Five women from Den Haag, Prague and Sarajevo
Stunned by the lack of female consciousness and the ever spiraling erasure of the female sex that has heightened emotional battering to an art form; I went on to search for feminists and discovered a lot of rhetoric along the way
Categorized in these topics: Baba Yaga Engendered Practices Female Social Justice Internally Displaced People Rape Refugees Women in Collaboration Women's Trauma Issues
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007, 04:00 AM
In search of feminists -Europe November 2004
Conservative female voices claim that women are doing well and so much better then ever, a constantly repeated glowing diatribe which infers that feminism is unnecessary. Stunned by the lack of female consciousness and the ever spiraling erasure of the female sex that has heightened emotional battering to an art form; I went on to search for feminists and discovered a lot of rhetoric along the way.
Rhetoric is basically the many words taken away from the female speech such as feminism, gender, Goddess etc., which then are twisted into unrecognizable shapes and forms.
Media, fueled by a patriarchal hierarchy that wants to remain firmly in place, are thrusting their preferred brand of feminism and vocabulary neutered of female speech down the throats of women. It is emotionally battering to hear women perpetuate the entrenched patriarchal dogma in the guise of conservative feminism which seeks women to become wives for the androcratic system.
In an article on emotional and verbal abuse Corrie Pikul, a WeNews correspondent observed: “Last fall, during a program about emotional abuse, Oprah Winfrey noted that one-third of all American women are "emotionally tortured" by the men in their lives through insults, blame, humiliation and ridicule. This type of abuse is not illegal and experts say many women who suffer from it are not taken seriously.”
What’s puzzling is how the conservative rhetoric can support itself in saying that women are just fine. Isn’t the rhetoric emotional torture? This is blame and humiliation for the inescapable reality that many women are in stupefying poverty, under the reign of domestic violence and victims of violent acts such as rape, assault and homicide.
Women’s realities do not match the glowing testimonies and litanies pronounced by what seems to be the delusional marketing attempts of conservative female voices.
Even worse is the heckling and scapegoating of women who do not participate in these delusions. Feminist creeds in general are twisted until it they longer resemble feminist values or thought.
Carey Roberts of the Conservative Voice projects fear in the guise of blame towards feminists:
“Feminism seeks to remove women's choice to marry, bear children, and devote themselves to child-rearing. The feminist utopia is a social nightmare to men because feminism wants to remake men in the image of women. In the feminist vision, men are a continual threat to women, so their rights and freedoms must be gradually curtailed.” http://www.theconservativevoice.com/modules/news
It is obvious Roberts hopes to represent women, but her point of view actually excludes a vast majority of women who are not ignorant of feminist values. Practicing horizontal violence, the conservative parties are filled with women who essentially are executive wives to corporate bosses and government ruling male entities. They have mutated into ‘wanna be males,’ and deliberately blame the victims-women as a result.
It is hard to fault them- who would want to be the target of all that violence and poverty anyway? No wonder the delusional propaganda that everything is fine appears so desperate. This is typical emotional and verbal battering found in domestic violence situations: Women who are traumatized and victimized by violence often appear strong and happy despite the utter horror of their circumstances. In other words, they disassociate from the harsh reality. This is a survival response and a defense mechanism.
Is this delusional thought and thinking along with disassociation happening with these conservative women and young women who have no clue of feminism because their own mothers are either silent or ignorant of feminism? Because they have no strong female role models? Why else would they join in the scapegoating of the very group of females whose truth could liberate all women from denigrated citizenship and violence?
In reality, women are given stereotypical role assignments such as to be wives (or rather mothers) to all men and, let us not forget, victims of their fear and crimes. Carey’s collusion with the hatred of women and feminists is well orchestrated with those who run governments, corporations and own 95% of the wealth; males.
The last time I looked, I didn’t see any men’s movement for equality for wage and job discrimination. While women have been reeling under economic persecution, enslavement and violence for thousands of years, Carey Roberts would have all these women’s life experiences erased or better yet called a hysterical and exaggerated viewpoint.
The staggering statistics in the US alone defy the notion that females are doing just fine.
The women who are on the frontlines of poverty and violence, and who are struggling to move away from stereotyped roles, feel the shame and the heat of the orchestrated blame the victim game. That doublespeak and blame is not reflective of their experience. It is however, heaped onto them, helping to mask the sincerely life threatening consequences for the entire planet.
They are being asked to erase their life experiences and pretend everything is ‘Ozzie and Harriet.’ This erasure and denial renders women speechless against bitter and abusive conservative doublespeak in legislative matters and governmental policies that largely exclude women even in their own homes.
A stunning example of doublespeak sanctified by conservatives is a 2000 court case involving Civil Rights Remedy of the Violence against Women Act of 1994, (United States vs. Morrison, et. Al). This is a rape case of a college student who sued after her assailant (male of course) through loopholes avoided consequences causing her to leave the school. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/usvmorrison.html
The court case was literally the war between liberals and conservatives. The conservatives completely evaded the essence of the Civil Rights Remedy of Violence against Women Act of 1994. My daughter, a college student succinctly pointed out the evasion “instead of the issue being about the safety of women, it became about how much power each state has.”
