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.


Friday Quote

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
-- Marie Curie--


Inter-generational Cycle of Abuse

Is there a generational cycle of abuse? Some of these examples of the impacts on children of living with domestic violence would suggest that children are growing up to replicate aspects of the behavior they themselves were subject to.  In other words, research has shown that there is a cycle of abuse whereby patterns of abusive behavior are passed down through the generations. 

Violence is a learned behavior that often is self-perpetuating. In fact, the single most influential factor of domestic violence in society is the continuation of a generational cycle of abuse and/or a history of abuse in the family of origin. When children bear witness to violence, they learn that the people you love the most may hurt you and the violence is the only way to handle conflict. Fear becomes a normal part of life.  This is the way people are supposed to act. Women who saw their mother abused may grow to believe that if a man doesn't abuse them, he must not love them.  And, as they learn, a generational cycle begins in which children grow up to either be abused or to be the abuser.  

In addition, the link between domestic violence and child abuse, both emotional and physical, cannot be ignored. Domestic violence or child abuse rarely exist alone. When there is violence in a home it is often multifaceted. Children are frequently involved in episodes of domestic violence, either as witnesses, victims, or participants when they intervene to protect their mothers. This form of family violence can have a profound influence on the child. Those who have been abused in childhood may abuse or neglect their own children, perpetuating an inter-generational cycle of abuse.  Violence begets violence.  Child abuse, like domestic violence, replicates itself across  generations.

A cycle of abuse is rarely broken without outside help. Without effective intervention, domestic violence  becomes an inter-generational cycle. 
Abusers must confront and take responsibility for the verbal and physical abusive patterns of behavior. Both victim and abuser need to consider professional counseling as a means to stop the cycle of abuse. If you cannot find or cannot afford professional help, seek out public services to address the abuse in your home before it spirals out of control. 


Quote of the Day

"For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women."
—Elizabeth Blackwell
(The first woman in the U.S. to become a physician)


Woman must not accept; she must challenge.
She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her;
she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.

~ Margaret Sanger ~


Where to Turn for Help

I have received several pleas for help from women who read this blog.  I wish, with all my heart, I could reach out and help each and every woman who is being abused, but I am limited.  I feel badly that I have not been able to respond to the pleas, but with no return email, there's not much I can  do.  And even if I could respond, the most I could do is lend a supportive ear.  With that in mind, I'd like to offer the following:

In an emergency: 

Call 911 or your country’s emergency service number if you need immediate assistance or have already been hurt.
For advice and support:
For a safe place to stay:
Call your state’s branch of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or another local organization. For contact information, visit State Resources.


Ritual Servitude

Did you know that in some parts of the world, slavery is still occurring?   And women are particularly vulnerable.  For example,...

...Ritual servitude is still practiced in Ghana where traditional religious shrines take young girls in payment for services, or in religious atonement for alleged misdeeds of a family member. Trokosi which means slaves or wives of the gods, is practiced by a small tribe called Ewe in the Volta region.   For centuries, girls as young as two have been given to priests in Ghana for life in payment for the crimes  and today we find children as young as 6 years old are forced to work at hazardous labor in the fishing industry and on cocoa farms After the onset of menstruation, the bondage also include sexual servitude and young girls are forced to work in houses of prostitution. It is common that a Trokosi has 10 to 15 children.

Once given to the priest, a girl becomes his property and is made to carry out domestic chores such as cooking and washing, as well as farming and fetching water. If a girl runs away or dies, or even if the priest tires of her, she must be replaced by another girl from the family. Some girls in ritual servitude are the third or fourth girl in their family suffering for the same
 crime, sometimes for something as trite as the loss of trivial property.  If the priest should die, his Trokosi are passed on to his successor. Some girls do manage to get released, but they remain married to god for life. Many cannot marry, and remain indebted to the priest.




Friday's Quote

“One in three women may suffer from abuse and violence in her lifetime. This is an appalling human rights violation, yet it remains one of the invisible and under-recognized pandemics of our time.” Violence against women is an appalling human rights violation. But it is not inevitable. We can put a stop to this.” – Nicole Kidman


The Silent Abuser done

This weekend I met up with a friend on my way to run a few errands.  I asked how her how the family was,  and she said "Fine." I then asked how her husband was doing, and she gave a nervous laugh, "Oh, he's mad at me right.  He's not talking to me."  "I'm sorry," I replied.  "Oh, you know how he gets when he gets this bug up his a... He'll get over it."  Sadly, I do know how it is when he catches the bug.  I've lived with one of those myself.

Many years ago I was involved with a man who, any time I did something he did not approve of, would give me the silent treatment. This would last for several days, sometimes even a week or more. I'd apologize for whatever it was that made him ignore me.... even though usually I had no idea what I was apologizing for, if there ever was anything to begin with. Eventually, I would find myself sobbing and pleading with him to talk it over, but he'd sit there acting like I didn't exist. At the time, I didn't  really did think of this as a kind of emotional abuse, but as I look back on it now, it really was quite painful endure.

