A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


Characteristics of Victims

  • Feelings of low self- esteem (they say as a result of being criticized.)
  • We perpetuate these parental messages by judging ourselves and others harshly. We try to cover up our poor opinions of ourselves by being perfectionistic, controlling, contemptuous and gossipy.
  • We tend to isolate ourselves out of fear and we feel often uneasy around other people, especially authority figures.
  • We are desperate for love and approval and will do anything to make people like us. Not wanting to hurt others, we remain "loyal" in situations and relationships even when evidence indicates our loyalty is undeserved. (I would say not wanting to lose them, having an extremely hard time "letting go.")
  • We are intimidated by angry people and personal criticism. This causes us to feel inadequate and insecure. (I would say it further adds to our feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.)
  • We continue to attract emotionally unavailable people with addictive personalities.
  • We live life as victims, blaming others for our circumstances, and are attracted to other victims (and people with power) as friends and lovers. We confuse love with pity and tend to "love" people we can pity and rescue. (And we confuse love with need)
  • We are either super-responsible or super-irresponsible. We take responsibility for solving others' problems or expect others to be responsible for solving ours. This enables us to avoid being responsible for our own lives and choices.
  • We feel guilty when we stand up for ourselves or act in our own best interests. We give in to others' needs and opinions instead of taking care of ourselves.
  • We deny, minimize or repress our feelings as a result of our traumatic childhoods. We are unaware of the impact that our inability to identify and express our feelings has had on our adult lives.
  • We are dependent personalities who are so terrified of rejection or abandonment that we tend to stay in situations or relationships that are harmful to us. Our fears and dependency stop us form ending unfulfilling relationships and prevent us from entering into fulfilling ones. (I would add because we feel so unlovable it is difficult or impossible to believe anyone can really love us, and won't eventually leave us once they see how "bad" we are.)
  • Denial, isolation, control, shame, and inappropriate guilt are legacies from our family of origin. As a result of these symptoms, we feel hopeless and helpless.
  • We have difficulty with intimacy, security, trust, and commitment in our relationships. Lacking clearly defined personal limits and boundaries, we become enmeshed in our partner's needs and emotions. (ie become codependent)
  • We tend to procrastinate and have difficulty following project through from beginning to end.
  • We have a strong need to be in control. We overreact to change things over which we have no control.


The Process of Brainwashing

1. The brainwasher keeps his victim unaware of what is going on and what changes may be taking place.  For example, he may control your finances, make plans for you, or not bother to tell you what his plans are until the last minute.  He may talk about you to others behind your back in his attempt isolate you from them. My ex's aunt never had children and always thought of me as the daughter she never had, and we were very close.  My ex couldn't stand it.  He was always saying things about me to his mother (her sister) and to his aunt...always trying to turn them against me.

2. The brainwasher controls the victim's time and physical environment and works to suppress much of the victim's old behavior.  The victim is slowly, or abruptly, isolated from all supportive persons except for the brainwasher.  Your partner might have insisted that you stop certain social, hobby, or work activities.  You might have been forced to a new location, farther away from your family and friends.  Or you may have been asked or ordered to reduce or stop contact with specific supportive people in your life. My ex hated everyone I was friendly with.  Hence, he forbade me to see them.  For awhile, I continued to meet with my friends, but in time, you grow tired of fighting it...and sadly, we just give up.

3. The brainwasher creates  a sense of powerlessness, fear, and dependency in the victim.  He does this with verbal and emotional abuse which becomes stronger and stronger over time. Over and over again I was told that I would never amount to anything, that I was lucky that someone like him took me under his wing.  Now, couple that with a lifetime of such abuse from my mother, and you can understand why I was so easily converted into a victim.  I already WAS a victim.