Shockingly, the court case required substantial research on the status of women in the US. This resulted in screaming evidence from every corner to include domestic violence. The following evidence for the case was discovered or rather excavated but was literally erased and shamed out of existence (delusional thinking) via the resulting conservative verdict:
Evidence Concerning Domestic Violence
"Three out of four American women will be victims of violent crimes sometime during their life."
"Violence is the leading cause of injuries to women ages 15 to 44 ...
"Since 1974, the assault rate against women has outstripped the rate for men by at least twice for some age groups and far more for others."
"[B]attering `is the single largest cause of injury to women in the United States.' "
"An estimated 4 million American women are battered each year by their husbands or partners."
"Between 2,000 and 4,000 women die every year from [domestic] abuse." (More then the US military causalities in the Iraq war)
"[A]rrest rates may be as low as 1 for every 100 domestic assaults."
"Partial estimates show that violent crime against women costs this country at least 3 billion--not million, but billion--dollars a year."
"[E]stimates suggest that we spend $5 to $10 billion a year on health care, criminal justice, and other social costs of domestic violence."
The evidence as to rape was similarly extensive
"[The incidence of] rape rose four times as fast as the total national crime rate over the past 10 years."
"According to one study, close to half a million girls now in high school will be raped before they graduate."
"[One hundred twenty-five thousand] college women can expect to be raped during this--or any--year."
"[T]hree-quarters of women never go to the movies alone after dark because of the fear of rape and nearly 50 percent do not use public transit alone after dark for the same reason."
"[Forty-one] percent of judges surveyed believed that juries give sexual assault victims less credibility than other crime victims."
"Less than 1 percent of all [rape] victims have collected damages."
" `[A]n individual who commits rape has only about 4 chances in 100 of
being arrested, prosecuted, and found guilty of any offense.' "
"Almost one-quarter of convicted rapists never go to prison and another
quarter received sentences in local jails where the average sentence is 11 months."
"[A]lmost 50 percent of rape victims lose their jobs or are forced to quit because of the crime's severity."
Drowning in what seems like a sea of delusional thinking and male care-taking, I decided to look to government, the first lady in the US and other well known women to ascertain if indeed feminism is inherent after decade’s long struggle for women’s issues or if it has fallen victim to disassociation.
Usually, the delusional thinking and disassociation are attempts to feel safe and secure.
In the Tacoma Herald Tribune (01/17/05) Laura Bush’s second-term agenda is proclaimed to be “No Boy left behind in nurturing.” Admitting that boys cannot take care of themselves, Laura Bush wants to do more for the males. It isn’t a coincidence that Laura Bush is concentrating on this while the Iraqi war has killed many males, women and children. Laura Bush unquestionably supports the only man who matters, her husband, in all manner of approaches and means.
What’s more interesting is how conservative and christian women seem to agree with Laura Bush, including Condoleezza Rice. “She [Rice] has good reason to feel safe and secure for she has the unquestioned support of the only man who matters: Bush. When last year she [Rice] referred to Bush as 'my husband' it was a Freudian slip that reflected how close Rice and the Bush clan have become.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,139157)
The ‘unquestioned support of the only man who matters: Bush,” reveals the silent gynocidal pogrom to erase females from the human race and in a sense give shame to being the ‘wrong sex’-female or an unmarried female?
This sounds like a transgender issue- conservative women have transmutated into ‘wanna be males’ complete with homoerotic worship of their bosses, husbands, or Enlay, military men in uniforms killing over a 100,000 Iraqi women and children especially their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons.
I think conservative women are saying, “Have many husbands. Whether married or not, marry your boss in spirit. Fall in love with power and continue to victimize women. Avoid being the next target of violence.” When was the last time there was support for the only woman that matters or for women as a whole?
The reality is that ‘support,’ in mainstream vernacular, means to not question, to conform and bend to one way only.
Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Boston Globe, laments that support for the only man that matters meant that not a single male head rolled after concrete lack of evidence was found of weapons of mass destruction. This “faux pas,” as conservatives would say, was the death sentence for 100,000 Iraqi people, mostly women and children). Goodman, a true feminist, pointed out that Alberto Gonzales described the Geneva Conventions as “obsolete and quaint” and now qualifies as our attorney general.
“If we’ve learned anything these past four years, it’s that being a conservative means never having to say you’re sorry,” writes Ellen Goodman, a living viable feminist whose words carry weight.
Never having to say you’re sorry is demonstrated by getting away with lies or delusions (Condoleezza Rice, Rumsfield, Bush--Where are the weapons of mass destruction?) while Martha Stewart serves time in prison- was it her love of the home arts, a truly feminine quality of the Goddess Hestia, which required prison time?
Oops, I wrote the word ‘Goddess.’ That will allow conservatives to disregard this entire article. I’ll keep it in.
