Category Archives: women

I Am Not the Enemy

FORWARD

I am not the enemy. What I have been, I am embarrassed to admit, was a people pleaser.

BACKWARD

My starved for love childhood made me the psychobabble poster child for people pleasing. If I pleased you, you’d love me. It never worked. Over the years, I finally realized that and grew into my over the top personality that probably covered some of the early people pleasing and, at the same time, allowed me to worry less about not making someone angry with me.  All this too much information is because I am introducing a subject that I know is controversial and will definitely make some people, mostly women, upset and relegate me to the irrelevant. That would bring me to the unthinkable thought that my life experiences have no value.  I do not believe that. But just remember, this is my opinion and you do not have to agree with me.  Of course, you would feel better if you did.  However, I have made it into my eighth decade and people pleasing isn’t as important to me as my next breath.  

Not sure why but at this stage of my life I see patterns that I didn’t see in my forties or fifties.  At that time, I was taking each event in my world, no less the world around me, one event at a time.  Each event filled my vision and thoughts with answers and opinions that were, of course, the right answers and opinions.

I think in my 60’s and 70’s I became less sure.  I was still right most of the time but I really began hearing what someone else was thinking, opining, and thank goodness I was becoming less sure of my answers.

The fickle finger of fate was swinging indiscriminately all over the place.  This friend left, that relative passed on, and one after the other, my herd thinned.  Now fear reared its ugly head.  Was I next?  

I am getting to the subject.  Don’t push me.  I’m very nervous.

Women have always been The Second Sex .  Of course, there were many extraordinary exceptions.  (one of my favorites is Mary Wollstonecraft)  We were beaten, raped, manipulated, basically a silent voteless, thought-less-of peoples for centuries.  Frankly, much of that still goes on around the world and not just third world countries, but if you follow various modern day movements, it happens as well in our so called civilized Western Civilization.  

My personal second sex journey is and has been all over the place.  Having been abused as a child, I understood, very early, my femaleness had a market value.  I could use it to attract as the animals do. And oh, did I mention, I am an animal, too?  I realized if I was going to use my female animal sonar I would just have to be careful… and lucky.  

I followed the path of the 1950’s female diligently.  Marriage, housewife, children, except for a profound difference.  While in the womb, I was already singing, dancing and doing one-baby-girl shows.  I had to forgive my mother my childhood because I gave her one hell of a bumpy ride during pregnancy.

I had a career.  In my generation, having the passion that I had for my career was unusual and I needed and used my feminine sexual persona to further that career. All to say, I grew up in a world of the female as the sexual object of the all-powerful male.

Me, Tarzan!  You, Jane!

I reveled in this era of my female animal power. I was a flirt.  A “manizer”.

Hey Tarzan, yes, I’m Jane!  Got a light???

If I did this today, a man could report me for sexual harassment. Actually, if I did this today, I would probably be hospitalized for delusional fantasies.

My sexual prowess has dimmed. That’s the polite description of my physiognomy, which has been replaced by knee replacements and other parts.

All right already, I’m getting to it.

If a man was out of order, TOUGH!  You’re on your own.

There was no recourse.  So I did the best I could in an imperfect world. As an adult in show business, I gave off what they called mixed signals. In return,  I was flirted with and propositioned by womanizers, but never molested or attacked.  In my generation, it was accepted as one of the ways to relate to men. 

I’m sure young girls and women are startled by this confession.  However,  I think many older women would agree it was de rigueur, the norm in male/female relationships.  I was fortunate in that in all my years of “flirting”, I never met a predator.  Was I just lucky? They must have been out there, but without proof or facts what could we do.  And even if you had proof or facts, if these were men of power and importance,  who would listen to you?  All we had was word of mouth. We shared who the womanizers were.  So when you went for an audition you knew and went prepared.  I don’t remember hearing from any female friends that they were molested or attacked. 

