Why We March – and keep on marching

When they go low, we go high. And that’s why I won’t show you some of the signs from the Women’s March, no matter how clever. I saw plenty held by women my age and older announcing “I can’t believe we’re still protesting this #$@&!” This woman managed to say the same thing without profanity.

‘Nuff said. Or is it?

“Nasty” has become a synonym for strong.

With a piece of poster board and some good paint or markers, these two women made a point that many do not see. We women worked hard to get the right to make decisions about when and whether we’ll bear children. We paid out of our own pockets for birth control for a long, long time.

Many young women don’t know the history. They don’t remember when a woman couldn’t teach school if she became pregnant. Too many women tell stories of how they wore baggier and baggier clothes until they couldn’t hide their growing bellies, at which time they lost their jobs.

I explained in a Facebook thread the very real danger of losing access to birth control and access to health care in general, and the role Planned Parenthood plays in helping young women on both counts. Someone commented – or should I say, shouted? – “Buy your own damn birth control!” Face to face, that person would have looked at me and known I wasn’t one of the young women I mentioned. I am 56, had my last child 25 years ago, and had a hysterectomy three years ago. I am well past my child bearing years. Buy my own? I did, for years, because my health plan didn’t cover it.

This ignorant comment, however, reinforced the need for advocacy. I will continue to be a vocal advocate for women’s rights, especially a women’s rights to control when and whether she will become pregnant.

You can purchase Mary Engelbreit’s print here.

Proceeds from this print, and this print only, will go to Planned Parenthood.

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Boycotts – to buy or not to buy?

Chuck’s new job (electrician, fire truck manufacturer) is turning out to be tough on his jeans and tee shirts. Luckily, he wears jeans and tee shirts, not anything more valuable or expensive. But I’m standing in the closet staring at two pair of good Lee relaxed fit jeans that are ripped in the rear, and I don’t sew.

I did what I do: I reached out for help online. My post said “DH (Darling Husband)’s new job is hard on his jeans. Do iron-on patches still exist? I don’t sew.” The responses were mixed, but positive. Sort of.

“Yes, you can buy iron-on patches at WalMart!” I don’t shop WalMart. I haven’t for years. In my state, WalMart encourages their employees to sign up for the state health plan for low income residents. It works because WalMart doesn’t pay enough for their typical worker to buy health insurance through the company, thus saving WalMart the investment in health coverage. Therefore, I’m already subsidizing WalMart through my tax moneys. Shop there? No, thanks. That company doesn’t deserve any more of my money.

“Try Joann Fabrics or Hobby Lobby.” Joann Fabrics, okay. They’re in the same mini mall with Penzey’s Spices, and I love me an opportunity to shop Penzey’s.

But Hobby Lobby?

Remember the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case? Hobby Lobby brought suit against the Affordable Care Act complaining that the company did not want to pay for coverage that included birth control. They claimed it was a faith-based decision. Let me get this straight: a nationwide corporation, claiming deeply, sincerely held religious beliefs, can apply those beliefs to its employee benefit programs. I haven’t shopped there since the decision.

That leaves me with Joann Fabrics. I certainly hope they actually carry iron-on patches. If not, keeping up my principles might get expensive. I might need to buy a sewing machine and learn to sew.

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The Wardrobe of the Rebellion

I bought my Teach Peace sweatshirt last fall. It didn’t seem radical then, but now I wonder whether I should wear it to school or not. I decided yes, I can wear it, because the sentiment is not rebellious. Peace is a valuable, if not exactly realistic, goal.

Nasty Woman gear hit the interwebs after the third debate of the presidential campaign. In the feminist world, the term became synonymous with strong.

Ah, the pink pussy hat! A coworker told me she has one. She leaves it in her car when she gets to school, but she has it. She wears it. She describes it as “cute.” I don’t have one – yet – but the question comes to me: What does it mean to wear this in public? Wearing a pink pussy hat to a rally has a clear meaning: don’t mess with me, celebrity or not. Thousands of women wore them on January 21st, and the world took notice. I predict these hats will stay in style for, oh, at least four years.

The safety pin is still out there, just not as prevalent as it was initially. The trend started in the U.K. and spread via social media to the U.S. after, you know, The Inauguration. The safety pin quietly announces that the wearer is a Safe Person. If someone is being harassed, threatened, and needs help, the victim can reach out to the one with the pin. I see safety pins on Facebook profiles, Twitter hashtags, but few in public. Heck, maybe I don’t travel in the right circles. I know many who consider themselves advocates but don’t wear the pin. This symbol might see a surge in popularity wlong with the surge in deportations.