I encounter Robin Morgan’s searing question from her book Demon Lovers, Sexualization of Terrorism when I sort through inappropriate models that confuse feminism with husbandry or becoming wives and mothers to all men; “And what of the women who vow to incarnate him in their own female bodies, trying to become the weapon that he desires, the weapon that he is, the weapon whose definition is to him “human?”
The conservative female voice saying, “Bull, there is nothing wrong concerning the status quo for women!” have become the weapon that he is. Filled with pride, Laura Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Ann Coulter all have husbands in the patriarchy, although with Laura Bush and Ms. Rice the husband is the same.
In the meantime, women are so feared and rightly so, since many women are filling the ranks of academia and corporations who have had life experiences that are not the conservative women’s lives or expressions whatsoever. Fear sets in and the need to erase these women’s memories can even go as far as murdering the whole lot of them in non-existent economic measures and legislative matters.
The gynocidal pogrom continues as feminists who stand in their truth are often significantly alone.
Sadly, the success of Rice and others in the military and/or government androcratic system does not mean feminists can applaud their accomplishments. Since their accomplishments are etched in the blood of women and children, in economic pogroms, in the casualties of war, and of late in the states the Social Security program, their achievements are not a feminist’s values.
Struggling to see if there were any pockets of regard towards women’s plight and needs, I looked to the other side of the world in Australia.
Germaine Greer takes a direct hit from a female reporter who wrote “Feminism’s big sister misses the appeal of 'Big Brother' by Catharine Lumby” in a Sunday morning edition of the Sydney Herald. (http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=2940)
“Greer’s claims about the advice women’s magazines offer to their readers are simply wrong. Lurid cover lines aside, the focus of many articles is on encouraging women to stand up for themselves, to explore their own sexuality and not to put up with violence or harassment from men. Just ask Mia Freedman, a bright young feminist, who edits Cosmopolitan,” writes Catharine Lumby, who ended up legitimatizing Cosmopolitan Magazine, a study in the male proscribed stereotyped roles and male fantasies that teaches young daughters how to be good wives.
Clicking onto the website for Cosmopolitan Magazine, I am hit with Cosmo’s savvy headline of “What is hot this second.” Bulleted points for fashion for the first date and men’s love dilemmas- can you help? - seal Germaine Greer’s sense of feminism and integrity.
I can’t buy into Lumby’s and other conservative women’s gynocidal propaganda.
Lumby, like many other younger women, advances patriarchal values into the next generation of daughters and sons. The emotional battering and belittling process intensifies the lethal rhetoric.
Many young women have absorbed the culturally perpetuated definition of feminist theory that it is based on misandry. What this uncovers is the smear campaign to reduce the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and organized activity on behalf of women's rights. The smear campaign wants to diminish or rather hide dominating masculinity functions which influence women to be wives, mothers or ‘wanna be males,’
Who wants to be associated with “man haters,” after all? True feminism and feminists are lost in this false depiction, in academia, in corporations and especially in governmental entities. They are silenced and hidden due to their own refusal to become more masculine or a blank screen for male fantasies.
“The world needs feminists of all persuasions on public display - whether as prime ministers or reality TV contestants. If younger women are to find feminism relevant, feminists need to show they are open to understanding the lives young women live and the culture they embrace, “ iterates Lumby as she normalizes a behavior which objectives the female body while devaluing the female sex. It is a stance that is not feminist oriented nor inclusive of both genders in the end.
It is not certain if what Lumby requires is all feminists or free thinking women to buy into the patriarchal mind-set (PMS), or if it is a cry from the unconsciousness indicating a devastating belief structure. Either way, she echoes a rhetoric that conjures delusions that simply invite in what Marilyn French calls ‘systemic discrimination against women.’
Feminists are in a state of siege and are emotionally battered until senseless.
My response to this lethal Tsunami wave towards women required the excavation of the rubble of a once fine foundation for female gender issues. To do this, I interviewed women who hold feminist values and live them, despite the hurdles and constant onslaught to their feminine sensibilities.
The five women I interviewed during my recent trip to Europe/Bosnia support the evidence of a raging war against females for their feminist identities. Their version of feminism does not exclude the women, includes men by holding each accountable and always remembers the children.
Holland November 4th-10th, 2004
Padma Menon, Mystagogue, Indian classical Kuchipudi dance style
The Korzo Dance Studio is in Den Haag, Holland where Padma explores her unique gift to the great Mother in her Indian dance fusion with modern dance. She is an international renowned Indian dancer who names her citizenship as the Mother Earth.
“The assignment is to hold a real baby as practice in order to carry the infant Krishna in the dance,” Padma tells her dance class, consisting of two Indian 10 year old girls and her 7 year old daughter Isha.
Padma guides both a children’s class and a full female adult class in Indian dance, reaffirming her mythological depth with noetic acts of intuition that heighten her dance abilities and her artistic creativity.
What’s more, this feminist whose work is inclusive of female culture and female humanity virgin from patriarchal influence, recently choreographed 25 young dancers from all over the world (Rotterdam Dance Academy) at the Cadance Festival of Modern Dance in Den Haag. Titled “Mazaa Mazaa,” Padma Menon transformed each dancer in heaven with earth shattering instructions and guidance found in traditional Indian culture.
Her brow wrinkled as she spoke of her observation that anything feminine, let alone feminist, is not highly regarded or known amongst women. She related how she advertised a dance class titled “Dancing from the Feminine” and no one responded, as if it was a dirty word and a dirty thing to be.
Remarking how difficult it was for her to bring the dancers to the orientation of the feminine in her professional work, she suddenly became small and whispered the profound implications---dancers who could not move their pelvis in the undulating posture, Ballerinas refusing the body poses, their anorexic appetites and hatred of their bodies would cause the dancers to feel faint physically and faint spiritually about loving the feminine, the femaleness of their sex. Padma spoke of how the dancers would prefer androgyny and/or a male definition of a woman in their dance and basically their lives.
Padma’s expression of dance as prayer re-conceives a relationship with the Great Mother Goddess. This relationship is made accessible not just in her dance and her workshops but in her ordinary acts. In the kitchen of her stately 100 year old Den Haag home, I learned the arts of Indian cooking as we prepared for a Sunday afternoon celebration for twenty-five young dancers. I was melded into what Padma calls ‘samskara.’
Samskara is found in Hindu and Buddhism and means to propel consciousness about your core patterns in all the lifetimes lived. Dance invites deep body consciousness that is recalled by the sacred daily acts in life. Samskara is the changing material aspect of the world we live in. Padma’s prayer as dance is a samskara ritual. In her celebration of dance, Padma relates samskara to the daily acts performed by women. These acts are signs of grace, converting ignorance into understanding the Mother Earth or the Great Mother.
The concept of samskara can be used by women to bring back the sacrosanct and the ritual connection between themselves and the feminine world. Standing side by side in the steamy kitchen with Padma was clearly a radiant intergenerational sharing of an ancient collective memory; when women understood we were all daughters of one mother.
The defection from feminism and the divine feminine values that has emerged in force lately brings in the patriarchal demon that submits women and female arts to huge hurdles in order to become financially self-sustaining. While Padma professes a self-sustaining Goddess centered spirituality she confesses to the periodic intrusion of worries and habitual fear about poverty that most women around the world contend with on a constant basis.
Her posture becomes bowed due to the burden of owning the totality of raising children by herself even though she is married. Padma became aware of Adrienne Rich’s astute perception that even married women are single mothers. Bowed with the burdens of child care, house care, Padma’s work demands otherwise: “Dance is the story, the body the posture-position of the story,” relates Padma as she moves into her dance pose
Concerned about the racism and xenophobia in Holland with the recent murder of the filmmaker Van Gogh by a Moroccan Muslim, Padma watches her posture as she walks the Dutch streets and at the school yard where she picks up her children. She saw the film Submission by Van Gogh and a member of Dutch Parliament and another filmmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali a Somali-born refugee and experienced confusion about the representation of female identities that supposedly are feminist oriented but capitulate to voracious appetites of androcratic values. Padma felt the movies sexualized Muslim women and that it was a form of sexual exploitation based on males’ appetites but supposedly couched by the Amsterdam Journal as “A Graphic Film of Protest, and Cries of Blasphemy.”
Realizing psychic consequences to the destructive double speak centered on anything feminine, Padma remarked how she is in a constant state of mourning for the loss of a divine feminine symbology and mythology along with an absence of empowering females who can define what it means to be female and name a female’s reality. Usually, that empowered female is torn apart, reduced down to either a ‘bitch’, hysterical or ‘what does she know.’
Citing serious challenges for her dances from the feminine heart, a true feminist approach, her posture and her dance fused into modern dance confront many Dutch citizens who are afraid of change along with their penchant for rules and linear thinking that exclude the feminine values of heart and soul. Padma’s dance as prayer is a prayer for empowered females and a feminine symbology.
Padma Menon’s dance work has transformed her into a mystagogue, initiating the women colonized by the androcratic system into mystery by teaching them mystical doctrines. She sees her female students with stereotyped roles stamped and sealed on their bodies, their very posture one of titillation oriented toward male sexual fantasies rather than of the empowered feminine. Her work, her life as a mystagogue contains a mourning for female humanity and female culture.
Holland November 2004
Nadine McNeil, Jamaican Feminist & Shamka, Gender Issues Mgmt. Doctoral Candidate
Nadine McNeil, Jamaican by birth, African by descent and Universal in nature, phoned me on the day controversial film-maker Theo Van Gogh was murdered on his bike in Holland after having just taken his young son to school. ‘The synchronicity was uncanny’ she recalls, as he was killed on the day of the US Elections; November 2, 2004.
Her cell phone recorded her staccato boot heels on Den Haag’s cobbled streets as she whispered past the riot police on every street corner carefully holding her head down so as not be ‘noticed,’ difficult given her chocolate skin and mane of ebony dreadlocks, with a cell phone to her ear. She was making her way home from her evening of laughing meditation; a necessary balance to her daily work for the prohibition of chemical weapons.
