it were.  She lives free, dancing and celebrating the glory of aliveness.  She celebrates seasons and planets and earth; the dance of the galaxies in their splendor and the shooting stars. She is neither this nor that.  She just is.  She feels skin, softness, hurt, pain; she fights the unseen forces that dart at her, piercing her soul.  She cannot live that way, she wants only her freedom to create and draw a world that would envelop her in all her complexities and never see them as being wrong.  She is free to explore and indulge; over indulge and nurture herself, others and the world.  She is free to bring peace and heal and lay herself down on all the arrows and cruelness of the world.  She covers them with her body, disintegrating them, pushing them into the ground to be swallowed by the earth, never to be seen again.  She rises with her power to meet the sun whose glory shines all around her.  No one holds her back.  The idea has never been conceived.  She does not know of such things.  She runs in blaze with no clothes to constrict, no arm, no opinion to entangle, she runs.  She remembers the moist grass, the mountains and the sea; their sirens calling, calling.  She does not think of war and all the planes and ships that lay waste at the bottom of all oceans.  She could never approve of such evil.  There is only kindness and peace that lie within and without.  She favors her mother, her daughter; the ones along the way.  She lifts them up, encourages and inspires.  She is the one we want to be, the one that we fly with over the expanse of the universe, never tiring, bringing light and goodness.  She is filled with light, luminous shining wherever she goes and there is no darkness.  May we live in her light, in her freedom and know she is still there, waiting to rejoice when we come home.  She is me and I am her.

Widow Cleansing

It might seem I am Patriarchal in my viewpoint, but that is really not the case.  I am finding injustices against women and children in this world that cry out for change.  When I find them, I need to write about them.  I need to know and I think others might as well. No matter where these circumstances occur, they need to be exposed.

In sub-Saharan Africa, there exists a practice called widow cleansing. Widows are forced to have sex with the brother, or another relative, of her deceased husband. In some cases, men, called joters, are paid to do this.

The cleansing lasts from 3 to 7 days.  At the end, the woman must burn all her clothes and her head is shaved.  Should a woman refuse to undergo this process, she is cursed and held responsible for her husband’s death.  Her home and property might be taken away. In rural Kenya, widows are treated horribly.  They are considered impure and the cleansing is to chase away demons.  Women who resist run the risk of losing their children.

One of the relevant issues these widows face is that of contracting HIV/Aids.  ln an area where HIV/Aids is highly prevalent, this risk of contagion is real.  Professional cleansers are not tested for sexually transmitted diseases. In Kenya, few men live beyond age 40.

Widow cleansing is a patriarchal, superstitious process that is best dealt with through education.  As a result, it occurs in rural areas more than anywhere else.  When education occurs, cultural expectations shift and widows can heal.

Of course, some women choose to go through widow cleansing by choosing the partner who will cleanse them.  One woman I read about, in time fell in love with her professional cleanser, although the man said he might be a cleanser again if paid enough.  In Kenya, pay for a ritual cleansing runs about $260.  Compared to an average income of $13, the money is attractive. Widow cleansing is slowly being eradicated as education moves into rural areas.

 

Emancipation

I recently heard about a movement to change the constitution to read –  men and women. I think it’s a wonderful idea whose time has come. It is been a long time getting here.

Until women can feel that they are wholly a part of the legitimacy of society and men can understand that there is no such thing as supremacy over the opposite sex we will not have a truly equal society.

Lately it seems that we are faltering in the Me2 movement. Man after man are getting away with sexual harassment and shifting blame or fault back on their accusers.  I almost hate pointing this out because I believe there are many good men who have women’s best interests at heart.  But as one political situation after another rises where the man denies his deeds, saying the women are just trying to get attention, as our President would say, we steadily loose ground.

It is my fervent hope that we can right the injustice of our Constitution deleting half of our population without it becoming a circus of sexual orientation.  One is not the same as the other.  We are talking about the basic acknowledgement of the female sex… the honoring of what our species is born as, two sexes.  What people become is something different.  And it is something I respect.  It just doesn’t have a forum in this issue.

