Women it’s Your Time to Act and Woman Up: A Call to Action, Part One

By Natasha Foreman Bryant
 
 
 Teacher. Corrector. Nurturing. Supportive. Caring. Loving. Tender. Warm. Patient. Understanding. Healing. Healer. Fixer. Graceful. Delicate. Strong. Respectful. Kind. Brave. Meek. Humble. Courageous. Lady. Love.
 
 These words and more describe the traditional woman. These are some of the words that we think about when we think of mothers.
 
 Baby Mama. B*tch. Baddest B*itch. Side Chick. Side piece. Breezy. Butter head. Barbie. Chicken head. Dime. Cougar. MILF. Ho. Jump off. Queen Bee. Diva. Gold digger. Vixen. Trick. Slut.
 
 These are some of the words that are being used to describe women today. These are some of the words that women and young girls are using to describe themselves. These are some of the words being used by mothers to describe themselves and other women. The list continues to grow each year.
 
 Something is wrong. Something is terribly wrong. Painfully wrong. Females. Women. Ladies. Mothers. Sisters. It is time that we step up and act.
 
 We must Woman Up!
 
 I wrote a two-part letter to the men (see the links at the end of this post) asking that they step up and do their part to help bring about positive change in our households, schools, churches, and neighborhoods worldwide. I wrote and asked them to do their part to help young men and boys learn what it means to be a real man, a protector, nurturer, teacher, provider, father, husband, son, and friend. I asked men to do their part to help young women and girls learn what a real man is and is not, why they need to shake their fixation on finding the daddy that left them, was never around, or hardly noticed.
 
 But this change requires us too!
 
 Young men and boys learn how to treat a woman by looking at and getting directions from other males, but they also learn by watching and interacting with us. The kind of woman that you want your son, grandson, brother, nephew, or cousin to marry and raise a family with will either be the woman he sees in you, or the image he sees somewhere else—maybe on television, in magazines, or on the streets. You can either help present an honorable image, or you can carelessly allow him to seek out and connect with the next “jump off”.
 
 It is our responsibility to change the image and view of women. It is our responsibility to not sell out for money, affection, fame, or perceived power.
 
 Your Image: Healthy or Destructive?
 
 Here’s the problem. If your model image of womanhood comes from what you see on television or view in magazines, then you yourself have not been exposed to any positive female role models. You have allowed the media, designers, corporations, and airbrushing experts (all mostly men) dictate to you the epitome of beauty, sensuality, and strength. I just watched an amazing video that reveals what Jean Kilbourne and thousands of women have been trying to make clear for over 40 years—the images we see of fashion models, actresses, and female celebrities are mostly altered and airbrushed in an attempt to entice and seduce men, and embed a message in the mind of women and girls, that only leads to our diminished esteem and an increase in eating disorders, suicide, and heightened destructive sexual behavior. Please watch this video and share it with others, males and females, old and young. We have to change the way we see ourselves and other women. We have to change the way men and boys see us. We have to change the way designers and corporations see and depict us.
 
 Eating Disorders
 
 Eating disorders are not just a “white girl” or wealthy girl issue. Eating disorders don’t discriminate. They can reach all of us. Starvation, forcibly vomiting, binge eating, and emotional eating are actions taken by females around the world from every socioeconomic background, race, color, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation.You can have a seemingly “perfect” life living in a two-parent household, beautiful home, fenced yard, with one or more cute pets, and still have an eating disorder. You can live in the projects with your grandmother or aunt, and have an eating disorder. You can be a straight A student and star athlete, and have an eating disorder. You can be a soccer mom, juggling your demanding career and back-to-back playdates for your kids—and have an eating disorder.
 
 Either we think we’re too skinny, too fat, too wide, have too much cellulite, don’t have big enough breasts, or have some issue with our butt (too big, small, lumpy, flat, or too wide), whatever it is we aren’t happy. This unhappiness turns into us using exercise, food and other substances to drastically alter our bodies. Someone planted this seed in our minds. Someone told us we’re too fat or too skinny, and that seed rooted and grew quickly. We then fixated on this and it became our reality. Then our pain must be inflicted on others, because hurt people hurt people. So we then see the flaws in other women, and we do our part to share with them and others our opinion of these flaws. There is the chain reaction.
 
