Category Archives: news-commentary

#WomensLives :: Unifying voices through #TellYourStory

If there is one thing you should know about me and social media, its that I place Twitter at the top of my list of must-use social media tools. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook and spend way too many hours a day on it, but its Twitter that I turn to most for day-to-day information. It’s helped me get through traffic back-ups, severe weather and lets me feel not-so-far-away when something happens back home in Texas.

So needless to say, when the headline, “In Turkey, sometimes it takes a hashtag to be heard” came across PRI’s Across Women’s Lives, it jumped out at me. It talks about the  Twitter campaign #sendeanlat — or #tellyourstory — started in Turkey for women to tell their own personal stories about experiencing violence, or in many cases their attempts to avoid the violence.

It came on the heels of 20-year-old Özgecan Aslan being raped and stabbed to death by the driver of her bus. She was on her way home from college to visit her parents in southern Turkey when her life was cut short. According to women’s rights activists in Turkey, the tragedy was just one story of women being harassed, raped, beaten and killed with little-to-no consequences for their attackers.

Through the #sendeanlat / #tellyourstory hashtag, the stories of women going out of their way to avoid violence are just as staggering as the harassment they experience despite their best efforts. Through the hashtag(s), there is a wonderful strength in numbers, and I hope authorities are listening.

Three that jumped out at me, one from the article, two  I found reading the hashtag feed myself:

 

Why did these jump out at me? Because they all read like something I would do/have done. Right here in America. Because even if the law is far more strict regarding rape, murder and other violent acts, it doesn’t mean women here don’t still feel the need to be proactive against potential violence.

I used to keep an empty can of husband’s chew on the dashboard of my truck at all times. I’m not entirely sure when I quit doing that. But my hope was it would keep the truck from looking like a woman drove it. I’d often keep a baseball cap in my truck. When I drove home from going out late at night, I’d often throw it on so that perhaps my silhouette would look a little less feminine. I doubled that focus after a Central Texas woman was run off a rural road, kidnapped, raped and beaten in 2006.

When my husband goes on the road, I go out of my way to try to hide the fact he’s not home. I’m careful to keep certain things about my day the same, whether he’s home or not. I refuse to go to the grocery store at night alone. When I was bartending, I loved that most of our regulars refused to let us bartenders walk to our cars alone after closing.

Meanwhile, a tweet like this also stood out to me:

Not long ago, I had someone who left me feeling endlessly uncomfortable. Someone who left me literally sobbing my heart out driving home a few times, because he was so oblivious to how he kept “crossing the line” with me. It got to where I wanted to dress up to go out with my husband, but I’d find myself dressing way down just to avoid comments from this person about how I looked. I almost threw out my favorite pair of boots, because he felt it okay to make leering comments about them.

That’s not okay! That’s NEVER okay! Not here, not in Turkey, not in any country. And perhaps if we can all step up and tell or stories, we can empower each other and open other’s eyes.

Won’t you join in… Please. #sendeanlat … #TellYourStory

#womenslives#WomensLives is a media partnership between Public Radio International (PRI) and SheKnows Media, BlogHer‘s parent company, aiming to change the portrayal and coverage of women in media. I felt our standing up for ourselves fell right in line with this initiative. 

In Turkey, sometimes it takes a hashtag to be heard

 

Twisters

Growing up in Texas, we had tornado drills just as often as fire drills. If I remember right, it was three short bursts of the bell and we lined up, went into the hallway, and ducked against the walls covering our heads.

Being one of the tallest kids in class, I mostly remember it being a pain in the butt trying to crouch down as tight and low as my classmates. I don’t think it ever really set in with me the importance of those drills either… Because we had gotten lucky for years. My little hometown missing the bullet.

I remember many nervous nights at home, though, listening to the wind howl, watching the weather, lighting hurricane lamps. Even then, we we’re lucky. Time and time again, the tornados missing us.

Fall 1996, our first football game of the year, storms billowed and churned. We warmed up in the band hall, when someone broke in and told us to take cover. We huddled up again the only brick wall in that building. I remember holding hands and praying with my friends for safety and protection from the danger. I remember how eerie it was hours later, after the game was postponed and we all went home safe, that the skies parted and we ended up with the most brilliant sunset. We once again got lucky.

No one knew, though, that about 8 months later another small town would not fare so well. May 1997, 20 tornados touched down within less than two hours of my home. One was an EF-5 tornado that hit the town of Jarrell, Texas, killing 27 people — 11 of which were teens like me… 6 of those had been on the football team. I remember crying for the loss of those lives. It hit so very close to home.

There is no asking, “Why?” There is only, “How can I help?”

When I moved to Nashville, it seemed “tornado alley” followed me. April 2009, the “Good Friday tornado outbreak” occurred. My husband and I were in Texas for Easter, and we watched online as a large EF-4 tornado swept across Middle Tennessee… Only a few miles from our home. Once again, tears were shed, especially for the mother and her 9-week-old who were killed.

Moore, OK. Joplin, MO. The April 25-28, 2011 outbreak. This week I happened to be watching tv as Tupelo, MS took a direct hit. The footage out of Arkansas was staggering.

Every time tornado warnings come I wonder if this is the time I won’t be so lucky. Is this the time we will be facing starting over… assuming we get through it.

And yet, outside of trusting I know what to do — seek shelter, protect myself the best I can, pray — there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t stop the tornados. I can’t avoid them entirely. What will be, will be. And should that day come that “my luck runs out” I pray I have the strength to do what has to be done and the faith to keep going forward.

My prayers are with all the victims of these latest storms as well as those still living with the scars of past tragedies.

CNN has compiled a great list of ways we can all help victims of these massive storms.

Some thoughts on shutdown

I don’t talk politics much. It’s a deeply personal subject for most people, but within that very few are fully versed on political topics. I’ll readily admit, I don’t know all the details of every political move made. I only know three things for sure:

1 – I don’t consider myself Republican nor Democrat. I vote based on the individual and their stance, not based on their political party.

2 – I consider myself a conservative. But I’m probably one of the most liberal conservatives you’ll find in that I acknowledge others have different beliefs/wants/needs than I do, and I respect that. I only ask others respect my feelings in return.

3 – I think a multiparty system is crucial. You may be staunchly one party or the other, but you gotta admit you need a check-and-balance brought from the other side.

All that being said, I’ve always felt very thankful to live in a democratic country. “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” (Abraham Lincoln) However, as the American public has asked for more laws on one topic or another be made, I’ve slowly felt like our democratic society has started to fade a little. And that fact has scared me.

And I sit here today a solid mix of scared and angry, as our lawmakers refuse to find a compromise on budgets, health care, and who knows what all else (because lets face it, every law passed these days has half a dozen non-associated things attached), leaving our country at a standstill in so many ways. I’m scared of the repercussions of this — things we may not find out about for days, months or even years down the road. I am angry that the country has become so divided. I sometimes wonder if this is how people felt in the time of the civil war, as friends and family sit on opposite sides of the issues. One person is screaming the Republicans are evil. The next screaming the President has become a dictator. And while we bicker amongst each other over what “they” are doing, those in office are treating this whole shutdown like its some sort of game to win. Treating one another like parents with a child throwing a tantrum.

Meanwhile its the American public — the ones who put our politicians into place and who are the ones that our politicians are supposed to be working FOR — that suffers. Families are left wondering how they are going to put food on the table, as government employees are put on furlough. (Meanwhile, Congress still gets paid.)  Others who have saved and dreamed of a vacation to a national park or monument find those dreams and that money go to waste as they are told, “No.” by federal security people. (Except for those who give a proverbial middle finger to barricades. These guys are my heros.) Even worse, those kicked out of their homes because they sit on federal land. Still others, who are in clinical trials are left without medicine. Don’t even get me started on our military not getting to celebrate mass nor having death benefits during the shut down.

The only “positive” spin I could possibly put on this is that at least now we realize how much we rely on our government. And that realization is more than a little bit scary. But perhaps its time we rely on our government less and more on each other.  The Bloggess wrote an amazing blog on this point last week. Perhaps we’ve come to expect too much of “those guys & gals in office” who often seem to be more worried about how they look to fellow politicians and less about how they look to “the people.” They forget its “the people” who gave them their jobs. It’s “the people” being used as a pawn in this game. It’s “the people” who are suffering.

I wish this could be like in the movies, and some one up in office would sit down and read the news and then the constitution and suddenly be inspired to swoop in and fix everything. But this isn’t Hollywood.  I’m not Sandra Bullock and you’re not George Clooney. (Unless you really are, and if you are — hey thanks for reading!) This is America, and there are no special effects nor a script to read.

So what do we do? We help each other. And we think long and hard about who we put in office next. We pray for this shutdown to end soon.

I’ve read more news articles and editorials for and against both sides than I can fully digest. At the end of them all, I can only surmise what I already felt: they’re all wrong. (And I don’t want to hear either side defended in comments, because dammit in the end they are supposed to be leaders… and leaders bring people together not rip them apart.)

I don’t want to hear neither President Obama nor House Speaker John Boehner point fingers any more. I’m tired of hearing, “I’ll negotiate, but only if…” from both sides. I want to scream/cry/beg them all to grow up and work together. Stop being like a bunch of eight-year-olds bickering over who gets the ball first in a big game of HORSE. Because that ball is the lives of Americans, and we’re all getting scared and angry as a whole.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.