Tuesday, March 31, 2015

First Women in Antarctica

The history of the discovery and exploration of Antarctica is a long one. From rumors of the continent, to the near discovery in the 1770's, to the first people to finally reach the South Pole in 1911, it stretches across centuries. While the first man stepped foot in 1911, the first woman would not arrive until more than two decades later, with Caroline Mikkelsen, the wife of a Norwegian whaling captain being the first woman to step foot on Antarctica in 1935. Her excursion to Antarctica was brief, but it was the first of its kind. It would be more than a decade until Antarctica would see another woman.

Caroline Mikkelsen
In 1947 we see the first women to winter in Antarctica, with the arrival of two women traveling with their husbands who were members of the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition. Edith "Jackie" Ronne and Jennie Darlington, two women who originally planned on only journeying with their husbands as far as Valparasio, Chile, the last stop before reaching Antarctica, wound up at the last minute continuing with the Expedition to Antarctica. According to an obituary in the Washington Post, Ronne actually never planned on going with her husband at all, she traveled to Beaumont, Texas to see him off, but planned on returning home after that. The obituary states, "She packed little more than a good suit, a good dress, nylon stockings and high heels for the trip." However, her husband persuaded her to go with him, and she gave in, joining him for the journey, from Panama to Chile.
Jennie and Edith
Jackie making coffee in the hut.
*These two pictures came from The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning

Once Jackie was convinced into going to Antarctica with her husband, she wanted another woman to go with her. Jennie Darlington, new wife of the chief pilot of the Expidition, Harry Darlington, was to be the second woman. Ronne was the first American woman to step foot onto Antarctica, and Ronne and Darlington became the first women ever to spend the winter in Antarctica. After they left Antarctica Darlington stated, "Taking everything into consideration, I do not think women belong in Antarctica." Ronne's opinion was, "I will never, never go back to the Antarctic." While Darlington stuck with her opinion, Ronne returned thrice more to the Antarctic in her future years. 

These three women were the first women to ever step foot on Antarctica. Jackie Ronne was the first woman to assist the members of an Expedition, although she was not technically a member of the Expedition, she did serve as their recorder-historian. 


So, I have been looking into women of Antarctica for the past several days, trying to figure out who to feature. It has been really interesting to do some reading about the women who are and have been in Antarctica, and the struggles that these women have gone through personally, as well as the struggles that every country has gone through in regards to Antarctica. I don't know about you, but usually in every day life I don't give a ton of thought to Antarctica. It is one of the seven continents, and usually that is about the extent of the thought that I give it in most circumstances.

However, after reading the articles and information I have found over the past few days, I think in the future when I think or hear about Antarctica it will be something much different that comes to mind. It has been enlightening and quite interesting reading about Antarctica, all the other continents I have been at least vaguely familiar with, knowing at least a small amount of history of each continent, some more than others. I keep stumbling upon more information about Antarctica, giving me a bit more knowledge each time. Today, for example, I just found this article that scientists just discovered fish and other life in a small wedge of seawater that is below a 740 meter thick sheet of ice.

Anyways, it has been an enjoyable process, both the post for Antarctica, as well as the posts for all of the other continents. I've learned quite a bit, and discovered many women that I have never heard about before. As I start my next project, which I will discuss after my post on women in Antarctica, I look forward to learning even more!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lawyer, Professor, Wife, Mother, and Political Activist

As I have been looking for the woman to feature for South America I have come across a lot of interesting information and a few potential future women. It has been a bit difficult gathering a ton of useful information on this woman, simply because a lot of it is in Spanish and well, I don't speak Spanish! With that being said, there might not be as much information about this woman as I would like, but I was struck by the little information about her that I could gather and wanted to share. She does break my preference of featuring women from the past, as she is still alive and actively engaged in activities.

Laura Albornoz was born March 27, 1968 in Chile, a country where women did not gain the right to vote until 1952, less than two decades before she was born. In a country that in many ways is ahead of the countries near it, but in other ways, equality and women's rights is far behind. 

From a young age Laura was involved in the political world, participating in the Federation of Secondary Students. Laura received her doctorate in Civil Law from the University of Seville in Spain, graduated cum laude. She has several degrees from Universities in both Spain in Chile.
From 2006-2009 Laura served as the Minister of Woman's Affairs under the first female Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet. Today Laura is Vice President of a major political party in Chile, a professor at a university, and a lawyer. She is also a wife and full time mother to two children.

While Laura carries an active role in the political and judicial world of Chile, she also still maintains the maternal roles that are so important in the Chilean culture. She does the grocery shopping, keeps the house clean, takes care of her children, and cooks dinner. According to a NPR interview she says that this keeps her busy in a way that men just don't understand. While other, male, ministers may have many responsibilities as well, those responsibilities don't extend into their home life as hers do. 

