Pre-2008 Posts

This category contains 529 posts

“Using the Chooks (Chickens) to Garden

Australians call chickens “chooks”.¬† ūüôā¬† I’ve tried letting my chickens range in the garden, but I’ve found, like The Witch’s Kitchen blogger has, that they are too destructive.¬† I haven’t had chickens for a couple of years now, but would love to try the method she describes:

they have a moveable roost, and a water bucket and laying box, and an old kids ‚Äúshell‚ÄĚ pool propped up to provide bit of shelter from heavy rain, and I have a fresh new chook run, complete with a few weeks supply of greens, every month. I throw the chooks the weeds, household scraps, azolla, grass clippings, and any other organic matter I can get my hands on, along with a few bags of horse or cow manure which they scratch through looking for insects and in the process mix nicely with all the other organic matter.

Using the Chooks to Garden.


“Wiggle Room” — Eating from the Garden Year ‘Round

…our cabbage from the garden is just about finished.¬† We are still eating lots of Rotkohl (braised red cabbage) since the Ruby Ball cabbage is holding very well, but the end is near.¬† We are entering the hungry months where a variety of methods of growing, preserving and eating come in real handy.¬† Sauerkraut is a staple in the winter months along with the fresh cabbage or kales we can glean from the garden.¬† Wiggle room comes in the form of eating what we can from the plants in the garden and saving foodstuffs from the preserving season for the hungry months.

Read the rest of Throwback at Trapper Creek’s nourishing post (and other writings).

This is What Cruelty and Intolerance Look Like: Patrick Henry College Locked Down, 50 Police Called in to “Guard” Campus Against 40 Nonviolent Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Christian Activists; Two Arrested

¬†[Note:¬† I apologize for the length of this post, but I deeply and sincerely believe this is worth everyone’s time to read.¬† — Heart]

At this point, if I think about it in too much depth, I will melt in my tears… I came here to promote love. I came all the way from California to introduce myself so you could see with your own eyes what a gay Christian looks like. I left my young son to do this. I wish to be recognized as a sister in Christ. I have been a Christian all my life.‚Ä̬† Jillian Nye, 29, Soulforce Equality Rider

If you would like to gain insights and understanding as to the¬†shape of things to come¬†should the¬†Religious Right/Patriarchy Movement/Quiverfull/Christian Reconstruction¬†movement achieve its ends,¬† if you care about the future of this¬†nation and of the entire¬†world, please, please educate yourself by watching the video I’ve posted above and by reading what I have to say here and clicking on the links. Continue reading


Sobering, from the Women’s Earth Alliance:

  • As community caretakers, mothers, and resource stewards, women often feel the impacts of pollution and contamination most directly, retaining contaminants in their breast and body tissue, experiencing endocrine disruption, and bearing children with birth defects.
  • Approximately 70% of the world’s uranium deposits are located on the lands of indigenous peoples. Navajo in Church Rock and Crownpoint, New Mexico, are victims of the nation‚Äôs worst radioactive uranium spill ‚Äď in 1979, a liquid uranium tailings dam was breached and 100 million gallons of radioactive liquid spilled into Navajo waterways.
  • Over 60% of African Americans and Hispanic Americans and half of all Native Americans live in communities with unregulated toxic waste sites.
  • …Studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Michigan have shown that minority and low-income communities in the U.S. have consistently been selected in greatly disproportionate numbers as sites for chemical factories, landfills, and incinerators…
  • The Navajo Nation exports 1200% more energy than it uses, especially from coal ‚Äď the Nation is home to the largest coal strip mine in the United States.¬† It is estimated that some 18,000 Navajo homes do not have electricity.



I wonder how many of the search engine terms I’m receiving wondering about my divorce, or whether I’ve divorced, are coming from the conservative folks in my old world, and how many are coming from the feminist and progressive folks I’ve encountered in recent years. Ah well.¬† In response, I am divorced.¬† Rick and I separated in October of 2008 and our divorce was final in 2010.¬† I¬† intend to remain single.¬†¬† Rick and I remain devoted to our children, whom we co-parent.¬† So there’s your answer.

