Women leaving their home countries, fleeing war, domestic and social violence, poverty and political, gender and religious persecution, find that even their journeys are fraught with violence, abuse and exploitation. Eighty percent of women and girls leaving Central America for the US are raped or abused. It is such a common occurrence, they take birth control along to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Women in many parts of the world, setting out for a new life, are grabbed and caught by elaborate networks of sex trafficking, one of the three most lucrative illicit businesses internationally (the other two are drugs and illegal arms dealing). Surely safe passage is an important issue for feminists.
Every day women around the world spend 200 million hours collecting water for their families. While they walk, private ownership of water, excessive use of water for vast mono-cultural agribusinesses, deforestation/desertification practices, and climate change go unchecked, creating and worsening this situation. Their paths are not romantic, safe or easy. They can walk for hours then trip, fall and lose their days work. Their backs, internal organs break down from the incessant, cumbersome weights they carry, sometimes three times/day at all hours. Surely, this is something that must be attended to.
It won’t help us to elect women to offices of power, if they turn around and vote for huge military budgets. This recently happened in the vote for the US National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, the largest “defense” bill in history which passed 89–8 in the Senate. Of the 21 women senators voting (16 Democrats, 5 Republicans), only one Democrat woman voted against it. That means 15 Democrat women betrayed, and made insecure, women here and around the world. There are approximately 3.8 billion women in the world; 126 million in the U.S. For whom does our feminism stand?
We are supposed to identify with nation above humanity or sisterhood, to support endless wars, to not-see our government’s crimes dressed up in “humanitarian interventions.” Let’s not. We should be outraged that women and their loved ones all over the world are being relentlessly trammeled by the injustice of our wars. Wars, now, not just led by men, but also by women of great power and deception.
I’ve said it elsewhere on this site, but feel compelled to repeat this message over and over. Women moving into key positions of power under the name of feminism, then pushing the buttons of imperial wars, no matter what name they give those wars is an outrage. It is not an advance of women or feminism, it is a profound loss. I hear women say it helps us all when women get in these places. It’s the opposite. We helped them get in power as they claim victory in sisterhood. It’s a twisted mockery of sisterhood. Let’s make it real, deep and international.
Violence against women is a hate crime and should be classified as such. Yet, according to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics (2012) hate crimes are based on race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic/national origin, and religion. Gender is left out. Why? Rape is not sex out of control. It’s an act of hatred, contempt and destructiveness against a specific class of people — women and girls. Mis-categorizing is not an incidental issue as it has an impact on how rapists are viewed and punished and it limits women’s consciousness and solidarity as a targeted people.
There has been a staggering increase in the numbers of women in prison in the last few decades, largely due to the “War on Drugs” Many of these women began their journey as battered women seeking solace in an environment devoid of support services. They turned to drugs or alcohol to numb pain and then to petty crimes to pay for the numbing. Do they really need prison? Or do we need stronger economies, communities and supportive social institutions?
A few decades ago, one of my favorite posters was “Sisterhood is Blooming Springtime Will Never Be The Same” by the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union. It captured the excitement and optimism of the women’s movement at that time. I still smile when I think of it. Yet, I am distressed to see so many women who call themselves feminist ignore, support — and in cases of women in power, wage — war against other women all over the world. So I decided to borrow from this earlier poster to make a new statement on sisterhood.
Here’s another image I borrowed from the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union’s great poster “Women Are Not Chicks.” Their original message still needs shouting out as the objectification of women is still around (although “babe” is the more contemporary word). Again, though, I am bringing up the anti-war message. The massacre of women and girls by our weaponry has got to be opposed. I really believe that a “feminist” agenda that is not anti-war is not truly a feminist agenda at all.
It seems I feel moved to come out with different ways of saying the same thing. Women! We must be anti-war. That means being very suspicious of those women in power, who call themselves feminists, yet sugar coat their unjust wars with claims of being the moral leader of the universe. It ain’t so.
Walking. It’s supposed to be good for us, if we are able. Supposedly, doctors recommend 10,000 steps a day. Let’s think about this. If you take 10,000 steps and multiple it by the number of people on the planet, even factoring differences in the walking capacities, maybe working in a formula for rolling, that’s a lot of steps. Now, the important question, how many of the sum total of steps taken all around the world would be done in safety? For how many people does walking turn out to be not so good for them because while they were walking they were in the wrong skin, wrong gender, believing the wrong things, loving the wrong people, living in the wrong place?