Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

20 June 2008

How I get thru my days & still tick off my husband

Yesterday my husband was reading the paper and saw a snippet about how for the women of Darfur (and around the world) rape is weapon of war, an every day event and that for many of them "trading" sex for food is a survival tactic, to say the very least. He was shocked and started to rant to me about how horrible this was and that why don't we do something, etc.

I looked up from my laptop and said, "Yup."

I want to say that my nonchalant response was more of "Yeah, nothing new," rather than a hardening of my heart. Because honestly rape is rape and it is a disgusting and makes my stomach turn. I've heard social workers say that after some time, you just shut down. It's not that they don't care anymore, it's that they CAN'T care anymore. It's like they have used up their lifetime supply of empathy & tears.

Kate blogged today about the emotional wear that goes along with working in a feminist organization:

the dogged societal persistence of inequality for nearly half the world's population will have that effect. but the reality of that negativity - as much as it sometimes makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and stay that way - ultimately fuels me, motivates me to take some action.
Thankfully my feminist work isn't as emotionally draining as it could be. Yes, it's hard to deal with sexual harassment of a student, to deal with unplanned pregnancies that sideline brilliant students for a semester, and the insanity that is infant care in the entire Chicago region. But I don't have to raise money (at work) so women can eat, I want my students to earn six figures. I don't have to find them emergency shelter with their toddler and beloved cat, I want my students to come to dinner once a month to meet a new role model.

On the other hand, it's hard working in a feminist career where most of the people I work for (not my bosses, the recipients of my work) don't identify as feminist or see their issues as feminism. I find solace in remembering that the students I work with didn't grow up with even the thin gender barriers I had in the 1980s. That they were children of this century or at the latest, the 1990s. And then I get depressed that they were raised to think that they will conquer the world only to slam head first into a glass ceiling or wall. That's when I sometimes come in...whether thru a personal visit or a memory.

My husband thinks I talk too much about the woes of this world at times. But considering that he just learned about rape as a strategy of war, I'd say that I don't talk about it enough.

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NCLM Comments:
1. Barbara Kellerman on why Pelosi AND Hillary are not role models for women seeking political office. I commented on just the Pelosi piece, but you must read both.
2. Girl with Pen will soon be Girl with wedding bouquet.
3. Susan of Feminist Economics is in Turino at a feminist economics conference and wants questions!
4. Feminist Underground on a possible change in how the international PTB view rape.
5. Baggage is a home owner! I've been reading her forever and I'm so proud of how she has lived her life, taken in so many kids, and honestly has so much gawd damn love to share with this world. Not to mention she loves the Cubs too.

Comment back:
Uncensored Feminista muses about the pregnancy pact girls.

Technorati tags: feminism

5 comments:

Rape as a strategy of war . . . that is just sickening. I am so disturbed about what's going on in Darfur right now. We should be there instead of Iraq, IMO.

This is an interesting post. I'm a 30-something professional woman, and I've often said that I don't know what impact gender discrimination has had on me, because it's become so hiddden. It's clear to me that I don't always have the same options as male colleagues, but it's hard to tell if my career has been hampered because of my gender, or because of how I comport myself (I'm very direct and speak my mind). I was raised to believe that I could do whatever I wanted to, and that the glass ceiling doesn't exist any more. But I'm not sure that it's true. As you rise up as a woman in this world, you start to see that all of the people surrounding you on the ladder are men.

Thanks for the link, Veronica. I think Blogger might have eaten your NCLM Comment though, unless you also go by Erica?

You are right that working in these types of jobs where you are constantly exposed to tragedy can be emotionally draining. Not that it is the same as going to Darfur, for example, but when I start feeling myself harden towards the tragedies many of my student face, I know its time for a break. Thankfully, I get two months during the summer, but it does seem like for each tragedy, hundreds more people are needed to help - one person can harm, but many are needed to improve life.

Thanks for linking to me!

As for the post, if you take into consideration the amount of rape that goes on abroad as a strategy of war, and the amount of "reported" rapes that happen in this country, the numbers will astound you. It really makes you wonder who's truly at war.

This post reminded me of the protest NOW did in DC back in the early 1990's on the subject of rape as a weapon of war. I think I wrote something for the NOW Times about it as well. It's amazing to me that nearly 20 years later there is STILL a need to talk about this, and that some are hearing it for the first time.


BAC