Where have I been before today? Reflections on the #WomensMarch.

where have you been? Where have y’all been? Why is this your first protest? I cannot put into words how heartbreaking it is to see grown adults that I know and love decide only now to take to the streets. I’m glad you’re there. I’m glad you’re doing something. But weren’t we enough? Weren’t we worth it before? Why weren’t we reason enough?

Where have you been? And where will you be once this doesn’t impact you directly anymore?
— Ijeoma Oluo on Facebook

 

Today, Eight and I went to the local Women's March on Washington in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, along with about 4000 other folks in our chilly, weird zombie-fogged-over city. And here is the truth. This was not only my 8-year-old daughter's first real rally/protest/march, it was mine as well. 

So when Ijeoma asked the above on Facebook (and Twitter) tonight, I had to sit my privileged, cis, white-lady butt down and really think about this. Why am I a 45-year-old, loud and proud FEMINIST who carried out my first real, in-life, tangible act of defiance and activism today?

I hate to admit this, but I don't have a good answer for her. 

I think for many people of privilege, "the wall" is already there. Separating us from those who are not US. Oh, we see you, we see your struggles, the injustices and inequality, and we talk a good talk (or write a good blog post or FB status), but our activism ends when we close the tab, or get enough likes to make us feel good about ourselves. We look over the wall, but we rarely climb over it. 

It's easy to sympathize with people from afar. It is much harder is to empathize with them. To put yourself right next to them or right in their shoes, and REALLY know what it's like to be truly marginalized and dehumanized. To bear witness and feel the pain of black and brown mothers losing their babies to police brutality. To step in (online or IRL) when a trans sister or brother or non-binary person is being attacked for the mere fact of existing. To send that email or make that phone call to our elected officials demanding action for our Indigenous people living in third-world-like conditions in our country. It's easy to say, who am I to say or do anything? It's not MY issue. 

I guess what I am trying to say, and what Ijeoma's post made me realize is; why have I been choosing easy? 

All week I have seen post after post from the Women of Colour on my timelines saying that they were not going to go to the Women's Marches. That they were TIRED. TIRED of doing SO MUCH WORK, and being attacked time and time again for standing up for the rest OF US. SO tired of showing up, only to be upstaged by white women, taking the credit (and all the selfies) for their work. 

Photo credit: Angela Peoples and Kevin Banette

Photo credit: Angela Peoples and Kevin Banette

This is when I knew I had to go. Because it is WAY PAST time that I step up and into the fray, and let my black and brown and indigenous and LGBTQi+ and disabled sestras take a GOTDAMB break. Time to let them be the ones at home, safe with their loved ones, watching the Live feeds on social media. IT WAS time to PUT UP or SHUT UP.  Hell, it was SO way past that time and I am ashamed it took me this long to put my body and my being on the front line. I am sorry it took so long for me to use my privilege to protect you. To be the RIGHT KIND OF WALL that stops the bigots and racists and xenophobes and sexists from getting to you. I am sorry it has taken me this long to physically lock arms with you and say to all the people with hate and ignorance in their hearts and minds, NOT ON MY WATCH MOTHERFUCKERS!

I know these words are not enough. I know me showing up today is not enough. I know being in the echo chambers I curate online or the "barred rooms" I visit with fellow feminists and friends (as one of our local speakers called them today) preaching to the choir, is NOT ENOUGH. 

I wrote a post a few years ago saying our world needed a revolution. Well... here we are. It's been a while since most of North America has been this OPENLY divided. It is time for us, FOR ME, to make some choices about what side we are on and if we really are who and what we say we are. 

So... Ijeoma, Addye, Kelly, Elisa, Stepha, Aja, Syreeta, Asha, Marni, AJ, Janelle, Amanda, TJ, Jenny, Alexandra, Eight, Ten and SO MANY MORE...

Please accept my apology for not being a TRUE ally until today. My pledge and promise to you is that from this day forward, I am with you, beside you, in front of you (if you need me) and behind you when you don't. 

I promise to do better. You have always been worth it, I was just too shortsighted and walled in my own privileged world to see it and do something REAL about it. I own that. No excuses.  

Love and solidarity AND ACTION.

Eight's protest sign. 

Eight's protest sign. 

Natasha~

On butterflies and unlucky numbers.

Do you ever wake up and have that feeling in your gut that SOMETHING is going to happen?

Like you have butterflies in your belly, but you don't know why. 

Everything around you feels like it is in super sharp focus and you are just waiting....

for something. 

Or maybe I am confusing that feeling with having had too much coffee and the uneasiness is simply a caffeine rush and I have to poop. 

Either way, this is how I have been feeling since Sunday.  

It could be the change in the season affecting me, as it tends to do this time of year, and the tingling in my brain and my belly is that of increased anxiety and the onset of SAD.  

October is kind of a weird month for me. The fall colours surrounding me are soothing, as is the crisp air I inhale deeply as I walk Willow every day. It is a month of celebration in our house with Seven's (soon to be Eight's) birthday, Canadian Thanksgiving, and our wedding anniversary. 