I am looking forward to supporting the movement.  It is the right thing to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forced Sterilization in the US

The US has a subversively checkered past regarding the issue of forced sterilization. Throughout the twentieth century and even particular cases in the 21st, women were forced to give up their reproductive rights, most of the time without their knowledge.

The 20th century brought a rash of sterilizations of those deemed detrimental to society. What this translated into was Mexican Americans, Native, Persons of Color, Prison inmates, the Disabled, those deemed promiscuous and those considered Mentally Defective.

From 1970-1976, 25-50% of Native American women in a range of Tribes in their child bearing years were sterilized, often directly after giving birth. Some as young as age 10 were impacted. In Mississippi it was known as a “Mississippi appendectomy “. Two girls undergoing tonsillectomies came away with tubal ligations. Generally speaking, doctors enforced the cutting of Fallopian tubes or hysterectomies, often under threat of putting existing children into foster care and taking away welfare benefits and food stamps.

Puerto Rican women also experienced eugenics. Thirty percent of women were unable to have children by 1965. The governor at the time said there were too many unskilled laborers and not enough jobs on the island. Sterilization ended up becoming the preferred choice of birth control. This was a major upheaval of the country’s largely Catholic society.

Mexican American women were victims of this edict as well. They were considered inferior with their children being “drains of the system”. Mexican immigrants were considered as being of low moral character sexually and criminally. Plus their children were considered “anchors”.

Women of Color were similarly held to a different standard than white society, particularly those of low income status. In the first half of the twentieth century, 60,000 people were sterilized. There were 32 states that empowered officials in medical, social work and state institutions to sterilize those considered “unfit”.

From 1897-1909, several states enforced sterilizations on those with mental handicaps. In Buck vs. Bell, Carrie Buck was sterilized because she was labeled promiscuous after being raped and becoming pregnant. With an IQ of 75, she was considered “feeble minded”. Her child was taken away from her and judged an imbecile when but a few months old. When she grew up she was sterilized. Carrie’s mother had her out of wedlock and Chief Justice Wendell Holmes decried that three generations of imbeciles in the same family was enough.

Certain states are considering reimbursements to these women but no amount of money can make up for a lifetime of missed opportunities and joy. And forced sterilizations are still happening in some cases in prison populations. The U.S. needs to make restitution and unequivocally end this practice.


Achieving Women Against the Odds

There are so many valiant women in the world and most go through their days with no recognition.  Many have gone through traumatic experiences and have lived to tell the tale.  However, telling the tale is not as important as doing the work and achieving against all odds.

One woman I recently read about was sexually trafficked by her mother starting at age 9.  This continued for three years but was halted by Child Protective Services,  Her mother wouldn’t give up her rights to the girl as she was a source of income and needed to support a rampant drug addiction.  Later, she fell into the hands of pimps.  Not knowing another way of life, prostitution continued into her 30’s when her own drug addiction finally came to its end.

She developed a program where young prostitutes could come for shelter and be given the resources to make life changes from prostitution.  To this date, she has assisted more than 300 girls.

I read about women who have gone through incredible suffering in civil wars, by terrorists, revolutionaries, and often loosing loved ones and their homes in the process.  They were given the opportunity for micro-grants, often a cow or a sewing machine, the means to support themselves and their families.  In spite of their traumas, they succeeded in the hard-bitten life they were given.  Greatness is fluid and relative.

My mother was one of those who achieved despite the odds.  As a child she lived with two alcoholics, one of whom was a raging, sexually and physically abusive drunk.  At age eleven, she took her one year old sister and left their apartment, never to return.  She worked in her aunt’s boarding home to pay her way.  Becoming a nurse, she worked very hard to support our family.  She ended up developing three businesses in the home health field.  When she chose to, she sold one for $250K.  She was generous, caring, and though she had a wicked temper at times, she made life easier for many people, even when she didn’t have financial resources for herself.  She removed herself so far from the squalor of her childhood, she was truly great.

