Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What is Women's Courage When Men Define the Terms?

image is from here
Over at Shakesville, I just read Melissa's post "Women are Brave", which you may link back to by clicking *here*. Rather than post a comment on a feminist blog, I'll put my comment here in my own space. I've learned that a male voice isn't always appropriate, and is often enough unwelcome, in spaces designed to be woman-centered.

Her post led me to think back to something I once read by Andrea Dworkin on the subject. I did some searching and found Andrea Dworkin's chapter in her book Our Blood, called "The Sexual Politics of Fear and Courage". A scanned version of the book is available to be read as a pdf document (or may be downloaded) *here*.

As I reflect on Melissa's blog, Dworkin's work, and on the purgatory of contemporary U.S. society, I am struck with the degree to white men define the terms so many of us live by. Inside a white male supremacist system, "courage" is traditionally and ubiquitously understood to be masculine in nature, belonging to men; a capacity understood patriarchally to be inherently male and associated with strength. Fear is understood to be feminine in nature, the "natural" province of women, and is associated with weakness. For men and boys to be what men determine to be "weak", including by being afraid, is--so the status quo society says--to be less manly and more like a woman or girl. For women to be courageous and strong as men define it, is to be unwomanly and more like a man. If she isn't punished for being "brave" in the patriarchal definition of the word, she might gain temporary male status.

In Melissa's incisive account of a stand-up comedy club, I find examples of how men define not only terms but also act them out in social spaces. At the club, a combination of men's sexual violence against women, including the threat of violence and "jovial" harassment and objectification, ensures that women aren't likely to be too unafraid. As Dworkin has stated, "By the time we are women, fear is as familiar to us as air. It is our element. We live in it, we inhale it, we exhale it, and most of the time we do not even notice it." Curiously, the only men I know personally who seem to have this deep-seated fear-orientation to the world are male survivors of child sexual abuse. While women do, in fact, live with courage and bravery as they negotiate many challenges and obstacles, men do their best and worst to make sure fear, in women, is never completely irrational or unwarranted.

The misogynist violence that men direct at women ensures that those men aren't seen--by other woman-hating men--as too weak. Rape is one of many acts in which males may cast off their supposed weakness and exercise patriarchal power by terrorising and violating women. War is another realm where men get to be brave and heroic by doing violence and 'conquering' fear, against the bodies, minds, and spirits of threatened people. Military war, when perpetrated by the Western world, is also the place where imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism are acted out in patriarchal terms. Invasion is always sexualised in the male supremacist imagination.

It's going to be interesting to see how U.S. female soldiers in military combat are regarded by male soldiers: will the women be seen as heroic, like the men? Will any individual woman in military combat be treated more like one of the guys? Or will her patriarchally-defined courage be seen as tainted by her gender? (Sort of the way bigoted straight men argue that marriage is tainted if queers--defined by dominant straight male society as feminine men and masculine women--can do it too.) A serious concern is that any woman in military combat may be additionally vulnerable to rape by male soldiers who want to be sure she doesn't believe she's equal to men. I say additionally because we know this is already happening endemically and systematically to civilian girls and women, and to women troops off the battlefield. Or, rather, off the battlefield that men name as such, for many private and social spaces men occupy are battlefields for women, such as the bed, the home, the workplace, and the street.

We also know that U.S. male soldiers practice rape against the women and girls of invaded countries, usually populated by people of color: even a partial list of such countries invaded and/or occupied by U.S. troops or covert operations is long: Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Guatemala, El Salvador, Grenada, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan. Taken together, the body count is in the many hundreds of thousands; how many of those murder victims were also victims of rape is impossible to say. It was likely to be grossly under-reported or not reported at all: all forms of men's sexual violence is under-reported because terrorising people and forcing submission works to silence and shame them. If we leave out all other European countries that made conquest and occupation of other sovereign nations a national pastime, and only focus on Britain's imperial invasions, we are left with very few countries untouched by brutal, white imperial/patriarchal force. (Source for that comment is *here*.)