It is true, that whenever  we hear someone talking about emotional abuse, the first thing we usually think of shouting and criticism. Most of us don't even realize that  there is another form that we hear less of and often don't even think of it as abuse...the disengaging partner. The most common form of this is stonewalling, the spouse who refuses to accept anyone else's perspective. Stonewalling can consist of the following:

Refusal to compromise
Refusal to negotiate a conflict in good faith
Refusal to support the other's plans
Refusal to discuss honestly one’s motivations
Refusal to listen to another point of view with openness

The partner who is stonewalling may not be overtly putting you down, but he is, nevertheless, he punishing you by refusing even to think about your perspective. And, if he even listen to you at all, he does so dismissively or impatiently...hurtfully.   The fact is, whenever someone is administering the silent treatment they are trying to show that they are dominant over you.

Silence is actually a silent form of anger that says you do not exist. Abusers use this as a form of punishment.  It is their way of banishing you from their existence, a punishment that makes you feel unimportant and not cared about. It is used as a form of non-physical punishment and control because the abuser mistakenly thinks that if they don’t physically harm you then they are not abusers. Anyone who has ever experienced it from a loved one knows that it is a form of torture.  It is a calculated for of power/control over others. The abuser wants a submissive reaction from you to make themselves feel more powerful and better than you, and it does, indeed, work.

Getting the silent treatment from the person closest to you can be hurtful and frustrating.  It can damage the individual's overall emotional health to the point where the victim report a sense of not belonging, loss of control, lower self-esteem and a feeling of unworthiness.  And, because we don't understand the game they are playing, we tend to work very hard to win back the good graces of others but most males still do not.  I remember how I used to cry, and because I didn't know any better, I would make sure that he saw me crying in the hopes that he would feel sorry and make up with me.  Little did I know that I was falling right into his hands and doing exactly what he wanted.  
Now, you might be saying, "I have given the silent treatment many times.  Does that make me an abuser?"  There is a difference between the silent treatment and what we think of as the cooling off period. The cooling off period is actually a good thing.  It occurs when one is so angry or disgusted by the other person that they just cannot deal with the situation and need some to calm themselves down before they begin to speak to this person. 
When I ran my batterers group, one technique they were taught was 'time out'.  Before you are going to do or say something that you will regret, take time out.  Go for a walk or go to another room.  Above all, do nothing to escalate the situation.

On the other hand,  the silent treatment is more along the lines of your doing something that angers the other person, then they don’t speak to you, acknowledge you or even make eye contact with you for sometimes days. Sometimes you don't even know what it is you were supposed to have done.  Silent treatment is an abuse, and no matter what is said and done an abuse is unacceptable.
If you are being given the silent treatment, remember that it is best to stop giving any credence to these tantrums and let your abuser know that you have had enough. You don’t have to play the same game.   Tell them, no , insist, that they stop treating you this way.  If you believe that there is hope for the relationship, then you must speak about your feelings in precise and clear terms. If not, and if the situation does not improve, perhaps it might be best to think about moving on with your own life. 


Friday's Quote

“Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of bruises and scars. It is devastating to be abused by someone that you love and think loves you in return. It is estimated that approximately 3 million incidents of domestic violence are reported each year in the United States.” – Dianne Feinstein


Teen Age Violence

“Domestic violence does not only happen to adults. Forty percent of girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend, and approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.”

– Dianne Feinstein--

One in four teens said they have been exposed to verbal, physical or sexual assault each year.

95% of the time, it is the boyfriend that abuses the girlfriend.

80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to see their abuser.

50% of you reporting both dating violence and rape also reported attempting suicide.

One in three women who are killed in the US are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

25% of female homicide victims are between the ages of 14-24 years.

A rape occurs every 2 minutes in the United States and 44% of victims are under the age of eighteen!


Obsessive Ex Syndrome

There is a client in my woman's group who was sharing about how she and her new boyfriend were walking down the street when her ex jumped from an alley and grabbed her by the throat, pinning her up against the wall, all the while screaming that if he couldn't have her no one will. Luckily for her, her new boyfriend was there to save the day. It is unfortunate, but I foresee this episode happening again, perhaps next time with the new boyfriend for this women will only go out with what she calls bad boys. Mental illness is a must. Now, don't get me wrong. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with dating a man who has mental illness. The problem in this case is that she leads them on and pulls at their heart strings...and once she knows she has hooked them, she tosses them aside and moves onto the next man. I fear for her safety. I wish she would realize that dangerous game she is playing, but so far, she has refused to see.

Now not all cases are as clearcut as hers and unfortunately women all across the country are falling victim to an obsessive ex.  Obsessive Ex Syndrome has become rampant.  For reasons you decide to move on (date other people). The person who you thought was nice now begins to creep you out.  At first it seems like nothing more than a difficult breakup, but soon it begins to feel more like stalking.  Your ex-husband or ex-boyfriend, finding it mentally impossible to let go, keeps calling you and leaving messages, emailing you, visiting, arguing, and pleading with you to reconcile.  

