Open Thread: International Women’s Day

Much the same as the charging bull, the little bronze girl by artist Kristen Visbal was put up in the wee hours of the morning as “guerilla art,” McNally said. But, unlike the bull, the firm discussed it with the city beforehand so that it could remain at least temporarily.

“We’re actively pursuing that it stays for a month,” she said. “If the city decides that it should stay in perpetuity, we’re absolutely on board with that.”

At the Washington Post, “Five women changing their world for the better“:

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, a holiday now more than a century old, is “Be Bold For Change.” It’s a message intended to push people toward concrete action on gender equality. Here are the stories of five women from around the world who are doing just that in their communities.

England: ‘You either just give up, or you think, ‘one life at a time’
Sarah Fane is an optimist, a smile never far from her lips. Ask her about educating girls in Afghanistan, a nation where the literacy rate for women is among the worst in the world, and she beams…

India: ‘Why am I tolerating it?’
Vimla lost her father when she was 14. A year later, she was married to a man 16 years older than her. He began beating her on the first night of their marriage… After years of abuse, Vimla, 64, who goes by just her first name, asked herself, “Why am I tolerating it?”

She started attending a workshop held for women and eventually began working in the slums… She started the Women Progress Council to educate women across 12 slum colonies in Delhi about domestic violence, health and their rights. “Once they get support, it gives them confidence,” Vimla said. “They understand the unfairness and then they stand up for themselves.”…

Russia: ‘Everyone has a story’
Women facing the threat of domestic abuse or sexual assault often don’t have free use of their hands, are under immense strain, and may not be able to access their telephone to call for help. Kathy Romanovskaya, 42, a co-founder at the Russian startup Nimb, says her company’s product has those women in mind. It’s fashionable ring that doubles as a panic button, allowing the wearer to discreetly send a distress signal to a support circle, including friends, parents or the police…

China: ‘Women around the whole world should unite’
It was March 2015, two days before International Women’s Day, and Wei Tingting was preparing to mark the occasion. She and a small group of friends wanted to raise awareness about sexual harassment on public transportation. They planned to hand out stickers on the bus — but they never got the chance.

Instead, Wei and four other women were taken to a detention center on the outskirts of Beijing and held for 37 days. They were interrogated again and again about their plans to organize for LGBT and women’s rights.

The Chinese government’s campaign of intimidation did not work. Word of their arrest spread quickly and spurred global campaigns to #freethefive, turning them into feminist heroes. Two years later, Wei is still working for gender equality as the founder of the nonprofit Guangzhou Gender Education Center. She is also preparing a report on sexual harassment….

Egypt: ‘Now, it’s a critical time for Muslim artists’
Deena Mohamed is not your typical 22-year-old, and neither is her creation: Qahera, a Muslim web-comic superheroine who wears a hijab, or headscarf, wields a sword and can fly. Her mission, in part, is to help women who face sexual harassment…



A Day Without Women?

If I were a True Progressive(tm), I probably wouldn’t be writing this (although, in my defense, for me it’s the end of Tuesday rather than the beginning of Wednesday). Yes, I enjoy putting these posts together — since it’s unpaid labor, Cole could hardly fire me for noncompliance — but it does qualify as work, some days more than others.

Jia Tolentino, in the New Yorker, on “The Women’s Strike and the Messy Space of Change”:

T[oday] is the Women’s Strike, the fourth of ten actions that have been called for by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington. The strike was planned to coincide with International Women’s Day, and the march organizers, in tandem with a team organizing protests in forty countries around the world, have asked women to take whatever form of action their lives allow for. Take the day off from “paid and unpaid labor,” including housework and child care, if you can, or avoid shopping at corporate or male-owned businesses, or simply wear red in solidarity. There will be rallies in at least fifty cities around the United States.

Comparisons between the strike and the post-Inauguration march—now estimated to be the largest political demonstration in U.S. history—are inevitable, and likely to be unfavorable to the strikers. The decline in unionization has insured that most American workers are unfamiliar with striking and what it entails. And it is, of course, much harder to strike on a weekday than to protest on a Saturday. It is also more difficult to facilitate, measure, and publicize absence than it is to celebrate presence, the way one does at a march. When tens of thousands of immigrants went on strike on February 16th, they did attract some favorable public attention—as well as employer retribution—but a general strike the next day, and a tech-industry strike one week later, escaped public notice almost completely…

From the Washington Post, “The expensive problem with the ‘Day Without a Woman’”:

Rosie Molina, who works at a District restaurant for $7.50 an hour, woke early to march on the Mall in January. Then she rushed downtown for an afternoon shift. Molina was proud to have briefly joined the movement — her cause is immigrant rights — but she cannot afford to take part in Wednesday’s strike, which would cost her about $60. That’s two weeks of groceries.