What we may notice internationally in the West is that when European white women are in seats of typically and traditionally white male power, they sometimes argue, over the disdainful shouts of men, for equality not supremacy. See, for example: To End Extreme Poverty, Let’s Try Ending Extreme Wealth or this: This bold equality push is just what we needed. In 1997.

When we consider the politics of many prominent, activist women of color, we see comprehensive intersectional analysis and proposals for global peace and justice. See, for example: Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development, by Vandana Shiva, and The Winona LaDuke Reader: A Collection of Essential Writings.

A flip side of this issue of gender and courage is seen when we try and make heroes of  men who preached against many forms of violence, such as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or John Lennon. This is not at all to say either man was non-violent historically in their own lives. At least John Lennon spoke honestly about his abuses as such and endeavored to be a different kind of man in his later years. At least Dr. King set an honorable example of how to love one's enemy while holding them accountable for their crimes against humanity. But when such men advocate peace-not-war, or equality with women, they become vulnerable to being stigmatised 'feminine'.

Referencing Melissa's post, it says a great deal that men on stage doing comedy or men in the audience, need to reinforce and verbalize the worst aspects of male supremacist/patriarchal practice, and in particular to affirm a phallic identity. I admire the woman who did her own comedy, successfully, disproving so much that is taught in a racist patriarchal society like ours about women's power to create something new that is solely hers while deeply shared, in the midst of a culture of sexual predation and cultural appropriation. More power to her. More power to all women fighting for justice and equality.

Despite the saying that sits atop this post, liberally redefining terms won't shift society's political hierarchies. Many of us strive to make language express the complexities of who we are. As I listen to those singly or multiply oppressed, I hear again and again how difficult it is to make the dominant language speak their truths. It is courageous, isn't it, to endure and survive rape and warfare? I'd say so. But will patriarchal men ever see the courage of it, or only determine her survival to be a residual sign of his weakness?

However we maneuver meanings and memes, such effort is insufficient if our goal is liberation. The means and machinery of gynocidal straight male supremacy and genocidal and imperialist white supremacy must be shut down; new systems and institutions fostering equality and non-violence must become the status quo. Only then will new definitions have rooting and resonance beyond small, non-dominant groups of people. And only then will whole truths be spoken about life under siege, without interruption and mistranslation by the former masters.

Referring back to the phrasing in the image above, I'd say: "When peace-work is routinely seen as courageous, and war-making is popularly viewed as the work of cowards, we will know substantive, life-affirming change has occurred."

And when women of color define the terms we all live by, and govern globally, I will know we have radically purged ourselves of purgatory, razed hell, and brought heaven down to Earth.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rape, India, and White Male Supremacy

India 'should reform' rape trials
image is from here
Rape is manufactured and mass produced in the U.S. and is marketed all over the world. This is done, in part, by patriarchal and white supremacist men carrying their racist misogyny to other regions of the globe. White men, especially but not only from the United States, travel to many places, including Southeast and South Asia, with the express purpose to rape girls and young women. The men then hide this crime from everyone, including their spouses and children. Millions of girls are trafficked and sold as slaves because of white men's belief that girls and women ought to belong to them to be used and abused sexually, economically, and socially.

I have not written here about the preponderance of rape in India because as a white Western male, I know such news is misused in the West to promote an idea that misogyny is worse in other places than within the U.S. Misogyny is organised and expressed in similar and dissimilar ways around the world; in the U.S. rape, battery, the sexual sale and renting of women and girls, forced sterilisation, restrictive regulations on abortion, economic inequality and capitalist exploitation are among the many ways woman-hating violence manifests. Violence occurs disproportionately against women of color. Indigenous women, for example, are raped more than non-Indigenous women in the U.S., overwhelmingly by white men. But when non-white men, here and internationally, are identified as abusers of women, that is erroneously determined to mean that white men are less violent than other men.

Feminists of all colors have been explicitly and systematically organising against men's violence against women for the last several decades. They have challenged male supremacist entitlements to take what they desire; they have confronted the industries that promulgate the idea that women want to be raped and sadistically hurt; they have fought for economic justice and civil rights, the lack of which keep women vulnerable to men. And even with this level of resistance, men still rape and do other harm to women, mostly with inpunity and with the perverse idea, shared among men, that such violence makes them more of a man.

