Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Minister of Poetry, Phavia, Speaks on Sexism

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sexism: A cultural cornerstone

April 6th, 2011 7:52 pm PT

by Phavia Kujichagulia
Oakland Ethnic Community

Although another Women’s Month/March has drawn to an end, sexism (the institutionalization of a man-made ideology of male superiority and female inferiority) continues to be a major cornerstone of American life.

Sexism is firmly entrenched in every aspect of American culture and society - economics, education, entertainment, family, labor, law, politics, religion, science and war. Women are still paid less than men for the same work as men. Women are encouraged to spend more on superficial products/procedures (girdles, breast implants, liposuction, depilatory creams, hair dyes, brassieres, garter belts, stockings, stilettos, false nails/lashes, harmful dieting trends, collagen injections, high-priced fashions/fads, etc.) than men. Women are still programmed (through TV programs) to be glamorous, anorexic, sex toys of T&A (tits & ass). The entertainment media methodically conditions females of all ages to fit into these unrealistic, uncomfortable, unnecessary, and very expensive male-made molds.

Not only are these trends exceedingly controlling, they are extremely profitable as well. Every Mother’s Day, florists, restaurants, jewelers, and chocolate manufactures capitalize on the American fa├žade of honoring women. Multibillion dollar profits from America’s mass-produced industry of female pornographic materials, sex trafficking schemes, and body-image fallacies reduce women to mere objects of lust, abuse, and revenue. Ironically, male insecurities translate into financial $ecurity for many companies.

Meanwhile, sexism erroneously blames women for many of our social conundrums. Christianity even accuses women (Eve) of being the root cause of all human ills (Eve & ill = evil). Sexism criticizes the phenomenon of female-headed households without condemning the males (not men) who abandon these families. It’s common to hear the phrase “she got pregnant” without ever acknowledging the physiological fact that “he impregnated her.” The most important job on earth is that of nurturing and child rearing, yet mothers and teachers (mostly women) are generally unappreciated and underpaid in both professions – parenting & teaching.

War against women exists both at home and abroad. In the name of peace, women are forced to lose their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and even their virginity to the inhumanity of war. As this is being read, millions of women are being degraded, abandoned, abducted, stalked, sold, abused, and/or tortured. Globally, every 7 seconds (not minutes) someone’s wife, daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, niece, and/or baby girl is raped and/or molested. Here in the USA, every two and a half minutes someone’s wife, daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, niece, and/or baby girl is sexually assaulted. Yet female pornography continues to spew forth and violence against women increases as apathetic excuses and economic rationalizations multiply.

Unfortunately, the mentality of sexism is not achieved accidently. We know that linguistic relativity (theory that language influences and reinforces perception) is just one of the powerful programming mechanisms used to perpetuate the injustices of sexism. American-English teaches and maintains this discriminatory ideology with words and phrases designed to empower men while devaluing women: MANkind, KINGdom, MASTER bedroom, MASTER bathroom, one MAN one vote, all MEN are created equal, and huMAN.

Under sexism men are praised and empowered as women are disrespected and disenfranchised. Men who own/manage property are called landLORDS, while women who own/manage property are only landLADIES, not landLORDettes. The words MAIDen and old MAID reveal the fact that women are traditionally considered servants of men. At weddings men are respectfully titled the best MAN while a woman is simply the MAID of honor, not the best WOMAN. Wedding vows traditionally ordered women to HONOR & OBEY their husband, yet men were not required to reciprocate such honor or obedience. In American culture, even dogs rank above women as MAN’s best friend.

The double standard of sexism praises promiscuous males as sly dogs, while promiscuous females are condemned as whores and sluts. Assertive men are proudly promoted to management and executive positions, whereas assertive women are readily classified as ball-busters or bossy bitches. Of course, prior to America’s women’s movement, so-called bitches were initially killed after being condemned as witches. Bitches, witches…it’s all sexist rhetoric, disrespect, and abuse.

Consequently, in the absence of traditional manhood and womanhood training we see a plethora of proud bastards/bitches, spoiled boys/girls, undisciplined ladies/gents, over-sexed guys/gals, and aging males/females, but few, very few real men/women. Therefore, we all have a responsibility to acknowledge, attack, and end this ubiquitous assault against the minds, bodies, spirits, and social standing of women.

Luckily, in the tradition of Ntozake Shange’s play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf, and Opal Palmer Adisa’s play Bathroom Graffiti Queen produced/directed by Ayodele Nzingha, Oakland’s Lyric Dance & Vocal Ensemble in association with Osun 07 Fashions will be tackling the issues of violence against women and sexism head on.

On Friday, April 15th & Saturday, April 16th, Lyric Dance & Vocal Ensemble with Osun 07 Fashions is celebrating sisterhood and honoring the sacredness of women with their powerfully engaging production of Stopping Our Silence/S.O.S. Both performances will begin at 8:00 PM at WOSE Community Center at 8924 Holly Street in Oakland, CA 94621. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and $12 each for groups of four or more. For tickets and details go to stoppingoursilence@gmail.com or call (510) 434-6773.

In addition to these two eclectic evening performances, Lyric Dance & Vocal Ensemble’s Stopping Our Silence/S.O.S. Conference will address these issues on Saturday, April 16th from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the East Oakland Youth Development Center, 8200 International Boulevard in Oakland, California. Healing workshops include topics on self-love, forgiveness, and recognizing the warning signs of abuse. The conference and workshops are completely free to the public. So come out to share your experiences and participate in this healing opportunity.

Or cast your buckets where you stand to make a stand against sexism. It’s up to all of us to protect and respect all women. Not only is your wife, daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, niece, and/or baby girl sacred … all women are sacred. Once society begins to recognize this fact we can stop pretending that women are mere physical things and begin to recognize the spiritual power we bring.

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