Published Writings

I’ve added a page today listing some of my published writings.¬† I will be adding to it and providing links where articles are available online.¬† I’ll also be posting a list of¬† radio and television appearances and, where possible, links.


Things Women Share In Common

As an American woman,  I have much in common with by far the majority of women throughout the world.  If I were to gather with women from the Middle East, from Southeast Asia, from Eastern and Southern Europe, from South America, Central America, were language no barrier,  and if we wanted to share our lives, we would find we shared much common ground.

  • As a female, girl and woman, all of my life, I have been¬† objectified, othered, and expected to serve men, over the entire course of my life, and punished in various ways for refusing.
  • Growing up in a family of immigrants and third-generation Americans who revered the ways of the¬†Old Country, I learned my place as a girl child early on.¬† As a girl it was my job to cook and to¬†clean for men, to serve them dinner and wash the dishes afterwards, to launder, fold, iron their clothes,¬†to prepare their meals.¬† I was to smile, be kind, be friendly, be sweet, mind my manners, speak softly, dress femininely,¬† like dolls and pink and all of the things girls and women are supposed to like.¬† To deviate¬†or challenge any of the above¬†brought swift censure, shunning and punishment.
  • I am a survivor of rape, sexual assault, groping, both in public places and in private, “flashing;”
  • I am a survivor of battering, severe domestic violence.
  • I am a survivor of ongoing sexual harassment — in the streets, on the job, in my home, in the marketplace.
  • I have been spiritually, emotionally, verbally, mentally, and physically abused in fundamentalist religion.
  • I am a mother.
  • I have suffered miscarriages.
  • I have had an abortion.
  • I am the mother of 11 children, all birthed from my body.
  • I have breastfed all of my children.
  • I have suffered all of the indignities apportioned to mothers, in particular single mothers and mothers of very large families.
  • I have suffered the insults and indignities of patriarchal medicine.
  • I have worked two and three jobs simultaneously to support my family over, by now, 36 years.
  • I talk a lot about my magazine and my writing because I’m proud of that work.¬† But over the course of my life, to earn money to support myself I have¬†also picked berries in local farms, weeded rich¬† folks’¬†yards and farms, cleared brush from farms, picked brush (look it up, it’s hard work), cleaned houses, both as a paid housekeeper and as the unpaid caregiver for my¬†and others’ children and families, grown fruit, vegetables and herbs for sale, made soap and other products for sale, worked as a bus girl, a waitress, and a cocktail server, worked as an office clerk, a secretary, a caregiver to babies and children.
  • I have been coerced¬†into marriage.
  • I have been excommunicated and¬†subjected to discipline for disobedience to patriarchal religion.
  • I have been¬†subjected to the patriarchal¬† indignities of the divorce process.
  • My worth has been consistently evaluated on the basis of¬†my physical appearance.
  • ¬†I have had to feed my family of 10 and 11 on less than $200 per month. (And I did it.)
  • I have had to find ways to keep my family warm without a source of heat in the house.
  • I have been fired because I was pregnant and not hired because I was pregnant.
  • I experience fear at night in dark public¬†places when I am alone.

Coming Back

I’ve decided to return to blogging after a long rest.¬† I hope eventually to restore all of my post-2008 posts as well as the pre-2008 posts I’ve already restored.

The death of my 25-year-old daughter in 2010 changed many things for me.¬† For¬† a while I thought I’d let my blogs and internet presence, in general, go, so I let my domain name lapse¬† and stopped paying my webhost, who finally deleted my blog.¬† I had backed up my web pages, but on hard drives I’m not using anymore because the computers to which they were connected are broken. I hope to get these hard drives installed on another desktop computer at some point so that I can restore all of my more recent posts.¬† I will also be mapping my old domain to this blog, so that will soon be my address again.

I’ve missed blogging.¬† Love and peace to all.


Shoes (Warning, May Trigger)

“These women were shunned by two eras,” Yang says. “When they were young, footbinding was already forbidden, so they bound their feet in secret. When the Communist era came, production methods changed. They had to do farming work, and again they were shunned.”