Of course, back then, we carried what most victims carry to aid the predator… embarrassment and shame.  In certain ways, I was naïve and innocent but on some level I remembered there was a market value on the feminine mystique.  I remembered it from my childhood.  I was determined not to fall victim to my own embarrassment and shame again.  I would beat them at their own game.  A giggle, a wink, a wiggle, a blink… and out the door on a trot.

ONWARD

Today the female doesn’t need word of mouth.  Today we have social media.  Today we have #ME TOO! And herein lays the heart of my conundrum…

On the one side of the scale is the womanizer.  On the other side is the predator.  Some people may think they are the same.  I do not.  I call the womanizer a human who has an imbalance of animal in his humanity. The predator is pure ANIMAL… only the Mr. Hyde of  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Please understand, Scientific American has not asked for an interview to discuss my categorizations.  

In my view, they are not the same.  If they were then I, as a “manizer”, would need to be outed and arrested.  How do I tell the authorities, “Sir/Madam, my flirting was what some of us did as a learned technique to survive”.  It’s like the name of the movie, The Way Things Were.  One of the patterns that is consistent in my long life is the ongoing repetition of life; of clothing styles, of fads, of weather, of life cycles, Broadway shows…  

Look at what you did… now I am off point and I don’t know if I’ll ever get back.  Let me try.

If, as I believe, there is a difference between a womanizer and a predator, then I do not think we, as women having been dealt with unfairly by men as well as certain women, should use a broad brush to make all men villains. The case of Al Franken comes to mind.  I think we do not need to shoot first and then ask questions.  I think we need to stop the predator any way we can.  

We are women.  Please let us do it differently than men do.  Because no matter what you think… WE ARE DIFFERENT!

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

GIRLS, GUYS AND GUNS

O.K. so I don’t read the news. I don’t listen to the news. Except for periodicals and books, I am beholden to the kindness of friends and strangers for current events.

I think even the stratosphere reverberated with these last mass murders and I heard and felt the earth move.

The Universe spoke: ENOUGH! ENOUGH!

Without moral leadership, what is to be done???

Do I fall back on the “keeping of my sanity” rationale that this is all part of the human condition?

IMG_2189

I want any young men who buy a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion. Think about it: a mandatory 48-hours waiting period, written permission from a parent or a judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, traveling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protestors holding photos of loved ones killed by guns, protestor who call him a murderer.

After all, it makes more sense to do this for young men seeking guns than for young women seeking an abortion. No young woman needing reproductive freedom has ever murdered a roomful of strangers.

~ Original Author Unknown

Or do I take this seriously and send it out to my friends and family and pray we can get a groundswell going to press for legislation to prevent the next mass murder.

I opt for the groundswell (whatever that is), right? Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane

IMG_2192

WHEN DOING NOTHING IS NOT DOING NOTHING

My Friends ~

I went to Fort Lauderdale for the winter. I left behind the bitter onslaught of this past season’s cruel rain, ice, snow, blizzardly winds that my friends, family and neighbors experienced. I escaped. But did I? I may have escaped the weather… but I didn’t escape life.

If you want to skip my saga, and turn back to a good book or a good streaming on Netflix or Amazon or my personal favorite, Acorn TV, I shall not be insulted. I certainly wish I could have skipped it.

old-woman-young-girlHere’s the deal. I still got older. I still became more vulnerable. I still pretended I wasn’t older and more vulnerable. And when I wrote the blog about gratitude I missed the point completely. Let me explain!

January was the flu.

February was the cough.

March was the compressed fracture of the third lumbar resulting from the cough.

A broken back???? Here’s the poem I wrote:

HACK! HACK! YOU BROKE YOUR BACK!!!

Aw come on guys, enough is enough. These are supposed to be the golden years??? I’m afraid only in my fillings.