In South America, motherhood is an important part of feminism. In the Chilean women's movement, women have used their maternal responsibilities as a way to increase their say and involvement in the political sphere. I love the way that they are going about this, at least from the little bit I have seen. I feel like so many modern feminists almost downgrade mothers and a woman's role as a wife and mother, but here is a country of woman who say the opposite, who say that those roles and traits help make women more successful in the political world. I love that this is a woman who is doing it all, she has her career, but is still a mother, cooking, cleaning, etc. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Women on 20's

Today while scrolling through my Facebook feed I came across this post from A Mighty Girl. I had not heard ANYTHING about this movement and it really caught my attention. As I looked at the post and as I peruse the website I am struck by the fact that I have not ever given it much thought that the United States does not have any currency or coin in regular circulation that has a woman on the front. Yes there are the Susan B. Anthony pieces, but if you are anything like me those are in your coin collection and not spent. There was the Sacajawea gold dollars, but once again those were not mass circulated and you very rarely see them.

If you have ever seen coins and currency from other countries, many of them feature queens from their past or recent past, as well as important men. Somehow though, we seemed to have missed that ship. In the United States, you know land of the free, home of the brave, all of our regularly used coins and currency feature only men. Now, I have great respect for these men, and for a lot of the things they did. Were they perfect? No, but each one did some amazing things and played an important role in our history. That being said, there are many many MANY women throughout history who also did amazing things and played an important, albeit less heard about, role in our history.

With all that being said, how is it that I have never given it much thought that there are no women on our currency and coins? I really do not know for sure, but I do like this movement, and I am thinking that after I find my woman/women for South American and Antarctica I am going to feature the candidates for the Women on 20s.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Australia's First Female Acting Professor

So, with that great website that I found I had all sorts of wonderful options for my featured woman from Australia. I will admit that I did not go through every single woman on the site, but I now have a lot of options for future posts!

Born on January 22, 1875 Georgina Sweet would become Australia's first female acting professor. She was born in Brunswick Australia to English born parents, George and Fanny Sweet. Georgina's father, George ran a pottery and tiling business and was a hobbyist geologist. He had what sounds to be a quite impressive fossil collection that can now be found at the Museum of Victoria. Georgina acted as a scientist when she was young and her father encouraged her interest in science. As she got older she had his encouragement to go into science as a career.

Georgina first attended Parkville Ladies' College and then received her Bachelor's of Science from the University of Melbourne in 1896. In 1898 she won the University of Melbourne's McBain Scholarship and completed her Master's of Science from the university. For about eleven years from 1896-1907 she taught various secondary schools in the area. During this time she also filled several positions at the university, she was a demonstrator as well as a lecturer in Biology. Much of her research was done in the Biology department under Professor Baldwin Spencer. She also did research in the zoology department of the university. In 1904 Georgina Sweet completed her Doctorate degree at the University of Melbourne.

Initially Georgina's work in zoology focused on the Australian native animals. Eventually she switched and started pursuing the parasites that Australian stock are infested by. It was because of her research in this area that in 1911 she won the David Syne research prize. Her work was widely published and she eventually became known as Australia's foremost parasitologist.

In 1915, after a death in the biology school she became the second in command for that school at the University of Melbourne. It was the next year during the absence of one of the professors, whose place she took, that she became Australia's first acting associate professor, and in a science field none the less!!

While Georgina said that she never felt downtrodden or oppressed being a woman in a "man's" field, she was an active supporter and fighter for women's rights. In fact, on June 3 1935 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire, because of her services in the women's rights movement.

I love the fact that this woman pursued an interest of hers, that at that time was not something woman were encouraged to do. Not only did she pursue it, but she took it all the way to a Doctorate degree and taught at a university in that subject! From what I have read she had a true passion for it, and was able to spread that passion to others. She donated a large amount of money to her university, and today there is a fellowship in her name at the University of Melbourne. Georgina died January 1, 1946. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Awesome Website!!

While continuing my search for the next woman to highlight I stumbled across the most amazing website!! The Australian Women's Registry is an online database that contains biographical information on Australian women and their organizations. It is entirely searchable and holds a ton of valuable information! It is going to be very handy in future posts and finding information. I have not yet decided on who to feature for the next post.

Article-A Man's Perspective on Modesty and Boys Will Be Boys

I was just Facebook stalking one of my cousin's Facebook pages. I was realizing I haven't seen her very much the last few years and hadn't seen many things from her lately on Facebook. While I was looking over the last few months of her posts I found this article, A Man's Perspective on Modesty. I was interested on what it said, and it seemed like it came out about the same time that all of that hullabaloo was going around the internet about whether or not to wear yoga pants. So I clicked on it and read it. It is definitely from a college aged guy, so his analogies are a bit, well college aged guy like, but I love what he has to say. It is what I tend to say.

