Tag Archives: Kamala Harris

Woman to Woman: how do we show up?

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Woman to Woman: how do we show up is looked at by Marco Cochrane, Burning Man Sculptor and Artis.  He poses the question by his art:  What would it take to have women feel safe? That question has had such an impact on me. And the bigger question, what would it be like for humanity if women felt safe and expressed what hasn’t been expressed, forged the path to a depth of perception and understanding that changed the course of assumptions and givens about how we do this thing called life.

It was a few years ago when Marco came to the Berkeley Impact Hub, and his question provoked some uncomfortable truths.   I now recognize the places I stop. Where I don’t fulfill my communications, limit my investments, withhold my viewpoints-and just ask that question of myself. What I find is opinions of others have been a long standing inner critic, and actually specifically the opinions of other women.  How women judge women is rarely considered, but , if they  exclude one from the tribe, group, community, with a shrug or a cool chill,  it may never come to words but a whole dance has happened.   Without conscious consideration and in a pattern, we often fall back and hide.   Moderating subconsciously to fit in to whatever code of conduct is telegraphed with the slight nuance barely detectable.  Recently a research revealed that being outside the group, the tribe is innately something we dread from our DNA.  Our very survival depends on being part of a tribe, community, family.  So the exclusion risk is experienced on such a deep level that it is barely recognizable.  The view that the risk is so high that we automatically reduce ourselves to acceptable form without even noticing that’s what we’re doing.

Does that experience bend our wills and allow us to shrug off our intention and wisdom?  Sometimes.  WE’re writers, artists, mothers, sisters, volunteer politically, board members, entrepreneurs, community members, dancers-and before I brought that question into my life, I had no idea how much I safeguard, mitigate, tolerate and allow things to pass. Just the question, Marco’s question,  gives me energy and a free space from which to find a whole other voice, a whole other stance, a whole other trust that has never been there that what I’m up to, what I need to say, how I need to respond can be trusted to be of value.

It surely starts with being told as a little girl to settle down, get in line, don’t talk, don’t giggle and don’t skip in the hallways. It is deepened by the moments of being called on by the teacher, haltingly responding and seeing and feeling the snickering in the room. The idea is don’t speak unless you are right. Watch, observe, and be included, be accepted, be a good girl.

POWERFUL IMAGES THAT TEACH

Marco Cochrane’s question disturbs the comfort in thinking that things are working out: women have been sexually liberated since the the mid 1960’s.  Women’s Rights and Human Rights are instilled in the culure, and the distance between the potential and what is so towards  sex equality has reduced; we are home free.

But then we watched women of stature, powerful women,  who have earned national respect in achieving elected office and produced results for society that are notable and distinguishable be diminished. They of all of us feel safe, right? Well maybe not.

Yes, it is still a man’s world, as we see in the halls of congress for instance.  Even so sometime women use the same judgements to level the playing field as do the male counterparts.  Certainly,  congress has demonstrated their position as we  watched Hillary Clinton be criticized for everything from her husband, her hair, her choice of clothing, etc. to her character as well.  Women, as well as men, said they just didn’t trust her-giving no discernible reasons offered. Even recently, we have seen newly elected but highly seasoned Senator  Kamala Harris of California interrupted repeatably in a recent hearing on Trump and the Russian intervention in the 2016 Presidential election. The concern and focus might have been on the source of the hearings, the Russians and their hacking, but instead the Chair of the committee  interrupted Senator Harris basically to shush her:  be still and sit down.  Anyone paying attention has seen this with Senator Elizabeth Warren. So our daughters are watching, and a part of our minds are observing and pulling us back from full expression lest we be called hysterical or cold or irrational.

What do you think the world would be like if women felt safe? Where would that show up in your life and your community, and the world?

https://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/6/12/1671201/-Senator-Kamala-Harris-directs-Focus-and-told-to-Shush

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The Women’s Caucus-2016: California Democratic Convention

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At the Women’s Caucus 2016 of the California Democratic Convention, across the front row facing the podium Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Water, Barbara Lee, Barbara Boxer and Kamala Harris met with delegates in a standing room only gathering of several hundred women with a few men.   These congressional and state public servants have better than stood for the issues of our times, but remarkably in the process they have only gotten softer in the places where humanity needs them to be, and stronger-like steel-in their resolve to see the human beings who are effected by how congress functions.

Each of these office holders is known for  never forgetting that by their unrelenting work for human rights, women’s rights, immigration and education,   communities and families  function are served or not served by  how they perform roles in public office.  They represent the best interest of not only the powerful, but those struggling with racial injustice and mass incarceration.  Women from all over California with standing room only are enthusiastic as these public servants do not keep their distance or strike a pose in their official capacity, but warmly receive the exchanges within the room.   In fact, there is  the impression in the presence of  these House of Representative, Senate and State representatives in that front row,  that the seven and half years of the Obama Presidency has had them taking positions that put them  directly in the firing line of a contempt oriented congress and political atmosphere. But these congressional members have used  all that to get stronger and represent harder the purpose of their  participation in governing.  The appreciation they held for each other in this morning session and for  the half a dozen other representatives from all over the state, who keep going no matter whatever the obstacles to standing for the principles of the democratic party: each person counts, and all persons count.  Democrats, as Vice President Biden stated as he addressed the over 3000 attendees to the Cal Dem Convention later in the day, democrats are for bringing about the possibilities for the value of each person, that no one is left out, while Republicans are trying to limit human rights, women’s rights and voting rights.

California has been ahead of the nation in their response to the needs of people and the ladies in that front row of women who have carried their roles and functions as senators and congressional members had everything to do with that.  One Trailblazer Award was given by the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus for her dedication to HIV/AIDS legislation, her stand for LBQBT, her work to bring about the relationship with Cuba now opening up and her ongoing work for families and children in her support for social justice for all communities.  Congresswoman Barbara Lee in turn acknowledged Nancy Pelosi for her power to listen and hear above the noise of the senate what is really important to the American people and her ability to inspire collaboration and productive benefit to the people of the country.  She congratulated NARAL for their focus and attention that brought about the repeal of the Hyde Act so that each woman can make a decision for herself about her reproductive rights decisions.

Senator Barbara Boxer, leaving her seat in congress soon, stressed she wasn’t disappearing.  “This is our time,” she said and it is time for a real change and women can make that difference in every field of study and practice. That this is a time when women need to bring other women along with them, and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton best represents the opportunity for women to fulfill their wisdom and contributions.  “The more doors opened for other women, the stronger we become as a country,” Senator Boxer stated.

“This is our time and we have the right to fight,” Maxine Waters stated and from the response in the room, indicating their choice was to move the progressive  message for the California Democratic Convention that will thread through the next months to the California Primary in June.

California Democratic Convention 2016 delegate votes

 

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Kamala Harris: Violence against Women stops here

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How effective is The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 is the question of 2014? As the layers of sexism become exposed, there are valid questions and more exposure to the fact that the 1994 law was only the beginning of a shift in how women are perceived in sexual assault and what that means.   Statistics show that there has been a decrease is sexual abuse since the law was instated.   But it seems than likely as in the sports world, in the military and in the university reports of assault and rape become known, that it is the reports of sexual assault that have decreased relative to their incidence, and not the number of incidences of assault.

 

The cost of a woman confronting the incidence of her assault is costly, personal and denigrating in many cases if they are even given credence at all once  reported. In the NY magazine Winter 2014, there is a story on student who carries her mattress around campus because her report of being assaulted on campus by a student did not result even in his being expelled from the University.  Only if there are headlines and large figures in the world of professional athletes, the best universities, or the top brass of the military do we find the public awareness pressing in on what might be the current evidence that violence against women has not been fully addressed even with the 1994 law.

 

In recent months NFL football players Ray Rice of Baltimore and Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers assaulted their mates within weeks of each other, and now the world is watching.  There is a demand to change the policies within the sports world to condemn the behavior of these sports athletes, and any others that might follow. There is talk of dire consequences and dismissal from their multi million dollar careers should these athletes fail to meet those standards of not hitting women.  Trained most of the time since high school, these athletes of age early twenties to late twenties are trained to hurl their bodies without mercy onto the fields and the players with different jerseys.   Brutality is an asset; quick moves automatic without consideration for bodily harm-theirs or the player across from them is the game.  A football is the focus, reaching and grasping stretching and extending the body and mind to whatever it takes to get to cross the line to the goal.  Like the ancient gladiators, their spent bodies are of no concern to the sports fans, the producers of the league or the team owners.  Head trauma, broken knees, arms, hips and pelvises that result for these young bodies and minds are being given some attention these days.  Concussions are now being recognized not only for the immediate destructive consequence, but the long range potential consequences of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s as well as the documented link to the conditions of alcohol and prescription drug abuse.  There is the dawning recognition of the cost to young athletes who pay for a lifetime of injury to their physical and psychological damages for the violent use of their bodies in football, and other sports.