I thought the gratitude I expressed for January and February was supposed to cover me for the year.  Like the Brooklyn Dodgers of old – I wuz robbed!  The lumbar episode of March challenged all notions of gratitude and for the most part, all my theories of “growing old”.

scooter

As long as I thought I was doing what I always did… a few exceptions like dancing till dawn, drinking champagne from a satin heeled slipper (an orthopedic oxford doesn’t have the same look or feel), cutting my one woman show from an hour and a half to an hour (with relief some said that made the show better… what do they know?), some dietary alterations (no lactose, no gluten, no fast foods, no fun) I thought to escape the label of “old lady”.

And then came the Ides of March. Actually from the beginning of the month, the pain came. And some of you know that without any education, I am my own Doctor, I prescribed continuing pilates, massages, shiatsu all of the remedies that slowly but surely were making my back worse.

Thank goodness for good friends who won’t put up with my complaining and called me on my medical education. “Where was it you got your degree?”  One of my friends went so far as to find me a doctor nearby that was the doctor for the Miami City Ballet. It was high season in Florida. Getting an appointment was going to be at the very least, difficult, if not impossible.

I checked out her website. I have a website, why wouldn’t she?  It said she attended to dancers and performers. I called her office. And before I let her assistant get a word in, I announced I was a performer.  “I’m a little older than most of the dancers and performers she works with, but I am still doing it… performing that is… and I need HELP!” And then, she asked me who the doctor was that referred me, and before I could stop it from coming out of my mouth, I dropped the name of the top orthopedic surgeon in New York City. I knew him slightly, but I never saw him professionally. I got the appointment. And I owe him.

Well, within days of the appointment, after an x-ray which determined I had the compressed fracture and an MRI which showed it was recent (coming from the cough), I thought I would start treatment. Up to that point the pain prevented me from doing anything. But I was told NO!

Follow me on Twiddle my thumbs.Two more weeks of doing nothing, giving the bone more time to heal and then I could begin a program of physical therapy. I had already been doing nothing since January. I have to tell you, I thought I could hear my mother and every teacher I ever had yelling, whispering in my earballs: “Look at her! Nothing! She is doing nothing!” Joan of Arc wasn’t the only one who heard voices.

When I finally received the go ahead, I was like a kid that had won a prize. I emphasize kid because, like a kid I was off to the races. I was going to be the fastest healer this side and that side of the Mississippi… I did the therapy three times a week, I added some stretching and some massage on the other days and by the end of the first week… I was hurting again.

The therapist sat me down. He said a nice thing first. Always start with the nice thing first. “You know you look younger than your age, right?” “Thank you,” I said. “On the outside you’re like a shiny tomato.” “Thank you,” I said. “Inside, you’re an octogenarian and your bones are mushy”.  I laughed. But I did not thank him.

shadow walk dance

And very slowly, and I do mean s-l-o-w-l-y because the older you are the longer is the healing, I am getting it. I read an essay by Ursula K. Le Guin. And I quote: ”Everybody who gets old has to assess their ever-changing but seldom improving situation and make of it what they can. And they make the best of it. As the saying goes, consider the alternative!”

And I love this one from the same essay: “You’re only as old as you think you are! Now you don’t honestly think having lived eighty-four years is a matter of opinion.” You don’t… Do you?

For myself and fellow fossils, there is no such thing as doing nothing. If we have made it through to or any part of our seventies, eighties and ever onward it means we are doing more every minute of every day than ever we did at any other time in our life.

And dat’s da trut!!!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

A Woman’s Place…

not-my-president

“Not My President”, Santa Fe

My Friends,

Yesterday it was clear that a woman’s place is wherever she chooses to place herself and around the world she chose to be seen, to be heard, to be counted.

Count yourself in and if you’re like me, who can’t figure out how to continue to be seen, to be heard, to be counted, here is exactly what you can do:

Love, SJ

My Friends and Family Yesterday

FINDING MY FAMILY ROOTS (grass not hair)

Yes!  I am still recovering.  No!  I am not giving up.

How do I become part of a  grass  roots movement to help effect a positive change?  ‘Tis a conundrum!  Or I should say it was a conundrum.