Men of all colors commit atrocities against girls and women although some cultures have not historically promoted and protected men's commitment to violence. Structurally, socially, and economically, white men are most oppressively empowered and are therefore the most dangerous. Nonetheless, white men promote the lie that men of color are more dangerous: more dangerous to women and more dangerous to men. It is against great and overwhelming evidence that white men believe this.

Such a distorted view ignores the reality that colonial/imperialist invasion by white men into India is part of the story of how rape happens there. It is not the whole story, but invasion by white men anywhere brings the rape of girls and women with it. Military invasion is one form of assault against a country that is carried out with sexual violence against female bodies. Male soldiers commit rape systematically--not all male soldiers, but too many for the rape to not be systemic and protected. U.S. male soldiers rape not only the girls and women of occupied countries, but the women who militarily serve along with them.

This doesn't mean were it not for white men, no rape would occur. It is to notice, however, that white men's chronic and cancerous invasions of other countries and human bodies is historically undeniable but ought not be assumed to be inevitable. White supremacy, male supremacy, and corporate capitalism intersect and become mutually reinforcing.

Below is a perspective directly out of India that takes into account how the sexism of economics factors into the preponderance of rape. It is by the great feminist, philosopher, and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva. I believe her voice is so important and that what she has to say ought to be centered in Western conversations about how to stop rape. I post her words here to hopefully bring her message to a few more people. (You may click on the title just below to link back to the source website.)