 Plastic Surgery
 
 Then there’s plastic surgery and this obsession with becoming a barbie doll—thinner, uplifted always-smiling face; big and even bigger breasts; perfectly sculpted legs and arms; toned and rounded hips and butt; and a teeny tiny waist. Women are spending one to six months of income (theirs or someone else’s) to achieve their ideal barbie doll image, and then when they still aren’t satisfied, they spend another one to six months of income to make corrections.
 
 That is why honorable plastic surgeons inquire in advance your true intent for wanting plastic surgeon, what outside influences may be encouraging this decision, and if you are mentally and emotionally prepared for this change. You can make all of the physical corrections that you want with the help of a surgeon, but if you aren’t spiritually, mentally, and emotionally healthy, happy and satisfied, then you will never ever be happy with yourself or your looks. We must accept this for ourselves and we must explain this to the young girls and teens who are growing into their bodies and ingesting the toxins delivered by magazines and on television. It is our responsibility to have this discussion with friends and family. It is our responsibility to have this discussion with young school-aged girls and those young women ages 18 to 25.
 
 It is our responsibility to tell the media, fashion designers, advertising and marketing companies, and other corporations that we are not inanimate objects, we are not objects. Period. We are women, ladies, girls, daughters, wives, girlfriends, sisters, cousins, teachers, entrepreneurs, and bearers of life. We are not to be dehumanized and exploited. To make this point clear that means that we have to also refuse to audition and interview for roles, assignments, and jobs that negatively portray us as objects of desire, and we have to stop carrying ourselves (and behaving) like mere objects.
 
 Woman up!
 
 Tune in for Part Two coming soon!
 
 
 Your Sista girl,
 
 Natasha Foreman Bryant
 
 
 To read the two-part Call to Action for men visit:
 
 Part One
 http://natashaforeman.com/2013/12/12/a-call-to-action-for-all-men-part-one/
 
 Part Two
 http://natashaforeman.com/2013/12/13/a-call-to-action-for-all-men-part-two/
 
 
 Sources:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWKXit_3rpQ
 
 Jean Kilbourne
 http://www.jeankilbourne.com/
 

Some of our Leaders Seem to Have a Problem with “Brain-Mouth Disconnect Syndrome”

By Natasha L. Foreman

Some people need to just think before they speak, or simply refrain from answering a question when they have absolutely nothing of intelligence to say in response. Case in point…again… Oklahoma state Representative Sally Kern.


This woman appears to have what I call, “brain-mouth disconnect syndrome” whenever a microphone or reporter is nearby. Her mouth gets to yapping but her brain is totally disconnected from the process. She needs a handler who does a better job screening what comes out of her mouth. Do you remember when three years ago she made the comment that gay people are destroying the United States and were a greater threat than terrorists? If not, I have included the link to this footage at the end of this post. Do you remember Kern’s Divorce Bill that would have made it hard for people to get divorced in Oklahoma? Yes, I included that link below as well.

Well Ms. Kern has really stepped in her own mess last Wednesday during an affirmative action bill debate she back-handed both women and African-Americans by saying that women don’t work as hard and earn as much as men because they are more concerned about raising their families, and the high incarceration rate of Black people must have something to do with them not wanting to work hard in school.

We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school?…I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.

But let’s hear it directly from the horse’s mouth shall we? Oh and look at the body language and reaction from her constituents in the audience! Thank goodness for YouTube…

Yep, she said it and after coming under attack and her people returning from their extended lunch break (I’m joking about the latter) she tries to clean up her comments by saying that women are some of the hardest workers in the world, and that what she said didn’t come from her “true spirit“. Okay so where did it come from? Will people have to question which spirit (true or false) she’s speaking from every time she opens her mouth?

Maybe it’s time for Ms. Kern to take some sensitivity training, or re-training. Anthony Davis, the President of the NAACP Oklahoma chapter is cutting Kern no slack and is standing firm in his call for her resignation, and urging Kern’s constituents do the same- saying, “Let’s send a message out that in Oklahoma we will not tolerate racism at its ugliest level.”