I don't want to get into the whole modesty issue right now, as far as what is and isn't modest, whether you should or shouldn't dress modestly. Whenever the issue comes up, whatever side you are on, I tend to find myself most passionate about what is said about men in the whole discussion. So often men are made out to be these uncontrollable creatures who are unable to contain themselves. They are almost somehow subhuman in that they are not able to control their urges and desires. This sometimes morphs into the "boys will be boys" statement that we hear. It goes something like this, "well you can't blame him, boys will be boys" or, "What did you expect, boys will be boys." It is as though anything a male does that is harmful towards women could and should just be waved away, because after all, boys will be boys.

While this mindset is not used in every case, in every location, all the time, it is an idea that is perpetuated even today. Yes, boys will be boys, but that is not an excuse or a pass for dangerous, illegal, or harmful behavior. We first start using this excuse/reasoning when they are young. Two boys wrestle, fight, etc. Well, boys will be boys. A little boy brings frogs, rocks, etc. into the house, while he, himself is covered in dirt. Boys will be boys. A little boy punches another child for taking his toys. Boys will be boys. While some of these instances are definitely not harmful and the saying is something to laugh about because it is true, others are not. I just found a great post about a mom with a son who hears this phrase and her reaction to it. Boys Will Be Boys.

Like the image says, "boys will be boys, ....doesn't have to mean raising a little cave man."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Powerful- What Does it Mean?

As I search for the next woman to highlight, either from Australia or South America, I run various Google searches hoping to stumble upon the right woman to feature next. I usually start out with a search of powerful women from that continent. Guess what sort of links pop up when I run this search? See for yourself. Someone who is powerful is someone who has influence in the business world. Someone who has money, or influence over those with money. While some of these women most definitely are wonderful role models, women who are powerful, self confident, and able, not all of them are. Some are not great role models, and definitely not the kind of woman I want to feature.

For whatever reasons, this is the type of women who are considered to be the most powerful. Like I have said before, this is not necessarily the type of woman I am looking for. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Article About Male Sex Trafficking Victims

I just read a great article about and written by a sex trafficking victim. Usually we hear about women and girls who have been trafficked for sex, this article however, is of a boy who was trafficked for seven years, starting when he was just five years old. Here is the article, Trafficked Boys in Plain Sight.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Facebook Page

So I started a Facebook page for "Real Women Have Power". You can find it at Real Women Have Power. I haven't shared/posted much, but I will continue to add more. If you are Facebook please go and like it!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The First Afrikaner Feminist?

Ready or not, here she is! So the past several days I have been doing various Google searches trying to find just the right woman to highlight for the African continent. During these searches I found several amazing women, some who were actually from a country in Africa, some who were born elsewhere and moved there. Some of these women were dead, most were still alive. However, none of them were quite what I was looking for.

Sometime either yesterday or the day before I stumbled across a journal that had been put online from a few different woman who had been in the concentration camps during the Boer War. These were interesting, but there was not quite what I wanted. (Really, I do not think I could tell you exactly who I was searching for, or what I wanted, but I felt like I had not found the right individual yet.) After finding these journals I decided to do a bit of digging around to see if I could find a woman who lived somewhere around that time period that felt right.

Concentration Camps during war (1899-1902).

Yesterday I came across a name and a short blip about a woman and it struck a nerve.

       "A single Afrikaans woman raised her voice against this ideology. She was Marie du Toit, the             sister of Prof. J.D. du Toit, popularly known as the Afrikaans poet Totius. In her book, Vrou en           feminist, of Iets oor die vrouevraagstuk, published in 1921, she objected against the                            recommendation of a committee headed by her brother that, on biblical grounds, women should          not be allowed to vote, neither in church nor in parliament."

I hadn't read much more than that, but I felt like here was a woman who was power. A woman who had stood up for something she believed in, against something she felt was wrong. The fact that she wrote a book going against something that her brother was backing, something that she objected to, was an idea that I just loved. 

I started digging around online, trying to find more information about this woman. I did not have a ton to go on, so I just searched for her name. Apparently there is/was an actress with the same name. I tried different search tactics to try and find more about her. 

