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January Book Review: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (And Join the 2018 Women’s March)

I used to think feminists were insane. I actually thought they were overblown, volatile, and superfluous and – get this, “asking for it.” I thought they hated men. I thought they wanted to destroy men. And, as ignorant as a turnip, I thought feminists were Satanists. (Gulp. Did I actually admit that?)

It was what I was taught. Until, I decided to think for myself.

After years of life’s experiences and recovering from my indoctrination, I realized what I believed was not true. The truth is some men hate women, want to control them, and even silence them. Why else would they do what they do to women? Did you know that one in three women will be raped in her lifetime; a woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States; and if that were not appalling enough, spouses are the leading cause of death of pregnant women (again in the U.S)? I came to the conclusion that I agree with author Rebecca Solnit: “We treat the physical assault and the silencing after as two separate things, but they are [the same], both bent on annihilation [of women].”

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit is a short compilation of seven brilliant essays covering how men literally explain things to women, the global injustice and violence women face, a compelling reiteration of the insidious cultural beliefs that make women invisible, thoughts on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its downfalls, an examination and commentary of twentieth century feminist Virginia Woolf’s take on mystery and ambiguity, the fight for marriage equality for the LGBTQ community, and a final essay on how men who get it know that feminism is not a scheme to deprive men but a campaign to liberate us all.

I found Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me fascinating, engaging, and creative. Her writing is first rate. I highly recommend this reading to anyone interested in feminine theory, the violence women experience, or patriarchy.

A bit about the author, Rebecca Solnit:rebeccasolnit-Flickr_Shawn_Calhoun

Rebecca Solnit is a best-selling writer on various subjects. An activist, feminist, and historian, she is the author of twenty books about civil society, popular power, uprisings, art, indigenous history, environment, pleasure, social change and insurrection, politics, hope and disaster, memory, and most recently The Mother of All Questions. She is also a Harper’s contributing editor. Rebecca is a product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school.

To learn more about Rebecca Solnit, or to purchase Men Explain Things to Me, visit her website, RebeccaSolnit.net.

Women's March

Women’s March, Washington DC, January, 2017

Join the Women’s March on January 20th or 21st, 2018, at a city near you. The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists and organizers to engage in their local communities through trainings, outreach programs, and events. Women’s March believes women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights. We must create a society in which women – including black women, native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture their families in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments. Download the full vision and principles of Woman’s March PDF here.

For more information, visit WomensMarch.com.

To join a march in your area on January 20th, visit PowertothePolls.com/anniversary.

Or, to join the march in Las Vegas on January 21st, visit PowertothePolls.com.

For further reading on the treatment of women, read my other blog, #MeToo.

© 2018, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

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April Book Review: The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks

An absolutely compelling read, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks (she does not capitalize her name) urges us to reclaim feminism for men as the result of patriarchy maintaining its power over their lives. I have to admit that this reading left me in awe. I had not thought of the implications of patriarchy in regards to men this extensively, and I could not stop reading this book! The author addresses the damage patriarchy causes to men – the inability to be in touch with their emotions, to love wholly (themselves and others), and to truly know themselves.  Her writing is courageous and visionary.

bell’s book begins with a chapter defining patriarchy, and she states,” Patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation.”  She explains how boys are indoctrinated detrimentally, the role media, society, and women play in harming men, and male sexual relationships and sexual violence.  hooks also examines the roles men play at work and in their relationships with women, other men, and their children. The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love explains how the men’s movement against feminism is critical of women but makes no effort to address the damage patriarchy incurs on men. The book concludes with an unapologetic denunciation of patriarchy. It suggests how to heal the male spirit, how to love men properly, and how men can reclaim their integrity, wholeness, and authenticity. She also urges feminists to fight for men as victims of patriarchy. In hooks’ words, “We have yet to create a world that asks us to stand by a man when he is seeking healing, when he is seeking recovery, when he is working to be a creator.”