4. The brainwasher works to instill new behavior and attitudes in the victim. He trains to you behave in ways that he wants you to behave.  He gradually makes you feel differently about yourself, and erodes your confidence in yourself. Your self-esteem falters, and he continues badgering until you lose it altogether.  I had, what I now realize, was a great job when I was with my ex.  I worked as a case manager in a city-run home care agency.  I had great benefits...and was making fabulous money...but he constantly badgered me about my job, that it was NOTHING compared to his job as an actor. Now when I look back on it, I see where he was a 'bouncer' and had a few bit parts in films...not a star. And, HE was the one with the low self-esteem...which is why he had to bring mine down.

5.  The brainwasher puts forth a closed system of logic which allows no real input or criticism.  In other words, what he says, goes. If he says the sky is black, then the sky is black...no matter how blue it may be. If you feel like eating chicken and he wants steak, you're going to eat steak.  He has the final word. 


Women's Equality Day

Even though they make up half the population, women and girls have endured discrimination in most societies for thousands of years. In the past, women were treated as property of their husbands or fathers - they couldn't own land, they couldn't vote or go to school, and they could be beaten and abused. Over the last hundred years, much progress has been made to gain equal rights for women around the world, but many still live without the rights to which all people are entitled. 


Questions to Ask Yourself

An abusive partner will railroad discussions leaving you with no time to think about what's right and what's wrong in their behavior. Take a few moments to consider the following  questions.....

Do you feel that you can't discuss with your partner what is bothering you?

Does your partner frequently criticize you, humiliate you, or undermine your self-esteem?

Does your partner ridicule you for expressing yourself? 

Does your partner isolate you from friends, family or groups?

Does your partner limit your access to work, money or material resources?

Has your partner ever stolen from you?  Or run up debts for you to handle?

Does your relationship swing back and forth between a lot of emotional distance and being very close?

Have you ever felt obligated to have sex, just to avoid an argument about it?

Do you sometimes feel trapped in the relationship?

Has your partner ever thrown away your belongings, destroyed objects or threatened pets?

Are you afraid of your partner?


The Deepest Scars

Many women assume that if they're not being physically abused by their partner, then they're not being abused.  That's not necessarily true.   You may be in a relationship which is draining something from you -- you might not even have recognized that your partner has systematically eroded your self-esteem and happiness.

Emotional abuse leaves no physical scars; there are no broken bones, bruises or spilled blood. Yet, those who have been wounded  describe it as the most painful and destructive form of domestic violence.  Emotional abuse is any nonphysical behavior or attitude that controls, intimidates, subjugates, demeans, punishes or isolates another person by using degradation, humiliation or fear. Yelling, screaming, and name-calling are all forms of emotional abuse, as are more subtle tactics such as refusing to be pleased with anything that you do for him, isolating you from family and friends and invalidating your thoughts and feelings. Emotional abuse entails a constant berating such as "You're no good," "You're ugly," "You're lucky to have me because no one else will want you."  Those are some of the words I heard over and over again until I lost all of my self-esteem and began believing his every word. 
Examples of emotionally abusive behaviors include the following.  As you can see, it is a no win situation.

If you argue with him, he says you're stubborn.
If you're quiet, he argues with you anyway.
If you call him, he says you're needy and clingy.
If he calls you, he thinks you should be grateful.
If you don't act like you love him, he'll try to win you over.
If you tell him you love him, he takes advantage of you.
If  you dress sexy, he says you're a slut.
If you don't dress nice, he says you look bad.
When you don't sleep with him, he says you don't love him.
If you do sleep with him, he only does it the way he likes it.
If you tell him your problems, he says you're bothering him,
If you don't, he says you don't trust him.
If you try to bring up a problem, he says you're bitching.
If he brings up a problem, he yells.
If you break a promise, you "can't be trusted".
If he breaks it, it's because "he had to".
If you cheat, he wants to punish you by locking you up or beating you.
If he cheats, he expects to be given another chance.

