I am so glad that the #metoo movement has been so cathartic for so many people, and I admire the bravery of all those who have felt able to come forward and disclose their experiences of abuse and/or harassment; equally, let us not forget about those who have not felt able, and those who are just so dang tired of having to rehash and relive their experiences that they chose not to, and those who just want to distance themselves from it as much as they can and exclude it from their identities. It has reaffirmed what we already knew: this is a reality for pretty much all women.
There’s something that still troubles me, though, about the response to this movement; the reaction of men*. Obviously there has been the usual backlash of idiots mocking the movement by trying to join in, but those aren’t the ones I am talking about.
One of my fondest imaginings of my mother, Susanna, is of her marching down the high street in a pair of clunky Dr. Martin boots and a whimsy floral dress, with her yellow hair wild down her back. Another story I’ve been told is how she once dyed her hair one-half red, one-half green when she was around fifteen. As I discovered my independent sense of style during my teenage years, I was inspired on a foundation level by my mother’s don’t-give-a-damn attitude. I chose not to give a damn either, and despite the natural self-consciousness of being a young person, especially having crushes and relationships, I wore things that made me feel the happiest I could be in my own body and communicated exactly who I felt I was. I didn’t listen to pressure and actually looked like the odd one out a lot of the time.
Guest writer Khristian Smith shares his experience as a counter-protester of the ‘Unite the Right Rally’ at Charlottesville on August 11 – 12, 2017.
Late in the evening on August 11, I turned away from my work to find that hundreds of real-life Nazis had descended onto the Grounds at the University of Virginia. I honestly wish I could say I was surprised by their clandestine march or the fact that they were wielding torches, but given the City of Charlottesville’s, UVA’s, and Thomas Jefferson’s histories, pretending to be surprised would be dishonest and as much an assent to the violence that inevitably followed as, say, a condemnation of violence “on many sides.” Fortunately, I was not alone in my lack of surprise.
As hundreds of torch-wielding white supremacists marched their way across the lawn to the Rotunda, 20+ third and fourth year students created a wall around the Rotunda’s statue of Jefferson. These students linked arms, held signs, and met “you will not replace us” and “blood and soil” with “Black Lives Matter” and civil disobedience. Their nonviolent determent of (mostly) white men retained even when “blood and soil” transformed into “we have the right to beat you.”
Guest post by Lara (Miller) Rowand. Lara is a writer, Tarot reader, homesteader, Pitbull mom, and self-proclaimed ecofeminist who owns a farm in central Virginia, USA. She holds a B.A. in History and M.A. in English literature, both of which she forgets about the majority of the time.
The day I became engaged to the man who would become my husband, one of the first questions I was asked was, “Will you change your last name?” I came to find that I would be asked this question numerous times over the months until our marriage (and even after), by friends, family, and even some strangers. Evidently my response of “Yes” surprised some folks, who know me to be a vocal feminist, and I was disappointed to find myself criticized by some. I received comments such as, “I can’t believe you would do that. But you’re a feminist.” and “You’re taking a man’s last name?” These instances caused me to notice similar criticism elsewhere as well, whether in person, via social media, in magazines, etc.
For me, it has been a joy to see the ways in which feminism has changed several societal and cultural traditions, especially over the last decade or two. I grew up in an incredibly traditional region where it is still unheard of for a woman to refrain from changing her last name after getting married. Acts such as this may seem small to some, but I do recognize the important implications of a woman keeping the last name she was given at birth. It is still something that symbolizes greater freedom and further acceptance as an equal. This is why I didn’t immediately jump on the idea of changing my last name—at least not to my husband’s. I certainly had some questions in my head pertaining to my own identity and what kind of statement I may be making either way.