Wang Lifen, above, now 79, was just seven years old when her mother started binding her feet: breaking her toes and binding them underneath the sole of the foot with bandages. After her mother died, Wang carried on, breaking the arch of her own foot to force her toes and heel ever closer. Now 79, Wang no longer remembers the pain.

“Because I bound my own feet, I could manipulate them more gently until the bones were broken. Young bones are soft, and break more easily,” she says.

At that time, bound feet were a status symbol, the only way for a woman to marry into money. In Wang’s case, her in-laws had demanded the matchmaker find their son a wife with tiny feet. It was only after the wedding, when she finally met her husband for the first time, that she discovered he was an opium addict. With a life encompassing bound feet and an opium-addict husband, she’s a remnant from another age. That’s how author Yang Yang, who’s written a book about them, sees these women.


Another woman, with a history like Wang Lifen’s. Continue reading

UPDATE: Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Margaret Witt, Highly Decorated Air Force Nurse, Fired for Being a Lesbian


Margaret Witt

Good news for Margaret Witt and her partner and for all lesbians and gay men in the military, good news for all who are committed and dedicated to human and civil rights for all people.  The Ninth Circuit has ruled that her case should proceed and has reinstated her in the military.

Major Witt filed a lawsuit challenging the ‚Äúdon‚Äôt ask, don‚Äôt tell‚ÄĚ policy as a violation of the Constitution‚Äôs due process and equal protection clauses. In 2006, Judge Ronald B. Leighton, of Federal District Court in Tacoma, Wash., dismissed the case. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, disagreed, reinstating much of Major Witt‚Äôs suit and returning the case to Judge Leighton for further proceedings.

The decision was notable for the standard the appeals court instructed Judge Leighton to use in considering the case. The panel said judges considering cases claiming government intrusion into the private lives of gay men and lesbians must require the government to meet a heightened standard of scrutiny.

The usual standard is called ‚Äúrational basis‚ÄĚ review, which merely requires the government to offer a rational reason for a law or policy. The rationale offered by Congress for the ‚Äúdon‚Äôt ask, don‚Äôt tell‚ÄĚ policy is that openly gay and lesbian service members threaten morale, discipline and unit cohesion. Several courts have sustained the policy as rational.

On Wednesday, Judge Ronald M. Gould, joined by Judge Susan P. Graber, ruled that in cases like Major Witt’s, the government must go further than simply showing a rational basis for its action, instead proving in each case that an important government interest is at stake and that the intrusion into the plaintiff’s private life significantly advanced the interest.

Link, Link

Following is my original post of last November.

SEATTLE (AP) РA lawyer for a highly decorated military flight nurse who was fired for being gay asked a federal appeals court panel Monday to reinstate her lawsuit against the Air Force, saying her discharge violated her right to be free from governmental intrusion in her private life.

Maj. Margaret Witt, 42, was suspended in 2004 after the Air Force received a tip that she had been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman. She was honorably discharged last month, after having put in 18 years – two short of what she needed to receive retirement benefits.

Attorney James Lobsenz asked the three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to invalidate the 1994 “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy or, at least, reinstate Witt’s lawsuit. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but requires discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or engage in homosexual activity.

Lobsenz argued that the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling striking down anti-sodomy laws in Texas recognized a “fundamental right” of consenting adults to be free from governmental intrusion into their bedrooms. The relationship was with a civilian woman and took place in their home in Spokane, hundreds of miles from McChord Air Force Base, Witt’s duty station in Western Washington.

“At all times she kept her sexual life private,” Lobsenz said.

He also noted that even heterosexual child molesters are allowed to prove, on a case-by-case basis, that they should not be discharged, but gays who engage in homosexual conduct are automatically excluded.

Monday’s arguments centered on the ruling in the Lawrence v. Texas case, and whether it in fact established a “fundamental right,” which would require a higher burden for the government to show that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is constitutional.

Jonathan F. Cohn, a deputy assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice, acknowledged that the Texas case is not “a pinnacle of clarity,” but said the justices know full well the significance of the phrase “fundamental right” and didn’t use it in their ruling: “The court very clearly stops short of … recognizing a fundamental right.”