"Most women are raised to believe that the woman is the primary caretaker of the family, the member responsible for 'holding things together'.  We are also taught from the days of childhood that 'Love conquers all'.  Many women believe on some level that if only they love a man enough, they can 'save' him and he will change.  Those who stay learn that he will not."--From The Domestic Violence Sourcebook"


Mary Edwards Walker

Mary Edwards was born in Oswego, New York, on November 26, 1832; she  was the youngest of five daughters, followed by one son, born to Alvah and Vesta Walker.  Her father expected all of his children to be well educated and to pursue professional careers.
Mary was determined that she was going to become a doctor and graduated from Syracuse Medical College in 1855. Afterwards, she established a practice in Rome, New York and was married to a physician, Albert Miller. Their  relationship did not last very long, and the couple separated in 1859. Mary, always a bit controversial, had insisted on wearing trousers and a man’s coat. Their wedding vows did not include anything about ‘obeying', and she had insisted on keeping her last name.

Mary, always a strong feminist, travelled to Washington when the Civil War broke out and offered her services to the Union army.  For awhile, she worked as a volunteer nurse and was not sent to the front-line until September, 1863 when she was appointed by as assistant surgeon in the Ohio Infantry at Cumberland.  She was the first female surgeon commissioned in the army.

Mary was captured by a band of Confederate soldiers and spent four months at Castle Thunder prison in Richmond, Virginia. 
Then, in August of 1864, she was exchanged, along with 24 other Union doctors, for 17 Confederate doctors. Released to tend the sick and wounded, Mary would later claim that she used this opportunity to spy on the enemy.  In 1865,upon recommendation of Major Generals William T. Sherman and George H. Thomas, on  President Andrew Johnson signed a bill to present Dr. Mary Edwards Walker with the Congressional Medal of Honor for Meritorious Service. The citation recognized her:
“valuable service to the Government,” devoting “herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health,” and enduring “hardships as a prisoner of war.” The citation also stated that “by reason of her not being a commissioned officer in the military service, a brevet or honorary rank cannot, under existing laws, be conferred upon her” so, therefore, “in the opinion of the President an honorable recognition of her services and sufferings should be made.”

She was the only women in the Civil War to  win the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

After the war, Mary was active in feminist organizations and was arrested several times for masquerading as a man. She worked diligently to get relief bills for the war nurses, but the
Congressional bills died in committee. She also began writing and lecturing throughout the U.S. and abroad on women’s rights, dress reform, health and temperance issues. She argued that the use of tobacco resulted in paralysis and insanity, that women's clothing was both immodest and inconvenient.

Then, in 1917, Congress revised the standards for the Medal of Honor to include only “actual combat with an enemy,” and took away the medals of 911 honorees, including Mary's. But she refused to give it back, and despite it becoming a crime to wear an ‘unearned’ medal, she had worn it,right up until the day she died. 

At the same time, while on a trip to Washington, Mary fell on the Capitol steps. She was 85 years old at the time and never fully recovered. She died two years later, on February 21, 1919, while she staying at a neighbor’s home in Oswego. Mary was not so much remembered for her service to her country as she was for being “that shocking female surgeon in trousers!” She was buried in the Rural Cemetery. That same year, the 19th Amendment was ratified. 

Mary’s great-grand niece Ann Walker fought for many years to have Mary's  medal restored, and finally on June 11, 1977, President Carter reinstated Mary’s it, citing Mary for her  “distinguished gallantry, self-sacrifice, patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex.” Today, the medal can be seen on display in the Pentagon’s Women’s Corridor.

Finally, in 1982, the U.S. Post Office issued a 20-cent stamp honoring Dr. Mary Walker as the first woman to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and as the second woman to graduate from a medical school in the U.S. In 2000, Mary Edwards Walker was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls, New York.


Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor; it is a modern day form of slavery.  And, it is also one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. Trafficking in human beings involves the movement of people--mostly women and children--against their will by means of force for the specific purposes of sexual or labor exploitation. Sadly, poor families in our Third World Countries are forced to sell their children just to survive.  Examples include abduction for sexual and domestic service (including boys), abduction for debt release, the exchange of women for settlement of disputes, forced prostitution, and sexual exploitation of children. 

Unlike some human rights abuses which are primarily regional, sex trafficking is global in nature. Victims come from virtually all developing countries and are trafficked into or through virtually all developing and developed countries. It is estimated, for example, that 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year, most of whom are sold into prostitution. This exploitation knows no boundaries--nationality, race, or religion.  It is also not depend upon a  economic or social

  • A Cambodian working man may be able to purchase the use of a young Vietnamese girl for the price of one dollar. 
  • On the other hand, another Vietnamese girl of the same age can be auctioned out at for as much as $200...more if she is still a virgin...to a European businessman in Hong Kong on a business trip. 

And afterwards, both of these girls will most likely be forced to service a countless number of American and local military men. 

  • In South America, a girl will be trafficked into Canada under an “exotic dancer” visa and upon her arrival, will be forced into prostitution. 

  • A desperately poor Romanian child will be used as a sex slave in the lucrative and depraved child pornography business, the reach and growth of which has become unlimited since the advent of the Internet.

And  it is the wealthy countries – through their military, businessmen, tourists, and the internet pornography subscribers--all of whom pay significantly more for the use of a sex slave – that keep this criminal industry extremely profitable for traffickers.

Is there an easy answer to combat this problem?  No.  Sadly, at this point, it is almost impossible to stop.   But here is a good way to start one step at a time.

California Law Means Pimps Could Lose Their Bling 

"This week the California state senate unanimously approved legislation which would allow courts to seize private property used to commit human trafficking. That means pimps and traffickers could lose their cars, homes, and gadgets. If passed, this sort of legislation would go a long way from deterring pimps from trafficking women and girls and provide important funds for trafficking survivors."--From "End Human Trafficking"



United Nations Condemns Mass Rape

In an exchange with reporters outside the United Nations late last week, a high-ranking UN official described sexual violence during war as one of the greatest security risks of our time. Margot Wallstrom, the UN's Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, told reporters that using rape as a tool of war is no more acceptable nor inevitable than committing mass murder.

Rape is being used by armed groups to re-ignite the flames of conflict and to terrorize and humiliate communities in Africa, according to Letitia Anderson, Women's Rights specialist with the United Nation's Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative. She said armed groups have been branding the bodies of women and children with signature patterns, just as cattle are branded, in places such as Congo...leaving scars so that their families and community members know they they have been victims of aggravated sexual violence.  Victims of rape were then often turned into outcasts because of the stigma and humiliation associated with the crime.


Moving Along

During the 19th century, although women in Britain were expected to marry and have children, there was, in fact, a shortage of eligible men. Census figures for the period confirm this by revealing that there were far more women than men. There were three main reasons this:

  • The mortality rate for boys was far higher than for girls; 
  • A large number of males served in the armed forces abroad;
  • Men were more likely to emigrate than women. By 1861 there were 10,380,285 women living in England and Wales but only 9,825,246 men.

The laws in Britain were based on the idea that women would get married and that their husbands would take care of them.   Hence, before the passing of the 1882 Married Property Act, when a woman got married her wealth was passed to her husband. And if a woman happened by chance to work after marriage, her earnings would also go her husband.

The idea was that upper and middle class women were supposed to stay dependent on a man...first as a daughter and later as a wife. Furthermore, once married, it was extremely difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce. The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 gave men the right to divorce their wives on the grounds of adultery. On the other hand, married women found that they were not able to obtain a divorce should their husband be found unfaithful. And, once divorced, the children became the property of the father; the mother could actually be prevented from seeing her children.  And this was much the same for women in the United States.