An old favorite, the Believe There is Good in the World tee shirt, attended the Women’s March in Chicago on my sister-in-law and niece. I wore mine at home – mine being the second I’ve purchased with this slogan because I wore out the first. No matter who leads the free world, I hope many will continue to believe and to Be The Good in the World, too.

The latest on the tee shirt scene is Nevertheless, She Persisted. Senator Elizabeth Warren was “warned, given an explanation; nevertheless, she persisted” to read the now-famous letter from Coretta Scott King criticizing the now-infamous Senator Sessions in his quest to become Attorney General. This slogan has been applied retroactively to Ruby Bridges, Susan B. Anthony, Rosie the Riveter, and more straight up strong women. This one, folks, may last more than four years.

On Election Day in 2012, I slipped my Team Obama tee shirt under a fleece bearing the logo of my employer. Will I do that again? Readers, what are you wearing to the revolution? Your pink cat hats? Teach Peace athletic wear? Something I’ve forgotten? Leave a comment, if you dare.

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A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu

It was a warm summer night, back in August of 1974. My friends and I were performing in a solo recital at music camp. A handful of us had performed in past years, so it felt more like a friendly get-together than a scholarship competition. During the other students’ performances, we sat on a small porch behind the back entrance to the gymnasium stage. And we talked, quietly, on this warm summer night.

“Really, who cares what happens tonight in this little recital of ours?” a pianist friend stated softly. “The president is resigning tonight. He might be quitting the White House right now.” We nodded. We were just young teenagers, all of us, but we knew this was big. We had seen bits and pieces of the Watergate scandal as it unfolded, and whatever our level of understanding of the whole mess, we knew that our tiny little recital was meaningless in comparison to the real world beyond.

Decades later, I can look back at that night in a different way. Maybe we should have been impressed at how quiet it was; no coup, no riots, just a warm August night and a gym full of young musicians. In Washington, D.C. the power was moving smoothly from Richard Nixon to Gerald Ford, and the country would go on.

Decades later I also know that the transfer of power wasn’t happening that night as we took our turns playing for the audience and the judges. Gerald Ford was sworn in the next day around noon after Nixon formally resigned. The previous evening, while my friends and I sat backstage, the President had made the speech announcing his impending resignation. “By taking this action,” he told the country, “I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”

I can’t help but see parallels to Watergate in the rocky start to the current administration. Wiretapping then, hacker invasions of email now. Firing the special prosecutor; firing the attorney general. Nixon wasn’t fond of journalists, either, including the two investigative reporters from the Washington Post. Many of Nixon’s lies were those of omission, not the outright falsehoods that masquerade as alternative facts today, but the atmosphere is the same: truth optional.

Decades ago, we young teenagers didn’t feel worried. We knew it was a night for the history books, but we also knew that our concerts and our lives would go on as usual. When school started, our history teachers might ask “Where were you when…?” and we would answer that it was pretty much an ordinary night at music camp. No fireworks, no danger, just a solo recital in a college gym.

Somehow, I can’t muster up that same sense of calm today.

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Alternative Facts

We’ve all heard them. We disregard them, sometimes even laugh a little at the sheer ridiculousness that someone might want us to believe. Here are a few alternative facts that circulate – wherever.

One size fits all.

Easy open package.

Lifetime warranty.

Easy return policy.

Sanctuary cities are hotbeds of crime.

The dog ate my homework.

Wikipedia rocks.

Painless childbirth.

3 million undocumented immigrants voted in 2016.

Contents not included.

He must have misspoken.

Okay, readers, I’ve made my point. Can you think of others? Add comments for me, please.

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We mourned, we marched, and now —

I saw it on social media. “Friday, we mourned. Saturday, we marched. Where will you be next?”

I remembered when we, the educators and the unions, packed the Wisconsin Capitol. We marched, we sang, we protested, and to no avail. Those in power still passed the ugly bill we called Act 10, sending our bargaining rights back by 40 to 50 years. Our numbers, our marches, our voices were ignored.

On Friday, January 20, many turned off the televisions and turned our backs on the scary sight of Donald Trump taking office as President of the United States. On Saturday, even more took to the streets. Rallies in Chicago, Washington D.C., and elsewhere attracted so many people that the corresponding marches could not take place. Attendees were so numerous that they already filled the march routes.

And for what did we march? For our health care, our rights as human beings, our respect – and self respect, too. We marched to remind people that women are scared, and despite our fears and worries, we won’t take any more steps backwards. We marched to say “Hey, we heard you. We heard you mock a disabled reporter. We heard you claim you had the right to grab women in their “pussy” because you were a celebrity. We heard you call immigrants from Mexico rapists and drug dealers. We heard you announce you would prevent people who are Muslim from entering this country, and we heard you suggest a registry for those who follow Islam.”