Next they may  following, stalking or threatening you.   It may soon escalate into personal violence, vandalizing your belongings.  When left unchecked, this syndrome may eventually come to the point where the ex resorts to kidnapping, murder, or suicide.  In fact, many reported cases of
husband murders wife are actually Obsessive Ex Syndrome.   Therefore, it is important to recognize this syndrome in its early stages and take preventive steps. The longer the obsession persists without interruption or intervention, the more the obsesser will lose contact with reality. Doing  nothing is not the answer.  Obsessive Ex Syndrome must be identified in the early stages, and action be taken against its progression.  

What Are Some Red Flags
Unannounced visits or surprises
Gifts, flowers
Notes on your car or your door
Frequent phone calls
Long emails telling you how much he loves you
Questions you about your whereabouts or who you were with
Propensity for violence



Gosh, I have apologies to make to all of you.  I've let this blog go far too long, and it is too important to forget about.  If any of my blogs should be kept going, it should be this one. Every day women are being abused, beaten, slain.  According to recent FBI statistics, 30% of women killed in the United States die at the hands of a husband or boyfriend.  Nearly 2 in 3 female victims of violence were related to or knew their attacker. One study revealed that half of the homicides of female spouses and partners were committed by men after separation from batterers. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

I also have to apologize to those who have made comments.  Forgive me for not getting back to you.  The materials here can be so emotionally overwhelming at times.  I know that is no excuse.  I'm reaching out to all of you who follow this blog. Please, help me keep this blog going. I'm inviting all of you to be a part of it.  Tell your story, or the story of someone you know. Tell the story of a woman you admire or share one of your favorite women's quotes.  This blog belongs to all of us, and together we are strong.  Please let me know, and I will add you to the permission list to write for this blog.  You will find my e-mail address to the right under the first picture. 



A New Nation is Born

This Saturday, July 9, 2011, after 2 civil wars and 5 decades of conflict, the Republic of South Sudan will declare its independence, and a new nation will be born. For more than 40 years, women have endured the atrocities of civil war, famine and tribal disputes, all as Sudan’s least valued citizens. After suffering sexual and gender-based violence and having their families torn apart for so long, the women of Sudan are desperate for peace....
...and things are starting to look up for them. For the first time in Sudan's history, women were able to add their votes and voices to the national debate over the future of their country. Women proudly walked to the polls on voting day, waiting in long lines, crying with tears of joy as they cast their vote. For them, independence represents a symbol of hope for a peaceful future and an opportunity for all Southerners, including women, to define their own destiny
Congratulations to the people in South Sudan.


Anne Hutchinson

A woman of haughty fierce carriage, a nimble wit and an active spirit, and has a very voluble tongue, more bold than a man.--John Winthrop on Anne Hutchinson

The story of Anne Hutchinson is difficult of understanding by our generation. We take our religion more lightly—but perhaps not less reverently and lovingly—than the gaunt and stern Puritans who came from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in order that they might have liberty to worship God as they thought fit and power to deny the same liberties to everyone else.  Her revolt was not against the accepted creed; indeed, she was a much a Puritan as the governor who exiled her.  Her only crime was that she wanted to bear an equal share with men in the great affairs of the moment.

Anne Hutchinson was the daughter of a clergyman; she was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1615. A Puritan, Hutchinson emigrated with her husband to America in 1634. She was 43 years old at the time. Hutchinson settled in Massachusetts Bay, where she soon obtained a following as a preacher, but also managed to anger a number of powerful people, specifically the clergy.  Her crime was holding weekly meetings in her home to discuss the scriptures and theology.  At first, her meetings were attended only by women, but later men began to attend the meetings as well. 

Hutchinson began to claim that good conduct could be a sign of salvation and affirmed that the Holy Spirit in the hearts of true believers relieved them of responsibility to obey the laws of God. She also criticized New England ministers for deluding their congregations into the false assumption that good deeds would get them into heaven. A devoted wife and midwife,  Anne dared to speak about the right to live according to conscience and not necessarily the law. She held discussions in her home where visitors felt free to question religious beliefs and to decry racial prejudice, including enslavement of Native Americans. Expressing these beliefs was precisely what led her to be expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 

Recognizing her potential to disrupt the Massachusetts theocracy, in March 1638, Governor John Winthrop brought her to court on charges of heresy and lewd and lascivious conduct for having men and women in her house at the same time during her meetings.  She was 46 years old, the mother of 12 living children, a grandmother, and pregnant with her 15th child when she was brought to trial, and she stood this trial alone, with no lawyer to defend her.  She faced a panel of 49 powerful men, and if convicted, she faced banishment from the colony.  Of course she was convicted, and sentence of banishment was pronounced upon her. "I desire to know wherefore I am banished?" she asked and Winthrop replied, "Woman, say no more; the court knows wherefore and is satisfied."

The Hutchinsons and their supporters went to live in Newport, Rhode Island. After the death of her husband 1642, Hutchinson and 14 of her children moved to the New Netherlands.  A year later, the Siwanoy Indians burned down their house and scalped Anne and six of her children.  Only one daughter survived. 