“I’m a single mother,” Molina said. “I don’t have the luxury. The last time I took a day off, my paycheck was very low.”

Taria Vines, 44, who makes about $350 each week as a caterer in the Bronx, decided to take the day off to march Wednesday in the nation’s capital with some friends. Vines figures she’ll lose a chunk of pay — probably enough to cover her cellphone bill — but she still wanted to take a stand against sexual harassment and discrimination.

“It’s costing me money to do this,” she said, “but if I don’t fight for what’s right for me, who will?”…
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Tuesday Evening Open Thread: “What Are the Republicans Afraid Of?”

Excellent question, Madame Pelosi!

She says the Democrats will be “per our traditional standards, courteous” tonight… but she’s wearing suffragette white and purple, and so will many of the other female Democratic legislators.

Out of curiosity, how many of you are gonna hate-watch the President-Asterisk’s speech this evening?



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Out of the Shadows

From the Washington Post, “For decades they hid Jefferson’s relationship with her. Now Monticello is making room for Sally Hemings“:

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The room where historians believe Sally Hemings slept was just steps away from Thomas Jefferson’s bedroom. But in 1941, the caretakers of Monticello turned it into a restroom.

The floor tiles and bathroom stalls covered over the story of the enslaved woman, who was owned by Jefferson and had a long-term relationship with him. Their involvement was a scandal during his life and was denied for decades by his descendants. But many historians now believe the third president of the United States was the father of her six children.

Time, and perhaps shame, erased all physical evidence of her presence at Jefferson’s home here, a building so famous that it is depicted on the back of the nickel.

Now the floor tiles have been pulled up and the room is under restoration — and Hemings’s life is poised to become a larger part of the story told at Monticello.

When the long-hidden space opens to the public next year, it will mark a dramatic shift in the way one of the nation’s most revered Founding Fathers is portrayed to the more than 440,000 visitors who tour this landmark annually.

It’s part of a $35 million restoration project that will bolster Monticello’s infrastructure but also reconstruct and showcase buildings where enslaved people lived and worked. The man who wrote the words “all men are created equal” in 1776 was master of a 5,000-acre working plantation who over the course of his life owned 607 slaves.

“Visitors will come up here and understand that there was no place on this mountaintop that slavery wasn’t,” said Christa Dierksheide, a Monticello historian. “Thomas Jefferson was surrounded by people, and the vast majority of those people were enslaved.”…

To pinpoint that room, historians relied on a description provided long ago by a Jefferson grandson, who placed it in the home’s south wing. Archaeologists are now peeling back layers in the 14 foot, 8 inch-by-13 foot, 2 inch room to reveal its original brick floor and plaster walls.

We don’t know how Hemings regarded her involvement with her owner. Historians do not know exactly how old she was when she lived there; and no portraits or photographs of her exist. But step into the brick room, the floor still covered in red dirt, and it is not hard to imagine her sitting in a chair, warming herself in front of the fireplace…

Monticello historians hope the restored room will humanize the image of Hemings, beyond the gossipy old accounts of Jefferson’s so-called “concubine.”

“Sally Hemings was better traveled than most Americans, so we want to tell a story about her that doesn’t limit her to Jefferson’s property,” said Gary Sandling, a vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and runs Monticello as a museum…

Much more at the link. Whatever the hard truths of Sally’s relationship with Mr. Jefferson, it’s good to know that she did have the minor luxury of a room of her own.
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What’s on the agenda for the new day?



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Never Stop Fighting Back

A few more photos of the Women’s March in DC, courtesy of commentor ET.