Two days ago I attended a circle conversation with Annie Leibovitz and Gloria Steinem and a hundred other women, including my own daughter.  Below you will read the takeaway from each of us.

MOTHER’S TAKE:

What is a circle conversation?  Exactly what it sounds like.

People, and in this case, people being mostly women, sat in a circle, in the Women’s Building in NYC, formerly Bayview Correctional Prison for Women.  Gloria Steinem and the NoVo Foundation in collaboration with the Goren Group are establishing this building as a place for women’s rights groups, a performance space, space for service providers for all and the community, workshops to help change and charge your batteries.  The purpose is to create a world free from violence, poverty and injustice.

Is this just another pie in the sky scheme?   I don’t think so.

As we sat in this circle, surrounded by Annie Leibovitz’s  brilliant new Pop-Up Show, WOMEN:  NEW PORTRAITS, all I could think was, what a match –  the venue, the portraits, Annie, Gloria, over one hundred women of every ethnicity and color and class, including some graduates of the prison.

And what were we all seeking?  Solace, yes! But answers, too.  I am never far away from, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it”.

Indefatigable Gloria stood for over two hours taking questions and telling so clearly what this circle conversation was for.

She repeated it enough that I think I may have gotten it!  She had no answers for anyone.  How’s that for a new thought.  Instead, she asked us to stop looking up.  Good suggestion.  Because if you look up in NYC, sure as shooting’ someone will run over you (car, bus, bike).  I think what she meant is, the answer isn’t up or out, it’s inside.

If I give it time and consideration, I will know what it is I have to do to make life better.  Remember, in a plane, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first if you are going to help anyone.

She invited us to be part of the problem, but also part of the solution.

Oops, did I forget to tell you what the circle was all about?  She reminded us the circle goes back to our roots… in the cave, in the tent, in a circle, to share our stories… to connect.

My friends, my time with Annie (OMG what a show!) and Gloria and my new best one hundred friends, that’s what I came back with… that is my grass roots.  Being with each other… not texting, not emailing, not calling, but finding the time the place (The Women’s Building is just one example) to meet with each other.  To agree and disagree, yes, but to connect personally.  Shake a hand, a little kiss, a big hug, an arm around my shoulder.  We all need it.  And if you don’t, then come together anyway… someone is bound to cook something good.

Two fabulous women called on all fabulous women (and never forget we are all fabulous!) to do a little world cleaning.  Honestly, if we do it together, it won’t take that long.  Promise!!!

If only I had let her get a word in, it would have been perfect!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

Annie Leibovitz’s “Women: New Portraits” exhibit is showing from November 18 – December 11, 2016, at the Former Bayview Correctional Facility, 550 West 20th Street (between 10th and West Streets), Saturday – Wednesday 10 am – 7 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 8 pm. It is open to the public free of charge, courtesy of the exhibit’s sponsor UBS.

DAUGHTER’S TAKE:

On art and hope and endurance  ~ By Pamela Schwartz

I had the privilege of attending photographer Annie Leibovitz’s opening of her photo exhibit in New York City titled “Women: New Portraits.”  The exhibit is in the prison gymnasium of the former Bayview Correctional Facility, a women’s prison until just 4 years ago, which is now on its way to becoming a Women’s Building of New York City. We shared the space with former inmates who attended as guests. Immediately inspiring.

And there was more: Annie partnered with Gloria Steinem in this 10 city, 3 continent tour, and the opening events include a “talking circle,” or opportunity to have a free-wheeling conversation. This one, occurring just a week after the election, kept returning to the question of where to from here.

The discussion was good. The words from the former inmates were powerful. But what inspires me to write are Gloria’s closing words. I want everyone to hear them.

So I paraphrase liberally:

This difficult moment is actually a reflection of our progress.  Gloria used to be one of 12 women screaming from the back of the room. Now Hillary will win the popular vote by close to 2 million votes. For women (and people of color and LGBTQ), possibilities are now immeasurably (and measurably) greater. That is a whole lot of progress.