Anne Hutchinson was a true American visionary, a  true pioneer.  Her only  crime had been  expressing religious beliefs that were different from the colony's rulers, and in the year 1637, in Massachusetts Bay Colony, that was against the law--especially for a woman. Long before the Constitution guaranteed free speech, Anne was defending hers, and although she had
not succeeded in changing the laws of her time. But her courageous actions helped set the stage for an America in which religious freedom was a reality. 

*Note:  In 1987, Governor Michael Dukakis pardoned Anne, 350 years after John Winthrop had banished her for being a woman not fit for our society.

The Hutchinson River and  the Hutchinson River Parkway in the eastern parts of Bronx and of Westchester County, New York, are her most prominent namesakes.


Women's Quote of the Day

The spirit of the valley never dies.  It is called the subtle and profound female.  The gate of the subtle and profound female is the root of Heaven and Earth.  It is continuous, and seems to be always existing.  Use it and you will never wear out.

                         (The Way of Lao-tzu)


Quote of the Day

Had there been a man behind each brilliant woman, there would have been women of achievement in history equal to the numbers of men in achievement.--Gerda Lerner from The Creation of Feminist Consciousness


Quote of the Day

"We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies." 

— Emily Dickinson, American poet-


First Female Vice Presidential Candidate Dies at Age 75

"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die." - Thomas Campbell

Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 became the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket, died shortly before 10 am today, Saturday, March 26, 2011.  She was 75.  She was being treated for blood cancer. 

Her acceptance speech had launched eight minutes of cheers, foot-stamping and tears.

"My name is Geraldine Ferraro," she had declared. "I stand before you to proclaim tonight: America is the land where dreams can come true for all of us."

May she rest in peace.  Good bye, Geraldine.

On This Long Storm the Rainbow Rose

On this long storm the rainbow rose,
On this late morn the sun;
The clouds, like listless elephants,
Horizons straggled down.

The birds rose smiling in their nests,

The gales indeed were done;
Alas! how heedless were the eyes
On whom the summer shone!

The quiet nonchalance of death

No daybreak can bestir;
The slow archangel's syllables
Must awaken her.
--Emily Dickenson-


Powerful Women, Powerful Qotes

I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves. --
Mary Wollstonecraft

"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them." -- Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)  

Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow, it's all the same .... day.
-- Janis Joplin

 “I am not afraid…I was born to do this.”
-Joan of Arc


Ida B. Wells 1862-1931

Brave men do not gather by thousands to torture and murder a single individual, so gagged and bound he cannot make even feeble resistance or defense.
She was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi and reared and educated there. She was the oldest of eight children. When her parents died of yellow plague in 1880, she took it upon herself to leave school in order to become a teacher so she could support her five surviving brothers and sister. She taught her first school at the age of fourteen. At various times she was offered positions to teach elsewhere, but she always preferred to teach her people in the south. In 1888, she took a job teaching in Memphis. 

It was while working as a schoolteacher in Memphis that she began writing for the city’s black newspaper, The Free Speech and Headlight. Her writings exposed and condemned the inequalities and injustices that were so common in the Jim Crow South...segregation, lack of educational and economic opportunity for African-Americans, and especially the arbitrary violence that white racists used to intimidate and control their black neighbors. And then, when a friend and respected store owner of Ida was lynched in 1892, she used the paper to attack the evils of lynching and encouraged the black townsfolk to head west. 

 It was her insistence on publicizing the evils of lynching that  won her many enemies in the South, and in 1892 she left Memphis for good when an angry mob wrecked the offices of The Free Speech and warned that they would kill her if she ever tried to come back. Ida moved north to Chicago,  but continued to write about the racist violence in the former Confederacy, campaigning for federal anti-lynching laws (which were never passed) and organizing on behalf of many civil rights causes, including woman suffrage.

In March 1913, as she was preparing to join the suffrage parade through President Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural celebration, she was asked by organizers to stay away from the procession.  It seems that some of the white suffragists refused to march alongside blacks. How hypocritical is that? Although the early suffrage activists had generally supported racial equality, by the beginning of the 20th century, that was rarely the case. In fact, many middle-class caucasians embraced the suffragists’ cause because they believed that the enfranchisement of their women would guarantee white supremacy by neutralizing the black vote. Ida, true to her cause,  created a stir and joined the march anyway, refusing to march in the back with the other black delegates. Her experience showed that to many white suffragists, equality did not apply to everyone.

After her retirement, she wrote her autobiography, Crusade for JusticeOne of her greatest accomplishments was to successfully block the establishment of segregated schools in Chicago, working with Jane Addams, the founder of Hull House.  By 1930 she became disillusioned with what she felt were the the weak candidates from the major parties to the Illinois state legislature and decided to run herself. Thus, she became one of the first black women ever to run for public office in the United States. Within a year she passed away after a lifetime crusading for justice. She died of uremia in Chicago on March 25, 1931, at the age of 68.  She had  continued to fight for civil rights for all until the day she died.


Elizabeth 1, the Virgin Queen

I do not want a husband who honours me as a queen, if he does not love me as a woman.

he was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn,  the  last of the Tudor Monarchs of England, one of the greatest rulers during the countries Golden Age.  Henry had always wanted a son and heir to succeed him, so her birth was probably the biggest disappointment in his life.  He already had a daughter, Mary, by his first wife.  Her childhood was one that we would today call dysfunctional.  Her mother, after failing to provide the King with an heir, was executed on false charges of incest and adultery in 1536.  Her mother's marriage to the King was then declared null and void leaving Elizabeth, just as her half- sister declared as illegitimate and deprived of her place in the line of succession.

During the following years, Elizabeth saw her father go through a succession of wives, and it was through his marriage to Jane Seymour, Henry finally got the son he longed for, Edward, but Jane died giving birth to him.  Then there was Anne of Cleves who the King soon divorced, Catherine Howard who was beheaded, and finally Catherine Parr.  Could this constant succession of bride changing be at the core of Elizabeth's refusal to marry?  Or was it a fear of childbirth which claimed the lives of many women during this period?

Henry did make sure that, as a child, Elizabeth received quite an  impressive education, although I think the reason for this had little to do with his desire to educate Elizabeth, but by this time period, it had become fashionable amongst the nobility to educate their daughters as well as sons.  Thus,  was taught by famous scholars , and from an early age, she excelled in her studies...especially languages, and by adulthood, she was able to speak five languages very fluently.

When Henry died in the January of 1547, her brother became King Edward VI, and Elizabeth now found herself vulnerable to those who saw her as a political pawn, for despite being declaring her illegitimate, Henry had reinstated his daughters in the line of succession. Mary was to follow Edward, and Elizabeth was to follow Mary. This meant that Elizabeth was now second in line to the throne. Edward, only 9 years old, was far too young to rule the country by himself so his uncle, Edward Seymour, became Protector of England.   King Edward died in the summer of 1553, and Mary took the throne.

Mary was not a particularly popular monarch, and when she died in November, 1558, Elizabeth was welcomed as Queen.  Mary's reign had been short, but it had been barbaric, earning Mary the title Bloody Mary.
As Queen, Mary, in trying to restore England to Catholicism, plunged England into a dark age and left England impoverished.  Elizabeth, on the other hand worked hard to maintain peace and stability and always tried to please her subjects. She was inspired to create a prospering country by both her need to please the common people and the need to prove to all that she was wise, strong and powerful, even though she was a woman. And what she lacked in feminine warmth, she more than made up for in the wisdom she had gained from a difficult and unhappy youth.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, what a feeling of supreme triumph it must have been for the unwanted daughter who had spent her life in the shadow of the court, cast aside and forgotten, and  now that she was Queen, Elizabeth was determined to enjoy her new-found freedom to the hilt. She loved all kinds of sports, especially horseback riding; she also loved hunting, music and dancing, pageantry, watching plays, and could even play the lute herself with a great deal of skill. Elizabeth had no time for those Puritan theologians who deemed such things impious...and it was her love of the arts that was responsible for the flourishing of the literary masterpieces of the period. 

Meanwhile, marriage proposals were pouring in, but Elizabeth became the only English monarch who chose not to marry, thus denying herself a chance to secure an heir.  And when King Phillip of Spain sent his mighty fleet against England,  She oversaw her fleets' victory against the Spanish Armada off the coast of England's Southern shores and her popularity rose in another personal triumph as she had proved that she, a woman, could lead in war as well as any man. 

Elizabeth was dedicated to her country in a way few monarchs had been or have been since. She was political genius who nurtured her country through careful leadership and by choosing capable men to assist her.  She was a determined woman, yes, but she was always willing to listen to the advice of those around her. In 1558, she had taken over the rule of an impoverished country which had been torn apart by religious squabbles, but, when she died at Richmond Palace on the March 24, 1603, after a great reign that lasted 45 years, England had become one of the most powerful and prosperous countries in the world.  She had changed not only the way the world looked at Britain, but also how people looked at the world. 


Agnodice: How One Woman Can Make a Difference

 (She is credited with being the world's first female gynecologist.)

Agnodice (ca 400 BC) is the name of the earliest midwife mentioned among the Greeks.  She native of Athens where  it was forbidden by law for a woman or a slave to study or practice medicine.  So, she cut off her hair, donned men's clothing,  and managed to gain an education by disguising herself as a man. Agnodice, concerned over the numbers of women dying or undergoing extreme and unnecessary risk or protracted pain in childbirth because they dreaded calling for medical assistance,  devoted herself chiefly to the study of   midwifery and the diseases of women.  

When she completed her training and went into practice she retained male attire, but made known her sex to her patients, and as word of Agnodice spread among the women in the community, the male doctors found their services refused by the women.  In fact, her engagements became so numerous that the male practitioners became enraged, and, unaware if gender,  brought the young midwife before the council under a charge of seducing women.  Agnodice was forced to declare her sex by lifting her tunic in front of the judges in order to avoid the death penalty for corrupting women.  The male doctors now shifted their complaints to the fact that she had broken the law that forbade women to practice medicine...