And if there’s no fundamental right, Cohn said, the court should defer to the government’s argument supporting “don’t ask, don’t tell”: that having gays in the armed forces could be disruptive.

Witt joined the Air Force in 1987 and switched from active duty to the reserves in 1995. As a nurse, she cared for injured patients on military flights. She was promoted to major in 1999, and she deployed to Oman in 2003 in support of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. A citation from President Bush that year said, “Her airmanship and courage directly contributed to the successful accomplishment of important missions under extremely hazardous conditions.”

Her suspension the next year came during a shortage of flight nurses and outraged many of her colleagues, one of whom, a sergeant, retired in protest, saying he no longer wished to be part of the military. The two Air Force officers who met with Witt in 2004 to tell her she was being fired, Col. Jan Moore and Maj. Verna Madison, said they were terribly upset about it.

Witt, who is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, attended Monday’s arguments wearing her uniform. She declined to speak with reporters.

Her lawsuit is one of two that have been argued this year in federal appeals courts challenging the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The other case was argued in Boston in March. Twelve gay and lesbian veterans who were dismissed under “don’t ask, don’t tell” asked a federal appeals court to reinstate their lawsuit, arguing before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the policy is comparable to government-sanctioned discrimination against blacks.



In Memorium: Irena Sendler, 98, Who Saved the Lives of 2,500 Jewish Children During the Nazi Reign

Almost everyone has heard of Oskar Schindler (Schindler’s List) and his heroic rescue of 1,200 Jews during¬†Hitler’s reign¬†. Not so many know about Irena Sendler, above, who as a 29-year-old Polish social worker ultimately rescued 2,500 Jewish children from Nazi occupiers of Warsaw, Poland, who had built a wall and a ghetto for the Jews.

Sendler had been influenced by her father, a doctor, who defied the Nazis and treated sick Jews during outbreaks of typhoid fever.  Her father died of typhoid fever himself when Sendler was 9 years old.

Sendler in 1943 after escaping Pawiak prison.

Sendler in 1943 shortly after escaping from Pawiak prison.

Social workers were not allowed in the Warsaw ghetto, but Sendler went in¬†anyway, along with 25 comrades she had¬†recruited to help her, 24 of them women.¬† They called themselves “Zegota”.¬† Sendler and her¬†sisters (and one brother)¬†went into the Warsaw¬†ghetto, risking their lives — Nazi orders were¬†to shoot non-Jews and anyone who aided them¬†on sight — ¬†and rescued children, carrying them out in baskets, boxes, wrapped up¬†in packages, in coffins.¬†¬† Their parents, in anguish,¬†would ask¬†Sendler whether she could ensure their children would¬†live.¬† Sendler could not.¬†¬†But she knew and told them that¬†if she did not carry the children¬†to safety, they would surely die.¬†

The jars containing names and information about the rescued children were buried here in Sendler’s friend’s garden, under the tree above.¬† Her friend’s daughter, Hanna Piotrowska, who was 12 years old at the time her mother and Irena buried the jars, still lives at this residence.

Sendler found safe places for all of the 2,500 children she rescued —¬†in orphanages, in private homes.¬† She gave them non-Jewish aliases, carefully recording their true names on thin rolls of paper, hoping¬†she could eventually reunite them with their families. She preserved the¬†rolls of paper¬†in jars¬†she buried in a¬†friend’s garden.¬†

In 1943, Sendler was captured by the Nazis, imprisoned¬†and tortured over many days.¬†¬† However brutal the torture —¬†Sendler’s feet and legs were broken during¬†one torture session and she passed out from the pain¬†— ¬†Sendler never disclosed the names of her comrades, the location of her buried bottles containing the names of rescued children, ¬†or anything about the¬†children.¬† Eventually she was able to escape.

When the war ended,  Sendler unearthed her jars and tried to reunite the children she had rescued with their families.  Most of their families were dead.  Many of the children she rescued were adopted by Polish families.  Some went to Israel.

Megan (Felt) Stewart (above) stumbled on Sendler’s story as a 9th grader in Kansas, wrote a play about it, and made the world aware of what Sendler had done.