Some back history to why Marie du Toit wrote her book and what was going on around her at that time. Several years prior to the publishing of her book, a monument, The Women's Monument was built in Bloemfontein. This monument was in recognition of the state and bravery of the Afrikaaner women. While this monument sounds like a great idea, no women were able to participate in the inauguration of monument, no women were interred there, and the suffering of the women was used to garner worldwide sympathy for the cause of the Boers. Actually, a man who allowed women to have a bake sale so that he could have funds to write a history of the woman, wrote the history to show that these women's souls "were too pure for politics, and that they had no intentions of becoming suffragettes like the women in Europe who worshipped the ideals of the French Revolution." 

Basically, at this time, in this country, women were applauded for show submission and being subservient to their husbands. Since their souls were too "pure and fragile" for much else, they were expected to stay at home and take care of the family. (Now, I am not saying that no woman should ever stay home and take care of their family, I think that this is something that is actually a noble calling, and not something to be looked down upon.) Women were not allowed any power, political, religious, etc. and were seen as not strong enough, smart enough, etc. to hold any power or position. 

Marie du Toit wrote her book in response and reaction to the decision made by the Reformed Church of South Africa in 1920, of which her brother had a part of, that stated women would not be permitted to vote about matters of the church. Apparently, this committed had found verses in the bible that they believed supported their decision to deny women the ability to vote in both state and church matters. Marie du Toit, however, debated that it was not Jesus nor nature that kept women held to private life, but rather men who did this. She, in fact, argued that it was a time when  those suffering from poverty and oppression needed the insight and intelligence of women to help. In addition to this she believed that women should be allowed equal access to education and pay. She stated that the restrictions placed on women and the subservience expected of them was unnatural, and her interpretation of the Bible was that Jesus sought for women to be human beings, free akin to men. It was not the right of men to choose whether or not women could vote and be involved in public and political life. She asked Afrikaaner women to stand up and stand together to get their rights and to not feel unworthy. She wanted women to moved out of the private life in their home, and to move into a world where they could hold political power and make a difference in the world.

As far as Marie du Toit's life, little can be found on the internet. She was born in 1880 and remained an unmarried school teacher until her death at 51 in 1931. She did have tuberculosis, and I am assuming that this is what she died of. At the time of the publishing of her book she was little known, with apparently no supporters. She was a lone voice in a time and a country where her views were much before their time. Even today in a world of feminism and a struggle for equality between men and women, she is a unheard of individual.

Why I Picked THIS Woman to Highlight for the African Continent

Isn't it interesting how certain things can stick with us for all our lives and how other things simply seem to go in our brains, bounce around and then float out? Sometimes I feel like I have forgotten more things than I remember. Yet, there are some things that for some reason just stick with you forever.

Years ago I read a book that, as I remember it, went into quite great detail about South Africa, the Boer Revolution, etc. I have been sitting here for the last several minutes trying to figure out what the book was called. (I have read A LOT of books over the years.) After a little Google search I was able to "rediscover" it.  This book was, The Covenant by James A. Michener. How old I was when I read it, where I checked it out from, etc. I really couldn't tell you, but I can tell you that certain parts of that book have stuck with me for years.

As someone who took all the classes except one foreign language class to graduate with a degree in History, I have always figured I have a fairly decent grasp of history. I enjoyed it all throughout my elementary and secondary education. I obviously enjoyed it enough to study if for several years at a community college an university. Reading this book though, and looking back on it, has reminded me how very little I really know/have heard about throughout history. Almost everything in this book was new to me when I read it. Even the Boer Revolution was something that I had never even HEARD about it in school. After reading about it, I have always wondered how it is possible to have such a think like that not even be mentioned in class. That then makes me wonder how many things throughout history, and in the present, that we aren't aware of. A staggering amount, I am sure.

Anyways, this book has made the Boer Revolution a interest that has stayed in my brain, rattling around a bit, not getting a ton of attention, but still in there not willing to be forgotten. I think it is because of this that the woman I have picked to highlight for the African continent is someone who I found through searches about the Boer Revolution.

The Last Word

I tend to watch a lot of different crime shows and read true crime books. NCIS and Criminal Minds are two of my favorite television shows. I just rewatched a Criminal Minds episode that has always struck a cord in me. The episode is in the second season and is entitled "The Last Word". In this episode the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) is called to St. Louis to help with two different serial killers. One of these serial killers the city has known about for months, but has been unable to catch him. He targets middle class women in their thirties, favoring women with a certain look about them. The police have been unsuccessful in catching him. The second serial killer has been operating for about the same amount of time, around a year or so, but only recently have police realized that they have a second serial killer. Both target women, leaving a string of missing and dead women in their tracks. So why is the second killer not recognized? That's "easy". His victims are prostitutes.

