Category Archives: Feminist Thought

Stream of Consciousness: Planting

A bitter heart is fertile ground for the dream of revenge. It can extend beyond heart and mind, into body, into world. Enact the vengeance, and the recipient may agree, yes, this is justice.

Or she may not.

Her family may agree, or they may not. Her friends may agree, or not.

What if?

The wronged heart, too, grows bitter then. Poison cultivates a new dream of revenge. Imagination and courage dance, a perverse action.

Then.

Pain inflicted on another.

What if…

Newly wounded burn with anger, rot with pain, and poison the ground for a dream.

And so it is, the potential in actions born of bitterness.

With life comes pain. But in pain, do you seek restoration or destruction?

But what of a family, community, or nation? What is in the heart of those who act on behalf others? Does the seed inspire healing and wholeness? Or hurt?

How do you cultivate your heart? What fruits will it bear?

From silence to action

One of the insidious things about rape culture is silence. Survivors of sexual assault remain silent, fearing retribution, shunning or disbelief. Community members remain silent unsure of how to respond. Is she lying? Is {insert celebrity or well-liked neighbor here} the type of person who would do something like that? The perpetrator is often silent. Sometimes because he scarcely believes he is guilty, or perhaps to keep a low profile in preparation for the next victim.

But just as there is silence, there is often sound. We hear the voices of perpetrators, maintaining innocence in some cases; claiming she deserved it in others. Voices of community members who support the offender and/or berate the survivor. Voices of advocates who offer comfort, righteous indignation and activism for survivors.

And sometimes we hear the voices of survivors, telling their own stories and demanding to be acknowledged. They do it for legal reasons. To agitate. For peace of mind. Or in the case of Tamara Green, to lend credibility to another survivor:

A lawyer told me I would be crazy to come out after 20 years and accuse him [Bill Cosby]. But I waited and waited to see who would back this girl up, and nobody else would. The Cosby team started smearing her, making her seem petty and loose and cheap.

I saw how nobody believed her. She had trusted him, and he had drugged her and then assaulted her, just like what happened to me. I saw that nobody was going to take him on, so I felt like it was my duty to risk my neck and stand [up] for all the other women who’ve been assaulted by him.

Read the Newsweek interview here.


Suggested reading: The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action by Audre Lorde. 

Powerful and Feminine

Power Posing is heralded as a technique women can use to close the gender gap at work. Women can raise their testosterone (which brings more confidence) and lower their cortisol (which lessens stress) by adopting certain poses before high stress situations. This, in theory, helps to level the playing field.

Writer Jessica Bennett referenced the work of Amy Cuddy, whose TEDTalk details the research behind power posing. Inspired by dramatic differences in class participation between male and female MBA students, Amy sought to encourage women to participate more – to “fake it until they make it.”

We understand the power of nonverbal communication with others, Amy explained, but we often forget that our nonverbals can also influence ourselves. She and her colleague, Dana Carney, asked two research questions:

  1. Do nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?
  2. We know our minds change our bodies, but can our bodies change our minds?

In other words, by adopting the postures of powerful beings, can we convince ourselves that we are, in fact, powerful, and begin to behave more powerfully?

Shy people and those who’ve ever experienced the impostor syndrome, understand what it’s like to shrink on purpose; to take up less space in a given environment. But what if those who would normally make themselves smaller, purposely enlarged themselves? Could that make a difference when it mattered? If you need to adopt a big presence – in the classroom or the boardroom – could you do it at will? Amy’s research suggests yes.

Taking a cue from the animal kingdom, powerful individuals take up space on purpose. They stand tall. They spread out. They expand. She found when humans adopted powerful poses for two minutes, they changed their chemical balance for a time. It turns out, inhabiting big poses and taking up space, raises your testosterone and lowers your cortisol, thereby making you more assertive and less anxious.

Faking confidence by posing “confidently,” actually makes you feel more confident, and you are able to behave more confidently. When you’re more confident and less stressed, in an interview for instance, you can shift the balance of power in your favor.

Power posing is just one of a number of ways many ambitious young women are adjusting their behavior, ever so slightly, to try to correct for a system in which stereotypically male leadership traits (assertiveness, dominance) are rewarded. ~Jessica Bennet

powerful and feminineAmy is encouraging women to adopt masculine techniques in an effort to gain more power in professional settings. But women can be more powerful and simultaneously more feminine. Explains Sojo of the Whiskey, Wine and Moonshine podcast, women can connect with their wombs, adopt feminine movements, and feel grounded and powerful without pretending to be manly.

I’ve spent the past few years actively engaging my femininity, sometimes with astounding results. As a professional who has to perform under a degree of stress regularly, power posing was an interesting idea at first glance. I tried it recently, but it wasn’t right for me. I feel more like me when I am grounded, centered, cheerful, and connecting with others – feelings I access through feminine poses, behaviors and rituals.

What strategies do you use to be your best you? Are you a person who takes up space?

Freedom Fighters

Freedom fighting, creation and imagination my favorite topics to mull. Last night I was  awake past my bedtime, and a trip down the rabbit hole known as the Internet led me to this great find.

It’s a podcast in two main parts. The first features Angela Davis and Grace Lee Boggs speaking at the Empowering Women of Color Conference. The second features an excerpt from Daniel Rasmussen’s book, American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt.

The cast is from 2012, but conversations about freedom are always timely.

Shout out to Renina Jarmon for the recommendation.