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Category Archives: Women’s Rights

The Radium Girls

Curie_and_radium_by_Castaigne

Marie and Pierre Curie experimenting with radium, a drawing by: André Castaigne
This drawing is said to be considered: Public Domain

 

A good friend on Facebook alerted me to this vital information this morning and because it has been an important part of my past, I felt compelled to share it here.

This ugly story is about yet another way that Humans have caused mortal harm often, with little concern, to their fellow Humans.

Years ago, we had Native Friends in the East who had developed severe physical afflictions from growing up in Arizona during the time when Uranium mining  was being  done with little regard to the effect it would have on Humans, primarily the Native people who lived near the mining areas there.

This was not the only instance of US mining processes harming Native people, there were many others, all just as deadly.

From the information gleaned from my searches this morning, it seems that we have a lengthy history in this country of deliberate neglect, and willful intent to harm others on a regular basis and shamefully for profit.

This is the story of the women, most of who worked in the Eastern United States, New Jersey to be exact, in factories making products often for the US Government, that would in a very short time and after great suffering on their part, end their lives.

They, without their consent or knowledge, were being poisoned by radiation from Radium.

At this time in our early US history, many people freely used, or worked with and handled, this what is now known to be deadly substance.

Even Marie Curie the renowned Polish Scientist, who won two Nobel Prizes, one in Chemistry and one in Physics, was not exempt from their lethal effects.

She was not only the first woman to win one, but she was also the only woman to win two!

After a lifetime of one brilliant accomplishment after another, sadly, her work with this very dangerous substance, Radium, would eventually cause her death.

Her development of  aplastic anemia was said to be linked to  her bad  habit of carrying toxic, radioactive isotope test tubes in her lab coat pockets.

Tragically, Madame Curie, like the other Radium Girls, would in the end, succumb to the very evil that she had helped to discover.

 

Places to learn more:

‘Radium Girls’ Remembered for Role in Shaping US Labor Law

Marie Curie

Uranium mining in Arizona

Mae Keane, One Of The Last ‘Radium Girls,’ Dies At 107

Medicine: Radium Women

The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls and the Generation that brushed its Teeth with Radioactive Toothpaste

U tube video – Radium City

Radium Girls

 

 

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Choices

Picture credit:    Michael Hulshof-Schmidt

 

Living in California for over 30 years,  allowed me to have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

Not judging people by their Color, Race,  Ethnicity or Sexual Orientation,  is one of the things that I am most proud of about the Golden State.

But today all over America and  even many parts of the World, personal partner or marriage choices,  are getting harder and harder to make happen.

Right now, here in Florida and in many other US States, people are being told that they cannot, may not,  marry the person that they love.

It is against the LAW and if they try to do so, they will be breaking the LAW!

Our laws, religious groups  and society,  seem to have drawn a line in the sand and refuse to listen, or accept the idea,  that they could possibly be wrong on this issue.

As a side note, it is just a bit difficult to stay focused completely on the “issue of freedom of marriage choice”  in this state, because as of today, Florida unbelievably, STILL has not passed the ERA.

The mood, the discussions, the emotions,  right now in Florida are hot and only getting hotter.

Every region,  or part of this state,  now has a Judge who approves of these marriages, but as soon as they are approved, our State Attorney General,  jumps right in and smacks them down.

And the issue is once again, back to square one, or, one step forward, two steps back!

But I digress,  the Issue here, is about choices.

I myself, am not gay, lesbian,  bi-sexual, or transgender.

But I will defend to my death, the right for any who are,  to have the right to choose WHO they wish to spend the remainder of their life with in a permanent,  loving relationship, or what we call Marriage.

I am ashamed and disgusted by the behavior of those who call themselves Christians,  who proudly march and name call, any and all that they view are wrong to wish to be married in a different way than they are.

Who each of us chooses to marry, should be our choice and only our choice, not Religious Groups, not the State or the US Government.

No one should ever have the right, to tell another Human being,  who they can,  or cannot be married to.

We are all granted, by our Constitution, Civil Liberties.

This should be a personal choice between two  consenting adults, and not subject to discussion or interference, by anyone other than the two persons involved.

Personally I have had, over my lifetime of various careers,  in various states in this Country, many friends who are gay, or transgender.

These relationships were some that have left me with wonderful, lasting memories and the thought that our Country, our World still in the year 2014, intends to forbid, to shame,  to stop them, from making their personal partner choices, makes me sick.

With the level of tensions, troubles and REAL problems on this Planet, right now, wouldn’t you think that they might focus on some of them,  instead of trying to impose their will on the millions who only wish to have a legal marriage?

By the way, many of my Word Press Followers are included in this painful, ugly situation and my prayer is,  that they will find happiness and peace,  in a World that is blinded by prejudice.

We are all the children of one God,  or another,  and as for me, I personally believe,  that any loving God would wish to allow each of us the freedom of CHOICE.

 

 

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Nurse Napping

MedicalServicesIndia1944
Nursing is not easy, you must be dedicated to serving.
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

A new friend told me about this story yesterday and I did not sleep much wondering why it had never made the news here?

This was not the kind of story, that could have been forgotten, at least not by me.

If this had happened in the United States, it would have been on every Channel for days on end, as is every other horrific story.

We would have seen it, all day, every day, night and day.

But, there has been nothing on our local News here about this.

So, while I was not sleeping last night and dwelling on this story, something occurred to me.

Could racism possibly have been involved here?

Because these Nurses were all Indian?

God, I truly hope not.

These innocent women were Nurse napped from a hospital in Iraq, it is said, about the beginning of July, yet even though I have multiple Google Alerts arriving in my email daily, geared to Global Culture and Events, this story never came up once, not once!

The 46 Indian Nurses were taken from a Hospital in Tikrit, (Saddam’s old home town) to Mosul by the ISIS.

They were returned recently, apparently unharmed, to an International Airport in Kochi, to the as expected, great relief of their families and friends.

The Nurses were joined on their return home flight,  with 137 Indian National’s who had also been held hostage by the terrorists.

There is some inconsistency in the length of their captivity, but sources say that the Nurses had apparently been held for anywhere from a week, up to a month.

Later, a second group of about 50 other Nurses, with the assistance of Iraqi authorities, were quietly evacuated from the danger or conflict zone.

They were taken to a safe location, over a land route, in small groups.

Once again, has this happened to a group of American Nurse’s  anywhere, it would have been covered by every News Media Agency, Globally.

Why was this group of Indian Nurses being kidnapped, not made public knowledge here?

As a former Nurse, I can only offer this to end an unnerving story.

Nurses do one thing very well, they take care of those who are sick and need help.

Shame on everyone in the News Media for not making this a Top Priority story, everywhere.

Healers who only help others, have got to be as important as the legions of criminals who now hold our Planet hostage.

This Nurse Napping should have been front page News all over America and the World.

 

Places to learn more:

Nurses Kidnapped By ISIS In Iraq’s Tikrit

Another batch of 50 nurses evacuated from Iraq

ISIS snatches Indian nurses, MEA claims they are safe

Nurses return home, joy erupts among family members 

Indian nurses who were kidnapped cross into Iraqi Kurdish region

 

 

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Violence Against Women

Violenceagainstwoman
Picture credit:  World Health Organization

 

Writing today had not been on my agenda, until while scanning some of the reader comments from yesterday, I noticed that one was from an unfamiliar person.

Being of a curious nature,  I went to his site, and on the right side, was a list of the Blogs that he followed.

I saw a name that intrigued me and clicked on it.

As the page appeared, the very first image that came up,  delivered an instant sickening memory, one that will burn in my mind, in my heart forever.

I knew that I would indeed be writing today.

Neither the horrific image, nor the page, will be shown here, if you look around, it is out there.

It is a picture of two young girls in India who,  they say,  were gang raped and then hung.

Please read that sentence again, will you?

Then try for one moment  to remember what year it is,  this is 2014.

How is it possible, conceivable,  that this kind of abhorrence is still being inflicted on females anywhere?

Yet, it most assuredly is, and  in many places apparently.

The word rape is personal to me, a best friend,  the best friend of my then young son and two close relatives, were all raped.

Men for the most part, can never truly appreciate the fear that is associated with this evil word.

Unless of course they become incarcerated, then …………

But for us, for women, this is a word that we know all too well.

Some better than others.

Rape, whether we admit it or not, is always in the back of our minds.

Will it happen to me?

For women, the world around us has now become so violent, that simply going to the grocery store, can put any one of us at great risk of becoming the victim of a violent act.

Where we live near Orlando, the violent acts against women and children, have now become an ugly, daily occurrence on our local News.

Women and young girls are beaten, raped, car jacked and murdered here on a regular, horrifying basis.

It seems that we/they are not safe anywhere, anymore, not even at home.

All of this brutality, this violence against women, is happening in a State that still has not passed  the ERA, like several other mostly, Southern States.

Does this have any bearing on the outrageous brutality towards women here, maybe.

Although not familiar with the statistics in other states at this time, it has been said repeatedly on our news here, that Florida leads the Nation in violence against women, children and animals.

Sounds like we have a BIG problem here doesn’t it?

But, it is not just here, not just in Florida, not just in America, it is GLOBAL.

The very long list of types of violent acts against women is simply staggering.

And, it has been going on since the beginning of time.

In India, wives died in their husband’s  funeral pyres in a practice known as  sati.

Young girls are still suffering right now with female  genital mutilation.

A shock today was learning that  Ethiopia has the highest incidence of violence against women.

But when you consider the absolute, abject poverty there, is it really so surprising after all?

It appears that violence against others is much more prevalent where there is great poverty.

This makes perfect sense in a way.

If a person, assuming the perpetrator of the violent act is a male, is out of work, perhaps for a very long time, desperate and suffering from extreme low self-esteem, any one could then potentially become the target of a violent act.

A wife, a child, a pet could become the victim of violent, out of control, rage.

Regardless of the triggering point, this is absolutely not acceptable behavior under any conditions.

But, back to the point.

We on this Planet have a very serious problem with violence against women.

America has just finally passed, for all of the good it has apparently done, the VAW ACT.

Yet every single day, here and all across this country and the world, women and children become victims, another statistic, while waiting for this VAW  ACT, the judicial system that continues to fail them and yes all of us too, to save their lives.

Women go to court trying to get legal protection, in the form of a piece of useless paper, called a restraining order, and are murdered anyway.

So, what is the solution?

Well, if we wait for a legal solution, I truly don’t believe that it can or will, ever be the answer.

The answer I believe, is within ourselves.

We must change our basic nature, we must get to the roots of all humans and their eons old, errant thinking.

We must all, each and every one of us, be taught from birth, from our Mother’s, yes and most importantly from our Father’s knee, that each of us is valuable, each of us is worthy of being loved and each of us is important.

Once we as a species, begin to feel good, or at least not bad,  about who and what we are, only then can we truly accept and love each other and stop the violence against women.

 

Places to learn more:

The Violence Against Women Act

International Violence Against Women Act

Violence Against Women

Violence Against Women Laws

Women Against Abuse

Domestic Violence – Legal Protection From Abuse 

 

 

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Rape on the Reservations

UNiTE_Poster

Picture credit: The United Nations End Violence Against Women Campaign

 

As many of you know, my partner for the past 15 years is Walkingfox, who is a Mohegan from Connecticut.

This morning while posting his weekly Blog on his website, the story left me both sad and disgusted.

It was about the many rapes and lack of punishment of Native American Women on Reservations.

Here are statistics from the National Native American Bar Association of some very disturbing numbers for Crimes committed against Native Women:    Violence Against Native Women

So, as this is still Women’s History month, I would like to offer you more about this very serious, ongoing problem that is happening to so many Women, but is out of the mainstream American News and you may not know anything about it at all.

Indeed, these are the kinds of stories that will most likely not ever be shown on your, local news, unless you live on a Reservation.

If these hideous crimes were being committed in other Countries, we would,  as a Nation,  be filled with rage, up in arms, you only need recall when a woman  in India was gang raped on a Bus last year,  there was an instant rush, an avalanche of rage here over this brutal rape.

So, where is the rage for Native Women in this Country?

Kathryn Rice, of the Pawnee Nation,  who spoke recently at UCA about Sex Crimes Against Native American Women in America,  stated that Native Women living on Reservations face these brutal statistics:
one in three will be raped in their lifetime.”

And, if you are wondering how that number compares with Non Native Women, their number is, 1 in 6.

Another stunning quote from the  recent speech by Kathryn Rice:
“Indian women are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from sexual abuse than any minority group. ”

If you are interested, here are some numbers for Global rape statistics:  Rape Statistics

You will notice, that Native American Women were not included on this website page, and  yes I sent them off a little note asking them why?

So, now for some conclusions.

After reading countless stories, one particular fact was often repeated, the victims were usually raped by off Reservation people, making the chance of any conviction all but impossible, as only the  US Government can prosecute the criminal.

This well-known fact may be the primary reason so many non natives commit this crime, they know full well, that they will never be put in jail or brought to justice.

For entirely too long in this Country,  Native Women had been considered easy targets of countless, brutal, violent  crimes, primarily because of the way our History has presented and demeaned them.

The ugly past of this Country, has kept Native Women fighting to retain their dignity,  while a living in a world frequently controlled by Non Natives who do not respect them and take their anger out on them with little fear of reprisal, because they can.

Another often repeated term was,  ” An epidemic of sexual violence.”

Well, if this was a viral epidemic, immediate and definite steps would be taken by all affected parties, right?

So then, what is the answer for the ugly crime of  ” Sexual Violence “ against Native Women?

How can Native Women protect themselves and stop this cycle of brutality, this madness?

In my opinion, changing the current  laws must be the first step to stopping this and it is beginning already with the recent new words written into the Violence Against Women Act  (VAWA).

But the law may need to be tweaked again, with even stronger language this time,  further applying to all Reservations and their Tribal Rights and Responsibilities, when it comes to contending with violence against their women and what they can legally do about it.

But it must continue right on to the Reservations as well. Women must collectively have open discussions about what they are going to do for themselves to change this.

All over the world, Indigenous Women are now learning how to demonstrate that they are quite capable of forming all kinds of groups to address problems for a myriad of other cultural Issues,  the time has come and even passed, for rape to be one of them.

When women join together, when they act and speak with one voice, they can conquer any obstacle, I know how strong they/we are.

Now it is time for women to let the rest of the World know too.

 

Here are some places to learn more:

Native American Women and Violence

Speaker Sheds Light On Sex Crimes

Sexual Violence Scars Native American women

For Native American Women, Scourge of Rape, Rare Justice

Rape on Native American Reservations

Rape Cases On Indian Lands Go Uninvestigated

Native American Women and Rape –  An Escalating Crisis on Tribal Lands

 

 

 

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My Most Admired Women~

Clinton_and_Aung_San_Suu_Kyi

Hillary Rodham Clinton with Aung San Suu Kyi
Picture credit:  U.S. State Department

 

They say that today is International Women’s Day.

This makes me just a bit curious, what about all of the other days?

What follows here is a selfish post.

I have always wanted to write about the women that I think have changed the world and influenced me.

So, with the excuse of what has been deemed their “day,”  I shall  begin!

I would like to speak of just a few of the women who have impacted my life and are especially worthy of mention here today.

 

I would of course, begin with my grandmother, who had 18 children and was the matriarch of our huge family and my mother, who raised me as a single mother, long before it was socially acceptable. Between them, these two very different, equally strong women, gave me all that was needed to become the person that I am today.

berthanugentmother

 

Of the women in my past not related to me, that I most admired,  I would like to mention a very special History teacher at Shortridge High School who made the subject come alive, for one who despised the whole idea of it, Mrs. Mary Walker.
She was a tiny, vibrant, African-American woman with beautiful white hair and I loved being in her class.
To this day, I can still hear her saying the word  ” Hapsburg’s.”

marywalker

 

Of all of the world’s current women leaders,  the one that I hold in the highest esteem is  Aung San Suu Kyi   of Burma/Myanmar. What she had done for her people and her country is  simply astounding and remarkable and there are few in the world who could have endured all that she has.

