Behind every feminist is passion

Behind every feminist is passion.

My favorite definition of passion from Merriam-Webster is a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept. I believe that we’re all passionate about something. Feminists would probably all agree that they’re passionate about equality. Many, many additional branches of stem directly from this base of equality. I believe that my passion for the practice and advocacy of global altruism stems directly from equality, which is directly linked to my definition of feminism. I love to see altruistic feminists in action. I met a new family member yesterday during our Christmas celebration and she gave me a beautiful gift. She told me about her work with noonday and the women she met in Ethiopia who were upcycling artillery. My earrings and necklace were made by women in Guatemala and Vietnam. I love them!

I have to admit that I typically struggle with a lot of the current concepts and practices when it comes to Christmas. I’ve watched my family grow in size and maneuver through the pummeling of consumerism that surrounds this holiday. We make things for one another and donate to causes such as Heifer International on behalf of my grandmother, our beautiful 91-year-old matriarch. It was wonderful to be introduced to noonday as another possibility in the future and I love my gift. Thank you to all the socially responsible businesses out there and all the people who are working to provide sustainable empowerment and equality around the world. Be the change, right?

Behind every feminist is a song.

Behind every feminist is a song that provides comfort, inspiration, validation, transcendence and most importantly for me: expression.

Until very recently, I’ve stammered and stuttered when asked, “What do you do?” Like many of you, my ‘job’ has changed a lot over the years, but it almost always involved music. These days, I’m confident and excited to trust that my number one answer is: I’m a songwriter.

A few years ago I wrote Snow. I was in the middle of writing a research paper on narcissism and had chosen to focus on the men who led The Bosnian War of 1992-1995. Interlibrary loans allowed me access to articles and movies that blew my mind and broke my heart. I was haunted by what I read about the treatment of girls and young women. I kept wondering what happened to the children conceived by the rampant and horrific number of rapes. It’s been 25 years since that war “officially” began and an article highlighting the recovery of rape survivors was released earlier this year. You can see by the comments that blame, hatred, and denial continue to this day and I’m certainly not here to take sides. The bottom line for me is that rape is used as a weapon.

After a night of binging on movies about this subject, I dreamt this song that accompanied what felt like an entire CSI episode. A little boy who had watched his neighbors, and ultimately his own family, disappear – the boys and men murdered; the women and girls hauled into a truck and taken away – the boy set upon an urgent mission to save all the little girls in his village from being raped. One Jane Doe after another was discovered in the snow, carefully arranged in a white dress with her hands folded over her heart. At the end of my dream, he is discovered hiding in the woods near one of the little girls. His big brown eyes exuded so much sadness and fear. A female detective reached down, took his tiny hand and led him away.

I don’t have a solution to ending war or rape. As a songwriter, I feel like I can at least bring attention to issues and hope that someone might be inspired to take action. And here in the U.S. as we near the end of 2017, white men like Donald Trump and Scott Lloyd are still denying women their basic rights as the battle for Jane Poe to receive an abortion continues.

 

Lyrics to Snow

It’s hard to say from where she might have wandered. It’s hard to identify just how long she’s been waiting here all alone. In the cold and soft virgin snow wrapped around her body like a blanket; a blanket of white.

Her file goes on a pile of files with the same name. And everybody wondered just what happened to Jane on the long and dark journey home. How could she have stumbled so far from the road?

And he watches all from just beyond the line of sight; drenched in the conviction that what he does is justified. All the rage and the violence, the raping, the war, that wake him up in the middle of the night. Lost his daddy and his brothers, took his mama and his sisters right before his angelic eyes. Oh, his eyes have seen so many things that could never be made right.

Mercy, mercy, mercy on the Janes. It was mercy, mercy, mercy on the Janes. Saving all the Janes. And she had dreams that nobody knows. Buried in the cold, pure white virgin snow.

Behind every feminist is a body.

“I think she’s a feminist…”

It was really hard to decide where to start. Behind Every Feminist has been years in the making. It was actually a gift from an ex-boyfriend who was making fun of a colleague. This colleague was well-respected by his community and really good at his job. He also happened to receive a lot of visits from extremely attractive and intelligent pharmaceutical reps. The “joke” was that this doctor turned the air conditioning up just before these meetings so that it was extra chilly for these women in their tight sweaters or blouses. I was appalled and the whole conversation ended with, “Behind every feminist is a male chauvinist pig checking out her ass. You’re welcome.” And so the seed was planted…

The purpose of this is twofold. I want to talk about the challenges we face and I would love to hear about challenges, struggles, and victories from other women. If it starts out as a rant, I feel like that’s okay. What I want is for the subject to turn into recognition, validation, and collaboration. Although I grew up in Portland and have done a little bit of global trekking, I now live in the mountains of Montana. What I see and what I hear is very different from Portland. When I heard someone whisper, “I think she’s a feminist…” about another woman a few weeks ago, I was overcome by the acknowledgment that we’re still struggling to solidify the definition of feminism. This is something we have to do together and it’s really exciting to see how many people out there are already on the ground working their asses off to make this a reality. Thank you!

The second purpose of Behind Every Feminist is to highlight what a feminist actually looks like in this world. There are women all over the world who call themselves feminists and a lot of women who haven’t even realized they’re feminists yet. I dream of traveling the world and interrupting women just long enough to snap a photo of them in action and ask them to complete this sentence: Behind every feminist is…? Ultimately, I want women, regardless of their profession or level of education, to consider themselves feminists because they value their self-worth and care about the future of their families, friends, and culture.

For today, you’ve got me. Behind every feminist is a body.

This body has been loved and judged, objectified and celebrated. My body is really important to me because I still have so much work to do in this world. I’m lucky enough to have healthcare and can afford to not only address acute illnesses but monitor for hidden illnesses as well. Lately, my breasts have taken the lead on this journey of preventive care. Getting a mammogram isn’t fun. Going in every six months isn’t convenient. BUT, I am grateful that I’m surrounded by nurturing women in warm rooms with subtle lighting and floral capes that make me feel a little less exposed and vulnerable.

I also find it striking that I go from a wonderful woman in registration to a wonderful woman in triage to a wonderful woman who tries to very gently take the best images she can without making me cry. Then she carries that work off to a male radiologist. Every time. Which seems surprising considering the fact that almost half of medical students are now (finally!!) women.

study on women in radiology presented at the ACR 2015 annual meeting found that since 2004, women consistently made up 27% of radiology residency programs, while 46% of all medical students are women. Women in leadership positions rose slightly from 2004–2014, with the percentage of women in the chair role at 9.6% in 2014, barely over the 8% figure from 2004.

Some of the theories surrounding this phenomenon include the fact that radiology is competitive and the training takes a long time, radiologists typically have less patient contact, there is a lack of exposure to radiology while in medical school, and this big one: a lack of role models. “Female medical students may not see role models in radiology, the way they do in pediatrics, internal medicine, or surgery,” Dr. Stephanie Spottswood said. This article acknowledges the deficit but also touches upon ways in which we can increase the number of role models and mentorship positions for women. Yes, it’s specific to radiology, but what if we expand upon this idea? What does the world look like for a little girl who is asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Now, what do you want this world to look like for all the little girls and boys dreaming of their future?

Here’s an interesting and fairly extensive chart on the percentage of women and men in each profession. No, they don’t have President of the United States on the list. But it’s an interesting list to ponder and perhaps you’ll find it inspiring. It may not feel fair that we have to work so hard for equality, but let’s do this. Together.

Time for change

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Brave is: Anyone who acknowledges that #metoo turned to #wetoo because we have an epidemic on our hands and the time for change is now. I mean, the time for change was actually a lifetime ago, but it took women a while to realize that they should unite rather than fight. Thank you to the many brave women and men of our past, our future, and most importantly, right now. Here we stand in our high heels or combat boots, in our short skirts or suits, hand in hand at last. Let us rise up together, humanity, because as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says:

Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.

There are so many great poems on bravery out there, but one of my favorites is She Is a Brave Woman by Alexandra Gold.

Brave