She continued: Trump’s candidacy and now near presidency has given permission to a small but terrifying portion of our population who are haters of immigrants, people of color, gays and lesbians, women, people with disabilities, all who are defined as “other” from those who hate. This scares us a lot.  To help manage the fear, Gloria offered an analogy:

In a domestic abuse situation, the most dangerous time is when the victim is at the threshold of leaving the abuser. The abuser senses the loss of control and lashes out in a desperate attempt to regain it.  For the haters in our midst, we as a nation are leaving them. Our country’s color and cultures have changed and will keep changing. There is fear and resistance in response, which also makes for real danger. We must be extremely vigilant and protective as the change continues.

And to complete the analogy with vigilance in tow: next up is newfound freedom. And safety.

I love that vision for the hope it contains, the endurance it inspires.

Let us cultivate leaders who represent our multi-cultural and multi-gender reality – our freedom embodied – and couple that with the populist message that resonated for millions of Bernie Sanders’ (and Trump) supporters.

Perhaps then we can reach the vast number of voters who seek the change they deserve in a nation they can rightfully call their own.

We are on our way. It is scary and deeply promising all at the same time.

Both of these truths require the same thing: action. And that action is happening every day, everywhere, by millions.

As Gloria also said, protest matters.  As we show up, determined to protect each other and the ideals on which this country was founded, we can actually afford to feel hopeful and optimistic. We are on the path to greater freedom.

Thank you, Annie Leibovitz, for bringing us the visceral power of women.

Thank you, Gloria Steinem, for providing us the living history that strengthens all of our faith and resolve to make the change that lies ahead.

Annie Leibovitz’s “Women: New Portraits” exhibit is showing from November 18 – December 11, 2016, at the Former Bayview Correctional Facility, 550 West 20th Street (between 10th and West Streets), Saturday – Wednesday 10 am – 7 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 8 pm. It is open to the public free of charge, courtesy of the exhibit’s sponsor UBS.

This article will be published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on December 7, 2016.

Voting Privilege

There is privilege in voting.  Not the privilege of wealth and education.  The privilege of being an American.  I am not alone in feeling it is one of the last American privileges we have before the corporations and power brokers find a way to disengage that one, too.

My friends and fellow voters, get ready.  Here comes the scold.

I have heard from more than a few they will not vote this year because for them there is no choice between Hillary and Trump.  What planet do you live on?

No choice???

A vote for Trump brings us back to the early 1930’s… and I am not talking about Germany. I am talking about New York City when Father Coughlin spoke at the Madison Square Garden Rally of a gathering of pro-Hitler Americans.   And that actually did look like it was taking place in Berlin.  And he did convince many Americans that it was the Jews and Roosevelt that were in a conspiracy to destroy our American way of life.

The language may be different – after all it is 86 years later- but the content is the same. Only it isn’t the Jews and Roosevelt.  I am convinced that will happen later.  How can he continue to leave out the Jew rant from his rants about Blacks and Latinos and immigrants?  He can’t.

My friends there is a choice…and here is my rant for women. Please. You can make a difference.  I do not care if Hillary doesn’t thrill you. I do not care if you don’t like her hair or her voice or her husband or her getting sick and trying to cover it up. You show me a woman who hasn’t tried to pretend she was just fine when she wasn’t and I will show you someone who isn’t a woman.  When it is important it is in our nature to act as if all is ok.

commit_share_meta_enAs far as the gaffs she has made, walk over to the mirror and tell yourself there was never a time when you would like to have your mouth sewn up, your brain disengaged from your mouth, the floor beneath your feet to open up and swallow you whole.  Oh, and you’re going to say it doesn’t count for you because you are not a politician and running for office. Since when did Hillary leave the human race.  Cut her some slack the way you did and do for Obama.