I highly recommend The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks to anyone who is interested in feminist theory, women’s studies, patriarchy, male and female relationships, male violence towards women, gender studies, misogyny or sociology. It is truly intriguing and a well-balance argument.

A bit about the author, bell hooks:

bell hooks

bell hooks is an acclaimed intellectual, feminist theorist, cultural critic, artist, and writer. hooks has authored over three dozen books and has published works that span several genres, including cultural criticism, personal memoirs, poetry collections, and children’s books. She covers gender, race, class, spirituality, teaching, and the significance of media in contemporary culture.

Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, bell hooks adopted the pen name of her maternal great-grandmother, a woman known for speaking her mind. hooks received her B.A. from Stanford University, her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition to The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, some of her books include Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, Where We Stand: Class Matters, and We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity.

To learn more about bell hooks or to purchase The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, visit her website, bellhooksinstitute.com, or Indiebound and Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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I’m One of the Lucky Ones; Me Too, but…

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I’ve never been raped. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Violence from men towards women is at an alarming, disturbing high. It is extreme because we allow it. We dismiss, trivialize, ignore, and ridicule what happens to women. We laugh when woman talk about it.  We silence their voices. We do not hear their cries, and we don’t care. We traumatize women further. By “we” I mean men especially. I mean society. I mean the select groups of women – women who have bought into the abhorrent misogyny covertly embedded within patriarchy (a subject for another blog).  Bottom line: women are treated like they are expendable commodities. Feminists call this rape culture, and it must end.

I consider myself lucky – lucky that my virginity was not taken at sixteen when I was almost raped in high school by a stranger who should not have been on the track field, lucky that I was not left on the bottom of the Hudson river in New York City when I was almost raped at twenty-three; lucky that I was not raped on a date to dinner and a movie in Los Angeles when I was twenty.

I’m the Lucky One

I will tell you why I am so lucky:

Because the hired construction worker, who was a friend of the family, touched my tiny nipples right after I had hit puberty at age eleven. But, I wasn’t raped.

Because my mother fired the gardener when she caught him eyeing me from head to toe several times instead of pruning the roses. I was twelve. She did not tell my father. I wasn’t raped.

Because I was visiting Tijuana, Mexico, with my family one summer, and while walking down the street, a stranger touched my butt. I was nine or ten.

Because I lost count of how many times men have told me to smile throughout my lifetime, as if I exist just to please them.

Because saying “no” to a man is always construed as an invitation for more of … whatever. Men don’t understand “NO.”

Because I lost count of how many times men “accidentally” get too close and their hands end up feeling my ass on a crowded bus, subway, or street.

Because the jerk at the bar did not leave me alone after I told him I was not interested (Or, was it “jerks?”).

The many times when I lied outright: “I have a boyfriend.”

Because I’ve lost count of how many men from all over this world EXPECTED me to pay attention to them no matter what I was doing.

Because of the cruel and grotesque comments from men on my social media because I was standing up for myself or standing up for oppression (of any sort).

Because I lost count of the whistles, howls, obscene comments, and gestures uttered as I walked down the street minding my own business.

Because of the two high school boys behind me who yelled, “Let’s get her!” when as a middle-schooler, I was walking my bike home up the steep hill (I dropped my bike and started running towards home like a bat out of hell; they then yelled, “We were kidding – it’s okay!” Fuck them.).

Because at cross country practice in high school when I was running with my teammates, an overweight man drove by and yelled, “Go on a diet!” (NONE of us were fat, not that THAT should matter).

Because my ex-husband expected sex whenever he wanted it. Didn’t matter how I felt.

Because of the nonstop, intrusive chat messages sent on social media AFTER you tell men you are not looking for a relationship, a hookup, a boyfriend, a husband, or to even shoot the breeze.

Because women are called cunts, bitches, sluts, whores, you name it, and “just a woman” (as I was once told by a man from Iran).

Because of the many times I was thankful to be out with a boyfriend because I knew other men would then leave me alone.