“It will be yes, thank you, and what else I can I do politeness,” retorted Nadine as she scurried home past the sub-machine guns and helmeted riot police encircling the sidewalks after the death of Van Gogh filmmaker by an enraged Muslim offended by Van Gogh’s take on Muslim women. Already, confronted with sexism and racism in every corner of her life, Nadine is a petite, fiery woman who firmly ensconced in her female identity and community. Increasingly, her varied experiences have shaped a disturbing reality in her mind; the blatant xenophobia that has become rampant in this seemingly ‘canalled’ nation.
Nadine’s Den Haag apartment overlooking the Queen’s stables provided the ample setting for a female communion and reunion at a kolo (Bosnian/Serbo-Croatian for dance or circle) dinner. In attendance were two women who work as life coaches, one Dutch woman who facilitates laughing meditation, a young mother from Chile, and a black woman from Jamaica who is a psychologist with a passion for Dru Yoga, Nadine’s Den Haag apartment overlooking the Queen’s stables provided the ample setting for a female communion and reunion.
Nadine’s table laden with a feast represented a female’s way of collaborating and manifesting community, a rare occurrence in these times. Women gathering in circles often present great difficulties, since fear and strong defenses from men and [mostly] women are expressed in a gamut of aggressive verbal and non-verbal ways.
Nadine’s skin color and female gender have been significantly sourced as unanimous hatred for all her life. If only to maintain her sanity and sense of balance, Nadine speaks of how she acquiesces at times. ‘Not every battle is worth fighting,’ she muses. Her defense mechanisms hide female empowerment when she needs to ‘tone it down’ in her masculine dominated and deeply entrenched patriarchal work environment. These dynamics dilute her own identity, beyond these ‘professional’ roles that are placed upon her.
A life long question continues to plague her mind: is she a woman first or is she black first? Upon encountering her, both of these facts are inescapable. Which takes twisted ‘precedence’ over the other? Nadine nowadays rarely finds herself in that situation of danger and needing to survive unless she feels there is serious danger lurking by.
In her doctoral studies where she has chosen to focus on the issue of gender in UN peacekeeping activities, Nadine is discovering that the qualities that are determined necessary for ‘successful peacekeeping’ are entirely feminine. Some of these qualities include relationship building, conflict negotiation and mediation and confidence building and nurturing.
She cited the case of two peacekeeping operations, one led by a man who had assigned 60% of its decision making positions to women, and another mission headed by a man and with extremely low female representation. The former was more successful, and the involvement in prostitution in the latter was embarrassingly high. Nadine’s summation, “tell me something that I don’t already know.”
Nadine is a member of the board of The Kolo: Women’s Cross Cultural Collaboration, a working single black female in her late thirties and the founder of a non-profit organization that gives Jamaican children books to read.
In November 2004, Nadine McNeil and I were involved in a meeting with a minister that I met in 1999. The Evangelical minister had his wife in tow for the meeting. The four of us sat down to tea in Nadine’s apartment. Nervousness hung in the air around the minister and it was hard to discern if the flagrantly feminine apartment was the cause or simply that his white male privilege and outlook were confronted continuously in such an environment. I suspect that it was a potent concoction of both.
Sweat beaded on his forehead despite the sub-zero chill outside on the Den Haag streets and canals, while his wife beamed and talked of how she only comes from love. Open to hearing the Evangelical minister and his wife speak about their honor bestowed upon them from Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2004, Nadine appeared [initially] impressed by these visitors.
Upon offering to pray for us and then speaking in tongues over our heads, I was given a book that the Evangelical minister wrote concerning the encounters with me in Budapest, 1999 where we met through a series of ‘mishaps.’ Nervously, his wife pronounced how she and her husband are only coming from love with this book as they exited Nadine’s stunning brilliant white walled and Jamaican inspired home in the midst of Holland’s infamous low skies.
Fully realizing a legacy based on the persecution of women who were demonized when their female authority is expressed and for ancient earth-based spirituality, Nadine read passages from the book. Her keen female leadership skills quickly recognized the arcane traditions and rote religious dogma in the visit with the Evangelical minister and his wife. She had quick flashbacks of an upbringing in society where such evangelicalism is deeply embedded within the colonial imprinted and slave stained culture. As she read the chapters, it was abundantly clear to her that ‘I’ was a deeply integral part of the story being told. In fact, without ‘me,’ there was no story!
A frantic and disturbed look moved across her darting liquid black eyes as she continued to read. She threw out what at the time seemed like a multitude of questions, inquiring if I gave permission to be in this book. I responded that I had no idea that he had even published a book, let alone my inclusion.
Sinking down into her Leopard love settee, Nadine could see how white women are not immune from being penalized and demeaned for their female identity and female culture. In the end, we are all daughters. If we could recognize that truth, we would have sisters in solidarity not the dissolution we have today.
Noting the lack of female solidarity across race and cultural divides, Nadine understood how the minister and his wife knew that unanimous hatred for the females and anything feminine profits from what Mary Condren observed in women as their inability to experience solidarity with each other.
