Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Strong Women and the continual battle to stay strong

I know so many strong women, so many capable and intelligent women, so many women who have advantages some of our own mothers only dreamed about. I think of my teen years when I followed the path of the women in my own family and worked to bring equality to my gender. I remember the jobs where I did the work and the male manager got the credit. I remember the difference in pay between me and the man hired months later for a higher salary than I received for the same job. I remember having to lie and say I was engaged in order to get my first prescription of birth control pills in the 60's that were only for "married women." I remember my neighbor telling me in the 70's that I was going to the polls because she had fought for women's right to vote as a young woman in America.

I also remember fierce arguments about whether women belonged in the military or in politics because of their hormonal instability as newspaper headlines screamed about men who snapped and shot up schools, shopping malls, post offices, and work places. I also remember the Mormon Church in Las Vegas loading up the big yellow school buses with stay at home moms, driving them to the polls and directing them to vote against the equal rights for women amendment so it wouldn't be ratified. (It never was) I also remember wondering if they dragged out those same school buses in California to vote against the right for Homosexual-Americans to marry.

I remember the Reagan years and the power suits that women wore so they would look more serious, more like men, less feminine so they would be taken seriously. I remember men wearing pink shirts and no one accused them of looking less masculine because they had all the power and that was masculine enough.

In the next few years, I watched the religious shackles start to appear again and grab for the ankles of women as more and more restrictions were imposed on a woman's right to choose. I watched in horror as pharmacies denied women the means to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, and then made her drive hours and hours out of town because abortion clinics were suddenly few and far between. I watched these same religious groups lose interest and financial support for the fetus once it was a real live human being.

I watched young women start to have babies they couldn't afford nor were able to care for because they were still in high school with no job or parenting skills. I watched the churches interfere more and more with freedoms that women of my own generation fought for: the right to choose, the right for safe access to birth control, the right to learn about our own bodies, the right to run companies, the military, and our own government.

And now I am watching us go backwards. I am watching 16 year old celebutards given rock star treatment for having babies so that insecure and unhappy teens can eat it all up and start popping out more responsibilities they can't afford to feed nor care for adequately.

I am watching women who are strong, opinionated, educated, intelligent and smart run for office and get called castrating bitches and other put downs drawn from the most ignorant of 1950's insult banks. I am watching the news media judge women by different standards than they do men. I am watching them do wall to wall coverage of bad women, naughty women, evil women who kill their children by drowning, shooting, strangulation, starvation. And I am watching them do wall to wall coverage on men who kill their wives by shooting, strangulation, drowning, starvation.

I am hearing young girls say I can't more often than I'm hearing them say I can. I am hearing them ignore the strong women they see on television and focus on the Palins and Spears instead. I am seeing them dress up as mini hookers because brains aren't as sexy. I am watching them vote for Palin and not care that she is dumber than a rock because it takes the pressure off them to be smart. I am watching us go backward in time.

I would hate to see my long ago neighbor's work to get us the vote go to waste, I'd hate to see all the work my friends and I did to get some semblance of equality in the workplace, some fairness in hiring practices, some equal standards for handing out both academic and athletic scholarships get sent back to the 1950's. I would really hate to see women lose the right to choose what they want to happen to their own bodies. I would hate so much to see women die in wars that they can now participate in but have no say in determining whether they are fought or not. I want a woman president who doesn't have to wear a power suit to win respect. I want a world where young girls have heros who do something instead of having something done to or for them.

So I opened a store just for women and young girls to spread the message once again that we are equally smart, capable, strong, and able. I am sorry that once again the message is needed. I had hoped after all these years, all these battles, that I could just sit back and watch the seeds of equality, tolerance, respect, and peace take hold. But like all gardens, it needs constant tending or it will die. Here are some of my seeds to keep it alive.

Powerful words to wear on a shirt, bumpersticker or other way to
express what many need to hear and read for true equality to take hold
"My inner child is a strong woman." Click on design to purchase or visit the Strong Woman store

A rainbow of women with hands connected illustrate the words "The
strongest fabric, women supporting women." Show your woman power as a
piece of this powerful weaving. Click on design to purchase or visit the Strong Woman store

Bright orange red pow shape forms the background for "packing awesome
inner strength." Show off your woman power with style and confidence
that what's inside matters as much as the outside. Click on design to purchase or visit the Strong Woman store

Starburst shape in pink colors and bolts of lightning form the backdrop
for the rainbow colored words "Girl Power." Lead with your strength and
help women and young girls find their power. Click on design to purchase or visit the Strong Woman store

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S. G. Kiner said...

"The Hong Kong Connection" is a legal thriller about a gutsy female attorney who takes on high ranking International officials. It's a taut, rollercoaster of a ride from New York to Palm Beach to Washington D.C. to Hong Kong. The plot is expertly woven, the characters persuasive, and the dialogue snappy and spot on.

Coach Laura said...

Bravo... good for you for taking action on what you believe. And your designs are beautiful, powerful and creative. As we women step into our feminine power, there will be a shift in our world. Women are the conscious and healing force and it's time to take it on big time. I applaud this work.

One of the tools I use when coaching women is the Feminine Power Cards wisdom deck.

Here's to women coming together and living power-fully.

Coach Laura

Some Crazy Bear said...

Thank you for your comments. I was just reading through some blogs today and came across this disturbing article about the teen pregnancy rate in red states. It's no surprise considering the mindset of religious authoritarianism that pervades the area, but it's still sad to see so many young women get trapped into a powerless, little or no growth cycle.

"Just days after Bristol Palin officially became the poster child for her mother's failed abstinence-only sex education policy, a new report from the CDC revealed that in 2006 Alaska experienced the nation's fastest growing teen birth rate. While Mississippi suddenly surpassed Texas to earn the dubious leadership distinction, it comes as no surprise that the 10 worst performing states all voted for George W. Bush in 2004."