Vandana Shiva: Our Violent Economy is Hurting Women

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Source: Yes Magazine

Violence against women is as old as patriarchy.
Traditional patriarchy has structured our worldviews and mindsets, our social and cultural worlds, on the basis of domination over women and the denial of their full humanity and right to equality. But it has intensified and become more pervasive in the recent past. It has taken on more brutal forms, like the murder of the Delhi gang rape victim and the recent suicide of a 17-year-old rape victim in Chandigarh.
In India, rape cases and cases of violence against women have increased over the years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 10,068 rape cases in 1990, which increased to 16,496 in 2000. With 24,206 cases in 2011, rape cases jumped to incredible increase of 873 percent from 1971 when NCRB started to record cases of rape. And Delhi has emerged as the rape capital  of India, accounting for 25 percent of cases.
The movement to stop this violence must be sustained till justice is done for every one of our daughters and sisters who has been violated.
And while we intensify our struggle for justice for women, we need to also ask why rape cases have increased 240 percent since 1990’s when the new economic policies were introduced.
Could there be a connection between the growth of violent, undemocratically imposed, unfair economic policies and the intensification and brutality of crimes against women?
I believe there is. I am not suggesting that violence against women begins with neoliberal economics. I am deeply aware of the deep gender biases in our traditional cultures and social organizations. I  stand empowered today because people before me fought against the exclusions and biases against women and children: My grandfather sacrificed his life for women’s equality, and my mother was a feminist before the word existed.
Violence against women has taken on new and more vicious forms as traditional patriarchal structures have hybridized with the structures of capitalist patriarchy. We need to examine the connections between the violence of unjust, unsustainable economic systems and the growing frequency and brutality of violence against women. We need to see how the structures of traditional patriarchy merge with the emerging structures of capitalist patriarchy to intensify violence against women.
Cyclones and hurricanes have always occurred. But as the Orissa Supercyclone, Cyclone Nargis, Cyclone Aila, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy show, the intensity and frequency  of cyclones has increased with climate change.
Our society has traditionally had a  bias against the girl child. But the epidemic of female feticide and the disappearance of 30 million unborn girls has taken that bias to new levels of violence and new proportions. And it is into this context of the dynamics of more brutal and more vicious violence against women (and multiple, interconnected forms of violence) that the processes unleashed by neoliberalism are contributory factors.
Firstly, the economic model focusing myopically on “growth” begins with violence against women by discounting their contribution to the economy.
The more the government talks ad nauseum about “inclusive growth" and “financial inclusion,” the more it excludes the contributions of women to the economy and society. According to patriarchal economic models, production for sustenance is counted as "non-production." The transformation of value into disvalue, labour into non-labour, and knowledge into non-knowledge is achieved by the most powerful number that rules our lives, the patriarchal construct of GDP—Gross Domestic Product—which commentators have started to call the Gross Domestic Problem.
National accounting systems which are used for calculating growth as GDP are based on the assumption that if producers consume what they produce, they do not in fact produce at all, because they fall outside the production boundary.
The production boundary is a political creation that, in its workings, excludes regenerative and renewable production cycles from the area of production. Hence, all women who produce for their families, children, community, and society are treated as "non-productive" and "economically inactive." When economies are confined to the marketplace, economic self-sufficiency is perceived as economic deficiency. The devaluation of women’s work, and of work done in subsistence economies of the Global South, is the natural outcome of a production boundary constructed by capitalist patriarchy.
By restricting itself to the values of the market economy, as defined by capitalist patriarchy, the production boundary ignores economic value in the two vital economies which are necessary to ecological and human survival. They are the areas of nature’s economy, and sustenance economy.  In nature’s economy and the sustenance economy, economic value is a measure of how the earth’s life and human life are protected.  Its currency is life-giving processes, not cash or market price.
Secondly, a model of capitalist patriarchy which excludes women’s work and wealth creation in the mind, deepens the violence by displacing women from their livelihoods and alienating them from the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend—their land, their forests, their water, and their seeds and biodiversity. Economic reforms based on the idea of limitless growth in a limited world, can only be maintained by the powerful grabbing the resources of the vulnerable.  The resource grab that is essential for “growth” creates a culture of rape—the rape of the earth, of local self-reliant economies, and of women. The only way in which this “growth” is “inclusive” is by its inclusion of ever larger numbers in its circle of violence.
I have repeatedly stressed that the rape of the Earth and rape of women are intimately linked, both metaphorically in shaping worldviews, and materially in shaping women’s everyday lives. The deepening economic vulnerability of women makes them more vulnerable to all forms of violence—including sexual assault.
Thirdly, economic reforms lead to the subversion of democracy and privatization of government. Economic systems influence political systems. The government talks of economic reforms as if it has nothing to do with politics and power. Leaders talk of keeping politics out of economics, even while they impose an economic model shaped by the politics of a particular gender and class. Neoliberal reforms work against democracy. We have seen this recently with the Indian government pushing through "reforms" to bring in Walmart through FDI in retail. Corporate-driven reforms create a convergence of economic and political power, a deepening of inequalities, and a growing separation of the political class from the will of the people they are supposed to represent. This is at the root of the disconnect between politicians and the public that we experienced during the protests that have grown throughout India since the Delhi gang rape.
Worse, an alienated political class is afraid of its own citizens. This is what explains the increasing use of police to crush nonviolent citizen protests, as we have witnessed in Delhi. A privatized corporate state must rapidly become a police state.
This is why the politicians must surround themselves with ever increasing VIP security, diverting the police from their important duties to protect women and ordinary citizens.
Fourthly, the economic model shaped by capitalist patriarchy is based on the commodification of everything, including women. When we stopped the WTO in Seattle, our slogan was, “Our world is not for sale."
An economics unleashed by economic liberalization—an economics of deregulation of commerce, of privatization and commodification of seeds and food, land and water, women and children—degrades social values, deepens patriarchy, and intensifies violence against women.
Economic systems influence culture and social values. An economics of commodification creates a culture of commodification, where everything has a price, and nothing has value.
The growing culture of rape is a social externality of  economic reforms. We need to institutionalize  social audits of the neoliberal policies which are a central instrument of patriarchy in our times. If there was a social audit of corporatizing our seed sector, 270,000 farmers would not have been pushed to suicide in India since the new economic policies were introduced. If there was a social audit of the corporatization of our food and agriculture, we would not have every fourth Indian hungry, every third woman malnourished, and every second child wasted and stunted due to severe malnutrition. India today would not be the Republic of Hunger that Dr. Utsa Patnaik has written about.
The victim of the Delhi gang rape has triggered a social revolution. We must sustain it, deepen it, expand it. We must demand and get speedy and effective justice for women. We must call for fast-track courts to convict those responsible for crimes against women. We must make sure laws are changed so justice is not elusive for victims of sexual violence. We must continue the demand for blacklisting of politicians with criminal records.
We must see the continuum of different forms of violence against women, from female feticide to economic exclusion and sexual assault. We need to continue the movement for the social reforms needed to guarantee safety, security, and equality for women, building on the foundations laid during India's independence movement and continued by the feminist movement over the last half-century. The agenda for social reforms, social justice, and equality has been derailed by the aganda of “economic  reforms" set by capitalist patriarchy.
And while we do all this we need to change the ruling paradigm that reduces society to economy, the economy to the market, and is imposed on us in the name of “growth."
Society and economy are not insulated from each other . The processes of social reforms and economic reforms can no longer be separated. We need economic reforms based on the foundations of social reforms that correct the gender inequality in society, rather than aggravating all forms of injustice, inequality, and violence.
Ending violence against women needs to also include moving beyond the violent economy to nonviolent, sustainable, peaceful, economies that give respect to women and the Earth.

