Posts tagged " women’s march "

On why Feminism is not a bad Word

January 13th, 2018 Posted by Tabula Rasa 1 comment

I’ve been getting a lot of feminism is αμερικανιά lately. A lot of μιά χάρα είμαστε εμείς οι γυναίκες,  άλλα προβλήματα έχουμε. Some of δεν θέλω να έχω σχέση με το Women’s March, δεν με αναφορά η Χίλαρι, ούτε η αμερική. Ελλάδα είμαστε εδώ.

Hillary Clinton, I agree, is nobody’s concern anymore. What happened to her, on a level, is. Feminism is not an American construct. Feminism is not an extremist movement. If you are born a female, you are by default a feminist, unless you grow up to consider yourself an inferior being to men. It simply means that you believe that you have equal rights. It doesn’t mean that you are running naked through forests with unshaved legs burning your bras. And believing that you as a woman should have equal opportunity, equal wages, the right to safety, is simple human logic. It’s innate. Have you ever seen a two-year-old girl believe that she can’t do or can’t want anything her twin brother does?
The Women’s March next Sunday, is not about America. It’s not about Hillary. It’s not even about American midterm elections, because no Greek knows or cares about them. What it is about, people of Greece, is about your lives. Changing.
I’m no expert. I’m no sociologist. I did not do research to throw numbers and percentages at you in this post. But I am a woman who has lived in this country for 35 years. I have a Greek passport. I pay taxes. I walk the streets. I work. I’m as Greek as any one of you, save the blood running through my veins, which is Russian, if you consider blood a decisive factor of identity.

Until recently, I didn’t know that walking down a street didn’t have to be a festival of whistles, crude comments, or fear, if it’s dark. When I was younger, I didn’t know that it was illegal for men to masturbate behind trees, or in their cars, in public spaces. But I knew that if a husband was beating his wife, she couldn’t prove it in court unless a non-related third person witnessed it and testified. I knew that girls in their 20s would jump at the opportunity of sleeping with a low grade politician to secure themselves a spot in the δημόσιο. I knew that the word γυναίκα could be used in a sentence and carry a negative connotation. I know 15-year-olds who are flattered when someone to refers to them as καλό μουνάκι. I know that a stadium full of people can watch a man slap his wife in the middle of a concert, and think nothing of it. So whoever thinks that women have equal rights, well, we’re not even close. We, let alone our kids, have little idea what our lives should be like. Because we are used to what is obviously the norm.
Greece is a country of demonstrations, of unions, of demanding and fighting for what we believe is rightfully ours. Especially over the past ten years. I’ve been to dozens of these demonstrations. I know I’ve seen many of you there. I’ve hid in cafeteria basements around Syntagma, to avoid the teargas and molotov cocktails. We protested again and again. Achieved little. For most of these issues were beyond our control, even beyond our governments’ control. The decisions had been made behind closed doors that we didn’t have keys to.
This is different. This is about us. Us as humans, not only here in Athens, but throughout the country, throughout the world. From Zambia, to New Zealand, to yes, the United States, that quiet unfortunately at this point, digs and paves the road that most of the world drives down. Lets not get stuck in that traffic. Lets pave our own roads, roads that lead to open doors, doors, the keys to which we leave in our children’s pockets.
Join us here:

On When History Looks you in the Eyes

December 13th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 4 comments

So I met this woman yesterday. She is pretty cool. Some of you might know her. Her presence is daunting, but not because she is, only because of the history she carries inside. Her presence is calm, quiet, yet electrifying, because of that history, because of the endless knowledge her eyes hold the minute they look into yours, they lure you in.

A woman who fought for civil rights, women’s rights, prison reform. A woman who led the United States Communist Party. A woman who was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. A woman who was wrongly imprisoned. Now a retired professor, she spoke at the Women’s March on Washington last year. And activist, and educator, an author, a wife, a lesbian, a woman whose facets are so multiple, achievements so staggering, that most of us would only hope to do one of the things she’s done. Live the life she’s lived. And I know I’m missing half her resume here.

And there I was, little me, sitting in this room, with history. As she spoke, I find myself light-headed, unable to decide what to start asking, longing for time to move slower, her words to become a slow slur of syllables, so one by one I can steal all I can manage to absorb.

And then, her eyes are watching mine.

After the international Women’s March last January, having organized our tiny one in Athens, Greece, had me tripping for a solid week. I think most of the organizers all over the globe were riding on a natural high. We had done it. We had mobilized small and large cities, communities, villages, all over the world. We had started a revolution.

Time went by. Trump went nowhere. Tweets kept rolling. Black lives continued not to matter. Women didn’t get equal pay. Muslim bans came into affect. Only when #meetoo went viral, did we begin to think again, that we must do it again.

But for what, I thought to myself. So I asked those eyes, that were watching mine, not because they’re something special, but because it was my turn to ask a question. What can we do, I said, what can we do to make this year’s marches matter more, what would you do to make them more powerful, to keep them from becoming simple annual gatherings that give us a false sense of power, a power that doesn’t reach beyond togetherness, solidarity, and roars after the day has gone?

While I’m sure my question was nowhere near as glibly voiced as above, Angela Davis got the point. She looked at me, warmly smirking, as if wanting to say, my dear child, you have so much to learn, but let me try and teach you in the minute that we have.

