Posts tagged " feminism "

On the Intolerance of Male-Bashing

January 26th, 2018 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Last Sunday, my hometown, Athens, Greece, joined the world in marching for equality.

When I introduced our third speaker, I said this:

“Our next speaker is proof of why men belong at Women’s Marches.”

A woman booed. Before I even introduced him.

I went on to explain who he is, what he does, though that shouldn’t really matter because he was there, by the mic, speaking to a crowd at a Women’s March, giving a diverse voice to an otherwise all-female line up. He hasn’t harassed or violated anyone in any way, quite the contrary, he fights for those that are discriminated and hurt and abused and violated. Men and women.

Equality is the one word that unified every single march around the globe last weekend. From Kampala, Uganda, to New York City, to Wellington, New Zealand. Inclusion. Unity. Two words that are essential to equality; concept crucial to what we all claim to be fighting for.

Earlier that day, when the event’s program was released, a woman first praised it, and then seeing the man on the list, suggested that we don’t need any “mansplaining” done for us. Mansplaining? Confused, I had to look that one up to be sure. And felt very uneasy being put under the umbrella of “us” in the specific context.

Later, someone else mouthed the lyrics of a feminist song and pointed at my husband, who spent the afternoon hauling speakers, setting up sound equipment, and who, to top it all off, was playing the music for the event. The lyrics were not words of appreciation.

This is in little Athens, Greece, where Women’s Marches are small, where the local population does not identify with the causes, and doesn’t speak the language of the chants that sound off the bullhorns as we walk down the city’s streets. I can’t help but jump to the conclusion that the phenomenon of male-bashing, to its varying degrees, exists everywhere.

Three people, you may say. Yes, three people. One voice can start a revolution, three voices can stir it off its path.

So, whatever our personal issues with men may be, and I’m talking about everyday men, not the Harvey Weinsteins or the Dr. Nassars of the world, what’s needed here is some perspective. We’re going to go marching straight back where we came from if we choose to shut half of the world’s population out of our cause. We can’t do it without them. I don’t want to do it without them. I want to fight this fight together.

On Hookers, Bras, and Struggles

July 14th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 2 comments

It’s 4pm on a hot summer day and I stand a block away from my house, hiding in the shade of the shadow of a stop sign, waiting for my son’s school bus to drop him off. A man drives up, in his 30s, flashy Mercedes, shirt, tie, pop music, and tells me to get in.

I’m 43. I’m wearing baggy jean shorts that have survived motherhood for over four years, my hair is in an unruly, smelly pony tail, I’m sweating, miserable, grumpy. Why he mistakes me for a hooker is beyond me. Maybe it was because I was leaning on the pole. But with that logic, any woman who leans on anything on a street is a hooker. I’m no MILF, no cougar, none of those flattering names that women my age are given by damaged members of the opposite sex. And definitely not remotely appealing at that time of day to the undamaged ones.

I live in a country, in a world, where a man slaps his wife in the middle of a sold-out concert that’s raising money for the hungry, and she sits back down next to him. In the country that founded democracy, at the stadium that saw the birth of the modern Olympic games. All I can think of is what must happen at home, for a palm across the face to be accepted in front of 20,000 people.

A six year old girl wants to wear a bra. Probably because some other kid in school convinced her mom it was ok to wear one.

An 11 year old, a crop top and hot shorts. Because 11-year-olds are 20-year-olds of my generation.

Neither see the reasoning in their mothers’ objections. Both innocent enough to not realize that society has already sexualized them, stripped them of their core identity, or not even given them a chance to form one.

I watch the bad excuse for a man that the American people elected to lead them this week, and squirm. I’m like those bugs that turn into balls when they’re scared, roly polies, that my son is so fascinated by. I watch him blatantly demean the first lady of France. I wonder what she replied to his ageist, sexist comments behind the scenes, and hope that she used wisdom and swear words.

People keep writing parenting advice articles to moms to teach their sons to respect women. It’s not the moms who need to do that, it’s the dads. And by respect I do not mean open doors and pretend to listen to their opinions. I mean raise them in an environment where at no point in time, in their entire childhood, are they even given the of hint of the possibility of the idea that any woman is a lesser or weaker than they are. It’s that simple, it’s common sense. I know plenty of dads out there more than capable of such a feat. And many more, capable and insisting on the complete opposite.

But we’ve come so far, the voices of women everywhere shout at me, angrily. Yes, angrily. Because we are still angry. How can we not be? Is this a fight we can even win? If so, why is it still such a fight? There are so many of us, we are all screaming, our words fading as if background noise to deaf ears. And so many more of us, choosing to remain silent.


Why Hillary Matters

June 8th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

I’m not a hard-core feminist. Actually, I’m not really a feminist at all. I grew up in a society that was heavily matriarchal at its core, where women were the family’s decision makers, the power holders, in a country where most men where either alcoholics or stagnant, at least as far as I can remember. That’s what the system permitted. There was no such thing as the women’s rights movement in the Soviet Union. There were other problems to tend to.