...but the doctor's own wives appeared in court and testified in her defense. They boldly and loudly appealed to the judge's feelings and interests,  and even threatened to die with Agnodice if they tried to execute her.  Bowing to the women's pressure, the men not only released Agnodice, but changed the law as well.  After that, any freeborn Athenian woman could become a physician as long as she only treated women patients. 


Women's History Month

"I'm a woman / Phenomenally / Phenomenal woman, / that's me." --Maya Angelou

Every March is Woman's History Month in the United States.  It is a time for all of us to honor the sacrifices, accomplishments and contributions of women throughout history.  It is time to celebrate the opportunities and dreams given us by generations past. It is time to praise women!  And not just women from the United States...This means women from all over the world.

During this month, this blog  will reflect upon those great women of our past and present who have shaped history.  Each of them embraced, struggled against society and endured hardships while triumphantly pursuing their cause, and in so doing, they have aroused and empowered generations of other women to do the same. But dissimilar and assorted as they were, all of these women had one thing in common. They were true to themselves; they were courageous and willing to fight for their beliefs. These are the women who changed history. 

National Women's History Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1987.


Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression. - Margaret Sanger


Kate Sheppard

She was born in Liverpool, England  in 1847 and is considered the foremost advocate of women's suffrage in New Zealand history. Kate Sheppard  was the leader of New Zealand's suffragette movement.  her persistent lobbying led to a Women's Suffrage Bill being presented to Parliament, and determined agitation under her leadership, led to Women's  suffrage being achieved in 1893 so that all New Zealand women, including Maori women, were the first in the world to be given the vote.  

In 1894, she told  an interviewer in London, 'we asked for the suffrage, not on the grounds that it would help us to advance social and moral reforms, but as an act of justice.' in 1893.  Women in Australia would not gain suffrage until 1902, in the United Kingdom not until 1918 for women over 30, and in the United States, not until 1920. 

 Kate  died at her home on 13 July 1934, and was buried in Addington cemetery with her mother, a brother and a sister. The Christchurch Times
reported her death in simple appreciation: 'A great woman has gone, whose name will remain an inspiration to the daughters of New Zealand while our history endures.'

After the  battle for universal suffrage was finally won in 1893,she continued to work for women’s progress, helping to establish the National Council of Women and becoming its first president.  To her belongs much of the credit for advancing the rights of New Zealand women.  Kate was a source of inspiration to suffragists, both in New Zealand and throughout the world.


Restrictions Proposed for Afghan Women's Shelters

The Ministry of Justice of the Afghan government is considering a draft resolution on Women's Protection Centers allow it to take over management of the shelters and require women who are fleeing domestic violence situations to appear before and eight person government panel before obtaining shelter. Under this new regulation, the shelters, which are currently funded by international organizations, Western governments, and individual donors, would be placed under the control of the government. In fact, this would most like result in the closure of some of the only 14 shelters active today.

Not only will this committee will determine whether women should be admitted to a shelter, jailed (yes, jailed) or returned to their families. If admitted to the shelter, women would then be required to submit to compulsory forensic examinations, which could include a virginity test. Such examinations could be traumatic for women especially since there are only limited female forensics. Moreover, women could be expelled from the shelter if their families requested that they return.

Women's rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Women for Afghan Women and the Afghan Human Rights Commission, have expressed concern that the new laws would deter vulnerable women and girls from seeking necessary protections and shelter. Personally, I see know protection for women at all. It stymies me that they would even think of placing a woman in jail when she is a victim. I mean, does it ever end?


Stop Honor Killing

Honor Killing and Honor Crime involves violence against women and girls including such acts as beating, battering, and killing by a family member or members of a family who believe that the woman has brought dishonor upon the family.    A woman is usually targeted for refusing to go along with an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce (even from an abusive husband), or committing adultery or fornication. 

These sexual indiscretions can range from something as simple as talking to a man without permission  to falling victim to rape.  This so-called loss of a woman's honor is believed to particularly shame her male relatives since women embody the honor of men whose property they are said to be.  The male feels no shame or remorse for committing the act of murder because he has convinced himself that killing his sister or his daughter deserved it.  The traditional wisdom is that an unchaste woman deserves to die. 

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women are murdered by family members each year in the name of honor. It's difficult to get exact numbers on the phenomenon because most of the murders  go unreported, the perpetrators unpunished, and the concept of family honor justifies the act in the eyes of some societies.

In  Honor Killings known as karo-kari, women have been shot, burned to death, or hacked into pieces.  There is also a gruesome tradition in some cultures when brothers kill their sisters to salvage the family's honor.  For example, in Amman, Jordan, a man stabbed his older sister to death for disgracing the family with her sexual promiscuity.  Another Jordanian man stabbed his sister 25 times because she married an Egyptian against her family's wishes; she was 8 months pregnant at the time.  This week, a 14 year old Pakistanian girl was allegedly killed  by her family for refusing to marry a man they proposed, and in Jaipur, a man slashed his sister's throat because she had an extra-marital affair. On November 2, 2009,
Noor Faleh Almaleki was murdered in Arizona by her own father, Faleh Almaleki, because she was too Westernized. Noor died from the injuries she received when her father brutally mowed her down with his car.