Although in 1965, Sendler was recognized by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust authority, as a “Righteous Gentile”, an honor given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the reign of the Nazis,¬†comparatively few knew¬†of Sendler’s work until 1999, when a¬†ninth grade¬†girl in Kansas, Megan Felt, and several of her girlfriends, stumbled across an article about Sendler.¬†¬†Felt wrote a play about Sendler called “Life in a Jar,” and eventually¬†traveled to Poland to meet her shero.¬† Since 1999, Felt’s play has been presented over 250 times in three countries.¬† Felt and her friends¬†created the Irena Sendler Foundation, raising money to pay for¬†Sendler’s care as an elder woman.¬† In 2006, Sendler was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Sendler passed over at 98 years of age yesterday, May 12, in Warsaw Poland, of pneumonia.  She leaves a daughter and a granddaughter to mourn.



UPDATE: Little Girls as Prey and the Murder of Zina Linnik

UPDATE:  Terapon Adhahn, left, was sentenced Friday to life in prison without possibility of parole.  He was convicted of the following crimes:

‚Äʬ†One count each of aggravated first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree rape in the July 2007 death of 12-year-old Zina Linnik.

¬†‚Äʬ†Three counts of first-degree rape and one count of first-degree kidnapping in the rape of an 11-year-old Tacoma girl abducted on her way to school in May 2000.

¬†‚Äʬ†One count of first-degree rape, three counts of second-degree rape and three counts of third-degree rape of a child for repeated sexual assaults of a teenage girl who lived with him from 2003 to 2005.

¬†‚Äʬ†One count of failing to register as a sex offender, for not abiding by the conditions of his sentence for a 1990 incest conviction.




The man in chains in the photo,¬†Terapon Adhahn, 42,¬†was arrested a few days ago, after he told police where he left the body of Zina Linnek, 12, one of eight children whose family lives in Tacoma, Washington, where I was born and grew up, within a few¬†miles of where three of my adult children now make their homes.¬† Adhahn left Zina’s body at a rest stop in an area of¬†personal importance¬†to me, at the entrance to Silver Lake on the Mountain Highway not far from Tacoma, where my grandparents built a cabin when I was a tiny girl, a cabin my parents still own which lies¬†just below the home in which they now reside, and where our family regularly gathers.¬†¬† Whenever we drove up to “the lake” when I was a girl, my dad would¬†joke in a kindhearted way¬†about people picnicking in the rest area, saying they likely¬†believed¬†they were out “in the wilderness.”¬† To my dad,¬†only remote, nearly inaccessible, “rugged” areas qualified as “wilderness.”¬† We’d smile at my dad, the harried attorney become¬†quasi-swagger-y¬†like a mountain man, and we’d drive around the bend¬†just moments away from my grandparents’ rustic cabin, complete with outhouse in those days, full of family memories and memorabilia, as it still is.¬†

The days of reminiscing¬†as we drive past that “rest area” are history now; that place will forever be shadowed and haunted by the brutal murder of a little girl, whose body was discarded as so much rubbish there.


Zina Linnik

Continue reading

So What Do You Do…

If you’ve amassed a huge crowd¬†to soundly denounce a woman blogger, and she still just won’t get it right (i.e., she won’t agree with you)?

I guess you delink and stop reading.  Because bloggers have every right to write whatever they want to write, so far at least.   

If you are a thoughtful person,  maybe you consider the implications of amassing all of those people and all of that energy against a single woman blogger and what might be possible if you turned your attentions to white, male supremacist bloggers who blog their racism and sexism day in and day out, and who so far seem to have escaped your attention, for some reason.

“Iron Ladies of Liberia”

Dear Colleagues & Friends,

I am writing to let you know about a timely new collection of documentaries about Women in Leadership & Politics now available from Women Make Movies.

¬†The centerpiece of the collection is IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA, which was recently broadcast on the Emmy¬ģ Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens. This new WMM Release profiles Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first freely-elected female head of state, as she faces the daunting task of lifting her country from debt and devastation.¬†

Highlighting remarkable women leaders from around the world, the six essential educational resources in this collection present a vital global perspective on women and the power of political change. From the courageous struggles of Afghani freedom fighter Malalai Joya in the award-winning ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS, to those of three American women during the Civil Rights movement in the best-selling STANDING ON MY SISTER’S SHOULDERS, these films are an inspiring and thought provoking addition to any discourse on women in politics!


