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 Africa, 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.
  • I am a grandmother
  • I am mourning the death of one of my children.

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