Honor Killings are not exclusively a Muslim phenomenom; in fact, they are found all over Europe and even here in the United States...although not as in Muslim countries. UNICEF has reported that in India, more than 5,000 brides are killed annually because their marriage dowries are considered insufficient. 

There is nothing in the Koran, the book of basic Islamic teachings, that permits or sanctions honor killings. However, the view of women as property with no rights of their own is deeply rooted in Islamic culture.--Tahira Shahid Khan, a professor specializing in Women's issues at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan



Emotional Abuse and Children

There is no doubt that emotional abuse can be as damaging as actual physical abuse, and many times this abuse is inflicted on children by the parents. This is the worst kind of abuse because while a child is small, and even into their teenage years, it is almost impossible to escape the wrath of the parent unless the child leaves home.  I know that was my situation.  My mom was verbally abusive to me; she called me the worst kind of names and eventually, I was forced to leave the house...but not before she had beaten me down to the point where I really believed that I was never going to amount to anything.

Leaving the home didn't do much to rectify the situation because the damage had already been done. I literally had no self-esteem and drew men into my life who took full advantage of the vulnerable young woman I had become.  All I wanted was love, but it seems that all I got was further abuse.  This is because we draw into our lives that which we already know.
Sadly, the long-term effects of emotional abuse can scar the child for the rest of their lives unless they seek counseling and therapy.

As adults, it is important to recognize the signs of emotional trauma and abuse. For those of us who have lived through it, this might be easy to see; for others, there are certain things to look for.  To begin with, the parent or parents will choose one particular child to use as their scapegoat. This child will be the one who has to put up with all of the  parents criticism; many times this child is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the parent's life. 

In addition, this child may have to listen to the parent calling them names, telling them they will never amount to anything, even go as far as calling their own child ugly, fat, stupid etc.  As an only child, I got it all...all the anger directed at me.  My mom's favorite words to me were, "You're going to end up a fat old drunk like your father."   Is it any wonder that I had my first drink at age 14?  Or that it took me so many years to come into recovery?  After all, isn't this what my mom had told me I would be?  Hence, the long line of abusers, addicts, gamblers, etc.  Thankfully, I found recovery 20 years ago and with it, I learned that I wasn't that fat old drunk. I never was.  But, there were so many years in between, so many years of abuse that didn't have to be.

The following signs that children may be being mistreated:
  • Learning problems that cannot be explained
  • No adult supervision
  • Withdrawal from others
  • No desire to go home after school or other activities
  • Fearfulness, as though waiting for something bad to happen
  • Changes in school performance or behavior
  • Has untreated medical conditions
So, what does one do when the signs have been identified?  I believe that first need to confront the parent even if you are afraid of the
consequences. Perhaps they will welcome someone to talk to, and if not, the heck with them.  The child is the one who is important in this case. You may want to talk to a school counselor. The counselor can give you advice on how to further cope with the terrible situation.  
If the abuse is extreme, it may be time to confide with a close family friend or relative to possibly make arrangements for the child to be removed from the home. It is also important to contact child protective services.  I know that in some states, especially here in the city, they have a horrible reputation, but if one allows them to, they WILL help.  I have a client whose child was removed due to drug use in the home, and they have helped her to seek treatment, further her education, and now are helping her find appropriate housing for herself and the child.

Emotional abuse is a horrible way to live. I know from experience; it can literally eat you alive. It may take many years to overcome your trauma, and then again, sadly, you may never get over it. But, we have obligation, an obligation to save other children from what we have experienced.  If you see a child who is obviously in pain, remember the pain you felt, and reach out to help.  You will be saving that child from a lifetime of pain and abuse.


Don't Be a Victim

Anger that’s used to control, manipulate, and hold another emotionally hostage is out of control and abusive. It typically starts with name-calling, emotional jabs at a person’s self-worth, painful teasing, public insults. It progresses from there. Eventually the abuser is yelling, grabbing, pushing, slapping, and becoming increasingly aggressive and violent. Remorse follows. So too does more abuse. Even just one of these tactics is abuse, and it won’t stop without serious intervention. If you or your children are being treated in this fashion, please seek help.--Meg Wilson, “Hope After Betrayal”


 "We are talking about everyone's lives are touched by this issue, whether it be our children, or our mothers or our sisters. So many women. The most important thing I can do here today is start this dialogue that we're having ."
— Reese Witherspoon asking people to speak out on Domestic Violence, an issue that affects one in three around the world.


The Sociopathic Partner

He is a sociopath masquerading under a schizophrenia diagnosis, the doctor said.  Actually, today we don't commonly call them sociopaths.  It is more common to say they have an antisocial personality disorder.  Individuals with this disorder cab appear very charming and become involved in relationships, but to them, the relationship is in name only. They so easily end them whenever necessary or when it suits them. They seem to have an innate ability to find the weakness in people, and are ready to use these weaknesses to their own ends through deceit, manipulation, or intimidation, and gain pleasure from doing so. The doctor's words made me think about more than one relationship that I have been in.

DSM-IV Definition

Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of regard for the moral or legal standards in the local culture. There is a marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules. Individuals with this disorder are sometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths.