Granted, this is simply an episode of a television show, but the basis of this episode is quite realistic. There have been several serial killers over the last several decades who have targeted prostitutes because they know that here is a group of individuals who will not be "missed" as quickly, who when they do go missing, will not be given the same attention as a woman who lives in a white picket fence with 2.5 kids and a college education. Here is a group of individuals that society has deemed less than the rest of society.

Throughout the episode of the show there is one individual, a reporter, who keeps bringing up that these victims of the second killer are just as important as the victims of the first killer. At the end of the episode, after both killers have been caught, we see the story he has written for the cover of the next day's newspaper. He has printed the picture of each victim along with the headline "Victims Remembered".

Although I have probably seen this episode two or three times now, it still strikes something in me. Both because of the true sadness of the fact that society deems certain individuals as less than, but also because it reminds me that there are still individuals like that reporter who remind society that no one is less than, and everyone's life is worth something.

I've Found Her!

After several days of looking for the next woman I want to highlight, I have finally found her! I have been concentrating on the African continent for this post, and believe me, it was easier said than done. Yesterday however, I finally stumbled upon the name of a woman and a short blip about her that intrigued me. I have been looking online for further information and data. Hopefully within the day I will have a post about her up!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Human Trafficking

A topic that I have become more and more aware of and is becoming a passionate topic of study for me is that of human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking in the United States. After reading the
book Girls Like Us, it just stuck in my head. The more I research, follow pages on Facebook, get news alerts, etc. the more it gets under my skin and gnaws at me. I have several different pages on Facebook that I follow that keep my news feed spattered with various news articles, links, posts, etc. about sex trafficking; it's causes, effects, victims, perpetrators, laws, etc. The more stories I read the more it angers me, as well as baffles me. How does it make sense that a minor cannot legally give consent to have sex, yet young girls, as young as 11 years old are being CONVICTED after being a VICTIM in a sex crimes case? How does that make any sense at all? Here are two articles that I have read recently about this very issue. 11 Year Old Reports Being Raped Twice, Ends up Convicted  and U.S Jails Sex Trafficked Youth.

This is a subject that will most likely pop up quite often on this blog, as it is something that is becoming a huge interest/focus in my life.

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Shrinking Woman"

I don't know the first time I saw this video, but I remember the way it impacted me, and the feeling it left me. I think in so many ways even the title perfectly captures what has happened to women over time. 

When she talks about how every question she asked in class started with the word sorry, I could complete relate to that. How many of us feel as if we are intruding, being obnoxious, interrupting, etc. when we have a question or something to add to a discussion? In a classroom where you are at to learn, why must one feel the need to apologize when they are asking a question, asking to LEARN something? This is not something to apologize for, and yet more often than not, it seems that women DO apologize. Perhaps they feel "sorry" for not understanding, or for interrupting, but, one has the right to be confused, to ask a question when they need clarification, it is not something to apologize for. 
Why must we feel the need to always use the word sorry? There is definitely a time and a place to use the word, but in so many ways it has become over used and in some ways has lost its meaning. 

Women have been shrinking for so very long, feeling the need to take up less space, to make room for others, not just men. It seems to be more of the norm for women to think that they are not a priority, that they need to make time, space, room, etc. for everyone else in their life, to appease others, sacrifice themselves, etc. What is the cause and purpose of this? Is the "shrinking woman" really benefiting ANYONE by "shrinking"? Is she doing good in the world by allowing others to "invade" her space and take over her life? I think the quote from Marianne Williamson best answers that.

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. 
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. 
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. 
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

This has long been one of my favorite quotes/poems. I wrote about it in another post. 

I think throughout history they have always been those women who realize that "shrinking" is not the best way to live and serve the world. One does need to be overpowering, domineering, thoughtless, or selfish and does not become those things by NOT shrinking. There is a balance between realizing your own worth and living your own life and helping others. Some women go too far one way or the other, but in my view shrinking is just as harmful as being thoughtless and selfish. "There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Thank You

I just wanted to add a bit of an addendum to my last post. I said that I hope that I someday have people who read the blog, and I do hope that maybe one day I will have regular readers who aren't my friends and family (not that they aren't important, they are so very much!) I hope that one day maybe somehow this blog will make even a little bit of a difference in even one person's life. However, I do know that there are those of you out there who at least look at my blog, and I am so grateful for you. Seriously, my friends hear about it anytime someone from a new country looks at my blog. (There are statistics that show me where people are from country wise.) First time there was a view from somewhere besides the United States I was practically bouncing around the room. Every time there is a view from anywhere in the world it makes me happy, but just this feeling of somehow being connected to someone somewhere in another country makes me feel connected somehow to the world. And I love that. So, thank you, even if you have and will only look at this blog once, I appreciate it. 