For the young athletes who suddenly have huge sums of money offered to them, and fame-they are the winners in the lottery of life. They have little training in how to manage their extraordinary lives.  They are perceived as heroes, and are paid extremely well once professional football players or baseball or basketball.

For the general public the headlines report their car accidents, their fights with other players and their mates, just like other celebrities in the entertainment business.   Just like other celebrities they are public property from which the excitement about them, their lifestyles and their traumatic losses sell newspapers, keep the sports radio shows going, and add to the drama and ticket sales on the football field or sports arena.  For those on the sideline, the justification of the use and exploitation of these young men is that they are paid six figure salaries or more, they drive great cars, and the plays they make on the field are the thrill of their performances.

 

And it is the video of Ray Rice that even brings the conversation to the level of public awareness, and uproar. Men hitting women and the demand for a consequence began with the suffragettes who closed the bars because of wife beating in what they called “bloody Saturday nights.”  In the 1920’s, men lost a good part of their paychecks and then many came home and beat their wives.  The response by the Temperance Union to close the bars was motivated by the safety of women from the drunken assaults. (Suffragettes History)

Since the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, there is the report of a 64% reduction in violence against women.  However, that reduction cannot include what wasn’t reported; women getting hit and not reporting it.  Nor does it include the casual and frequent response of police when called with their position of blaming both parties in an assault by a man situation.  The woman’s state of being, sober or having ingested alcohol, what she was wearing, her history are all weighed, and she is often considered to have conspired with the outcome of assault or even the cause. That was what happened with the police in the case of Ray Rice and his wife.  This video stirred up the recognition that more needs to be done to train those in power to respond with absolute unequivocal effective action.  For the coaches, for the police, for the public the no tolerance for assault to a woman is being called for.  In the realm of testosterone laden football athletes, the demand for managing themselves is being revealed as not an option but a demand that needs to be met by the players, by the coaches and by the commissioners and their responses to assaults by players. In the heat of the video and the embarrassment of Commissioner Roger Goodell, there was that talk. There was also talk of starting to train young men about themselves and their aggression on and off the field in high school – which made the most sense of everything discussed. Will the attention and intention to encourage the punishment of sexual assault be the answer?

President Obama asked Kamala Harris, Attorney General in California to present to congress that 1 in 5 undergraduates are sexually assaulted, and women who do not attend college have even a higher rate of assault in the age group of 18-24. Sexual assault she mentions is an emotional trauma that maybe a lifelong difficulty and men as well as women are sexually assaulted. To address the underreporting by assault victims, Harris identifies that even with the glare of public light brought on by the Ray Rice Case, in the Universities and military, there are the limiting conditions that reside in the issue of sexual assault. (SF Chronicle 1/26/14) Of concern to Harris are the myths that continue to serve as limitations to women coming forward when sexually assaulted.

“It should go without saying that victims are not, and should not be, on trial, that they bear no burden to prove their own innocence and that our criminal justice system was not created only to serve and protect the metaphorical Snow White.” Women on trial for their sexuality shows up in many forms, and Kamala Harris is directly addressing the residual sexism in qualifying the victim’s complaint of sexual assault by addressing her personal history, her use of alcohol, and burden to prove her innocence. “There does not have to be a perfect victim for a crime to have been committed,” Attorney General Harris commented. The pervasive attitudes of women being sexual beings and attacks on their sexuality persist in the form of questioning her virtue and history. Harris comments on the fact that trauma has the effect of having memory distortions, but women are considered unreliable witnesses often to their own assault because of inconsistencies that are a part of the impact of trauma.

The business of professional sports, the halls of great Universities like Berkeley, the top brass in the military have all been headlined as wanting in terms of addressing the claims of assault with the appropriate gravity that it is due in reference to sexual violence. Women, and men coming forward and reporting sexual violence as the crime that it is will more likely report if they are not attacked, and become the victim of sexual bias.

 

“We must do better” Kamala Harris states, and yes we must. It is decades past women being the choosers in their sexual activity with the ability to assume responsibility for their sexuality. Aggressive campus sexual assault laws are a good start as Attorney General Harris states, but we have a distance to go in making it safe enough for women and men to expose themselves knowing they will be heard and not attacked, second guessed or have their attack minimalized in this, “the most underreported crime of all.”

 

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