Diagnostic Criteria (DSM-IV)

1. Since the age of fifteen there has been a disregard for and violation of the right's of others, those right's considered normal by the local culture, as indicated by at least three of the following:
A. Repeated acts that could lead to arrest.
B. Conning for pleasure or profit, repeated lying, or the use of aliases.
C. Failure to plan ahead or being impulsive.
D. Repeated assaults on others.
E. Reckless when it comes to their or others safety.
F. Poor work behavior or failure to honor financial obligations.
G. Rationalizing the pain they inflict on others.

2. At least eighteen years in age.

3. Evidence of a Conduct Disorder, with its onset before the age of fifteen.

4. Symptoms not due to another mental disorder.

The sociopath is manipulative and cunning.  Although they may appear charming, they also possess another side which they hide well.  In fact, they are really rather hostile and domineering seeing their victim as someone to be used; hence, they often dominate and humiliate their victims.(My ex loved to dominate and humiliate me out in public.  He took great joy in calling me names and watching me cringe with embarrassment.  A true sociopath, he never said he was sorry.)

The sociopath has a rather grandiose sense of self.  He/she feels entitled to certain things as their right, and they know how to manipulate to get what they want.  (My ex was an actor; not a big actor, but he had some 'bit' parts, but according to him, he was 'the star'.  He made it impossible to be happy for him.  He also worked as a 'bouncer' in a New York City nightclub.  He made $50 a night.  In those days, that wasn't a bad paycheck.  I worked at the time as a case coordinator for a city run home care agency.  If the ex got an acting call on one of those days he was supposed to work at the club, he told me that 'I' had to give him the $50 to make up the pay he was losing, like I owed him...and like a fool, I always handed it to him.) 

The sociopath is pathological liar.  He has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. He has the ability to create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. He can be very convincing and has even able to pass lie detector tests. (One trait the ex wasn't very good at, but I did have an old boyfriend who could look me in the eye and tell me a tale so huge that I had to wonder how gullible he really thought I was.)

The sociopath lacks feelings of remorse, shame or guilt.  There is a deep-seated rage which is split off and repressed at his core. He does not see others around him as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way. (I have a knot on my leg to this day, a result of being hit with a chair while the ex was having a fit of rage.  I was never a person to him; at first I was a target since I was such a naive country gal and once he had snared me, I became the victim.  No matter what he did to me, how much he ever hurt me both physically and emotionally, I never heard the two words, 'I'm sorry'.  And that's because he NEVER was sorry.)

The sociopath has a need for stimulation. He lives on the edge. Promiscuity and gambling are common.  (My ex was a gambler.  While I was at work, he would be hanging out in the neighborhood OTB all day.  Sometimes he would win, but I never saw any of that.  Even though he always had me replenish his losses from my salary, he NEVER shared his winnings.  That was 'his' money, and according to him, "I didn't deserve any of it.')

The sociopath is callous and suffers from a lack of empathy.  He is unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them. (One night I was very sick.  I had the flu and had bruised my ribs by coughing so much.  Feverish, I was barely able to take care of myself, let alone two young boys.  He was going out, and I begged him to stay home and help.  He just sneered at me and said, 'Too bad.  You're just going to have to take care of them the best you can.' and he left.  Later, a neighbor had to take me to the emergency room.) 

The sociopath has poor behavioral controls.  Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. The sociopath believes that he is all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others. (Everyone here knows my story.  The rage and abuse I was subjected to.  The small expressions of love were generally lacking, but one must realize that women in an abusive relationship over time begin to associate abuse with love.)

Other Related Qualities: 

Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them 
Authoritarian, rules the household
Paranoid  (Had to touch on this one.  When the ex was struck with a cab one night, he literally blamed me for it, stating that 'I wished it on him.')
Conventional appearance 
Goal of enslavement of their victim(s) 
Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life 
Incapable of real human attachment to another 

Sounds pretty much like an abusive husband, doesn't it? 


Quote of the Day

 "Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." --Eleanor Roosevelt


Bride Burning

Please light a candle and say a prayer for our sisters.

Did you know that every hour and forty minutes a woman is lit on fire? Neither did I.  The fact is there are many of us may who are not aware of this practice.   Bride Burning is a form of domestic violence practiced in certain countries such as India and Southeast Asia.   In bride burning  the man, or his family, douses his wife with flammable liquid and sets the woman her on fire, leading to death by fire.  The biggest cause of this horrific act is dowry; it usually occurs when her family refuses to pay any additional dowry (material gifts given to the bride by her family at the time of the wedding).  

The following video broke my heart.  I couldn't stop the tears. 

Dowries are as old as India, but in recent years the stakes have risen. The bride's family is expected to hand over cash and gifts such as televisions, cars and refrigerators, and although against the law in India since 1961, it is quite commonplace for a bride to enter into a  marriage with a significant dowry paid by her family, including jewelery, appliances, vehicles, furniture, even a house for the couple.  In many cases, the police are told the victim was killed by an exploding stove, and there is no prosecution. 

Every day a woman lives in fear of the day it will be her.