Trying to Find the Next Woman to Feature

I've been searching the past few days to find the woman I want to highlight for my next Real Women Have Power post. I have been looking for a woman either from the African continent or the South American continent. Honestly, it is actually kind of tough! My "criteria": a woman who was born and lived in the continent, I would prefer someone from the past/recent past, and someone who is not in the history books. (I know I didn't follow this for Annie Oakley, but she is one of my favorite historical figures, so I made an exception.) That isn't too much to ask for, is it? I have found a few individuals who I think would be great, but the trouble is there is next to no information about them.

It has really started to bother me that there is so little information out there about women in history. We study a select few women throughout history, but other than those individuals, there just isn't a lot out there. I have several women in United States history that I would like to feature in the future, they are a bit more well known than I would ideally like, but they are amazing individuals all the same.

My goal with this blog is to eventually, hopefully not too far in the distant future, start featuring women in my own life who I see as powerful individuals. I know some amazing women who, while they may not be famous, etc. are individuals who, in my mind, have power. They have overcome obstacles, fought their own personal battles, etc. After this my long term goal/dream is to have readers (I am hoping one day to have people who actually regularly READ this blog) nominate women in THEIR lives who they see as Real Women with Power. I would love to feature women from around the world who are living their life with power and, whether they think so or not, deserve to have their story shared with others. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Power vs. the Bikini

Have you ever seen this video? Jessica Rey talks about the evolution of the Bikini and goes into research that has gone into how women are viewed when wearing a bikini. Not only does she talk about the bikini, but also about modesty. Take a look.

There are so many different parts of this video that I just love/want to discuss. While there are definitely some interesting points in the beginning about historical bathing suits and policies on the beaches, I am going to skip that part. The part that first stood out to me, both the first time I watched this months ago, and watching it again now is when she mentions how the Bikini was labeled as the millennial power suit, and then talking about the research done at Princeton University.

I found it fascinating/horrifying/not terribly surprising what the study showed about men's brains. I am not at all saying this in a negative way about men, just simply that it wasn't all that surprising that men's brains are wired this way. When a man sees a scantly clad woman, they are going to associate that with TOOLS. Think about that for a second. When you are wearing little clothing, a man's brain is not associating you with a person who has thoughts and feelings, but his brain is connecting with things that he uses. Tools, hammers, screwdrivers, you. Now, this does not mean that that man is going to act that way towards you, but that is what his brain is doing inside of his head. In the video Jessica Rey quotes a Princeton professor clearly stating that the brain activity shows that these men are responding to scantly clad individuals as if they were objects, and not people. Just think about that for a moment.

Let's move on to the next Princeton study she discusses. This study shows that when men saw pictures of women in bikinis they came up with first person action phrases. Phrases where THEY were doing something to the WOMAN. Compare this to when they saw pictures of woman in suits, where they associated with third person action phrases, phrases where the WOMAN was doing something. I don't know about you, but when someone sees me I don't want them to think that they have power and control over me, but rather that I have power and control over myself and my own life.

As Jessica Rey discusses in this video, a woman wearing a bikini does have "power", she obtains the ability to make a man see her as an object, rather than as an individual human being. I do no think that this is the kind of power most of us are truly looking for, and it is DEFINITELY NOT the kind of power that I believe all woman have within them and that I search for on this blog. That being said, I do think that Jessica Rey has the power I look for, she, in my mind, has made a difference, she is sharing a message and is doing something about it.

*If you are interested in seeing/purchasing Jessica's line of swimsuits you can find her website here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lou Xiaoying- Children Are Not Trash

A few years ago you may have read an internet article about a remarkable woman named Lou Xiaoying from China. If you enter her name into Google you will find pages upon pages of links about this woman, who probably never imagined that her name and actions would one day be flooded across the internet as people across the world shared her story. She was just a "normal, regular"
woman, who in the course of her everyday life as a trash collector did extraordinary things. Yes, this woman was a garbage lady, not a job that one usually thinks of when they think of someone "important" or "powerful", but this most definitely was both. I first came across Lou Xiaoying's story months ago though a Pinterest pin.I think it was the picture of her that really drew my attention.

It is a wonderful portrait of a woman to begin with, her face says so many different things. Then the small hand touching her face adds a whole other dimension to the picture. Once you know her story you see even more in the portrait, and it takes on a whole new meaning. 

Lou Xiaoying wonders the streets of Jinhua, in the eastern province of Zhejiang in China. She collects recyclable trash while she walks through theses streets, and that is how this woman made a living for most of her life. More than forty years ago, in 1972, while Lou Xiaoying was making her daily rounds she came across something a little bit different than the usual rubbish, a little baby girl who had been abandoned amongst the rubbish her parents must have seen her as. Lou Xiaoying could not leave this helpless baby out on her own, so the woman who made her living by collecting trash, took the baby home to raise. 