A demonstration is not a movement, she said. It’s not a revolution. It’s a call to a movement, a call to revolution. It takes time. Change may never happen in our lifetimes. It may not happen in our children’s lifetimes. But if we keep doing the work, the quiet, seemingly insignificant work, it will. Take Black Lives Matter. Do you think it just sprung out of the blue? We’ve been working on that for decades. Sometimes you may think that what you’re doing is nothing, but there is no such thing as an immediate result. You cannot change the world overnight.

So lets blow things up. Softly, slowly, steadily. Lets be half as brave, patient, and persistent as Angela Davis.

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.


On Being a Privileged Immigrant

February 9th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

I am an immigrant. At the age of eight, I left my communist star pinned on my first grade uniform, and the USSR, and came to sunny Greece. I felt out of place since the moment I woke up. On my first morning here, my mom asked what I wanted for breakfast, I realized that I could have anything I wanted, so I asked for spaghetti with ketchup. Not speaking a word of English, I went to a school full of American kids, here because their parents were stationed at the US naval bases. I had a Russian last name, Maslofskaya, it was. Imagine being 10 with that name in the 1980s, in an American microcosm. My first friend was a Turkish girl, we could barely communicate, and when she tore my favorite pink skirt on the playground, my stepfather was convinced that it was time for me, now a Greek, to stop playing with a Turk. By high school, I’d achieved my sought-after status of someone who could pass for an American, no questions asked. Only to find myself in the Greek work force being labeled as an “Amerikanaki,” carrying the load of all the negative connotations that came with that word. I began telling people I was Russian again, but it was the 1990s, and the post-glasnost outpour of people from the ex-USSR, resulted in a whole different cloud of negative profiling. Most cab drivers, for example, assumed that I was a sex worker of some sort, or was at least acquainted with a few, just because I was Russian.

In New York, as a graduate student, feeling more at home than I ever had in my life, I was sometimes a “dirty Greek.” Or an ex-commie. Back in Moscow, I’m a deserter of the mother nation.

None of this is a pity story; it’s simply reality. It is what has given me strength, power, resilience, knowledge. I’ve waited in lines for cheese and butter in freezing temperatures, holding on to my grandma’s hand. I’ve been pushed in outdoor pools by Soviet swimming instructors, insisting I need to be an athlete. I’ve said prayers in Greek and English at the daily line up at school. I have sided with the Jews, I have sided with the Palestinians, I have stood on a balcony and watched the Twin Towers fall and lived their aftermath. I have watched Greece’s people lose its sunshine, only tourists and a handful of citizens still basking in its glory. I set the alarm to watch the first black man be elected president of a country I looked up to. And I yelled into a megaphone when someone who threatens not only that country, but the rest of the world, moved into a house that holds more history than his deep pocket will ever fit.

But I am always a privileged immigrant, I saw poverty, racism, bigotry, evil, and tragedy, without living the consequences.

I belonged everywhere and nowhere.

Now I don’t know where to go.


On “What Can we do?”

January 29th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

I wake up each morning before sunrise, torn between fear and excitement, I pick up my phone to scan through my newsfeed as I warm up my toddler’s milk. The excitement is immediately blown by the endless posts of outraged media, giving me an update on how a man can chisel away at the foundation of humanity in the six to seven hours that I spend not paying attention to him and what he’s done to the world in a mere week.

Last Saturday, I organized a march, here in Athens, Greece, where so many more people than I expected, as outraged as I, showed up and chanted for what should be our inalienable rights. I momentarily overcame my fear of speaking in public, stood up on a mounting right outside the US embassy, where to my knowledge, no demonstration has ever been given the privilege to gather, and without thinking, spoke into that megaphone, knees trembling, but a voice as powerful as it has ever been. For a country that is not my own. But for a civilization that is.

After that day, all of us here, and millions of marchers worldwide, felt high, felt connected, felt like we had the power to accomplish something together. We were an international community. United, we felt that our voice mattered.

Ever since, and naturally so, that magical feeling of sisterhood has split into smaller cells, mostly throughout the United States. Executive orders began to be signed like autographs at a small town pop concert, which for some reason had the power to make us gasp for air. Nobody seems to be able to keep up with what to fight for first, what to protest, or figure out if there are more important issues being overshadowed by the abhorrent attack on the foundation of the historic experiment in democracy that we have all called America for as long as we can remember. Flawed as it may be.

And I ask you now, on a day where thousands of people take the streets to fight for the very fist building block of their country, what can the rest of us do? Please tell us what to do. We want to help.


Why I’ve been silent for so long. Good excuse?

January 22nd, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Maria Kostaki, one of the organisers of the Athens Women’s March, welcomed those who gathered outside the US Embassy with some simple but stirring words:

“I am here today because I believe that women’s rights, minorities’ rights, LGBT rights are HUMAN rights.

I am here because all of our parents and grandparents fought so hard to provide us with a world more accepting and more equal than the one they grew up in.

I am here because I refuse to let their work be undone. I am here because I want my son to grow up in a world that embraces us all.

Now, I know we won’t wake up tomorrow to a different reality, (though we did today). But this is a start, we and the 2.2 million people gathering in solidarity around the world, are part of something with enormously powerful potential; a movement that stands up to bigotry, hate, racism and cruelty.

Thank you for showing up, you are all amazing, and we are STRONGER TOGETHER.”

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.