We've come a long way, haven't we.  In today's the society, it is almost always the woman who gets the children, and sadly, sometimes the woman is not what is best for the children.  Today, most of us have our own bank accounts, our own credit cards, as well as sharing in the payment of the bills.  Equality is what it is pretty much about in the household...but....there is still much to be done.  There are still women living as if they are back in the 19th century with husbands who control everything.  Some women in abusive relationships are forced to flee abusive husbands...and leave their children behind.  Sad but true.  And sadly, there are women in this world who CHOOSE to live under the control of their man.

Education is the key.  Not only book learning, but knowing how to take care of yourself....knowing the laws of the state in which you live....knowing your rights as a woman...knowing that you are not alone, that you do NOT have to stay in an abusive relationship.  Help is out there, but you have to KNOW where to find it.  Educate yourself, ladies.  Educate.


Taliban Flogs and Kills Pregnant Widow

The Taliban publicly whipped and then executed a pregnant Afghan widow by shooting her three times in the head for alleged adultery.  The woman, Bibi Sanubar, aged 36, had been held in captivity for three days before she was shot to death in a public trial this past Sunday.  She had been accused  of having an “illicit affair” that left her pregnant.

She was first punished with 200 lashes in public, then shot. The woman's body was afterward dumped in an area under government control. She was still pregnant when the execution was carried out. 

This execution is one of a number of executions that have included pregnant women and children, and serves a grim reminder of the Taliban's harsh rule in Afghanistan....and a grim reminder to all of us that our sisters, not only in Afghanistan, but  all over the world continue to suffer...just because they are women. 

The man who allegedly had an affair with Sanubar has not been punished.

Let us pray for our sisters that they may one day be free. Let us pray that they find peace.  Let us pray for the souls of those who have been slain.  Let us say a prayer for Bibi Sanubar and her baby who was slain before even it was born.  Let us pray.


Let's Go Letitia

Let's have a cheer for Letitia Long who has broken another gender barrior....by becoming the first female Director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (GSA) 0n 8/9/10.  This makes her the first woman to head one of the government's 16 major intelligence agencies.  The NGA works with satellite technologies to create three dimensional maps of every location on Earth.  There work supports the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.

Letitia's 32 year long federal service career began in 1978 when she worked for the Navy as a Project Engineer.  She has also served as Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence.   Long represents the vanguard of women in the intelligence community. It is estimated that women represent only 38 percent of total intelligence work force, and in six of the most prominent agencies, 27 percent of senior intelligence positions are held by women.

Some of Long's new women staffers at the NGA say her example will surely change how the largely male-dominated work force sees them. However, most women in their thirties and forties at these agencies say the climb they face is small compared to Long's fight, against an older generation that hadn't yet witnessed women in combat or a woman come so close to capturing the nomination for U.S. president...Here's to you, Letitia.  We are so proud.




Pocahontas was a nickname for Mataoaka, a member of the Algonquian group of Native Americans and an emissary between the native tribes and the English settlers. She was the most beloved daughter of Powhatan, an important Indian chief. One day the Pamunkey tribe brought a white man they had taken captive, John Smith, to Powhatan's village. Chief Powhatan was fearful that danger might come from the white men living on his land, but  Pocahontas thought the Indians should not be afraid of John Smith. 
Powhatan said Smith must die, but just as one of the warriors raised a stone club to kill Smith, Pocahontas pleaded with her father to give Smith to her. (In Pocahontas's tribe women could save a prisoner by asking for the prisoner to be given to them.) Powhatan reluctantly agreed to  let Pocahontas have Smith partially because he was afraid that the white men might attack if they killed him. Hence, Smith was adopted Powhatan's tribe and  Indian name Nantaquoud.

Eventually, it was time for Smith to leave, and  Powhatan chose twelve braves to escort him  to Jamestown. But, Smith's people  were becoming frail and sick; they were dying because they had so little to eat. They didn't know how to forage for food, and  Pocahontas helped them by providing food. In return, the settlers sent bells, mirrors, copper, and beads to the Indians. This didn't please Powhatan because what he wanted was guns.