My grandmother has probably never voted. But she has a university degree, a job she stayed at for decades, she loves clothes and make up, and is constantly obsessed with what she looks like. At 82, she puts on more mascara a day than I do in a year.

I remember riding the subway with her, I couldn’t have been older than 10.

“Don’t sit like that, keep your knees knocked together, you’re a lady.” My clothes always needed to be feminine, my weight is always an issue. And find yourself a man who respects you and whose shoulder you can lean on in more ways than one. Respect your husband and tend to his needs. You don’t want him to stray. “But keep thinking about what you will do with your life. I imagine you will want to be a doctor, a lawyer, something that will keep you independent, don’t forget that you must always strive for independence. And try to live in America.” I never questioned how these two extremes coexisted without driving her insane.

I grew up to be a woman who keeps her knees together while sitting when needed. And after a myriad of failed, wrong relationships, I knew enough to marry a man for so much more than a financially promising future. And I did not become a doctor or a lawyer because none of this ever mattered to me. And I don’t wish it had, in retrospect. And though I love to look pretty, I don’t obsess about it when circumstances don’t permit me to.

I’m human. I’m a woman. Sometimes, I’m doing the best I can, other times, I’m doing just enough to survive. And forever, will I believe in what I do.

Hillary Clinton is a woman. She’s been doing the best she can in a world far more complicated than mine. With millions of glares on her every move, and a lot more people to answer to than my grandmother. She survived being a First Lady, she’s dealt with a White House affair, she survived bashing as the Secretary of State, she survived political scandals, she raised a child, and went through as much as any other woman has. I don’t care about politics, I don’t care about how much money she has, I don’t care about Bill, I don’t care about Bernie. What I I care about is that against all odds, the cracked glass ceiling of eight years ago has come crashing down in a rain of brilliant glitter. History has been altered forever. It made me giddy with pride, because her victory belongs to all of us, and to all those that came before us. It made this 40-something housewife cry at 7am over my son’s school lunch, and it made me want to call my grandmother and tell her that, today, America is place I want to be. I can’t help but wonder what Hillary’s grandmother would have to say.

Five Women

March 8th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

It’s International Women’s Day and every media outlet, small and large, has composed a list of successful, accomplished, famous personalities to honor. While I bow down to every one of them, (the women, not the media), I’d like to honor my own heroes.

1. A woman named Jo. Jo is the mother of three kids, recently divorced, working two jobs. She hardly sees them, but at night, they cuddle up in one big bed, she holds them tight, and thinks about how the tightness of their hugs and the warmth of their bodies makes her stronger.

2. A woman named Helen. Helen is in her mid-40s, she’s devoted her life to the career she always dreamed of, leaving little room for her mother’s dreams of a successful son-in-law and grandkids. Helen isn’t sure she’s made the right decision for her life, struggles with the idea that it may be to late to change anything, sometimes feels lonely and old, but is not willing to sacrifice the years hard work for anything.

3. A woman named Marie. Marie is as happily married as anyone can be, she has a good job that doesn’t take up her entire day, and she spends two months a year traveling with her husband. They’ve backpacked through Greece’s myriad of islands, they’ve been to New Zealand, South Africa and France. She’s an avid reader, an arts fan, her partner plays video games and drinks beer with his friends on weekends; it’s a typical textbook married life. Yet, sometimes she feels empty, like something is missing, and it’s not the lack of children that you’re all thinking, they’d decided long ago they wanted no kids, and still stand by their decision, so she can’t explain that void.

4. A woman named Kate. Kate is in her 80s. She has a lifetime of memories to look back on, smiling faces, warm hands, deep embraces, love, tears, grief, pain. She sits in her apartment and recalls it all, leafing through black and white photo albums, nodding at a memory of a moment, a time, laughing at a joke told then, eyes tearing in joy and sorrow. She knows so much more than all of us, yet she still has questions.

5. A woman named Laura. Laura is in her 30s and she came out to her friends and family two years ago. She ended her false marriage, started life anew, at an age where experience usually helps us along, though not in a foreign territory, with new rules, new boundaries. She hopes to find a partner, to explain to her kids that she’s lived a lie her entire life, she thinks they’ll understand. Till then, she waits.

These names aren’t real. They are not of actual people I can point at. But they are all of you, me, us. And definitely not limited to those five characters. We are the women that will probably never make it into a list that someone shares on social media, we won’t receive the Nobel, or the Purple Heart, or the Pulitzer. But we are still heroes, every day, in our homes, in our own very special stories. Don’t forget that. Happy Women’s Day to you all.

Pieces: a novel

“Pieces” is the winner of the silver medal at the 2017 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY), and a finalist at the USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

When Clouds Embrace: a children's book

All proceeds from the sales of "When Clouds Embrace" will go to Giving for Greece, a foundation that works to help the hundreds of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece.