Women’s History Month

To celebrate Women’s History Month, I want to take a moment and thank all the strong, brilliant, and powerful women leaders out there.  This year alone, we have seen so many beautiful moments of unity through women activists from all over the world.  Each month of this year so far has held incredible peaceful protests led by women, welcoming anyone who is ready to fight the good fight.

In January, we saw women and men alike wearing pink in solidarity of women.  What started off as an idea to protest after Donald J. Trump’s inauguration became so much more.  The idea triggered a spark in women that led to something much greater than the Women’s March.  It became the start of a new revolution for women, and the largest peaceful protest in United States history with literally millions of participants.  

Crowds throughout the United States stood in unity of bright pink cat earred beanies, clever posters, powerful messages, and strong women.  From Washington D.C., to cities all over the world, women came out to stand in solidarity with one another and to remind one another that we are more than sexual objects that the current president makes us seem.  We are sisters, mothers, daughters, wives, friends, engineers, doctors, nurses, teachers, and so much more.  We are fearless.  We are strong.  We are resilient.  We won’t keep quiet.

In February, women around the country busted out their pink beanies once again, to stand with Planned Parenthood as Donald Trump made decision to defund Planned Parenthood.  Those who are against Planned Parenthood generally associate the health clinic with abortions, but the clinics offer so much more than that.  Here’s a brief run-down of a few services that Planned Parenthood provides:

  • women and men with affordable health care
  • allows women to have control over their reproductive rights
  • promotes sex education
  • offers low-cost pap smears and breast exams

For many women, it is a safe place where they can get the healthcare that they need when they can’t always afford it at a regular health clinic.  The Stand With Planned Parenthood protests began at local Planned Parenthoods, marching through cities as a sea of pink.  

This protest was meaningful to me, as a young woman who has been a patient of Planned Parenthood for several years.  I have been on birth control since I first became sexually active at the age of 17.  Having strict parents, this was not something I could reveal to them or open up about at that age.  Planned Parenthood, however, was able to help provide me with a year’s supply of birth control, , a supply of condoms, a Plan-B pill and a regular STI exam with every visit.  Through each of these visits, and the two different clinics I’ve gone to, I’ve never felt unwelcome or out of place.  Best of all, I was able to take control of my reproductive health and earn my undergraduate degree with no worries of anything unwanted.

I attended the protest in my college city with two girlfriends, as we listened to the speeches at the end of the march.  I was touched by how diverse the speakers were; women sharing stories of a time before Planned Parenthood, families sharing their experience in family planning, women of color praising Planned Parenthood for being a safe place for immigrants both legal and illegal, fathers who care for their daughters, and the LGBQT community that was able to get hormones through Planned Parenthood as well as STI / STD screenings.  So many people of all different backgrounds felt so incredibly grateful for Planned Parenthood and depend on it, and I am one of them.

This month, for International Women’s Day, women who were able to skip work participated in a “Day Without a Woman”.  This time, instead of a sea of pink, women and men all over the country wore red to stand with the women who protested for equality.  The strike asked employers to imagine “a day without a woman”, and to further make a statement, women participating in this protest did not shop or spend on this day.

All of these protests, rallies, and risks are led by women, planned by women, but welcome to everyone and anyone.  That’s equality.  So here’s to all the ladies who are putting in work, who are changing the game and making moves that are making history.  Happy Women’s History Month to all the strong ladies out there, you are all inspiring.  

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Sexual Assault is Nothing but a Career Step for White Men

And like that, Oscar season is over for the year. To the many winners of the night – congratulations.

Tonight in an act of dramatic irony – very fitting for the event – it was Brie Larson who awarded Casey Affleck his Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Manchester by the Sea from director Kenneth Lonergan. For those that don’t understand the irony in the situation, allow me to explain: In 2015, Brie Larson starred in Room (from director Lenny Abrahamson and author/writer Emma Donoghue) as Joy Newsome, a young woman held captive for seven years, forced into sexual intercourse with her kidnapper. The film details her character’s journey to normalcy in a world unfamiliar yet empathetic, as does the novel of the same name. Late last year during award season press tour, information resurfaced about two female colleagues working on Affleck’s I’m Still Here film in 2010, who filed to sue Affleck for misconduct while members of the project. In the official complaints by both women, made available to ABC News, one recounts how while sleeping in Affleck and fellow actor Joaquin Phoenix’s (Her) apartment awoke to a drunken Affleck lying right next to her “caressing her back”. When she confronted him he determinedly asked “why?”. When she refused, he reportedly stormed out of the room. The complaints are testimony to all else, like the verbal and sexual harassment endured by Affleck. Fortunately for Affleck, the lawsuits were resolved outside of court almost seven years to date. So you see the irony? A woman who played a rape victim – whose performance was so emotionally remarkable to garner her an Academy Award – to be the one to hand an assaulter an award of any kind, let alone an Academy Award for Best Actor, is belittling to all victims of assault. (Within this I must add what a beautiful humane person Brie Larson is. After Lady Gaga’s performance of “Til It Happens to You” – a song pleading compassion and understanding for all victims of sexual assault, their traumas, and their stories – Brie stood to hug all the victims of sexual assault who had joined Lady Gaga’s performance during the 2016 Oscars.)