Nadine faced and felt her own fear throughout the episode, wondering aloud at how fear and defensiveness from male-driven powers grows at an exponentially high rate. Instead of coming from fear or fear based decisions, Nadine revived a part of herself to reveal a much needed emphasis on female solidarity and female community.
Whether in Holland, Iraq or the hurricanes that hit Jamaica in 2004, Nadine’s ability to manifest a diverse community eclipses any imposition by androcratic systems. I was inspired by her quick fine eye in assessing a dangerous situation that I know came from a lifetime of racism and sexism; those situations evolved her into her female identity.
Nadine faces more fear in her job due to constant persecution of strong female identities and female communities. To eliminate feminine worth has become the standard operating procedure in many international organizations. What happened to me in the book has also happened to her in her work and daily life in Holland. Under the guise of ‘tenure,’ her contract was not renewed, after almost eight prime years of her life and career. Meanwhile, others- well actually young men far less competent have ‘managed’ to gain contract extensions, promotions and the like.
Women are fired, laid off and walk unemployment lines at each instance of male fear for the feminine. Aching deeply about the lack of responsible women in responsible positions within supposed ‘humanitarian’ agencies and governing entities, I hear the roar of empowered women. They are being wiped off the face of the Mother Earth by politico-economic policies and ruthless management tactics, in essence, perfect terrorist weapons.
On November 4, 2004 Holland issued a ‘no fly zone’ over Den Haag. Riot police sectioned off a part of the city to quell any Muslim insurgency and white insurgents. Fear dripped in the streets of a once peaceful land.
Nadine left her luscious apartment and walked me to the tram to catch my flight at Schipol airport. Once on the streets Nadine resumed her “politeness” since her striking black skin and her female sex manifests an easy target.
I felt loss and a depth of sadness in witnessing the immediate survival and defense mechanism. It is a huge loss to all empowered women to succumb to those defenses and to see that we invoke fear whenever we are gathered together.
Prague November 10th-15, 2004
Mindy Bricker, Humanist Journalist, artist with words with weight
Mindy Bricker’s physical appearance does not express her journalistic prose and works since she looks ethereal and fairy like. Thin, with long, red hair and a runner’s body despite her nagging cigarette habit, Mindy lives in Prague and is her late twenties. Standing out amongst the dark Gothic buildings in Prague, Mindy can blend in with the heavy cigarette smoking Czech population but does not lose her soul.
Many journalists ask to do articles on the feminist trauma work and women’s cross cultural collaboration that I do with my non-profit. Mindy’s inquiry came from the East-West Women’s Association and signaled a depth that belies her young age. Curiosity, awe and predilection for endless details, her investigative skills were sharp and honed.
Often times, the need for details and linear scopes triggered my yawns and an end to my interest in the subject. Losing Mindy to the professional androcratic system in those moments did not set in abandonment with her since she eventually eclipsed the stupefying material and emerged into her female identity with ease by simply engaging her vast curiosity and wonder about all matter of things.
Usually I interview prospective journalists before any contact with the Bosnian Muslim women in Bosnia. I was looking for a female journalist who was able to transmit the first person stories of Bosnian women war survivors and women war crimes survivors. That means that I was culling for wisdom about feminism, strong female identities and female community.
For years now, mainstream journalists have shown a startling lack of female culture and/or lack of acknowledgment of femicide practices happening their very noses. “…[identifying] on some level with agents of atrocities while being incapable of identifying with the victims—a subjective condition which is masked by the pose of objective scholarship.” (Mary Daly’s Gyn-Ecology, The Metaethics of Radical Feminism) To put these journalists along side Bosnian war crimes survivor would only heap more abuse towards already maimed and devastated sisters.
Reviewing Mindy’s previous work, I discovered during an article she wrote about Indian names such as ‘squaw’ in Idaho geographical locations and of course labeled as such on maps. This meant the First Peoples would be constantly slammed with the inappropriate use of Native American terminology. The governor’s in not hearing the complaint by first peoples of Idaho was forced into facing the issue when Mindy Bricker translated the Indian names into English words onto a map as a journalistic piece and article. On the map in Idaho places such as Squaw Valley was translated into Cunt Valley. The governor’s spokesperson after reading her journalistic piece called her upset at the sheer truth and labeled it “sophomoric”.
Not identifying with the male view as a journalist is unusual. In a time of ‘embedded’ (Mary Daly cites the original meaning of the word embed is to forget-amnesia) reporters for the Iraqi invasion and signing of loyalty oaths for the Republican Party, Mindy Bricker’s map is serious journalism.
Once in Bosnia, Mindy Bricker sat hour after hour with the Bosnian women war survivors and war crimes survivors. Something triggered deep inside her with the Ahmicja women war crimes survivors. The kolo (circle or to dance in Bosnian-Serbo-Croatian) Sumejja leader, Sana Koric, organized a day meeting in Novi Travnik with the Ahmicja women war crimes survivors and Vittez Women for Women organization. We entered a long meeting room and were greeted by 50 plus women in one room. Sitting on the long sofa in one part of the room, the Ahmicja women war crimes survivors were all grandmothers with white head scarves and flowing dress. Mindy immediately sat down with the translator as if to soak in their very life experiences.