Most women are touchstones of love and dedication.  They share from their hearts and give even in the tough times.  Some rise beyond the levels lived by the majority.  They become great.  They are the women I want to know.

Conference Findings

This past weekend I went to the United Methodist New York Annual Conference in Garden City, NY. Why they can’t call it the New York and Connecticut Conference I am questioning, but that’s another whole topic.  This writing is about the issue of gays and transsexuals in the church.

This is my first conference.  A lot of legislative activities go on during the course of the weekend.  I was shocked to find out there is a profound division in the Church.  It is hanging precariously on a thread regarding the LGBQ issue.  The Biblical conservatives in the Church are demanding that LGBQ and other sexually different people, should not be allowed in the Church – whether it be marriage, ministers, or even in congregations.  The Church might divide into two seperate denominations because of these matters.

The other, more Liberal persuasion believe we are all God’s children and everyone has the right to live their lives as they are meant to.  Even the issue of whether Women should be pastors has been a loaded one in many denominations.  The Catholics are also struggling to find their Center.  Everything goes back to Leviticus and the apostle Paul.  Two plus centuries ago.

This issue has come up in my own family, with my children believing conservatively and I believing a more liberal, inclusive approach to Christianity.  This may rattle many cages, but I believe the LGBQ group brings more openness and diversity, obviously.  But they also can bring fresh interpretations and vital ideas to congregations.

This may prevent me from getting into Heaven but I believe all have the right to worship openly.  Jesus had all kinds of people, most being the underappreciated, displaced, rejected members of society, in his circle of influence and accomodation. Not once did I read in the Bible where someone was rejected.  And Jesus had one whom he loved more than all of the rest….what does That even mean?

At the Conference, I saw quite a few gay and lesbian people.  A couple were Pastors.  Depending on the status of the vote in St. Louis in the Fall, what could that potentially mean for them.  “Hey sorry, but you no longer are a minister, don’t have a job, and aren’t welcome to attend Church. ”  What is that?  How can you take people who are actively sharing their Faith and leading their congregations toward a more open, accepting view of the World, and throw them out like yesterday’s garbage?

My children do not consider me to be a true Christian.  I’m not going to Heaven unless I radically change my belief system and values.  I believe God is more accepting…that love is more important than orientation…that the most important thing you can do is Believe in Jesus Christ and the Trinity.  I might not get to Heaven because I question sometimes whether Jesus was the son of God but I wouldn’t really want to be in a Heaven that draws lines, makes distinctions, rejects people because of who they are from the moment they are born.

I pray the Church remains whole in its entirety and those believing diversely get the opportunity to believe in diversity and inclusiveness, no matter the sex or orientation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaos of Feeling

Don’t woo me so gently
take me hard and fast
scorching the skin
in the intensity, the
blaze of your fiery passion
Please forget the tender touching,
the quiet communion of souls,
the silent reaching out
for understanding and warmth.
Wrap me in a spinning inferno
of feelings, rock the ground
upon which my  feet tread.
Let me feel those butterflies
of infatuation, too soon gone.

Don’t go so slowly
that I come to know
the secret person behind
the mask of illusion,
one you want me to see –
I don’t want to know your soul –
for if I do –
I may never wish to let it go.

Don’t court me with flatteries –
flowers, endearments –
for coming to love you
would hurt far more
than burned fingers ever could.

(No, please, take me slowly, gently –
cover me with kisses sweet with desire,
warm me in your quiet glow –
let me know that the love
I so dread feeling –
so achingly seek but mask in fear,
is possible in your arms.
Don’t leave before I can feel
the pain of your embrace
one more time – and time again – and…)

Aunt Lillian

Thank you isn’t enough
for what you’ve given me.
Words have no meaning
in a world of emotions.
When I hit bottom
crawling on hands and knees
a hand was outstretched
in quiet support. . .
love without strings.

