Today was a great day! I got to attend a National Organization for Women function in a town about an hour away from where I live (a ticket was kindly donated for me, which was very nice as I otherwise would not have been there).
The keynote speaker was a woman who helped shape my feminist mind in the 1990's, Patricia Ireleand. She was the national president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) from 1991-2001, the years during the Anita Hill hearings, the Monica Lewinski scandal, and the changing of my viewpoints. These were the years when my intuition that had always felt Ms. Piggy and Wonder Woman were more awesome than others realized, led me to become the black sheep liberal, vegetarian, feminist, who I still currently am. I started reading Ms. Magazine and Sassy. In Ms. people were actually saying things like "I believe Anita Hill". People were actually writing "listen to the woman in this story". People like Patricia Ireland were on CNN saying this, and I paid attention. They were so different from ultra-conservative, totally Republican family, and I had no idea before then, really, that such people even existed. After all, I spent elementary and part of middle school in a evangelical Christian school where were taught that memorizing Bible verses was more important than science, that there was no such thing as a dinosaur, and that rock records, played backwards, held Satanic messages in them. We were taught that the band name, KISS, stood for "Kids in Satan's Service". And I could go on, and on, and on.
I was a feminist from a young age, when I declared to my misogynistic grandfather that I would never be a slave to any man (in those exact words), and would never get married. He made me put it in writing, so, at age 8, I did. I wrote my "affidavits" and had them notarized by family members. He saved them for years because he planned on humiliating me about it when I eventually did get married. Well, he's dead now, and I'm still single, so that day never came, may he rest in peace.
In the 1990's the world was embroiled in changes, and so was my young mind. I refused to do any dissection of animals in my high school biology class and stopped eating meat after I saw what a dead fetal pig looked like and realized why bacon had always disgusted me. I started an environmentalists' club with some science teacher whose name I don't recall. I began to believe in women like Anita Hill. I refused to go to the pentacostal, crazy church where I grew up any longer, particularly after the day that the assistant pastor was on the news for molesting some of my friends.
I changed. And one of the people who helped me make that change was Patricia Ireland. I got to pick her brain today at the luncheon where she was keynote speaker, and I was honored to sit at her table. "What was Betty Friedan like? Do you know Gloria Steinem well? Have you met Hillary? What about Bella Abzug?" She probably got sick of my questions! But what she said to me were some of the most important words anybody has said in a while. She told me that it was very good that I speak out about my "issues" I've lived through because most people do not do that, and telling the truth about things is the main ways that social changes are created.
There are things I don't talk about on Facebook, but which I have talked about here. Things like being sexually assaulted while psychotic (three times), for example, I do not write there because such persons as my mother, my father, my one living grandmother, etc. are on Facebook, and they cannot handle that information. There is a reason why the book I co-authored with Jessica Leach, Episodes of Schizophrenia . There are things I rarely ever talk about at all, with and I had to delete the info here, sorry. There are things nobody really wants to hear about, which is why it is so goddamn hard to get social changes created. We would rather be like the "ostrich" (checkout a great song called "Ostrich" by Carla Duren). It's one of my favorite songs, sent to me once on a cd by my great friend Lauren "Wildflowyr", and I am listening to it on Spotify as I type this.
So there are things, like everyone, that I don't advertise about myself. However, there are things that NEED to be talked about. The fact that people don't talk about them hurts us all who live through them. The fact that people don't talk about them is why they will continue to happen until, someday in the next millenimum, people do. So here is what I wrote about it on Facebook. I wrote, that Patricia Ireland told me that it is very good that I talk about the issues I've been through, as that is the way change is created. And....
And that, folks, is a belief I have long held at the molecular level. As one of my favorite, feminist poets, Adrienne Rich wrote, "Lying is done with words, and also with silence." As Audre Lorde, another famous, feminist writer who greatly influenced my life wrote, "Your silence will not protect you." As Zora Neale Hurston, a greatly underappreciated author wrote during the Harlem Renaissance, "There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you."