The English King had hopes of befriending Powhatan, and sent him such gifts as a bed, a red silk cape, and a copper crown, but Powhatan, still wanting guns, refused to give the setters at any more food.  Captain Smith and his men lifted their muskets. Angrily, Powhatan provided the settlers the much-needed food, but promised that he would not forget this transgression. Hostilities between the Indians and the settlers continued to increase and relations continued to worsen. Then, in October, 1609 John Smith was badly injured by a gunpowder explosion and was forced to return to England. When Pocahontas next came to visit the fort, she was told that her friend was dead.

Meanwhile, winter was setting in, and the Indians began moving deeper into the woods so they would be away from the white man. And a hard winter it was for the settlers. In fact, the population decreased from about 550 people to only 60 by the time the winter ended.  Then in May, two two small boats from the homeland arrived in Jamestown, and after seeing the devastation, they had decided to abandon the Jamestown colony. But the settlers soon changed their minds  when on June 7 a large ship arrived with food, supplies, and new settlers.

So, for the next few years, settler continued to arrive in Jamestown bringing with them supplies and craftsmen. Pocahontas went up the Potomac River to another Indian village. Captain Samuel Argall became the new leader at Jamestown, and in December  of 1613, he sailed up the Potomac River to an Indian village to open trade with the Indians. It turns out that this is where Powhatan had settled. Argall traded a copper kettle for Pocahontas. Actually, the hopes were that Powhatan would trade the Indian  prisoners and the guns he had taken  in exchange for Pocahontas. Indeed, Powhatan did back many prisoners and promised friendship and corn, but he refused send back the guns...and as a result, Argall refused to send Pocahontas back to her tribe. But she was treated very well for, in all appearances, she was being held hostage, she was free to go from house to house and was given a warm room, plenty of pretty clothes, and food to eat. 

And, it was during this time that Pocahontas fell in love with John Rolfe, and that following, April they were married. And so it was that for the next eight years the settlers and the Indians were at peace. Pocahontas and John were very happy. They had a baby and named him Thomas. Meanwhile, Rolfe invented new ways to plant and curing tobacco which he planned to send  to the Old World. In 1616, John and Pocahontas sailed to England to talk to King James about the sale of tobacco in England.

The people in England loved Pocahontas; they followed her everywhere. And then, one day, she  ran into John Smith. She was so upset she would not speak for hours. She had long thought Smith had been dead, and she was missing her home. England had so much fog and sickness, and after seven months, Rolfe decided it was time to return his family to Virginia. In March  of 1617 they set sail for the New World, but  it was soon apparent that Pocahontas would not live to see her homeland again. She was deathly ill from pneumonia. She was taken ashore and, as she lay dying, she comforted her husband, saying, "all must die.'Tis enough that the child liveth."  She was buried in a small churchyard in Gravesend, England.  She was only 22 years old.

Pocahontas played a significant role in the history of our country.  She went against her father to see to it that the colonists received food from the Indians, and intervened to save the lives of individual colonists. In 1616, John Smith wrote that Pocahontas was "the instrument to pursurve this colonie from death, famine, and utter confusion." She not only served as a representative of the Virginia Indians, but also as a vital link between the native Americans and the Englishmen. But, whatever  her contributions, the romantic aspects of her life will no doubt stand out in Virginia history forever.  She was also the first Indian woman to convert to Christianity; she was baptized with the name "Rebecca".


Sufferin Til Suffrage

"Even though they make up half the population, women and girls have endured discrimination in most societies for thousands of years. In the past, women were treated as property of their husbands or fathers - they couldn't own land, they couldn't vote or go to school, and were subject to beatings and abuse and could do nothing about it. Over the last hundred years, much progress has been made to gain equal rights for women around the world, but many still live without the rights to which all people are entitled."
--Robert Alan--