Sarah Reynolds
462 Broadway, Suite 500
New York, NY 10013
tel 212.925.0606 ext. 312 | fax 212.925.2052 |

Established in 1972 to address the under-representation and misrepresentation of women in the media, Women Make Movies is a non-profit media arts organization and the world’s leading distributor of independent films by and about women. WMM focuses on cutting-edge documentaries that give depth to today’s headlines, as well as artistically and intellectually challenging works in all genres. For more information about WMM, visit

The 13th Carnival of Radical Feminists is UP!

The 13th Carnival of Radical Feminists is UP at Anji’s place!¬†

And it is fine, fine, fine, GREAT job, Anji!

The following smart thing to include borrowed from the NEW CARNIVAL!

And that’s all, folks! Thanks to everyone who submitted posts, and to all the wonderful women who wrote them. The next Carnival will be on Monday 19th May at Maggie’s Metawatershed. Click here to submit a post (your own or someone else’s) Рdeadline for submissions is Monday 12th May. You can also check below for the previous carnivals if you’ve missed any.

Previous Carnivals Of Radical Feminists 

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12

If you’d like to host a carnival, e-mail me, we have openings beginning in July.¬† ūüôā


In Solidarity: End Genocide in Darfur

The children of Darfur draw their stories of genocide in their country.

Shecodes of Black Women Vote, who was part of the amazing¬†Come Together blogcast with me, Tami,¬† Adele Nieves and Karla Mantilla a couple of weeks ago, has a great post up with specific ways to act and respond to the horrifying situation in Darfur.¬† The images of the children and drawings above are from her post, which is part of a larger¬†effort of ¬†“25 Conscious Bloggers … on a Mission to Educate, Motivate and Activate their readers to play their part in ending the genocide in Darfur. We are powerful, our aim is most righteous and we take the rhetoric of Never Again to heart,” which is the brainchild of Danielle Vyas of Modern Musings.¬† Read, add your voice, act.



Min Mo√įir/My Mother

(Embedding has sadly been disabled, but if you go to this link, you can watch the video— so worth it.)

Eiv√łr P√°lsd√≥ttir – Min Mo√įir (“My Mother”)
The music of my womenfolk going back many generation helps to hold me together, body and soul, right now.  So much that we have together as a people, as women, is unspeakable in language, in words, even for those of us for whom words and language are our life.
Offered to you with much love, circle cast, candles burning, prayers like breathing.





Hear the Come Together Live Discussion

Hear the official live discussion that concludes the Women’s History Month blog carnival, hosted by What Tami Said and Women’s Space by going here and clicking on the link at Tami’s place.¬† WordPress won’t let me embed the link to the blogcast.¬† Tami and I were joined by Karla Mantilla, Adele Nieves and Shecodes for a great discussion of feminism and its intersection with race and other issues.¬† I’ve been flying high since the blogcast– it went so well! Thanks to all of you amazing women who participated.¬† I’m proud of us– we’ve made history, watch and see.





The  quality of being complete; unbroken condition; entirety
~ Webster

A wild patience has taken me this far

as if I had to bring to shore
a boat with a spasmodic outboard motor
old sweaters, nets, spray-mottled books
tossed in the prow
some kind of sun burning my shoulder-blades.
Splashing the oarlocks. Burning through.
Your fore-arms can get scalded, licked with pain
in a sun blotted like unspoken anger
behind a casual mist.

The length of daylight
this far north, in this
forty-ninth year of my life
is critical.

The light is critical: of me, of this
long-dreamed, involuntary landing
on the arm of an inland sea.
The glitter of the shoal
depleting into shadow
I recognize: the stand of pines
violet-black really, green in the old postcard
but really I have nothing but myself
to go by; nothing
stands in the realm of pure necessity
except what my hands can hold.

Nothing but myself?….My selves.
After so long, this answer.
As if I had always known
I steer the boat in, simply.
The motor dying on the pebbles
cicadas taking up the hum
dropped in the silence.