Mindy Bricker felt a stirring in her investigative work and journalism to explore more in-depth these first person stories of massacres in their homes where one home had a baby killed in the oven. Almost magically, her fixation and obsession with details were balanced with a scope that incorporated these women’s first person stories.
In an email, Mindy proclaimed her journalistic goal of writing about the Ahmicja grandmothers, possibly even moving to Sarajevo to continue that work. Despite the dizziness resulting from bearing witness to Bosnian women struggling in the aftermath of war, Mindy’s writing and journalism unveil cross cultural hatred of women.
November 16th, 2004 Sarajevo, Bosnia
Zivica Abadzic, Bosnian Muslim Female Crone- General Secretary Helsinki Human Rights, Sarajevo, Bosnia
Zivica Abadzic is the General Secretary of Helsinki Human Rights Sarajevo and a survivor of the war in Sarajevo. White hair cut short to accent her stunning beauty, her constantly high energy level belies her 60 years.
Dangling a cigarette from her mouth, Zivica facilitates a meeting between me and the women from Novi Travnik in a basement meeting room in Sarajevo. Before the meeting began, Zivica spotted me from the stairs and simply pronounced her good surprise that I was still with these women.
Four years ago, Zivica contacted me after she learned about Novi Travnik’s “Peaceful Dimensions against Gender Violence,” conference. When I told her of the work with frontline women who were not graduates or university students, she came to speak to the women in Novi Travnik about her experiences during the war.
Stunned at having a woman middle-aged Bosnian Muslim female (and a strong feminist at that) in their very midst, the women in Novi Travnik remarked how she sounded just like me in their training meetings.
Four years later, a bit thinner and more fully empowered, Zivica speaks clearly of the status of Bosnian women today in the aftermath of war. She pointed out that 23% of women between 14 and 25 are illiterate, in actuality indicating the fresh and new victims of a war that never ends.
Patriarchs often go to jail and pay the fine rather then send their daughters to school reports Zivica. It is cheaper to be in jail and pay the one time fine then to pay for her books, her clothes and any other associated costs.
Females cost too much.
55% is the current domestic violence figure for Bosnia but as Zivica and the women knew, it is much higher than that. It is a cultural prerogative for the ruling Bosnian patriarchs to batter their wives, children, sisters, aunts and mothers. Domestic Violence was not legislated nor was child abuse before the war.
80% of the women work in housekeeping which means unreported female labor with no healthcare whatsoever. Zivica gracefully lights another cigarette and remarks on the soaring level of national poverty. The impact of not applying a gender perspective in times of war is a lack of education, police support, healthcare and qualified social care workers—to devastating effect. “Gender sensitivity is one of the several resulting causalities,” writes Mertus.
There are clearly identified links between gender factors and humanitarian assistance. “…policy changes to improve and apply international, regional and national policies concerning gender problems in wartime; spur advocacy efforts by human rights groups employing a gender perspective to mainstream gender equality by “recognizing the different needs, interests, and responsibilities of women and men and building more equitable gender relations” are clearly needed.
Of course, none of this was applied in Bosnia in the aftermath of war. The aid and the dollars followed the fresh bullets and bombs rather then linger in the economy to heal the targets of yesterday’s weapons. Being yesterday’s news and not today’s new bombing target relegates the Bosnian women to be the least of anyone’s concerns. However, they are not the least of anyone’s concerns; it is ultimately the plight of African women and children, then perhaps Afghan women and Iraqi women who have been erased and rendered invisible to degrees that are unfathomable to Western sisters and men earthwide.
Zivica predicted it will get worse and it will not get better for generations. The women from Novi Travnik bowed their heads just like we do at funerals. None were surprised as they have been feeling the unemployment for themselves and their children. The women felt validation in Zivica’s prediction; they felt validation in hearing the truth.
Zivica pronounced at the end of the meeting “Feminism is dead.” Already, a whole generation does not care to know about female human rights or feminism. Surviving in the aftermath of war in an economy that satiates its male appetites on patriarchal values means many young women and older women are capitulating to the unwavering demands placed on their sex.
Sharing about her mother, Zivica shared with us that her mother had died a few days earlier. The eighty-four year old grandmother was first in her village to go to study and go to college. She was assaulted and beaten by Chetniks during WWII (former Yugoslavs with King Peter) Regardless of her trauma, she never betrayed her community.
Zivica’s story of her mother, and her acknowledgement of my involvement with the invisible Bosnian women for five years sharply screamed constancy and consistency. Constancy is a fidelity and fealty, with a devotion heaped with a tenacity and diligence. Consistency is coherence and maintains form with harmony.
I started to realize Zivica’s message of consistency and constancy and why she felt feminism is dead. She turned and looked at me and left the room without a word. Perhaps she was wondering if I would still be with these women four years from now. Perhaps she was wondering if these women would survive the economic holocaust.
