Friday, July 13, 2007

Doing the right thing

Lately I've been thinking about activism. In some circles, it's applauded. In others, it's a dirty word. Yet, I keep finding important stands to take and things to do. I'm also wondering if I'm being self-righteous, or if others are that clueless about what matters... but I'm a writer, so I'm lucky to able to communicate my concerns. We can talk about the issues, and make a difference, one person and one issue at a time.
Here's what's on my mind:

I applaud
the Yarn Harlot for speaking out about this appalling miscarriage of justice in Nebraska. (this is a rape case in which the judge forbid them to use the words "rape," "victim," "sexual assault," etc.) I took the time to submit a complaint to the Nebraska court system about this judge. If you haven't done something already, wander over there, read all the comments, and take a stand. It's high time women's rights were defended in cases of sexual violence.

I'm incredibly pleased to see European fashion shows and designers taking a stand for women's health:

Report: Designer Bars 15 Models From Rome Fashion Show Saying They Were Too Skinny
Yes, it is possible to be model-skinny and healthy, but it isn't usual...and it isn't recommended as a norm. Anorexia, bulima, and other horrible health threats stem from this sort of fashion insanity...and who among us doesn't know a woman (or a man) who has suffered from one of these illnesses? We can choose to support (knitting?) publications that feature healthy, normal sized women. We can choose not to buy fashions or magazines that celebrate the impossibly skinny. Most importantly, we can date or marry, encourage and celebrate people whose bodies are healthy, and help those who are suffering from poor self-image because of the media and societal pressures.

Our society is also creating a media frenzy around younger women and girls. Sexualizing very young girls creates a very dangerous precedent in terms of children's safety and well-being. It also creates a false illusion that women (of all ages and sizes) are not as sexy as young girls. That's just WRONG...and you know why!

These aren't just women's issues. They are people issues. If we create a society in which men aren't equally responsible for this kind of madness, we'll never create a better society.

Yesterday I attended a start up meeting for a local chapter of the
League of Women Voters. How exciting!--it seems like another chance to help do the right thing, democracy, and educate others in the US about it.

Morals and ethics are funny things. Like
Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky's book, Crime and Punishment, sometimes people convince themselves that they are smart enough, clever enough or important enough to be above punishment or above harming others. Nobody's above that...we all should behave in upright ways, kind and careful ways, to help and take care of those around us. It's something I think about often.

My story, "The Prayer for Swift and University," the one I won the award for, is now online!

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest

(You'll know why I show my dogs, Sally and Harry, after you read it. It's sort of about, well, what this post is about, in an abstract way.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool, thought provoking story! Congratulations.

July 13, 2007 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Deborah Robson said...

Nice post, and congrats on the story! (And the award -grin-.) Deb

July 13, 2007 at 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you, Joanne. It's hard, with so many things that need improving, to know when to speak up, and it's easy to get overwhelmed.

Two years ago, I decided to get active, and I'm glad I did. I think I helped make a difference in state school board elections and a congressional race. I'm sure you can make a difference, too, with the League. I'm very impressed with their work in Kansas.

Meanwhile, since healthy food is one of your interests, an easy way to speak up about that is to sign the petition at the Environmental Working Group (button available on my blog!) to support organics in the current farm bill. Every little bit helps.

July 13, 2007 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger foodperson said...

p.s. Now, I'm off to read your story!

July 13, 2007 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 14, 2007 at 5:49 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

Let's try that again, shall we? Without the extraneous gibberish at the end.

There are random acts of kindness... and there are people who make them, all the time, without thinking. Not random at all.
You're so right: stories happen to everyone, it's just that some people don't realise their stories are important.

Congratulations on the award, and the book, and the way your lives are being re-shaped!

July 14, 2007 at 5:50 AM  
Blogger SueJ said...

Interesting! I teach a GCSE Citizenship class. Citizenship is a compulsory subject in the UK but our school is a minority that offer it as an exam based course for all students in years 10 and 11.Yesterday, in our last lesson of the school year, the theme was 'Prime Minister for a day'.I asked the students what they would do with one billion pounds & gave them some options. After a hesitant start & after they had asked me what I would prioritise they came up with some well thought out options, ranging from reform of the penal system and measures to end child poverty. My own current 'bandwagon' is recycling! We collect cardboard & plastic, which our local authority does not collect (they can only manage glass, tin & newspaper)& take them to the tip ourselves (8 miles away).OK, local action, global impact BUT have I bothered to tell, rage even against the LA? No, well not until now!They SHOULD invest in a more efficient method rather than lots of individuals making individual trips to recycle depots. It makes sense doesn't it? Perhaps they just need it pointing out!

Congratualtions on your story.

July 14, 2007 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Donna D said...

I read something while I was in Europe about banning young girls from the fashion runways, too. They're putting in a minimum legal age for modeling. I think that's great.

July 17, 2007 at 12:39 PM  

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