The death of Stephen Hawking stirred up some things for me. Seeing him described as so inspirational because of what he did while disabled struck a nerve. Like Hawking, I am disabled, but in a very different way. I am autistic and I have several learning disabilities. Unlike Hawking, I am not a brilliant scientist and I haven’t contributed something amazing to the world.
My paternal grandpa died late Thursday night. He was 91. The past 8 days have been a roller coaster. My grandma had gone into the hospital for a blood transfusion, and he’d gone with her because he was too frail to be left on his own. I’d gone to pick them up from the hospital and watch over them for a bit at their assisted living community. When I got to the hospital I noticed my grandpa sitting oddly in a chair and that he couldn’t talk or move. He’d had a massive stroke.
I’m in several Facebook groups with other non-religious mothers, and these have been a lifeline for me. Lately I have noticed a few posts asking how to handle Halloween because they don’t like teaching about magic and make believe. These people seem to be solidly in the minority, with most people commenting that it’s just a time to dress up, get scared, and pretend. Considering Halloween is my favorite holiday, I tend to shake my head a little at how some people seem to think that exposing children to make believe leads to beliefs in the supernatural. I was raised by atheists, and growing up we knew Halloween was pretend and make believe, and we still had fun. And what I think parents are missing when they stress out about Halloween and imaginary play is that it is important for child development to engage in pretend and imaginary play!
I’m still waiting for an official announcement, but several people who have protested Sanders being given such a prominent speaking role at the convention have received emails stating he has been demoted to a panel about resistance organization in the Trump era. Considering that the Women’s March has told so many different stories in an attempt to spin this, they have lost my trust and I am watching them carefully, however, if this is true it will placate me. If he has to be there, resistance organization at least is an appropriate topic for him. That being said, there are several ways I’ve attempted to see the Women’s March spin this.
First, before the apology, they had promoted Sanders as having a big role in the convention.I am not going to let them spin this as that they intended for him to just be a part of a panel discussion all along.
Second, Women’s March organizer, Linda Sarsour, had a livestream denouncing those of us who were upset about Bernie being given a prime spot at the Women’s Convention as racist. I witnessed the outrage from the start, and the criticism about Sanders speaking was very ANTI-racist. For instance,
1. Many women of color were outraged about the decision. In fact, the friend who informed me about this is a woman of color who was just as furious as I was.
2. We were outraged that Bernie was referred to as “Senator” while Rep. Maxine Waters was NOT addressed by the Women’s March promotional material with her title and wondered why Bernie’s achievements were recognized and not hers.
3. From the start, we were asking for a woman or a woman of color to head the convention. Examples that were suggested included Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris, Tammy Duckworth, Elizabeth Warren, Michelle Obama, Kirsten Gillibrand, etc.
4. Most of us agreed that the list of other speakers sounded great, Bernie was the problem.
5. We were mad that Bernie was the ONLY speaker who got a news article with his picture on the front that described him as “opening the convention” and the “headliner.”
6. We were asking why the women who would be speaking were not so honored with a news article, their picture being circulated, etc.
7. We were angry that Rep Maxine Waters words, “reclaiming our time,” were being used to promote a white man.
The outrage over Bernie was not racist and that a white man holds so much privilege that speaking out against him opening and being given such prominent billing at a women’s convention can be spun as racist is, frankly, alarming. Many of us were speaking out because we feel he is a poor advocate for people of color and women. While his focus on issues that affect white men will help everyone, it will not help knock down the barriers that prevent women and people of color from rising at an equal pace with white men, which is one of the many reasons why he is a poor choice to address the Women’s Convention. Bottom line, the criticism of Sanders was anti-racist and anti-sexist, and the Women’s March is harming their cause and alienating supporters by attempting to spin it as such (see the responses to Tamika Mallory’s allegations that she was thrown off a plane if you want an illustration of how doing this is harming their cause).
Finally, some thoughts about this whole debacle. Like a lot of people who supported HRC, I was scared to flaunt it. And during the primary I bit my tongue, a lot. I actually even created a Facebook group for Democrats who wanted him to drop out and separated it from my identity so I could vent my frustrations. Between fear of being harassed and fear of further alienating Sander’s supporters, I think me and a lot of HRC’s supporters suppressed a lot of rage. And there have been articles documenting that HRC had a lot of devoted supporters (the success of Pantsuit Nation?), but they were scared to be open about it. Hence, why she won both the primary and the popular vote by such staggering numbers.
And over this weekend, that rage was released. The Women’s March honoring Sanders was the final straw, and until they issued their apology, 98% of the comments were from people furious over Bernie headlining, and while some were Sander’s supporters who sympathized or did not think it was the right place for him to speak, most of it was from HRC supporters for whom this was the final indignity. Since the election had already happened there was nothing left to lose with unleashing on the people who had been so unforgiving and willing to cause so much damage because their candidate lost. Meanwhile, the Sander’s supporters calls for unity and moving forward rang as extremely hypocritical and too little too late.
I wish I had been more vocal during the primaries. I think the lesson is to not let fear hold you back from only backing your candidate so it is no surprise to people when they win. Basically, if Sanders supporters pull this crap with Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Corey Booker, or whoever runs against him in 2020, I am not going to be silent again.
