Thursday, October 29, 2015

Feminism

I just read Glennon's blog post, "Why I'm Prejudiced & So are You".
Since I’ve started speaking about this, one thing that I’ve had to resist is shutting down and shutting up in response to this refrain: BUT I’M NOT RACIST. I AM NOT PREJUDICED. I WAS RAISED BETTER THAN THAT. I need you to please try to hear me on this.

We are raised by our families, but we are also raised by our culture.

I am a feminist. At my heart, I am a fierce, bold advocate for women. But I was raised in a sexist culture. I was raised in a world that tried to convince me through media, through certain religious organizations, through inadequate history books and through the beauty industry – that female bodies are worth less than male bodies- and that certain types of female bodies (thin, tall young) are worth more than other types of female bodies.

The daily deluge of images of women’s bodies for sale and the onslaught of emaciated women’s bodies held up as the pinnacle of female achievement and the pervasive message that women exist to please men was the air I breathed decade after decade. I was a radiation canary living in a mine and the toxins were misogyny. I got sick from it. Not because I’m a bad, sexist person but because I was just breathing sexist air.
Me too! I am a feminist. I thank God often that He sent women into my life that worked their farms, fixed their tractors, raised horses, developed their photography, and were good home managers to boot.

In my life, I garden, I raise chickens, I build fencing for my animals, I mow the lawn, I unclog drains, I check levels on my vehicle, I prune trees, I take the limbs and branches to the dump, plus I help with grandchildren and care for my own children. I can cook from scratch, clean, do laundry, scrub floors, and get stains out of clothes. And none of those things require me to be a female or male. The only thing that requires me to be a female that I have done is gestate and lactate.

And yet...

When Jessica was learning to be a woman from me during a crash course lesson when she was 21 (remember, Jessica was Jared just last spring), I realized how many rules I have for how women are supposed to behave.

I plucked Jessica's eyebrows and taught her how I do my make-up. When she was putting on her mascara, she said, "Good enough."

And I said, "There is no 'good enough' when you are a woman. You have to get it right.'"



Wow! How powerful are those words? There is no good enough. You have to get it right.

Who'd have thought that me, a woman who has taught my daughters to not be afraid to get their hands dirty, to kill their own spiders, to check their own oil has probably also taught them that society expects them to "get it right". I had no idea that I had that in me...

Yes indeed, it has come from our culture. From the time I was 14 until I was 18, at least once a year the activity of learning how to put on makeup was part of my life in my young women's group at church. Why, a leader in that church was just videotaped as he made this statement at a young single adult fireside (watch here).

There is more to a woman than being beautiful and charming. I have been called both of those things, but I am with Cristina from "Grey's Anatomy" as she says, "Oh screw beautiful. I'm brilliant. If you want to appease me, compliment my brain."



When Jared was talking about transitioning to a woman years ago, I asked why he would cut off the part of his body that allowed him to be ordained to the priesthood, allowed him to make more money, and allowed him to be taken more serious. How screwed up is that?! I am, as Glennon says, "I was a radiation canary living in a mine and the toxins were misogyny."

(As a side note: in The Episcopal Church I can keep my genitalia and be still be ordained to the priesthood if I'd like to be. Jessica -as a trans woman- can too. I love that!)

As I have read comments that people say about inequality of the genders, I keep reading that because we aren't sold into sex trafficking, because we can vote, because men say that they value us, we are equal.

I saw this SNL ("Saturday Night Live") video that talks about this very issue. Take a look (here).

Yes, we've come a long way, but we have a long way to go.
♥ Melody

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hail Mary::Sunday, August 16

Today was the first time I've heard the Hail Mary prayer, and my heart was deeply touched.

Tim Yanni, who is a postulant assigned to St. Mary's, gave the sermon today. Today is the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Mary, and since we are her namesake church, we honored her by having our services revolve around that holy day.

During the sermon, he said that Bishop Hayashi encourages the postulants to tell some more personal beliefs of theirs to their peers and to their congregations. He told us that he used to be Roman Catholic. Growing up, he said many Marian Prayers, or prayers aimed toward Mary, the mother of Jesus. He said that he has found that these beliefs are embedded in him - they are his true beliefs at his core - he encouraged us, the congregation, to examine our own deeply held beliefs. He said that we wouldn't have an answer at the end of our lives, but that it will take a lifetime of reviewing to find them all.

He explained that the reason people pray to Mary is for intercession, since she is the mother of God. He said that we ask her to pray for us the same way that we would ask a family member to pray for us.

At the end of his sermon, he said that he will continue with his prayers to St. Mary because they are important to him, though he wouldn't ever insist that anyone else believe the same way or practice the same way as he does. (at that point, Matt jabbed me (gently) in the ribs with his elbow. ;) )The final piece was asking all who would like to and knew the prayer, to help him pray the Hail Mary prayer. After the congregation had finished, I was so choked up that I couldn't say the Nicene Creed for a space of time. This is the prayer:
Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Amen.
♥ Melody

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Photojournalism through the eyes of Jimmy from "The Secret Keeper", by Kate Morton

"Then there were the photographs he’d taken in London since the Blitz started. Jimmy eyed a series of portraits on the far wall. He stood and went to have a closer look. The East End family pulling the remains of their possessions on the back of a handcart; the woman in her apron hanging laundry on a kitchen clothes line with the fourth wall of her kitchen missing, the private space suddenly made public; the mother reading bedtime stories to her six children in the Andersen shelter; the stuffed panda with half his leg blown off; the woman sitting on a chair with a blanket around her shoulders and a blaze behind her where her house used to stand; the old man searching for his dog in the rubble.

They haunted him. He sometimes felt he was stealing a piece of their souls, snatching a private moment for himself when he made his shot; but Jimmy didn’t take the transaction lightly, they were joined, he and his subjects. They watched him from his walls and he felt a debt to them, not only in having borne witness to a fixed instant in their human experience, but also to the ongoing responsibility of keeping their stories alive. Jimmy would often hear the grim announcements on the BBC: ‘Three firemen, five policemen, and one hundred and fifty- three civilians are known to have lost their lives’ (such clean, measured words to describe the horror he’d inhabited the night before), and he’d see the same few lines printed in the newspaper, but then that would be it. There was no time for any more these days, no point in leaving flowers or writing epitaphs, because it would all take place again the following night, and the one after that. The war left no space for individual grief and memorial, the sort he’d seen in his father’s funeral home as a boy, but Jimmy liked to think his photographs went some way to keeping a record. That one day, when it was all ended, the images might survive and people of the future would say, ‘That’s how it was.’"
I read this and it resonated with me somewhere deep down inside of me. I, too, have felt that photojournalism steals a piece of people's souls. I have thought that they need to be alone with their sadness and trauma... then again, I have photographed two funerals and a still-born baby's blessing and photos with the family. Many times, people like to remember, even though at the time they think they don't.

As I read the lines following that, "Jimmy liked to think his photographs went some way to keeping a record. That one day, when it was all ended, the images might survive and people of the future would say, ‘That’s how it was.’" I realized that too sounded very correct and exactly what I believe.

The other day, as we were hiking The Grotto, I took some pictures of the landscape. It felt different than it used to. It felt wrong. I realized that I prefer to include people in my pictures, though I don't know when that happened.

So as I was thinking about what Jimmy had said, and thought about how I felt on The Grotto trail, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I'd like to study to be a photojournalist...
♥ Melody