I saw hope through your eyes
gained strength in the purring
of your voice
learning you saw something
I didn’t but that must be real.
Learning  to believe in me
through the respect in your eyes
caring for myself
while you questioned after my health

I can never repay unconditional love
but through your giving
perhaps the lesson can be learned
and one day
I can attempt to love
somebody else
as you have loved me.
Thank you – my mentor, my friend.

 

 

Perspectives

They yelled, shouted, screamed . . .
The old man with tears running
in the wrinkled rivulets of his skin.
The old woman babbling to her voices
giggling like a girl
or reigning supreme . . .
all attention on her.

The old man may too soon
buckle under the strain of her care,
under the lack of care to himself –
a good man, a kind man,
who wants the best
for a woman who would rather
listen to her voices
than be with him.

Their son firmly believes
in her right not to take medications
which would normalize her life
at least in fractions
of the beautiful woman
so terribly traumatized
by the Communist government
that over rid her land, her people,
making her beg for an egg for her child.

The triangle continues
but not as fierce as this
those watching hearing her secrets –
her hitting of a mate of 60 years
over and over again.
He sitting by her bed
for months at a time
when she was in crisis
and unable to rise and rejoin the world.

How her son snatched
roles of husband, father, son –
emasculating the man who deserves
so much more
by not respecting his father’s
needs, wants, care and pain.

While the old man’s tears course down,
and the babble of voices
inside her head
swirl madly around.

Target . . . Me

I was reading a new blog, Awkword and what Michelle has asked us to do in choosing a target audience and I realized not only do I not have one I am aware of, but I don’t know who the target me is.  I have lived alone for 20 years. No dating, not a really active social life, and though there are some reasons why, I also find myself saying, once in a while, why not?

My writing can tend to be somewhat, or very, on the dark side.  I have a low to mid grade bipolar condition.  It keeps me more on the depressed or withdrawn section of life.  I also have a boat-load of physical issues and have for all those years and before. So I suppose I might draw people who have similar issues.  These can range from the conditions: once I was on O2 for 2 12 years and have had asthma, chronic eosinophilic pneumonia, and emphysema in greater or lesser strengths for all my adult life.  Fibromyalgia dogs me. I lost more than 3/4 of my intestines and gall bladder when I went septic and my systems shut down and was in a coma 3 weeks.  When I woke it was to complete loss of muscle memory.  This past year I had back surgery which didn’t help. I’ve had a migraine most of the last three months.  See what I mean?  There is more but that alone can make for a target audience.

I have Traumatic Brian Injury – caused during the coma, but which creates its own set of problems.  My memory is not always reliable. I suppose it is an understatement.  My sister calls it CRAFT – can’t remember a fucking thing.

Because of these factors, I am legally disabled. Work is hard. Complex assignments are too hard to process. Simple assignments bore the crap out of me.  I can’t work too much because Medicaid and my body won’t let me.  So I have been a caregiver for numerous years. I started off as a Business Management Consultant with clients all over the country.  Quite the let-down.

I am a mother of two twenty somethings 3,000 miles away from me and happy that way. They are living their lives well and that is the most any mother could ask.  But I live near my sisters and my 8 year old nieces are my delight.

Oh yes,  I am a recovering drug and alcohol addict – and food.  I have been sober from alcohol for more than 35 years with a 5 year break for a 5 year addiction to prescription pain killers which ended 11 years ago and had a horrible effect of my kids, especially my daughter. So there’s guilt and shame I can’t seem to let go of.

AND – I’ve wanted to be a writer  and missionary all my life.  I’ve been published a few times and I have an opportunity to go on a mission in 2017.  Until then I do what I can here.  I write a lot of poetry, some memoir pieces, and non-fiction articles  about women who have achieved greatness through tremendous adversity.  I write about what I know and want to know; what is inspirational to me and religion and spirituality.

So if you can find a target audience in all that, except that I probably sound very self-involved . . . playing with my navel and all that; let me know. And I still have to figure out pages, widgets, you name it.  Learning to be a good blogger is taking a long time . . . did I tell you about my TBI?

I welcome tips and comments.  I truly want to grow. So give me a hand why dontcha’.