Yesterday I wrote about how the Women’s Convention billed Bernie Sanders as the opening speaker of their convention, and the uproar that has resulted. A lot has happened since then, such as the Women’s March attempting to spin this as a “misunderstanding“, backpedaling and stating that Sanders does not have a key role despite people posting the article they shared where they described him as the “headliner” and Twitter posts promoting him, and not Maxine Waters or any of the other women who are speaking. Read Tamika Mallory describe Bernie Sanders as the “headliner” in this earlier article before the backlash.
They attempted to dismiss those of us who cried out as hysterical, and used terms to dismiss us such as “delusional.” Considering the history of women being forced into mental institutions for insanity when they stood up to the patriarchy, I found this incredibly rich. If you’re interested you can read through their Facebook page and read the fall out. Go through the posts before the apology. They have since sent emails to Sanders apologists to defend them. Keep in mind, also, that the Women’s March repeatedly deleted entire posts to silence the uproar. I thought that the point of the Women’s March was the amplify women’s voices, but I guess I was wrong.
One issue I have no brought up but effects other women is that they did not announce Sander’s role in the convention until the day to ask for a refund for a $300 ticket to attend was announced, leaving women who paid for this and now feel as though they have been tricked into attending a Bernie rally angry and frustrated.
Today, they finally issued an apology, which reads of too little too late. Or it’s a start. There is still no word on Sander’s role at the convention. As I see it, there are two solutions. Either rescind Sander’s invitation, or have him there as part of a panel where he has to be silent and sit on his hands so he does not shove them in women’s faces while they explain to him about the economics tied into institutional racism and the economics tied into reproductive health, as well as how to be an ally rather than a mansplainer. Oh, and perhaps to stress the importance of having women and people of color in the upper echelons of his movement. There’s a lot to educate him on.
This may seem small to people, however, this is a line in the sand. I refuse to stand by as we go so far back in history that men are invited to mansplain at a women’s convention. I hope the Women’s March starts to amends, because until they do, me and the 98% of people who have been expressing outrage at them are not going away.
Yesterday, the news that Bernie Sanders would be the keynote speaker at the Women’s Convention hit me like a punch in the gut. I started crying. The first Women’s Convention in 40 years, and now, in addition to not having a female president, women apparently can’t be the opening speaker for women’s groups anymore.
It’s bad enough that all of my elected representatives are men who I did not vote for. It’s bad enough that, living in a red state, when I call, or protest, or make my voice heard, I am ignored. It’s bad enough that I see how what is going on in my government is harmful to families, both my own and others I care about. It’s bad enough watching progress that was hard fought and hard won be rolled back. It’s bad enough watching an unapologetic misogynistic, rapist, bully command power he never should have been given and it is agonizing living under his rule. It is humiliating and every day, as someone who has been bullied, I am triggered.
But now a prominent women’s group went and gave a prominent speaking role to Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders, who speaks at women, not to them.
Bernie Sanders, who cares a lot about white male issues but barely concerns himself with issues I care about, such as paid family leave, affordable access to childcare, support for families with children with disabilities, making early education work for all children, etc.
Bernie Sanders, who threw Planned Parenthood and NARAL under the bus and who has supported forced birth candidates and who has dismissed reproductive rights as identity politics and a distraction from more important issues that effect white men. Good to know that an economic issue (yes, access to reproductive services is economic) that affects women and, considering that, if we don’t have the financial resources we need to get a late term abortion which are usually only performed with the fetus is not compatible with life or the women’s life is in danger, we could die, are a distraction from more important issues. Women’s lives are a distraction from more important issues in Sander’s mind.
Bernie Sanders, who I watched as he dragged Clinton through the mud, said she was not qualified, fed his supporters koolaid about superdelegates and a contested convention and a rigged primary because, I guess, the thought of a woman beating him by honest means was too much for his delicate male ego. One of my friends from high school was a Bernie delegate, and I watched in horror as they went to the DNC and planned to disrupt it. I watched as an entire day of the DNC was devoted to the loser in an attempt to please them even as it hurt so bad because, for the first time a woman was nominated to a major party, and it still could not be all about her. She had to bend over backwards to appease her opponent, and it was not enough for them. I watched in frustration as his supporters staged walk outs, booed speakers, women and other activists who have dedicated their lives to women’s issues, because these people were supporting Clinton and not Sanders. I am still angry and bitter about it, and I knew I would never be able to forgive Bernie for it. Rather than the convention being about Clinton, her accomplishments, and what this meant for women and feminism, the convention was about his delicate male ego.
And then November happened, and the white male backlash to all of the progress that has been made during President Obama’s administration began. Every day feels like a nightmare. One emergency after another, one loss after another. I already don’t know what to tell my daughter, aside from keep fighting. And now this.
Now a supposedly feminist organization that is supposed to lift women’s voices gives the keynote speaker role to a man who is not an ally. They gave it to a man who turned a women’s historic achievement into an event about his bruised ego. They gave it to a man who will throw reproductive right’s under the bus if he gets his $15 an hour minimum wage. Women can’t be president, much less be the keynote speaker’s at a women’s group anymore. It feels as though Sanders wants to co-opt and destroy feminism, and that too many women are so dewy eyed over him that they are willing to let him do it.
I’m not, and fortunately, many others aren’t. I am screaming at the Women’s March right now, along with thousands of others. This is one indignity too many. I have no interest in supporting an organization that lets a white male mansplain to women. There are plenty of others to devote my time to.
Carrie DeKlyen’s story has been making waves lately. She was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer while pregnant and chose to forgot chemo so that her baby could be born, even though it would kill her. DeKlyen died shortly after her baby was born, and now 11 days after, the baby died as well. Continue reading