It's been a full week since Election Day, and the congressional race in my district isn't the only thing that's still unsettled. Yes, the attack ads and incessant robocalls have at long last mercifully abated, but frankly, the hoopla surrounding this most recent political cycle (and its rank billowing fallout) is even now roiling my gut like the queasy lurch of a dingy cast into stormy seas. OK, OK, maybe I'm overexaggerating a little...but partisan politics does at times make this girl feel like reaching for the pepto!
A few days before I cast my ballot I was moved to revisit an amazing gift my Mom gave me a few years back - Women Who Dare Knowledge Cards - brief illustrated biographies drawn from the collections of the Library of Congress which pay tribute to "inspiring women who have exhibited the courage and determination to reach beyond the ordinary and expected, often braving seemingly insurmountable sexual and political tyrannies in the process".
For me, reflecting on their lives really underscored something Rebecca wrote in her last post:
How have we allowed our sisters, daughters, grandchildren to think so negatively about a trail blazing group of women that made our lives what they are today? Without them we would not be able to vote, go to school, have a job, own land or any countless number of things we are able to do today, but as with most privilege take for granted.So true!
Canadian songwriter Nancy White's wry "Daughters of Feminists" echoes her point, since - according to the Knowledge Cards - the song "laments the tendency of younger women to forget the struggles of their elders".
As I sat curled up on my couch, cards fanned out on my lap, the countenances of women of passion and ambition who achieved outstanding success in varied fields of endeavor - literature, the arts, sports, natural sciences, politics, and more - formerly considered appropriate only to the attention of men seemed to me as the visages of ancestresses. I recalled feminist scholar Carol Christ's description of a women's pilgrimage to Crete and their descent into a small cave said to be an ancient site of Goddess veneration in her book Rebirth of the Goddess (1997, p. 28):
The Trapeza cave has two small enfolding rooms. The women gravitated to the smaller one, placing candles and a terracotta image of a Neolithic Goddess on a stone in its center. Libations of milk and honey were poured on the rock, and a song was sung. Then each woman spoke all the names she could remember of her motherline. "I am Carol, daughter of Janet, daughter of Lena, daughter of Dora, who came to the United States from Germany, grand-daughter of Mary Rita, daughter of Elizabeth who came from Ireland, " and so on around the circle. this was followed by the naming of female mentors and friends. As hundreds of female names echoed off the walls of the cave, the group sensed its connection to Neolithic women who may have sat in a circle in that same cave, remembering ancestors. This ritual strengthens women by giving us a sense of connection to a history of female energy and creativity stretching from the present back to the distant past.There is something powerful...and empowering...about invoking the names of the ancestresses - women who have gone before us who are tied to us by blood or bond who represent points on the Motherline. Naomi R. Lowinsky describes the Motherline as a name for a pattern, for the oneness of body and psyche, for the experience of continuity amongst women. She conceptualizes it as a central organizing principle in the psyche of women, "like the stem and the roots of the tree of life, through which a woman is related to the ancient earth of female procreation" (1992, p. 4).
In a time when, as Rebecca wrote below, "We have turned on each other! We live in a society where it is more entertaining to tear each other down then lift each other up. Through no medium is this more evident than in the world of "Reality T.V.". Here the Court Jester is king and kindness and morality are viewed as weaknesses...Where have all our role models gone?" we MUST remember our foremothers and welcome their legacies into our lives.
Our foremothers who saw personal wealth and pioneering achievement not as ends of their own but as means to promote and expand opportunity for others...
|Mme. C.J. Walker (Entrepreneur, 1867-1919)|
Elizabeth Blackwell (Physician, 1821-1910)
...who imbued their groundbreaking art with the struggle and power of women, who won acceptance in elite circles, who exerted profound influence and made headlines for their accomplishments instead of for their exploits of ill repute...
|Frida Kahlo (Artist, 1907-1954)|
Mary Cassatt (Artist, 1844-1926)
Ma Rainey (Blues Pioneer, 1886-1939)
Beryl Markham (Author, 1902-1986)
...whose revolutionary activism, writing, thinking, and oratory have sealed them to the annals of history as champions of equality and freedom...
|Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)|
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)
...whose fearless nonconformity and advocacy for the rights of women to practice birth control and retain their personhood within the institution of marriage has opened new avenues of expression for us all...
|Calamity Jane (Frontierswoman, 1852?-1903)|
Mary Edwards Walker (Physician, 1832-1919)
Margaret Sanger (Birth Control Pioneer, 1883-1966)
Lucy Stone (Suffragist, 1818-1893)
|Belva Lockwood (Attorney and U.S. Presidential Candidate, 1830-1917)|
Mourning Dove (Indigenous Cultural Documentarian, 1882-1936)
Ella Baker (Civil Rights Leader, 1903-1986)
Harriot Stanton Blatch (Suffragist, 1856-1940)
...and whose celebrated and storied careers enriched the lives of all of humankind.
|Rachel Carson (Biologist & Author 1907-1964)|
Edith Spurlock Sampson (1st Black Female U.S. Judge, 1901-1979)
Chien Shiung Wu (Manhattan Project Physicist, b. 1912)
These are just a few of our "mothers"; women whose impact on the world has been felt for generations and is still palpable today. Some of them are icons, others are shining examples of the person who, quietly and often without fanfare, changes the system from within - men and women alike can (and should) proudly claim them as their Mamas!
When it comes to True Blood, Sookie and Tara, Arlene, Jessica, Pam, and Sophie-Ann, Crystal and Debbie needn't be cut from the cloth of any of these remarkable women or draped in the mantle of feminism; writ large as "feminist characters" to offer us valuable points of departure for dialogue and discourse around our issues and struggles, identities, aspirations, relationships, and our lives - whether we are male or female.
Remembering and honoring our Mamas is part of our feminist frame here at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern- as is dipping into the surging contemporary women’s spirituality movement - a wellspring of wisdom bubbling up from our deepest cultural history and diverse belief systems from around the world for multi-dimensional ideas and approaches that enhance human well-being and to dismantle mechanisms of injustice and oppression.
In my next post I will plunge into this font, using an archaeomythological approach to explore the Goddess Persephone's ordeal of rape and abduction...or sexual initiation? through the lens of True Blood.
So drop back in soon folks...and don't forget to call your mother (or mother figure in your life)!