In a country with a one child per family policy that stretches back across four decades, abandoned infants are not a rare thing to find. After reaching a point of an average of four children per family that lead to a  famine crisis, China implemented a one child per family policy. This policy was in hopes of diminishing the future population of China and avoiding any future food shortages. The Telegraph has an article that covers the policy in more depth if your are interested. Due to this policy, many infants, especially baby girls, are either aborted, murdered, or abandoned, to keep families at the one child limit, that one child preferably being a boy.

This little girl that Lou Xiaoying rescued in 1972 did not wind up being the last child this remarkable woman would save. In fact, she went on to rescue over 30 children over the years. Some she and her husband kept and raised themselves, others they found homes for with friends and other family members. Lou Xiaoying and her husband, poor, "normal" people, did something so amazing, wonderful, and powerful, with the lives that they had, and through their, particularly her, power they were able to save the lives of over 30 innocent children.

If you are interested in a more in depth story, with wonderful pictures, The Daily Mail did a fantastic article. 

Update on Featured Women

I have decided that for my first seven posts about Real Women Who Have Power, I want to highlight one woman from each of the seven continents. I realized that I have done North America with Annie Oakley and Europe with Irena Sendler, so I figured that I will feature a woman from Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, and a woman that has something to do with Antarctica, as I will have to get a bit more creative with that one. There are women everywhere on this earth who are doing amazing things, and I want to discover them, whether they are in a big city or a small village, whether they are in the desert of the American southwest, or in the mountains of Switzerland. Women around the world are powerful, and I think it is important that we recognize that.

Look for my powerful woman from Asia coming soon!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Defending a Daughter

I don't know how many of you have heard about the Tweet Curt Schilling shared about his daughter. I hadn't known the whole story until this morning when I saw his name trending on the side of Facebook. Remembering I had heard something yesterday morning on the radio about he and his daughter I clicked on it. I remember yesterday actually being kind of sickened by what the RADIO DJ's were talking about, and how they were referring to Schilling's daughter. They were joking about how they pictured Schilling's daughter to be kinda pudgy and unattractive. Hearing this I changed the station, and honestly I can't remember which station I was listening to. I know it was either KMLE 107.9 or KNIX 102.5, and honestly I've pretty much reached my limit with both stations, I don't think I will be listening to either anymore.

Anyways, back to the Curt Schilling story. She is graduating high school and was accepted into a college and will be playing softball for this school. He was excited for her and shared a Tweet congratulating his daughter on her hard work and accomplishment. The result and response to this Tweet? Well, frankly it wound up being horrifying. There were many replies to his tweet about the things young men, using the term men loosely as they were more pigs and cowards then anything, were going to do Gabby Schilling once she was at college.

Schilling then wrote a blog post about the whole experience. You can read it here. He tracked down several of these "kids" who posted these vulgar replies. One of the guys was suspended from his community college, another was fired from his job at his college. Schilling states that he wants these individuals to know that there are repercussions for their actions. He brought up some great posts in his blog about how many people in the current generation have lived behind a keyboard and screen their entire life, where they are able to say things that they wouldn't say in real life. This makes bullies stronger, braver, and in so many ways worse.

I love what he did in defense of his daughter, the way he responded to what happened to her. The only thing I wish was that his daughter had also stood up for herself, to show these young "men" the kind of WOMAN they were talking about, and that she was not going to put up with it. I do not know if she has said anything, or released anything, but for me personally, I feel like like it would have been great for her to also share that this was something that should not be tolerated. What do you think?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

So, I saw this post that my younger sister shared on Facebook recently.. I think a year ago, or maybe even a few months ago part of me probably would have liked this. Now, however, it kind of irritates me. To me it just perpetuates this culture of a woman not being able to tell a man no. Think about it, why should a female, of any age, who is being harassed/followed, whatever by a guy, have to find an excuse to remove herself from him? Why can't she just tell him no, ask him to leave her alone, tell him she's not interested, etc. If someone or something is making you feel uncomfortable, leave. Extract yourself from the situation. (Now I want to clarify that I am not talking about situations that are growth opportunities. Just because speaking in public makes you uncomfortable, doesn't mean you should just run away from every opportunity to speak in public.) I'm talking about that uncomfortable feeling you get when something is wrong, or bad, when a situation is making you feel that discomfort in a very negative way.

Guess what, YOU can tell people no. You can tell that creepy guy that you aren't interested. You can tell that guy no, you won't give him your phone number. You don't have to give him your number, or a fake number. I have told guys no when they ask for my number. You know why? It is MY phone, I pay for it and it is something personal that I do not just hand out to anyone who asks.