It's also the month of preparing for winter. Putting away the yard furniture, raking up all the leaves and making an appointment to get the winter tires installed. And while I like to be proactive about these things, so I don't get stuck at the bottom of the hill by our house during that first big snowfall - AGAIN! It also feels like I am reaching for those last days of sun, of playing outside with only one layer of clothes on and soaking up the last bits of our way to short fall season, on our way to a long, dark, winter. 

This month also marks our 13th wedding anniversary. I've always thought of the number 13 as unlucky, mostly from buying into the usual superstitions, and all that Friday the 13th movie stuff as a kid. And possibly because I got my damn period when I was 13 - so you know, that was great. When I think about it, something feels a bit off in celebrating this "unlucky" number. In an effort to turn around my thinking and subdue any silly superstitions, I've been researching the numerology meaning of 13, and lo and behold, it is surprisingly fitting for where we are in our lives:

The number 13 in numerological terms is (1+3=4). Thirteen describes a pattern of new beginnings (1) + creative expression (3) = building and structure (4). It is actually a theme of solid, grounding movement. So in essence, number 13 is a strong vibration representing organization and accomplishment in a creative and unique way.

I can't think of a better way to describe our life right now. New beginnings, and building, and creative expression - yup, that is us. New house and renovation, the kids starting a new school year, and ahem... as of tomorrow, a new job for yours truly. 

This "new" development is also contributing to my October anxiety/butterflies. I didn't quite plan on getting a job outside the home this year, and I have to admit that this one kind of fell onto my lap in the most serendipitous of ways. It's a job taking me back to my sales roots (retail), in a place I love to shop, and working for a strong, incredible woman whom I admire, and whose philosophy I believe in. 

As I sit here and watch the leaves change and fall, and the tall grasses sway in the breeze of this cool fall day, I am trying to reframe my usual October anxiety and embrace the butterflies. I am breathing deep into by belly, and getting ready for new patterns in our lives. I am choosing to open myself up, rather than cocoon into hibernation-mode as I traditionally do at this time. 

Basically, what I am saying is:

Or at least I will...

Soon.

XO,

N~

 

Feminist Fare Friday: The "women are not just for nurturing" Edition

This week I feel like I basically did nothing.  

In reality, I did the following:

  • Folded the Laundry
  • Watched the first US Presidential Debate. 
  • Had two house meetings
  • Took the dog to get groomed
  • Got groomed myself - a haircut that is. 
  • Went birthday shopping for the upcoming October/November B-day avalanche!
  • Picked up dog food
  • Got a part-time job*
  • Went for a massage
  • And read, A LOT!

Here are the ones that really stuck out for me and I really want you to read too. 

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1. I firmly believe that as a consumer in today's world, I have a responsibility to do some due diligence with where I choose to spend my money. I am a big proponent of shopping locally as much as possible,and looking into the companies that make the clothes that my family wears. And as much as I love the cute T-shirts, low prices, the lovely new Home line at H&M, I can't in good conscience shop there anymore. Sirin Kale reports on the employment conditions for women in the H&M factories in Cambodia and India this week in Broadly.

Structural factors make it almost impossible for people to escape their low pay and insecure conditions. Almost all the factories in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh employed people on short-term contracts of one to three months, meaning that anyone who stepped out of line (for example, by asking for sick days, refusing overtime or, god forbid, are even a little late for work one day) might not have their contract renewed.

2. I know that a lot of people opted to NOT watch the first US Presidential debate on Monday for their own mental well-being, and if that was you - let me tell you that you made a good choice and I hope you enjoyed whatever it was that you watched on Netflix instead. I DID watch it. From the comfort of my handsome-feminist-"because it is 2016"-Justin-Trudeau-run Canada. Hillary was amazing, not just because she was HELLA prepared (TO BE PRESIDENT Y'ALL!), but also because not once did she stoop to his level. But, was it enough? Will it ever be enough? As Larry Womack at The Huffington Post points out, everyone needs to stop pretending they don't know the REAL reason people have such a hate-on for Hillz. 

It’s time to stop pretending that this is about substance. This is about an eagerness to believe that a woman who seeks power will say or do anything to get it. This is about a Lady MacBeth stereotype that, frankly, should never have existed in the first place. This is about the one thing no one wants to admit it’s about.

3. While we are on the topic of the US presidential race and you are still an undecided voter, I highly encourage you to read this post from my friend Vikki Reich and think about what your vote means, not just for you, but for the people all around you.

May you never wonder what will happen to your family as a result of an election.

May you never have to comfort your children in the face of such uncertainty.

May you never know the fear that comes with waiting as the majority votes on the rights of minorities, on your rights.

4. I do love me a good clap back. Outdoor Research TOTALLY wins the shade toss this week with their response to a ridiculously sexist piece published in GQ.  Ryan Flyss at TheDyrt.com did the side by side of both pieces, and I need to give all the STANDING O's to Outdoor Research for their very thorough and subtle, but IMPACTFUL response. Way to call out sexism peeps!

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Ok, that's it folks, I am off to meet my new boss*. 

Have a great weekend!

N~