Vandana Shiva is an internationally renowned activist for biodiversity and against corporate globalization, and author of Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; Soil Not Oil; and Staying Alive. The last section of this essay was adapted by the author from “Forest and Freedom,” written by Shiva and published in the May/June 2011 edition of Resurgence magazine. Shiva is a YES! contributing editor.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mohawk Nation News 'Awakening, 150 Million Murdered Indigenous'

There is no meaningfully inclusive women's liberation while genocide against Native/Indigenous women is on-going. This is a cross-post. Please click on the title just below to link back to this information at Mohawk Nation News.


mnnlogo1Calling out from the earth to us Indigenous people are 150 million of our men, women, children and babies who were murdered by the white race for our lands. They are urging us to bring back natural law and order for the sake of the future generations, who are waiting to be released to us by our great Mother Earth. 

Our ancestors are not gone, invisible, forgotten. We are here.

Our ancestors are not gone, invisible, forgotten. We are here. The Canadian and US corporations are trying to find and punish “leaders” of the Idle No More movement.  Our ancestors in each of us are calling us. Even the plants and animals are waiting for us to hear them.  

Canada is vulnerable. All infra-structure is critical to transport our resources to international markets for their war program. This will end. The Corporation of the US is involved when their source of electricity, oil and gas are at stake. US Military Northern Command or NORTHCOM has already been given the green light through 911 treaty fraud to invade Canada at any time they deem fit.  

The circulation of our goods, resources and energy drives the war economy.  Our duty is to stop the war problem. Critical infrastructure is at our mercy.  Blockades are deadly to the economy.  Millions are employed in the theft of our natural resources.  All consultation for our resources is between industry and government, not with us. That is why the wars continue.  

Corporations tire of Indigenous protests. They want to deal directly with Harper’s corporate Indians who are willing to be paid off without consulting us, to have the guise of legality for their contracts. Our ancestors won’t allow that. We will stop genocide.  We the owners want a list of the shareholders of each corporation. Our ancestors direct that any involved in the genocide of our people will not be doing any business on Great Turtle Island.  

Corporate Chiefs and band councils are agents of the crown, who take an oath to the Queen of England. They are no longer in but out of the canoe.  

Canada holds $3 trillion of our Indian Trust Funds. The Queen and her family take a cut on everything that’s done in Canada. It is used to finance non-stop war and to kill us off.  The criminals responsible for the biggest holocaust in all humanity will be held accountable.  

Faces coming from beneath the ground.Split of Indian Trust Money:  4% goes to the Vatican, international Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.  3% goes to the Mediating Group? 2% for the ASM?  1% to the eternal trust deposit forever.  The Queen signs this deal.   