Because I was sexually harassed by a male boss at a former job.

Because of the many times I was expected to play stupid so I would not embarrass (or anger) a man.

Because I was followed to the bathroom at an outdoor concert by a stoned, long-haired, sixties-freak hippie who would not leave me alone.

Because everything I mentioned above happens everywhere.

Because I can go on for pages and pages for myself and for every woman. I am the lucky one.

Rape. Date rape. Spousal rape. Partner rape. Gang rape. Serial Rape. Friend rape. College-campus rape. Child rape. Prison rape.  Transgender rape. Rape just because. (Did I miss any? By the way, I know men get raped, but guess what? Most rapists are MEN).

Rape culture.

I have never been raped. I am one of the lucky ones.

Me, Too, but…

But, I have gained so much by what I’ve experienced! I have learned to forgive, to release it, to NOT give it any more power. I am no longer a victim. You read that correctly: I AM NO LONGER A VICTIM.

But, I have learned to accept myself as I am, with or without makeup, with or without sexy clothes, with or without high heels and perfect hair.

But, I have learned that I don’t need to smile if I do not want to.

But, I have learned it is okay to tell the truth: “Thank you, but I am not interested.”

But, I have discovered it is okay not to respond; it doesn’t mean I am a bitch or a cunt.

But, I have discovered I don’t have to have the perfect body for a man to love me.

But, I have learned it is okay to walk away. It’s okay to be me. It’s okay to be emotional. It’s okay to be smart.

But, I have learned that I am a human being first, then a woman. I breathe. I am a human being!

But, I have learned I don’t exist for MAN. I live for ME.

I have found my voice.

I am.

#metoo

I’m one of the lucky ones

I am one of the lucky ones who will spend the rest of her breathing days empowering a new paradigm where women are treated like human beings, like human beings, like human beings, like human beings…

I am one of the lucky ones who will spend the rest of her breathing days standing up for equal rights for women.

I am one of the lucky ones who will teach the younger generations of women that they are just as deserving in every aspect of their lives as men.

I am one of the lucky ones who will help to end the abuse and misogyny of women worldwide.

I am the lucky one who thanks the world over that there are men out there who treat me like a human being and not like a woman. Because they are the real men.

I am a survivor.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com


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Dear Microsoft: absolutely not.

Here is a spot-on article on what reality is for women in STEM professions. Thanks, Monica Bryne. I could not agree more that the responsibility lies in the hands of those in power and not on young girls!

monica byrne

And it has nothing to do with your software. It has to do with your new ad campaign, which I happened to see while I was at the gym last week. Here’s the gist: brilliant young girls express their ambitions to cure cancer and explore outer space and play with the latest in virtual reality tech. Then—gotcha!—they’re shown a statistic that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees. They look crushed. The tagline? “Change the world. Stay in STEM.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Microsoft, where’s your ad campaign telling adult male scientists not to rape their colleagues in the field? Where’s the campaign telling them not to steal or take credit for women’s work? Or not to seriallysexuallyharasstheirstudents? Not to discriminate against them? Not to ignoredismiss, or fail to promote them at the same rate as men? Not to publish their work at a statistically…

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On The Frightening Realities of Being a Woman in 2017

I stumbled across this blog post and thought I would pass it on because, frankly, what happened to this woman needs to end. Please read with caution.

Women experience what you are about to read every day to one extent or another. I, personally, was almost raped twice in my life – once because I jumped into a cab in New York City by myself. The cab driver grabbed my knees and legs while driving and would not stop. It was my first time in the big city,  and I was shocked.  I somehow managed to get away after pretending that I wanted to see him later. He dropped me off at Grand Central Station where I was to take a train; I will never forget the tears falling from face as I stood on the steps of the train station wondering what the hell just happened.