See the Oklahoma news KOCO report that covered the story and interviewed both Anthony Davis and state Representative Mike Shelton:

I’m all for freedom of speech but when do we draw the line especially when words of hate, bigotry, and racism come from the mouths of our country’s leaders, influencers, and those who intend to lead?

If we are to be the example for the rest of the world to follow why then should we be surprised that there is so much hate spewed about our country and our people? We talk about athletes and entertainers being role models and that they should watch what they say and do, but what about highly visible business people and those in government positions who serve the people of this nation? What standards are set for them, or are they not considered role models?

What are your thoughts?

Oh and by the way here’s the link to her Divorce Bill recommendation: http://youtu.be/tXYKe4gdeRo

And her remarks about gays in 2008 in case you never heard it or need your memory refreshed:

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
theparadigmlife.wordpress.com
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>Briefing on Mother Africa: Women of Zimbabwe- Part Two

>Last Friday I wrote of the current political struggles surrounding the women of Zimbabwe. As promised, today I will show the need for these same women to come together collectively, being sure to inform the masses, educate the uneducated, empower those who are struggling with hope and faith, and make sure that their fight is not in vain. All women of Zimbabwe should be informed and included in the political process and it should be represented in the number of women voters, candidates and cabinet members.

By the designated 2015 benchmark, Zimbabwean women need to establish themselves as a collective voice and show an ability to not only hold positions both in the public and private sectors, but to do so as efficient and effective leaders. They must learn from the past, not be satisfied with the status quo of the present, and strategize for the future. Something that every woman worldwide must accomplish during their lifetime.


U.S. History of Women’s Suffrage: A Brief Overview and Critique

The first recorded history of this movement began in 1776 when Abigail Adams sent a note to her husband, John Adams, while he was attending the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, asking that he and the other men (who were working on the Declaration of Independence) “Remember the Ladies.” John responded with what was deemed as humor that the Declaration’s wording specifies that “all men are created equal” and that the men would “fight the despotism of the petticoat”. 

Yes, some would argue as I have, (which irritated my Women’s Studies professor in undergrad) that the movement did not extend its reach far and wide to be receptive and inclusive of the rights of all women, to unite with women of color, especially Black women. It has been said that it was more by default than a focused and purposed desire or strategy that women of color were included in the 19th Amendment. This point  will be explored because without unification, without alliances, the mountain of victory can take longer to climb- and can be impossible to reach the zenith.


The Rocky Waters of Suffrage: Black and White

Let us not forget in 1851, twelve years before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and 14 years before the Juneteenth celebration, when Sojourner Truth delivered her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech before a spellbound audience at a women’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio; her point being that Black women should also be included and allowed to participate as equals in the movement for women’s rights…all women. 

Truth saw and exposed the truth, and that was that Black women were being broadly overlooked within the movement. A possible answer to that call (although short-lived) could be when in 1866 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the American Equal Rights Association (AERA), an organization for white and black women, and men dedicated to the goal of universal suffrage.

What is odd though, when Anthony and Stanton formed the more radical National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), Black men and women were excluded from the suffrage mission and vision. Tensions got so high that it caused a rift between the organization’s founders and Frederick Douglass in 1870 and they parted ways. Here was clear evidence of Sojourner Truth’s speech ‘falling on deaf ears’. 

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) an 1890 merger of NWSA and the American Women Suffrage Association (AWSA) was made up of white women (and ironically the same women who were fighting years earlier). 

Even six years later when The National Association of Colored Women was formed, bringing together more than 100 black women’s clubs, there was no true, March in distinguishable alignment between white and black women. Black women learned that they would have to fight to get their voices heard loudly but respectfully over the crowd. Even though the founders of the Black sorority, Delta Sigma Theta (who later incorporated as an organization in 1930) first participated in the Women’s Suffrage
Washington D.C., March 1913, many Black women’s organizations felt slighted by the march as they did not seem to be included (check out the suffrage march line).
It’s been 90 years since women in the U.S. earned the right to vote, 145 years since the entire U.S. and abroad received word that all Black slaves were “free”; 148 years since the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, 234 years since the U.S. Constitution was drafted, and over 500 years since the first enslaved African was admittedly brought to what we now call the United States (research the Transatlantic slave trade that began in the 1450s, and the 1526 slave revolt against the Spaniards in the Carolinas).
But for the women of Zimbabwe it has been 1010 years since the Shona people built a city called Zimbabwe; a mere 53 years since women earned the right to vote, thirty-two years since they earned the right to stand for election- and it has only been eight days since Zimbabwe has started accepting submissions towards re-drafting their constitution to include women- as influenced by women. 
These women have been yearning for a voice, position, and an opportunity in a country that only 30 years ago was recognized by Great Britain as a distinct and independent country. Without a grassroots effort to share the news about the submission process, and explain what information can be submitted, this major constitutional milestone will be moot and the red inking (as pictured on a female voter’s finger above) will feel almost useless.


Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.


Sources:
Banda, Ignatius “A Chance For Women’s Voices to be Heard”. http://www.ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=51916j

Bryn Mawr Library. The National American Woman Suffrage Association. http://www.brynmawr.edu/library/exhibits/suffrage/nawsa.html

Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated Founders. Delta Sigma Theta website. 






Zimbabwean woman holding sign demanding cabinet. http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0cWg4pCgFF1FQ/610x.jpg



>Briefing on Mother Africa: Women of Zimbabwe- Part One

>Briefing on Mother Africa: Women of Zimbabwe- Part One

Thought-provoking news surfacing this week within the continent of Africa; if you have felt a disconnect this is now the time to reconnect and become a part of the pulse that makes Africa- home- and a reason why we should work towards making sure that both the diaspora and the nest are taken care of….

Zimbabwe

There is finally an opportunity for women to have a say, let their voices be heard, and help shape Zimbabwe’s constitution, but there are several problems looming; the two largest being:

1. The majority of Zimbabwean women have not been informed about their newly envisioned right to help re-structure the constitution. There has not been a massive, collective effort to publicize and educate on the issue- leaving the women of Zimbabwe basically in the same position they were in before this week.

2. The majority of women have no clue what the constitution is, how it is made up, and how their concerns for women’s rights can be translated into the writings of the constitution. According to Lydia Thembo when interviewed by Inter Press Service News Agency reporter, Ignatius Banda, “There are obviously many things I would like addressed that affects us women, for example, issues to do with inheritance laws. But I have no clue how to do this. I only know about voting during elections – that’s all.”

Let me simply say that these two issues of concern are the most pressing for resolution because without informing women of their right to participate in the process and being educated on the entire scope of the process (and the full measure of their roles) then there will still be exclusion and not inclusion. Banda reported that of the 120 cabinet seats, only four are filled by women. Yet, protocol demands that by 2015 there is to be an equal number of men and women serving- that is five short years from now.

Rejoice Timire, of the Disabled Women Support Organization told Banda that, “At the moment women in parliament are too few to make any meaningful change,” which simply means that without a grassroots effort to inform and educate the masses of Zimbabwean women of the rights, the meaning, impact, and influence of the constitution and their roles in framing it, the country will fall short of reaching the 2015 benchmark. I fear, as many of the women interviewed by Banda, that if something is not done immediately to counter the lack of action taken to get submissions from women, this will simply be fluff or as Banda so aptly referenced, “window dressing”.

Because women in Zimbabwe are so out of the loop in both the private and public sector, they have been left at a major disadvantage politically, economically, socially, and spiritually. When you strip someone of their natural born rights, before they even know they were entitled to them, to re-write the wrongs, you must skillfully and willfully inform them of their rights as humans, citizens, and specifically in this case, as women.

Zimbabwean Women’s Movement vs. the Chartered Course Within the U.S.

Zimbabwean women can learn a lot about women’s suffrage, the struggles against the status quo, the risks of internal fighting, and the need to be inclusive, from the women of the United States. When we look to the United States and the Women’s Rights (Women’s Suffrage) Movement it was not merely a handful of women who stayed within their small circle discussing their right to be included as “equals” to men, or their rights to have the constitution amended to include the right of women to vote- they made it a massive campaign that grew into a movement that made it possible on August 26, 1920 to amend the constitution. Now this did not come easy. Tomorrow read part two of this series as I share the history of women’s suffrage in the U.S. and highlight lessons for the women of Zimbabwe.

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Source:

Banda, Ignatius “A Chance For Women’s Voices to be Heard” retrieved from http://www.ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=51916j