My question: Are we going to continue to not hold these men accountable for their actions? Little has been done as in the case of Nate Parker (Birth of a Nation), whose career ended after his past with a rape conviction. And while we can rejoice in the progress, there continues to be support for men like Johnny Depp (with the most recent allegations of physical abuse from his former spouse, Amber Heard), awards for others like Casey Affleck, Woody Allen, and Mel Gibson, to (very unfortunately) name a few.

Nate Parker, an African-American man, was shunned from Hollywood, the Academy Awards themselves, for his past actions; why hasn’t Hollywood reacted the same to the Casey Affleck allegations? Is race the reason? One could strongly assume so. For example, why not upon learning the details of Woody Allen’s incestuous tendencies in 2014 from his own daughter be cause to blacklist the writer? Instead he went on receive and retain his nomination for Best Original Screenplay for the film Blue Jasmine – the film itself receiving a total of 64 nominations from various committees in different categories, he himself receiving 10. Was the letter from the victim herself not enough evidence? Ok. There was audio recording of Mel Gibson verbally harassing his ex-wife in 2010 during a string of phone calls in which he berates her, calls her vile names like “bitch”, “cunt”, “whore”, threatening to beat her not sufficient to acquit the actor-turned-director of any ties to Hollywood? No again. Gibson’s directorial work in Hacksaw Ridge earned him a nomination for Best Director at the Oscars and the Golden Globes (the two worth noting). These men have continued on with their careers, their lives somehow bettering as a result from assault allegations, and they can proudly thank their white privilege for these opportunities. As it turns out, we are a long way from progress.

But I am certain progress is coming. Whether it be in the form of a frosty-solid composure, an open letter, various 140-character tweets, as is true for Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu. More and more people are fighting for women’s rights, just peep the attendees at last month’s Women’s March. We will rally behind the victims, and no matter who your brother is Casey Affleck, you will not stand a chance. Our voices will be heard.

To Those Who Marched:

Disclaimer: I’m not a political expert.  I do my research in topics that I am concerned about, and I have strong opinions on things I believe in.  I do not write things to anger others who have different beliefs than I do, but in the case that it happens, let us all remember to put aside our political differences and be respectful to one another.

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The last Saturday, millions all over the world participated in the #WomensMarch.  Sadly, I was not one of them.  However, that’s not why I’m writing.  To be perfectly honest, I didn’t plan on participating in the Women’s March.  I didn’t plan accordingly, but I wish I had been a part of that moment in history.  But once again, this post isn’t about my lack of marching.  Instead, this one goes out to my ladies.

To all the women who marched, I thank you.  Thank you for marching in solidarity with one another, and thank you for participating in one of the largest and most peaceful protests U.S. history.  Thank you for standing up for all rights beyond the hashtag.  Thank you for standing with Planned Parenthood.  Thank you for standing for our LGBTQ sisters and brothers.  Thank you for standing for the fabric of our country, the people of color.  Thank you for standing with our Muslim sisters and brothers who are in fear of this presidency.  Thank you for uplifting one another, and all those around us.  Thank you for being inclusive of anyone who wanted to stand up for these rights, no matter the age, gender, race, or sexual preference.

I experienced the Women’s March vicariously through social media, and I was so impressed by all that I saw.  Ladies, we are strong, smart, and creative.  I’ve seen so many different signs that I loved that have all been heartwarming, sassy, and incredibly clever.  I love that so many women have honored Carrie Fisher’s iconic role of Princess Leia through their posters that read, “A Woman’s Place is in The Resistance”.  I felt chills as I heard a beautiful group of women sing, “I Can’t Keep Quiet”, which has practically become the anthem to the movement, and that I’ve now listened to every day since Saturday.  I am totally digging the pussy-hats that hundreds of thousands of women have made and worn to be in solidarity with one another.  I loved seeing the sea of pink across cities and states, and seeing the solidarity that spread around the world.

Ladies, we are capable of anything.  If this march proved anything, it is that we are not going to back down while there are others who are not being treated with equality.  It proved that we can, and will work together until we see changes that need to be made. Let us continue to strive forth for a better future for ourselves, for our daughters, our nieces, our friends, our students, and for anyone who wants to see the same positive changes in the world.  And until then, remember, “I Can’t Keep Quiet”.

XO,
E.T.