Nothing can stop this awakening of our people.  We stand with nothing to lose.  The fight is ours to win. 
Faces coming to us.   
As Robbie Robertson sings in “Ghost Dance”:  “Crazy Horse was a mystic, he knew the secret of the trance.  Sitting Bull, the great apostle of the ghost dance.   Come on, Commanche. Come on, Blackfoot.  Come on, Shoshone.  Come on, Cheyenne. We shall live again.  Come one, Arapahoe.  Come on, Cherokee.  Come on, Paiute.  Come on, Sioux.  We shall live again.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLM1H8JH9XA

MNN Mohawk Nation News kahentinetha2@yahoo.com  For more news, books, workshops, to donate and sign up for MNN newsletters, go to www.mohawknationnews.com  More stories at MNN Archives.  Address:  Box 991, Kahnawake [Quebec, Canada] J0L 1B0

Monday, January 14, 2013

Did Jodie Foster Come Out? Yes: Here's the Complete Transcript of Jodie Foster's Coming Out Speech, Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement in Television and Motion Pictures at The 70th Golden Globes, January 13, 2013


Revised on 16 Jan. 2013.

There's much more to be said about this whole matter. Lenses interrogating white supremacy, male supremacy, Western culture, the systematic eradication of lesbian existence, white queer politics, and feminism can all focus different points of attention on this event. I was quite disturbed to see Mel Gibson's face so front and center at this year's Golden Globe awards. I consider his expressed values and abusive and oppressive behavior (virulently anti-woman, homophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic) to be antithetical to progressive social change. But for right now, I'm narrowing the lens considerably to focus on who Jodie was to me in my early and later life.

Jodie and I are the same age and I grew up watching her on television and in movies, including lying atop my aunt and uncle's station wagon with my cousins while seeing her in Napoleon and Samantha at a Drive-In, with my parents watching Tom Sawyer on the big screen (indoors), on the small screen on The Partridge Family and Paper Moon, and in ABC Afterschool Specials, and in movies from The Little Girl Who Lived Down The Lane to The Hotel New Hampshire, to her especially fine and feminist work in The Accused and Silence of the Lambs, to Sommersby and Maverick, to two of my favorites in which I also thought she was brilliant: Nell and Contact. I also saw her in Taxi Driver, but not when it came out as it was rated R and I was underage, as was she.

I've watched her grow up and wondered early on about her sexuality. Among my lesbian and gay friends in my adult life, it was kind of known she was a lesbian. Not known the way I might now my best friend was lesbian or gay, but just known, the way it is known that Meryl Streep is heterosexual, but with the added secrecy about the actual orientation that straight folks don't need because they believe being straight is normal and natural. Being lesbian and gay is just as normal and just as natural--if any sexual or affectional orientation and ways of naming oneself can be said to be natural; it's just less prevalent and is, too often, socially despised.

So it was very cool for me to finally hear her come out beyond acknowledging a female partner as she did in 2007. I probably would have thought the speech was cooler if she did so while using the word Lesbian to describe herself. But it surprised me to read online that some people doubt she came out at all! Below is a transcript of her speech from 13 January 2013 as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hilton in California.