We live in a culture that tells us, especially women it seems like, two different things when it comes to situations like this. A. It isn't polite to tell someone no. Or to ask them to leave you alone. "Nice" people always tell others yes. B. You, as a woman, might be in danger if you tell a man no, refuse to give him your number, etc. Therefore, it is YOUR job to appease this dangerous man, lie to him, give him a fake number, etc. to keep yourself safe. Apparently men cannot be trusted to behave like a mature adult if a woman refuses them. "Try harder" is what a man who is turned down is hold, or so we are told.

Somehow  it all becomes the woman's responsibility to protect herself from these "out of control" men. First, while i do not doubt that there are some men who will react negatively when told no, I will not give you my number,etc. I have never come across one. I've come across men who do not treat women the way the deserve, but when I have told a guy I am not comfortable giving out my number they are completely understanding. Second, why is it that it is becoming the responsibility of a woman to make sure that the man she is interacting with does not harm her or flip out on her because she said no? If this is a real issue, then shouldn't our boys be brought up to accept no for an answer? To not pursue a girl so much that she feels she has to fake being friends with someone just to get away from him? Shouldn't she be able to politely tell him that she appreciates his interest, but she is not interested? Shouldn't she be able to do that and not fear retribution?

*ETA* I also shared this post on my other blog, New Beginnings.

So Why Don't You Just Say NO?

Why do so many of us think it is a "bad" thing to tell someone else no? And why do so many people have such a hard time telling others NO?

Picture this. A friend, colleague, coworker, family member, etc. comes and asks you for a favor. It's something that you could do if you rearranged your schedule, dropped something previously planned, etc. How many people do you know that would tell this person "yes", and inconvenience themselves, just because they don't want to say no?

A lot of people seem to have this huge problem telling others no. In my experience women more than men have this problem. Whether it be a big thing, or a little thing, telling someone no is just not something that they do. Others may be able to say no to the big things, but not the little things, or vice versa.

I love the movie 27 Dresses, my friends like to joke that I am "that girl from 27 Dresses". Mostly because I have been a bridesmaid six times. One of my favorite scenes is the one in this clip.

How many of you can relate to her personally, or because you have a friend, family member, etc. like that, someone who just can't tell anyone else no?

Believe me, I am definitely not immune from this. I have certain things that for some reason I just cannot say no to. 

Imagine this. A group of your friends are going out to dinner. You are invited to go along with them. You like all of them, you like food, etc. but you just aren't quite in the mood, for whatever reason. How many of us just say yes and go anyways? Sometimes it all turns out just fine and dandy, you wind up having a great time, enjoy the food and company, etc. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes you wind up wishing you had just said no and stayed home, or done something on your own, but feeling like it would have been rude to turn down the invitation and say NO. 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret, it is okay to say no thanks, I won't be joining you this time. And you know what? Everyone will be fine. There probably will not be some gaping hole in their night because you said no. Not trying to make anyone feel unimportant, but if a group of several people are already getting together, one person not being there is not going to leave them without anything to do or talk about. Any if you are anything like I can be when I just need alone time, they might even enjoy the evening more without your antisocial mood hanging over the evening.

With that being said, why would it be rude to turn down that invitation? Frankly, I don't see how it is. You have the right to say no. You also do not have to explain to someone why you said no. If your answer is no, you have the right to say that and not feel like you have to give someone a reason or explanation as to why you are saying no. 

I have been wondering why we have this belief/mindset that saying no is rude or unacceptable. I have two different trains of thought on this. The first one stems from the fact that most of us growing up are taught not to tell our parents or other adults no. Growing up if an adult asks you to do something, you are supposed to do it, and telling no is not allowed. You parents ask you to do something, and you're supposed to do it, no refusing allowed. Sure, most people go through a rebellious stage sometime during their youth where they do say no and refuse, but maybe that early training sticks with them keeping them in the mindset of saying no is not acceptable as they get older. 

I don't know if that's true or not, but it seems like a possible explanation to me.

My second train of thought actually stems from a book about introverts and introversion I read. The author discusses how we are living an era of personality. In the present world most people judge people and base the worth of others based off of their personality, how they come off to others. Prior to this was an era of character. People were judged based on their character, who they really were, not who they seemed to be. So, if we today, are assessing people based on their personality, then someone who says no to people, invitations, etc. they may come off as a killjoy, a wet blanket, etc. They may be seen as not being as fun or flexible as someone else thinks they should be, giving the idea of saying no a bad rap.

Once again, this is just another thought of why we may be anti no in our culture today. 

*ETA* I also shared this post on my other blog. New Beginnings.