And an excellent reminder from Buzzfeed‘s Bim Adewunmi, “The Road Women Marched On This Weekend Was Paved By Black Resistance“:

In the Culture galleries at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, there is a whole section on style. Written on a museum sign is a quote attributed to Tony Award-winning playwright George C. Wolfe, which reads: “God created black people and black people created style.” On the eve of the Trump inauguration, black people came out in style, and gathered at the NMAAHC, nicknamed the Blacksonian, to attend the inaugural Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance, a “gathering to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of the past four years and the vow to continue to be the change we want to see in the world”…

… It felt fortifying, like an enriching blood tonic. “This is not a game. This is not reality TV,” actor Danny Glover said to the crowd. Writer and activist Naomi Klein laughingly called the night “the eve of the apocalypse” before adding, more seriously, “Tomorrow is not a peaceful transition of power – it’s a corporate coup d’état.” Children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman led a fiery prayer (“God, forgive and transform our rich nation and us…”) and urged the assembled guests to “go out there and cause a movement”. Playwright Eve Ensler led the crowd in a series of pledges, to “resist, disrupt, love deeper, to rise”.

“We will not compromise, we will not negotiate. We will not go backwards,” Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter declared. “Are you with me?”…

I had come [to the Women’s March] to talk specifically to black girls and women about why they were at the march. Statistically speaking, black women already got in formation at the election (and beyond), and if more white women had followed in their footsteps, perhaps this particular march might not had occurred?

I saw so many black women at the Women’s March, and each one I spoke to gave me a variant of the same answer: They were here because they had to be. To have sat it out would’ve been to cede to a feminist movement that was all too willing to discard them, when they had been the silent workhorses of the collective for so long. It was evident in the number of placards and signs I saw, happily quoting from the rich and grand tradition of black feminist theory and thought: Angela Davis, a speaker at the march, popped up often via her words, as did Maya Angelou. The most quoted was Audre Lorde, whose abundant written legacy is a treasure trove of march-friendly quotables. It was about representation, a group of African women told me. They were here, representatives of African women a continent away from this march, each with their own feminist histories, currently living their own feminist realities. This is for us too, all the black women I spoke to were saying. Putting ourselves back into the narrative, where we have always been. So I approached multigenerational groups of black women and asked to take their photo, and I looked out for groups of multiracial teenage girls, eyes wide and almost overwhelmed by the crowd. We are physical manifestations of our parents’ dreams, and I saw so many parents with a proud gleam in their eyes on Saturday afternoon…
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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Still Celebrating

This is probably my next-to-last batch from BJ commentors, but I’m nowhere near tired of admiring all these Nasty Women (and allies)!

Here in New England we’re getting a nor’easter of freezing sleet — wicked lucky, for January, because if the temps had dropped just a few degrees it would’ve been a foot or more of sodden snow.

What’s the other (preferably) good news on the agenda for the day?

From “Occasional commentor” JCJ:

Pictures from Madison. Driving in it was like football game traffic.


Beloved gardening-and-rescue commentor MaryG:

Just because I am still fired up, here is a picture of Bonnie the Bailbondsperson’s phone number I wrote on my knee, along with bonus concerned cat; my sign, a bit worse for wear after going through narrow doors after the march, but with the names of some of those Juicers unable to march written on it… I am still gobsmacked that hundreds of people showed up and how positive the energy was.

A very cool thing happened. A van full of very young Marines from Camp Pendleton with a door decal about LIBERTY!!! pulled up and everyone on both sides got very tense. The Marines got out and there were a long few seconds of showdown-at-the-OK-Corral silence, then an older woman marcher said Good morning, gentleman! Thank you for your service! Smiles broke out on all sides, thank you, ma’ams were issued and they went into the vape shop. The driver looked extremely disgruntled, especially when I said Nice try, dude, but lame.

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Monday Morning Open Thread: Keep Resisting!

Maybe it’s just me, but… the present social moment reminds me of the Anita Hill – Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. All the nice white men (and some women!) shook their heads and said Not my mother! My wife! My daughters! Nobody would dare treat my women like that!

And then ‘their’ women told them the stories they hadn’t been able to share, because they needed that job and all the girls expected to be treated like that and what good would it have done to complain?

Or ‘their’ women just looked away, because really, what could they say?

That didn’t stop Justice Thomas’ confirmation, of course, but it did — as the expression was — change the conversation. Suddenly sexual harassment was a real problem, not just a smutty joke.

Let’s be the snowflakes that start the avalanche…

From a BJ commentor. Dogs know which people can be trusted: