I am not a vagina. I am a woman.

New
Hampshire State Rep. Peter Hansen sent out an email to the official
legislative listserv referring to women as “vaginas.” This was in
response to his colleague’s recent speech about the benefits of retreating instead of using deadly force. Every person on the listserv received his email which included the following:


“What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful
retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and
vagina’s of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary
male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and
women and mothers are the potential victims.” — New Hampshire State
Rep. Peter Hansen

After reducing an entire segment of the
population to one part of their anatomy, and being called out on it by
the New Hampshire House of Representatives (among others), he defended
his use of the term and referred to his “fairly well educated mind” in
excusing his use of what others have deemed a crude catch-all expression
when referring to women as a group:

“Having a fairly well
educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens to A: try to put
words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a well founded strategy
in communication into an insulting accusation, and finally if you find
the noun vagina insulting or in some way offensive then perhaps a better
exercise might be for you to re-examine your psyche.” — New Hampshire
State Rep. Peter Hansen


Using Peter Hansen’s own logic, I am
left believing that he would like to be referred to as a penis, or, as
we say colloquially, a dick.

His “fairly well educated” mind
shows itself to be below average when it comes to something as simple as
proper grammar. I direct your outrage now to his errant apostrophe in
“vagina’s”.

Peter Hansen, we have vaginas, that does not make
us vaginas (or “vagina’s”). It is disappointing that someone in a
position of power and authority, such as yours, demonstrates such
ignorance.

Read more about this here, at Huffington Post.

Like a Thief In the Night Or Like a Second Coming

By Annette Marie Hyder

Love has sly feet
and sticky fingers
has wings
and sometimes uses them
is a chameleon
a charmer
a fatal disarmer
with ropes of pearls
to scale the highest walls
and a burglar’s toolkit to die for.

Love can come trumpeted on a cloud
or in the shadow of a secret smile.
Love might be wearing silks that flow like water
and satins that sing like nightingales
or a monk’s brown robes might cloak Love’s form,
sash-tied with steely gray.
Like a prick of the spindle or on Icarus wings —
Love swoons and pounces
laughs and cries
metamorphosizes like a butterfly.

Love is all these things
and love is more
but love is not just for a chosen few,
not only for me and not only for you.
Love is not the privilege of any one group
nor its exclusive purview.
Love belongs to everyone.
Please help support equal marital rights for all.
Thank you.

Be a part of history

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments TODAY on Prop. 8 and tomorrow on DOMA.

We need as many Americans as possible to show their support for equality.

Sign HRC’s Majority Opinion petition and help make these discriminatory laws history.

Roe v. Wade 40th anniversary

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. SLATE Magazine has a list of states competing to ban legal abortion first: Happy Anniversary Roe v. Wade! Here Are the States Competing To Ban Legal Abortion First.

There is an interesting article over at Jezebel, How Jane Roe Went from being a Lesbian Pro-Choice Icon to a Straight Born-Again Anti-Choice Activist.

And I have a previously published essay for you, “The Legislation of Flowers”.


Drops of Red, by raceytay.etsy.com

The Legislation of Flowers
Annette Marie Hyder
Originally published in Blue Fifth Review

If this were an allegory written to illuminate the abuse of women through the symbol
of flowers – if I wanted to show, in a story, the way that the intrinsic and multitudinous
beauty of women is destroyed over and over again in so many ways and in every land
 – then scenes of fields of flowers being wantonly plucked and tossed aside to wither
for no purpose, no reason, would bloom upon this page.
 
I could fill this page with images of a global flower field being invaded by corsage crazy
pickers raggedly ruining in a rampage of greed for dominion until the petals bled in all
their colors and the page reeked with the perfume of loss.
 
In asides, I would remind you that flowers are the secret essence of life – the quickening,
the blooming, the ripening and the withering – in more than metaphor.
 
Flowers attract, brighten, perfume and carry – the seeds of the future within them and
in spreading their petals and allowing the sharp tongue of bee’s exploration/bird’s
exploitation/wind’s dalliance and various other utilizations of their secret language which
is rich in propensity to procreation – they plant the continuation of life firmly with their
Chloris touch.
 
I could mention that there are forced bulbs – brought to maturity through artificial means
and before their time. I could talk, also, about those hothouse creations manipulated into
colors more vivid and shapes more fantastic than any that can occur in nature (as if those
natural shapes and colors were not wonderful enough). I could tell you about the isolated
life that the gilded lilies live in their rarified atmospheres.
 
If I wanted to illustrate the way that our culture can shape us – I might record the songs
sung by those cultivated flowers – the shivering song of misery that is beautiful to hear
because the flowers are beautiful and can’t help producing beautiful music with their tulip
throats, their rose lips, their marigold whispers and creamy gardenia sighs – tell you how
the hothouse workers hear the heavy droning of bees loaded with pollen thick with honey
 – making and quivering with the desire to plunge in that song and how the hothouse
workers take that song home with them in their heads – wondering where their humming
of pleasure and the quick use of their mates comes from and reveling in the drive – the
bustle, the alive and thick with satisfied confidence – that honeycombs their minds.
 
I might pontificate on crystallized edible petals that are used for garnish in gourmand
recipes – with “garnish” being as of little consequence other than to enhance the main
dish.
 
(I don’t have to tell you about the addictiveness of Poppies or the danger of Melicore – or
that Bella Donna is a poison and a cure.)
 
I might tell you a parable of the three wild flowers – Maidfern, Matronbloom and Wintercrone.
 
But what I really want you to think about when I am talking about the beauty and utility of
flowers is this: that women are not flowers.
 
We are not flowers. We are not for your picking, your clumsy vasing attempts in which you
sort order by the studious arrangement of us, we are not to be forced or permutated to
your ends.
 
We are something better than the lilies of the field, bouquets of symbolism, perfumed nights
and exotic colors, delightful garnish and purposeful receptacle for insect/bird/bee.
 
True, we are carriers of life, and it is only fitting that we should bear that life – but at/in/under
our own proper season – one of those seasons being “not now,” one of those seasons being
“not at all.” The decision is solely our own – not to be governed as if by some strict
“horticulturist’s” code – not given over to the winds of politics or the rains of propaganda – not
legislated according to a potpourri of misinformation and a misguided desire for one group to
impose their ideas of how woman should be – whether aesthetically or procreatively.
 
Let there be no legislation of our bodies/our “flowers”/ourselves. We are fecund and we wish
to remain so – but free.
 
One “flower’s” opinion.

Happy Inauguration Day 2013!

Even the astronauts in space took note of today’s inauguration of President Barack Obama. The astronauts took photos of the US capital from their perch in the heavens and you can read about it at space.com: Astronauts See Obama Inauguration Site From Space


Inaugural address

During his Inaugural address, President Obama emphasized equality:

“It
is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.
For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and
daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not
complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else
under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love
we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not
complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the
right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way
to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a
land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are
enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our
journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of
Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know
that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. ” –
Barack Obama during today’s Inaugural address

You can watch the entire Inaugural address here.


Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco

There have only been, in the entire course of the history of the United States, four other inaugural poets. Richard Blanco brings the total to five.

From PEN America:

“Kennedy introduced the concept in 1961 by asking Robert Frost to read
an original poem at the inauguration, and Clinton revisited it by
choosing Maya Angelou in 1993 and Miller Williams in 1997. Elizabeth
Alexander read at Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and now we’ve exhausted the
entire history of the title.”

Richard Blanco is, at 44 years old, the youngest person to ever serve as inaugural poet. He is the first immigrant, first Latino, and first openly gay person too.

His poem, “One Today”,  speaks to unity and the American Experience. Here is a transcript of his poem, courtesy of ABC News:

“One Today”

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
 
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper — bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives — to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
 
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
 
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
 
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
 
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me — in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
 
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound 
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
 
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
 
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country — all of us —
facing the stars
hope — a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it — together.

Nirbhaya, Amanat, Damani

By Annette Marie Hyder

If ever there were the impetus for a vengeful spirit —
a Bloody-Mary-Daakini-banshee-river-wraith —
carved with the sharp knife of spite
drilled down to the ivory with pain
and inlaid with words of hate,
if ever there were, in this world, a cautionary tale,
a warning of what can happen
when you break a woman so hard
that even when she is living she is still a ghost,
it would be her.
And I would love to tell you that she comes back
meting out justice to her persecutors
with a fierce and red-stained Tarantino hand
haunting their dreams and waking moments
and pincering them piece by piece to hell
(a handful of heart here, a fistful of face there)
but there is no banshee to require reparation or revenge,
no banshee other than the public’s outcry.
There is no gray lady to smother her attackers in heavy wrappings
(funereal sheets held daintily in graveyard hands),
only the gray of a murky future that holds the ashes of the day
that she died and the haunting sound,
the lullaby of the softly singing voice,
of her bones upon the wind.

CBS News reports:

“India rape victim honoured with pseudonyms

Amid solemn memorials and angry rallies around the world for a young
Indian woman gang-raped and killed last month in New Delhi, activists
demanding justice have given the victim pseudonyms to honour her by.

It’s against the law in India to identify a rape victim. The British
tabloid the Daily Mail has reported that the young woman’s family wants
her name to be revealed, while other media outlets have contradicted
that account, saying her father has denied ever supplying his daughter’s
name to any newspaper.

In the meantime, reports CBC’s Curt Petrovich, mourners at a rally in
Surrey, B.C., prepared signs with aliases for the girl, based on the
Punjabi words for “prized possession,” “lightning” and “fearless.”” Source


Victim’s name revealed

From the Times of India:

“The father of the of the Delhi gang-rape victim revealed her name on Sunday, it
rejuvenated the campaign for justice in the virtual world with several
messages lauding the decision and vowing support to the family. The
father, in an interview to the British publication The Sunday People,
said his daughter didn’t do anything wrong and the revelation would give
courage to other women.”

Read about the new Nirbhaya app for cellphones here. The app, which is a free download, can send a distress signal to a specified contact group.

Subways flooded, Stock Exchange closed, millions without power

Water races where the tap of shoes is wont to bear, on subway steps and massive transit stairs.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning signed major-disaster
declarations for New Jersey and New York, two states that have faced
severe flooding (with reports from other news sources saying that the subways are also flooded) and wind damage from Hurricane Sandy.

The Wall Street Journal reports: “Mr. Obama signed the declarations early
Tuesday as residents of the states awoke in many places to several feet
of water and no electricity. The declarations free up federal resources
to help the affected areas.

“The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of
New Jersey and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local
recovery efforts due to Hurricane Sandy beginning on October 26, 2012,
and continuing,” the White House said in a statement. A similar
statement was released for New York.

A White House official said Mr. Obama was updated on Sandy overnight
and will receive another briefing Tuesday. Mr. Obama spoke overnight
with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
He also spoke with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the mayors
of Newark and Jersey City.

The president earlier in the week signed disaster declarations for a
number of states along the East Coast, including Delaware, Connecticut,
New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

These declarations were different and didn’t describe the states as
facing a “major disaster,” a label that helps free up more federal
resources.” Read the entire article here


How to help after the superestorm

CNN has an article with links on how to help after the superstorm. Here is an excerpt::

“Relief groups are already working to make sure everyone affected by the storm is cared for, and you can help.

Give food and shelter — The Red Cross and the Salvation Army are providing emergency shelter and meals for evacuees.

Help children in need Save the Children and World Vision are paying special attention to the needs of children affected by the storm.

Care for animals — The Humane Society of the United States and the American Humane Association have teams working to save the lives of animals caught in the storm.

Provide emergency supplies AmeriCares, Direct Relief International and Feeding America are providing food, medical supplies and emergency kits for people in need.

Join in the cleanup Team Rubicon has dispatched veteran field teams to start working right away, and Samaritan’s Purse is looking for volunteers to help rebuild after the storm passes.

Help outside the U.S. — Hurricane Sandy took a deadly toll on the Caribbean before it hit the United States. Operation USA and the International Medical Corps are helping people affected by Sandy in Haiti and Cuba.”  Read the entire article here.


More coverage:

CBS News reports, Super Storm Sandy: More than 7 million without power
Forbes reports: Wall Street Stays Dark In Sandy’s Wake, Exchanges Work to Restart Trading

NBC New York reports: Water Floods Subways, Service Likely ti Be Out for Days

News about “Facing Feminism: Feminists I Know”

“The Facing Feminism: Feminists I Know” project has received an art grant from Irrigate! There will be a special public art exhibit of the photoems in the collection. There is also a new Facebook page for the project. Please check it out and like the page. I’d love to see your comments! Look for event related updates here on my blog and on the Facebook page.

Press Release

Media Contact:

Annette Marie Hyder

612-669-9147

Annette.hyder@gmail.com

 

FACING FEMINISM: FEMINISTS I KNOW

 

September 20, 2012, ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – Award winning author, artist, and Pushcart Prize nominated poet, Annette Marie Hyder, launches the Along the Corridor exhibit of FACING FEMINISM: FEMINISTS I KNOW. In conjunction with Irrigate, a program supporting artists and activities along the central corridor light rail, and sponsored by The Lyric Lab, the exhibit will feature live performances as well as a chance for the public to participate on October 12 and 13 during the St. Paul Art Crawl.

 

The FACING FEMINISM: FEMINISTS I KNOW project has been mentioned in MS. MAGAZINE, listed with the Rutgers University Feminist Art Project and sponsored by Empowerment4Women. Participants from around the globe (e.g., Enugu State, South Eastern Nigeria, Iceland, Russia, Italy, South Africa, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, and Australia), men and women, describe what feminism means to them – they take back the word and infuse it with a diversity that exceeds the myopic representation of feminists as portrayed by the media.

 

Poets, writers, artists, Members of Parliament and pop stars have all shared their voices (pop star Lisa Loeb, Iceland’s MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, BET TV’s Abiola Abrams, United Nation’s Poetry Ambassador Larry Jaffe, to name a few). The voices keep swelling and the image that emerges is truly diverse. “These feminists have in common the desire to be perceived for who they are on an equal footing and not through the distorting lens of cliché. Feminism is not monolithic – and this recording of the many faces that feminism can and does have, its many voices, is monumentally moving. You’ll meet feminists who will make you laugh, inspire you, defy you, prick you to disagreement even, but who all share the common advocacy of equality,” says Annette Marie Hyder, founder and curator of FACING FEMINISM: FEMINISTS I KNOW.

 

Participants submit a photo of themselves (from any stage of their life) along with a text expression of what feminism is to them. The image and the words are put together into a photoem and yet another unique voice/face is documented. The photoems will be on display at the exhibit. With an international scope, this project has now come full circle – around the globe and back again – to University Ave, where the public is invited to contribute. Visitors to the exhibit may have a photo taken on site, share their own ideas about feminism, and become part of this historic documentation. With special performances by writer, dramatist, and poet, JoAnne Makela and her group MedusaHead, and photo documentation by photographer and poet, Jasmine Rain Hyder, guest poets and performers will include Penchant Poet collective, bluegrass artist, Sarah Newberry, and jazz legend Donald Washington. FACING FEMINISM: FEMINISTS I KNOW is free to the public and supported by a grant from Irrigate.

 

October 12 and 13, 2012

Friday 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Saturday 12:00 noon to 8:00 PM

The Lab at The Lyric

765 Hampden Ave S., St. Paul

 

Irrigate is an artist-led creative placemaking initiative spanning the six miles of the Central Corridor Light Rail line in Saint Paul during the years of its construction. Artists collaborate with businesses, organizations and community groups to change the landscape of the corridor with color, art, surprise, creativity and fun. Irrigate is a partnership between the City of Saint Paul, Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Springboard for the Arts.

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