I think after reading this and re-watching the speech, there will be little doubt about whether she did or did not come out as lesbian. Here is the complete unedited speech in which she addressed several matters in addition to coming out, such as her love for her ex-partner, her sons, the future of her career (she's not retiring, by the way), and her, perhaps most poignantly of all, the expression of her abiding love for her mother at this time of her mother's dementia. Source for the transcript is *here*.
Well, for all of you SNL fans, I'm 50! I'm 50! You know, I need to do that without this dress on, but you know, maybe later at Trader Vic's, boys and girls. What do you say? I'm 50! You know, I was going to bring my walker tonight but it just didn't go with the cleavage.
Robert [Downey Jr], I want to thank you for everything: for your bat-crazed, rapid-fire brain, the sweet intro. I love you and Susan and I am so grateful that you continually talk me off the ledge when I go on and foam at the mouth and say, "I'm done with acting, I'm done with acting, I'm really done, I'm done, I'm done."
Trust me, 47 years in the film business is a long time. You just ask those Golden Globies, because you crazy kids, you've been around here forever. You know, Phil you're a nut, Aida, Scott — thank you for honouring me tonight. It is the most fun party of the year, and tonight I feel like the prom queen.
Thank you. Looking at all those clips, you know, the hairdos and the freaky platform shoes, it's like a home-movie nightmare that just won't end, and all of these people sitting here at these tables, they're my family of sorts, you know. Fathers mostly. Executives, producers, the directors, my fellow actors out there, we've giggled through love scenes, we've punched and cried and spit and vomited and blown snot all over one another — and those are just the costars I liked. But you know more than anyone else I share my most special memories with members of the crew. Blood-shaking friendships, brothers and sisters. We made movies together, and you can't get more intimate than that.
So while I'm here being all confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I've never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I'm a little nervous about but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer? But I'm just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I'm going to need your support on this.
I am single. Yes I am, I am single. No, I'm kidding — but I mean I'm not really kidding, but I'm kind of kidding. I mean, thank you for the enthusiasm. Can I get a wolf whistle or something? Jesus. Seriously, I hope you're not disappointed that there won't be a big coming-out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met. But now I'm told, apparently that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show.
You know, you guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child. No, I'm sorry, that's just not me. It never was and it never will be. Please don't cry because my reality show would be so boring. I would have to make out with Marion Cotillard or I'd have to spank Daniel Craig's bottom just to stay on the air. It's not bad work if you can get it, though.
But seriously, if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you'd had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else. Privacy. Some day, in the future, people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was.
I have given everything up there from the time that I was three years old. That's reality-show enough, don't you think?
There are a few secrets to keeping your psyche intact over such a long career. The first, love people and stay beside them. That table over there, 222, way out in Idaho, Paris, Stockholm, that one, next to the bathroom with all the unfamous faces, the very same faces for all these years. My acting agent, Joe Funicello — Joe, do you believe it, 38 years we've been working together? Even though he doesn't count the first eight.
Matt Saver, Pat Kingsley, Jennifer Allen, Grant Niman and his uncle Jerry Borack, may he rest in peace. Lifers. My family and friends here tonight and at home, and of course, Mel Gibson. You know you save me too.
There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. Thank you, Cyd. I am so proud of our modern family. Our amazing sons, Charlie and Kit, who are my reason to breathe and to evolve, my blood and soul. And boys, in case you didn't know it, this song, all of this, this song is for you.
This brings me to the greatest influence of my life, my amazing mother, Evelyn. Mom, I know you're inside those blue eyes somewhere and that there are so many things that you won't understand tonight. But this is the only important one to take in: I love you, I love you, I love you. And I hope that if I say this three times, it will magically and perfectly enter into your soul, fill you with grace and the joy of knowing that you did good in this life. You're a great mom. Please take that with you when you're finally OK to go.
You see, Charlie and Kit, sometimes your mom loses it too. I can't help but get moony, you know. This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else. Scary and exciting and now what? Well, I may never be up on this stage again, on any stage for that matter. Change, you gotta love it. I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved, the greatest job in the world. It's just that from now on, I may be holding a different talking stick. And maybe it won't be as sparkly, maybe it won't open on 3,000 screens, maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle. But it will be my writing on the wall. Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely.
Thank you, all of you, for the company. Here's to the next 50 years.
Thank you, Jodie, for 47 years of quality work in the entertainment industry. I hope in the next fifty, you get the life you most desire.

Friday, January 4, 2013

White Jewish Feminist Herstorian and Philosopher, Gerda Lerner (1920 - 2013) has died at the age of 92

Professor Gerda Lerner, in a handout from the University of Wisconsin, Madison
Professor Gerda Lerner, in a handout from the University of Wisconsin, Madison
University of Wisconson, Madison [this photo and caption's source is here]

The Creation of Patriarchy, by Gerda Lerner is probably one earliest feminist books I owned. It helped me understand patriarchy as a force born of human history, not God, not Nature. What I appreciated about Gerda Lerner was her courage in creating and promoting new academic disciplines which have served so many women across race, ethnicity, region, language, and era.

From *here* (Feminist Philosophers blog):
Historian, feminist, and author of The Creation of Patriarchy Gerda Lerner died Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, in Madison, Wisconsin.  She was 92.