We heard you, Mr. Trump, and we won’t forget.

The question remains: what’s next? For some, it’ll be donations to Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, or local and state progressive activist groups. For some, it’ll mean participating in more events like Saturday’s march. For others, what’s next will be emails and phone calls to elected officials, whether we voted for them or not.

Trust me on this, folks. I predict further activity. We are women, and we’ll roar, in numbers too big to ignore (Thanks, Helen!). We won’t lose our right to speak freely or peaceably assemble. We won’t lose the rights to make decisions about our own health and our own bodies.

And that, my readers, is where we’re going next.

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Next…moving along, not moving on

I couldn’t watch the inauguration. Late in the day, while we were on the road to take Amigo to La Petite’s for the weekend, I scanned my Facebook page. I kept getting choked up – but not sadness this time. My Facebook newsfeed was filled with friends and acquaintances determined to make themselves heard.

Several showed off their pink knit pussy hats for the rallies and marches. Those pink hats on display say very clearly “We are women, hear us roar!” and “Hands off my body, you jerk.” Their presence at rallies and in marches shouted out a reminder of an inspiring woman: women’s rights are human rights.

Now here it is, Saturday, and I’m not marching. I worked on grades for progress reports, and then I started the weekly task I call laundry. Meanwhile, my friends marched. Several in Madison, at least two in Washington, D.C., a significant handful in Chicago, a few in California and Washington state – and more.

And before I forget (yeah, right), I have one more quote to share. It’s a wonderful moment when the student surpasses the teacher. This statement came from a former student, a recent college graduate. She has the right attitude.

Today, and for the next 4 years, I will show love. I will fight for equality, for human rights, for women, for science, for education. But most of all, I will use the privileges I have been given to show love to those who will need it most, so that their world may look just a little bit brighter.

Well said.

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Eight Years Ago

Memories — Recipe for an Historic Inauguration
Take one republic, preheated by
Wars
Poverty and
Health care crises.
Blend worries, industry failures, job losses
Top with slashed budgets and crashing morale.
Mix dedicated candidates with
Intelligence
Experience
and Passion.
Nurture from deep grass roots
Seek hope, change, and motivation.
Beat at high speeds until competition peaks.
Organize. Volunteer. Vote.Set aside to cool.
Season with Knowledge
Insight
Plans and Ideas
Fold in global perspective,
Authentic world view.
Ship by train to nation’s capital.
Set atop quality cabinet.

Serve with courage and inspiration.

photo credit: La Petite, at a rally last June

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That’s good, That’s not so good.

  • We picked up Amigo’s prescription. That’s good.
  • My new insurance made a typo and changed his birthdate in their records. That’s not so good.
  • Let the phone calling begin. He has a state I.D., a passport, and we have a copy of his birth certificate around, if the Powers That Be get too crazy about it.
  • Amigo and I went to Fleet Farm for bunny litter (wood fuel pellets). They were on sale. That’s good.
  • Fleet Farm was out of bean bag chairs. That’s not so good.
  • We’ll wait patiently and read the Sunday ad inserts. Fleet Farm always has bean bag chairs.
  • We ran errands this morning. That was cold.
  • We’re settled on the couch now, warming up in blankets. That’s warm and cozy.
  • Chuck just brought up the storage bins for ornaments. That’s ominous; it means he’ll want us to get up and help undecorate the tree.
  • I have a new cast iron skillet! That’s good!
  • I seasoned it last night! That’s good, too!
  • I scrambled eggs in the newly seasoned skillet! That’s amazingly awesome!

Okay, now I’m clutching at straws. Look for this desperation in seeking out the positive to increase through January 20. After that, who knows?

 

 

 

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Take the Positive and Rephrase the Negative

When they go low, we go high.  – Michelle Obama

The Hillary Mug

Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. – Hillary Clinton

Don’t stop believing. – Journey

My inner English Language Arts teacher is cringing. Let’s get the passive out of this saying. Let’s un-split the infinitive. And then, let’s imagine those words coming out of Hillary Clinton’s mouth – and out of ours.

Believe it; fighting for what’s right is worth it.

Keep fighting for what’s right; it’s worth it.

Keep on fighting for what’s right; the fight is worth the effort. 

Believe in the future; the goal is worth the fight. 

Keep on believing and keep on fighting for what’s right. 

Readers, which do you like best? Or do you have another way to rephrase this? Let’s do it, and then let’s make t-shirts and mugs of it. Oh, heck. More importantly, let’s choose a phrase and then make it happen.

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