And while we are at it.  Where the hell is that fire brand Bernie Sanders.  Does anyone recall as soon as Hillary saw she lost the primary in 2008, she called Obama immediately and brought the party together.  After being the darling for all the darlings, it is as if he put whatever marbles he had left and took his hurt feelings and went home. Come on Bernie… now when you can make a difference why aren’t you?

OK for many she does not have simpatico vibrations.  I don’t understand that.  She was a good Senator for the state of New York.  She was a really fine Secretary of State.  (Please leave the damn email issue in your delete pile…didn’t she??)

And here is my last sense of women going awry.  It is almost as if women do not want a woman as President. And not because it is Hillary.  Because it is any woman.

Let us not forget it was women who defeated the ERA….. Phyllis Schlafly led them into battle to keep their status as the protected sex. And no matter what they say about Hillary this sits deep down in every woman.  We will lose status.  We will lose our position. Oh, sure now we woman have jobs almost commensurate with men but we want that AND we want to be protected.  That is definitely in our DNA.  My friends, we are not that far removed from our time as animals on this earth and in the water and in the sky.  Hillary succeeding would upset the cart.  Our secret will be out.  We still want to be protected.

You don’t agree???   Think about it. Why is she so hated, viscerally hated by certain people… it is not about her politics it is about her sex.

We do not have the luxury of choice in this election. The alternative is someone that has no experience.  Certain power brokers would love that.  We all want to be loved, but I think Trump is in a special category.  If you don’t love him the way he wants to be loved, he gets angry and his mouth starts spouting invectives and he will make Hillary look like a pussy cat.

Come on women show your grit!  Get out and do what you would do for anyone that would make your American vote a real privilege.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder…Yeah, Yeah!!!

Hillary
I am depressed.  This morning I spoke to an intelligent and warm hearted woman.  We were discussing the Democratic National Convention.  For me, the only convention that promises “something” for women and children and men who like women and children.

 

Out of her mouth came, “Isn’t it a shame.  If Hillary were attractive people would vote for her.”

Hillary not attractive???  That must make me Godzilla’s twin.  I knew for sure the age of plastic celebrity had truly arrived.

If you are a woman and you want to be elected President, you have to have a TV show where you belittle and fire people or you have to be surgically enhanced to look “attractive”.

I don’t see the multitudes carrying on about a man with a little extra weight, a balding pate, wrinkles, tired eyes, socks that don’t match, jackets that don’t button anymore.

And as long as I am on the subject of trying to be someone other than who you are, what is it with the media who insist that a woman be all things to all people.

The commentators took Hillary over the coals because her speech didn’t knock it out of the park, was the phrase they used.

It reminded me of some stories about Abraham Lincoln.   According to reports, his voice was high and nasal and boring to listen to.  With the media on his case, aren’t we grateful print was the sole media of the day, he never would have been elected President.

We only has his printed words to know what kind of man he was as President.

We live in an age of presentation.  It’s as if we were all chefs arranging platters of food to please and make it appetizing.

Never mind what it tastes like or if it is healthy.  If it looks good it must be good.  This was how Lucretia Borgia took care of all those husbands.

I think people cannot handle real reality.  Look at the women leaders around the world.No!  Don’t look.!  LISTEN!

And women…stop it!  Stop asking a woman to wear the mask of acceptability not from what she says and what she stands for but for what she LOOKS like.

And furthermore…

Beauty and being beautiful and wanting to be beautiful this is not new. I am reading Claire Harmon’s biography of Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte characterizes herself as an homely, plain girl.  All the Bronte girls wrote about being plain women.

Agnes Grey, the title character of Anne Bronte’s book, “triumphs over the tyranny of being judged on appearances but the problem lingers in the reader’s mind long after the happy ending has been arranged.  Although Agnes knows that it is foolish to wish for beauty, “nevertheless she can’t help wishing she had some, if only to avoid the isolation or, worse, “instinctive dislike” that unbeautiful women constantly encounter”.

Enter Hillary Clinton?  You have to be kidding…