Anger and tenderness: my selves.
And now I can believe they breathe in me
as angels, not polarities.
Anger and tenderness: the spider’s genius
to spin and weave in the same action
from her own body, anywhere —
even from a broken web.

The cabin in the stand of pines
is still for sale. I know this. Know the print
of the last foot, the hand that slammed and locked the door,
then stopped to wreathe the rain-smashed clematis
back on the trellis
for no one’s sake except its own.
I know the chart nailed to the wallboards
the icy kettle squatting on the burner.
The hands that hammered in those nails
emptied that kettle one last time
are these two hands
and they have caught the baby leaping
from between trembling legs
and they have worked the vacuum aspirator
and stroked the sweated temples
and steered the boat there through this hot
misblotted sunlight, critical light
imperceptibly scalding
the skin these hands will also salve.

–Adrienne Rich¬†

Throughout her life, Second Wave feminist poet Adrienne Rich received many literary awards, the 1996 Tanning Award, the National Book Award, more than one Guggenheim Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship.  In 1997, though, at the age of 68,  she declined a National Medal for the Arts.  This is the letter she wrote:

July 3, 1997
Jane Alexander, Chair The National Endowment for the Arts
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20506

Dear Jane Alexander,

I just spoke with a young man from your office, who informed me that I had been chosen to be one of the 12 recipients of the National Medal for the Arts at a ceremony at the White House in the fall. I told him at once that I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or this White House because the very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration. I want to clarify to you what I meant by my refusal.

Anyone familiar with my work from the early `60s on knows that I believe in art’s social presence–as breaker of official silences, as voice for those whose voices are disregarded, and as a human birthright. In my lifetime I have seen the space for the arts opened by movements for social justice, the power of art to break despair. Over the past two decades I have witnessed the increasingly brutal impact of racial and economic injustice in our country.

There is no simple formula for the relationship of art to justice. But I do know that art–in my own case poetry–means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage. The radical disparities of wealth and power in America are widening at a devastating rate. A president cannot meaningfully honor certain token artists while the people at large are so dishonored.

I¬†know you have been engaged in a serious and disheartening struggle to save government funding for the arts, against those whose fear and suspicion of art is nakedly repressive. In the end, I don’t think we can separate art from overall human dignity and hope. My concern for my country is inextricable from my concerns as an artist. I could not participate in a ritual which would feel so hypocritical to me.

Adrienne Rich

cc: President Clinton

Celebrate Women Artists! Announcing the First Annual SWAN Day (Today!)


I enjoy reading womens space as a feminist refuge from a lot of the mainstream progressive blogs. I thought you and your readers might be interested in hearing about the first ever holiday for female artists and the video featuring Sandra Oh, the phenomenal and fearless actress from Grey’s Anatomy, celebrating the talent of female artists on the first annual SWAN Day.

Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) Day was launched this year with over 100 events globally (including Ghana and Bosnia) as an international holiday to honor female artists, actresses, playwrights, singers, etc. so that their vision of a better world can be both seen and heard. The long term goal of SWAN Day is to inspire communities around the world to find new ways to recognize and support women artists as a basic element of civic planning. It is taking place this Saturday, March 29th and the last Saturday of every Women’s History Month in future years.

Using the power of all forms of art, the first SWAN Day will be marked with performances, exhibits, film premiers, parties and celebrations.

SWAN Day events are happening in 24 states across the U.S. ‚Äď ranging from a festival of women-fronted rock bands in Connecticut to a theatre performance in California by women aged 56-84.¬† In Dorchester, Massachusetts, a recycling center is offering workshops on using leather and vinyl scraps to create purses and tote bags.¬†¬† There are premiere film screenings in San Francisco and Chicago, and all-day festivals in Washington, D.C.; Providence, Rhode Island; San Diego, California; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

SWAN festivals are also being created outside of the U.S. in Germany, Canada, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Ghana.

To find an event near you here at home, check out this handy map.


Thanks for the heads up, Caroline!¬† And for finding my blog to be a feminist refuge.¬† ūüôā

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The Farm at Huge Creek, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, The Feminist Hullaballoo