aungsansuukyi

 

Dr. Judith Marti was my first Anthropology Professor at CSUN and  taught mostly Ethnography Classes, which is basically, the study of a people through written observations.  She made a huge impact on all the years that followed in College. My classes with her and the lessons in life that she gave me, changed the way that I looked at  the world. She pushed me to always do better in every paper, every project, I would know little of real Anthropology if it were not for her. (Regretfully no picture)

 

Mrs. O’Brien, the dynamic, demanding,  Irish Charge Nurse at two of the facilities where I worked. She put the fear of God in all who were near, and not meeting her expectations in Nursing and patient care and taught me how to be a better Nurse. She often stood over me as I did treatments and remarked how perfectly they were done. As I told her, I had many times to practice with my son, who had years of skin breakdowns due to his paraplegia. We became very close and I will never forget her passion and her insistence on nothing but the best from all who worked with her. (Regretfully no picture)

 

For our current positive status in women’s liberation and equal rights we all owe much to many women, but for my own generation, my connection has always been to Gloria Steinem.  Those of us who came of age in the ’60’s, especially in Southern California, found their voice,  through hers. We were able to fight for our rights,  when no one wanted to give them to us and what she did made me a stronger woman. Regrettably, we are still waiting in this backwards thinking state of Florida for the ERA to be passed!

GloriaSteinem1972

 

In American politics, my choice must certainly be  Hillary Clinton  for being one of the most intelligent, powerful, accomplished women of my time. She is the closest we have come so far in putting a woman in the White House. For that I will forever thank her. Hillary has worked hard all of her life to make the world a better place for all of us.

HillaryClinton

 

 

 

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Zora Neale Hurston

ZoraNealHurston

Zora Neale Hurston in 1937
Beating a Haitian tambour maman or mama drum
Picture credit: World Telegram staff photographer

 

As an Anthropology student in California years ago,  I do not remember ever hearing about this remarkable woman.

It was only after coming here to Florida in 2000, that I became aware of her work in my own field of study.

I was at the University of Florida Press in Gainesville one day, picking up some books, when I noticed a stack of hers on the counter.

I asked the person there who she was and she said that she was  ” A Florida writer.”

Well as soon as I got home, I looked  her up and the shock hit me, she was a great deal more than just a “Florida writer.”

So this is a brief introduction into the world of this extraordinary African-American woman, whose life was just celebrated recently in the Annual Zora Festival in Eatonville.

Although many are not aware, Zora was not born in Florida, she was born in Notasulga, Alabama on January 7, 1891, but was brought to Eatonville at the tender age of 3.

Eatonville,  which is near Orlando, was/is one of first all black towns in this country.

I believe it was certainly the first one here in Florida.

Zora was the daughter of Baptist preacher and after they moved to Florida, he later became the Mayor of Eatonville.

After her mother died when she was 13, her father remarried quite quickly and soon after, her father and new step-mother sent her away to a boarding school in Jacksonville.

When they stopped paying for her tuition, Zora took what ever work she could find during this period, to stay in school.

Later as their  only black student, she received a BA in Anthropology at Barnard College/ Columbia University and graduated in 1928 at the age of 37.  (she had changed her date of birth to be able to complete her education)

During this time she worked with renown Anthropologists, Franz Boaz  and Margaret Mead.

She also became an active writing member of the Harlem Renaissance Era in the 1920’s.

Sadly, Zora later had several personal issues that hurt her and caused her great embarrassment.

Like so many other very talented, political and social trailblazers, Zora died alone and poor.

She was buried in the Garden of Heavenly Rest in Fort Pierce,  Florida,  in an unmarked grave in 1960.

Years later  in 1973, an upcoming author  Alice Walker  (who in 1982 would  write The Color Purple) and who had benefitted from Zora’s  example and writing, went to Fort Pierce and found what she believed to be her grave site and had a marker placed there.

 

This is an excellent accounting of her fascinating life:  Zora Neale Hurston

 

Zora Festival 2014

Zora Sustaining a Culture of Color

 

 

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