Most American scholars reading this post do not remember a time when women’s history was not at least a possible area of study.  This is thanks in part to Lerner’s efforts, as she contributed to the creation of the first graduate program in women’s history in the USA.  Before I read feminist philosophy, I read Creation of Patriarchy. Yet despite the tremendous impression that work made on me, I’m disposed to quote the passage from her more enjoyable read, Fireweed: A Political Autobiography, cited by the NYT in the obituary linked above: “My perfectionism, insistence on anti-fascist commitment in word and deed, and general ‘heaviness’ as a person set me apart from others.”

She certainly was a distinctive presence.

From *here* (Wisconsin State Journal):
Long before Gerda Lerner helped redefine the study of history to give women a more prominent place in it and before she established the doctorate program in U.S. women's history at UW-Madison in the 1980s, she had to live through one of history's worst horrors and — barely — survive it.

Lerner (then Kronstein), who died Wednesday night in Madison at age 92, spent her 18th birthday in a Nazi jail in Vienna expecting death and being fed food scraps by two gentile cellmates after authorities cut rations to Jews.

"They taught me how to survive," Lerner told the State Journal in 2001. "Everything I needed to get through the rest of my life I learned in jail in those six weeks."

Lerner, UW-Madison professor emerita of women's studies, was able to escape alone to New York in the late 1930s. Decades later she started an academic career as a historian of women who led a movement almost from its infancy, eventually writing 11 books, earning 18 honorary degrees and in 2002 becoming the first woman recipient of the prestigious Bruce Catton Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Historical Writing from the Society of American Historians.

"She's one of two people from what you might call the eldest generation of this wave of women's history," said Linda Gordon, a New York University professor who taught women's history at UW-Madison with Lerner in the 1980s and 1990s. "She had an enormous influence."

While earning an undergraduate degree in the early 1960s at the New School and her doctorate at Columbia University in 1966 at age 46, Lerner grew frustrated by the portrayal of history as told by textbooks and professors.

"The teachers told me about a world in which ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant and the other half doesn't exist," she told the Chicago Tribune in 1993.

It became her life's work to balance out the story. She founded the women's studies program at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., which included the first graduate program in women's history in the country. In 1980, after the death of her husband, Carl, a theater director, she moved to UW-Madison to establish a Ph.D. program in women's history.

Although women could get a Ph.D. in women's history at that time, their programs of study were not orderly and structured. Lerner wanted to create a degree that was rich in depth — the sort of program a Ph.D. candidate in American studies or another area would follow — but that included extra work in women's history.

Structure, sequence and staffing were her goals, and she chose UW-Madison because it already had a high-ranking, high-status history department from which Lerner created a model that would eventually be imitated elsewhere.

Throughout her career — Lerner retired from UW-Madison in 1991 — she maintained a vigorous schedule as a historian and writer, earning respect early as the editor of "Black Women in White America" in 1972, one of the first books to document the important struggles and contributions of African-American women in American history.

"What was unique is that she understood women are not all alike, that race and class make a very, very big difference in their lives and you can't generalize about all women," Gordon said.

Later contributions included her two-volume magnum opus, "The Creation of Patriarchy" in 1986 and "The Creation of Feminist Consciousness" in 1993.

"Fireweed," a memoir covering Lerner's years before she started on her academic path, came out in 2002 and was later adapted into a play by Heather McDonald.

Lerner established and funded a fellowship at UW-Madison that goes annually to a first- or second-year graduate student in women's history with a preference given to non-traditional students such as older women. When she earned her doctorate at Columbia at age 46, she was told her age and preference for studying women's history would doom her career.

"The fact that I could not take that advice was a very important thing," she told the State Journal in 2002. "The history of women had been forgotten, oppressed, silenced and marginalized until the last 30 years. I'm one of the people that helped bring that history alive, to point out it was valid and important. I couldn't have done that without my long history of resisting conformity."

In August 2011, UW-Madison named the third floor of the newly renamed Vel Phillips Hall (formerly Friedrick Hall) after Lerner.

Survivors include sister Nora Kronstein, daughter Stephanie Lerner Lapidus, son Dan and four grandchildren. Services will be private.

— State Journal reporter George Hesselberg contributed to this report.