By avoiding feminists or knowing feminism the ignorance that excludes females is perpetuated. Along with the strong backlash against anything remotely attached to strong empowered females, the pogroms against women are continued.
Holland, Prague & Bosnia
Tara Tabassi, Persian American Female Young Sage
Iranian American and raised mostly in Den Haag Holland, Tara Tabassi is a student at Evergreen State College in the state of Washington. Arresting, with her height and mass of dark curls dyed a dark red in parts, Tara makes for a commanding presence anywhere.
As a part of her studies, internships are offered to students to encourage a direct link to the world. Rachel Corrie was one intern from Evergreen State College who died by an Israeli bulldozer ‘manned’ by patriarchal ideologies.
Instead of offering an internship, I offer apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships are an Archeoquest and poetic college that nurture encoded potentials arising from being in one’s passion or bliss. Tara Tabassi with her natural interest, her Persian and Muslim background decided to go to Bosnia with my non-profit The Kolo: Women’s Cross Cultural Collaboration.
As in all apprenticeships, discovery of the universal occurred. She discovered how greatly the Bosnian Muslim women resembled her Iranian grandmother. No book or video could point that out. Somehow in the moment, in the position of sitting shoulder to shoulder with these invisible Bosnian women, we not only intellectually see the universal but feel the universal in our bodies and spirit.
Kneading the dough for pita, a strudel usually made with cheese, Tara focused on the culinary arts with Sana Koric’s thin grandmother who smokes daily. The grandmother was quite active and spry as she tossed the translucent dough around her smooth stick, twirling it like a baton swinging gossamer fabric instead of phyllo dough. Tara took notes only after the hands-on experience that apprenticeship offered her.
Tara often remarks how her professors, sandwiched between the patriarchal propaganda schools demand and keeping their jobs, leave her feeling unheard and not validated in her concerns for females globally.
When asked whether her own concerns voiced in a classroom are met with disregard, or as hysterical, Tara speaks of being reprimanded, not just by the male students, but by the female students and female teachers as well, for not being analytical enough and going beyond the “facts.”
In relating this, Tara sputters, “I do give the facts,” and points to the hellish recent Amnesty International statistics on violence towards women she has carefully researched in her studies. Bowing her strong shoulders and well muscled upper arms Tara feels she is labeled a liar with her truth telling in the classroom and actually in even her peer interactions.
Ask yourself: if she is treated with such denial and blame in a classroom isn’t this repeated for all women across the face of the Mother Earth?
The resistance to feminist searchers and the continued practice of androcracy’s woman hating and fearing empowered women actions that use scholarly work as a way to legitimatize female scholars man-made vocabulary. “Unfortunately, however, many female scholars also use similar language, for the temptation to identify with the male viewpoint-which is legitimated by every field-is strong, and the penalties for not doing so often intimidate women into self-deception.” (Mary Daly)
Encountering self-deception in many women along with the constant masks or role playing women live to fulfill for men, Tara has a thirst for meaningfulness in even her smallest interactions. Somehow, this young sprite knows that her identity is not the relationships she keeps or the roles she plays.
In Bosnia, Tara heard many war stories and war crimes stories. One woman in her early thirties became devout in Islam after spending almost a year in a basement during the war. Talking in feverish pitches and definitely in a lecture mode that would make any professor proud, the young Bosnian woman’s eyes would glaze over as she commenced her diatribe.
Seeing this woman’s self-deception due to trauma and war crimes, Tara felt uneasy in how to respond. She did observe that “it is scary to witness” so many women substituting androcratic systems for belief and spirituality that exclude females.
The Bosnian woman’s fervent appeal to Allah that would chime in unerringly with the public call to prayers that ring out throughout Novi Travnik was unnerving. Her year long imprisonment soaked in patriarchal demonology gave her the ability to have passion and to speak out so passionately after being released from the basement dungeon. Yet, her passion is her worship of Allah to the demise of her feminine soul. Her dominating passion would scatter other women to the furthest corners of the room or street if they happened upon her since her abusive and obsessive compulsive diatribe would inflict more suffering for all.
More importantly, Tara was led to a painful but healing observation that she would not have encountered in a book.
Understanding that her legacy is not the organized religions written and spoken only by men, she has embarked upon a commitment to realize her depth and be virgin to patriarchal demands. At times, she has already discovered the scapegoating, the finger pointing and all too familiar comment ‘here we go again,’ when ever she speaks her heart.
Is this how we silence women?
And will Tara give up after a few years of such assault? Will she think that her female peers who have labeled feminists as haters must be right? Will she be worn down, since she is certainly standing alone in her truth?
Or will Tara know each time she stands alone in her truth that she is standing in her female identity?
I return back to Zivica’s profound pronouncement and somehow I do not want it to be the truth or the reality. However, with this investigation and quest for feminists I know she speaks from her heart and this time I do not want her to stand alone in her truth.
Zivica is right. Feminism is dead and women have killed it.
I stand counted with Zivica in my truth.
Discuss / Raspravljati