The second time, I was on a first date; his hands were immediately all over me after I hopped into his car to go to dinner and a movie. I began crying hysterically because I did not know what to do. He was so oblivious to my predicament that he thought I was crazy. I told him I needed to get back home immediately because my father was severely ill. He dropped me off and sped away.

Women go through hell every day in this world. Please read and pass this on.

Source: On The Frightening Realities of Being a Woman in 2017


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November Book Review:  I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” These are the words of Malala Yousafzai, spoken in 2014 in Oslo, Norway, as the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Yousafzai, a Pashtun Pakistani, is a courageous, exemplary, and determined young woman on a mission to bring education to every girl and boy in every town, province, city, and country in the world.  Her memoir, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, is a rich, beautifully-written, compassionate and inspiring story that explains her past, her passion, and her life mission.

i-am-malala

Yousafzai begins her memoir with anecdotes about growing up in Mingora, in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan, a lush mountain region full of breathtaking rivers, waterfalls,  and gorgeous valleys. She describes life as a Sunni Muslim, her love of Allah, and the customs in Mingora. Her book explains the poverty she and her family endured – no running water, no stove, no heat, very little food at times, for example. She explains how poverty and tradition in the midst of paradise kept most girls from attending school. Her own mother could not read or write, for example. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, her hero and inspiration, is a fierce advocate for girls’ education, and after political opposition and financial problems, founded an all-girls school in Mingora where Malala attended.

In the second half of this memoir, Malala explains the fundamentalist beliefs of the Taliban and the extreme damage and fear they exhibited in her country. She writes stories about beheadings and public lynchings, suicide bombers, the bombing and destruction of hundreds of schools, general politics in Pakistan, the horrific damage and tyranny and eventual ruin of Mingora caused by the Taliban, and more.  As outspoken advocates of education for girls (which the Taliban was against), Malala and her father eventually became targets. Malala was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban and survived. Her recovery is nothing less than remarkable. Her story has garnered worldwide attention, which has caused a nonstop collaboration of many individuals and countries for the fight of education for all girls everywhere.

I highly recommend I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai to anyone who is curious about Pakistani life and customs, about Islam, or about the Taliban and the damage they have inflicted in Pakistan. I especially recommend this memoir to human and women’s rights activists. It is an incredible story that left me speechless, in awe, and at times, in tears!

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Opening Malala Yousafzai’s All-Girls School near the Syrian border in 2015.

A bit about the author, Malala Yousafzai:

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school.

Malala has received many awards. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured Malala as one of “the 100 most influential people in the world“. She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and the recipient of the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In July that year, she spoke at the headquarters of the United Nations to call for worldwide access to education. In 2014, she was nominated for the World Children’s Prize in Sweden, and in May of the same year, Malala was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Later in 2014, Malala was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi, for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.  Today, Malala is founder of the Malala Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates at the local, national and international levels for resources and policy changes needed to ensure all girls, worldwide, have the right to twelve years of schooling.

To learn more about Malala Yousafzai and her work, visit: Malala.org.

To purchase I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, visit: Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com. Musings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being 

 

 


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Threats and Misogyny (Dislike of, Contempt for, or Ingrained Prejudice Against Women)

We live in a cruel world. But, you are already know that, right?

Today, I felt the nudge to pass on someone else’s blog article not only in hopes of bringing attention to the embedded and horrific abuse pointed out by the article’s author (and victim), but in hopes of encouraging you (especially if you are a woman) to stand up, speak up and never stop asking for change.  I am forwarding this blog because what happened to this women is WRONG, and the neanderthal-istic (yes, I concocted a word) and barbaric thinking that is the culprit of this misogyny needs to end. It needed to end a long time ago.

To be honest, this blog post left me feeling pretty numb. I wanted to retrieve into my own cocoon and never again share a word on social media (or out in the “real” world). However, I soon realized that giving into that fear will never change a much troubled world. This article says it all, and so without further ado, here it is: Is That a Threat? The Slippery Slope From Disagreement to Harassment.

Let me  know what you think.

© 2016, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Musings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being