Monthly Archives: December 2016

Women’s Policy

institute-for-womens-policy-research

With the recent presidential election, I have become more interested in human rights. Women’s rights and our impact upon government are particularly top of mind. While looking for information I came across the website, StatusofWomenData.org, a project of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.  Compilations of information about women’s lives nationwide are ranked state by state on topics of employment & earnings, poverty & opportunity, work & family, violence & safety, reproductive rights, health & well-being and political participation. For Tennessee, our highest ranking among these topics was 34th, with a C- for employment & earnings. Yes, our highest ranking.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialog, and strengthen families, communities, and societies. IWPR works with policymakers, scholars, and public interest groups to design, execute, and disseminate research that illuminates economic and social policy issues affecting women and families and to build a network of individuals and organizations that conduct and use women-oriented policy research. I invite you to explore its resources.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

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A Christmas Truce

a-christmas-truce

December is a difficult time of year for many people.  December can be especially lonely for soldiers who are far from home.  In 1914, lonely soldiers caused one of the most extraordinary Christmas events.  They (briefly) stopped the First World War.

The impromptu ceasefire began on December 7, 1914, when Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary ceasefire so that the soldiers in the trenches could celebrate Christmas.  The governments of Britain, France and Germany refused to observe an official ceasefire.

It’s not clear why they said no, but there were probably two main reasons for refusing a ceasefire.  First, no one was tired of the war.  In December 1914, the war was only about five months old.  The major slaughters, like the Battle of the Somme when a million men were casualties, didn’t happen until 1916.

Second, and I think more importantly, the governments opposed a ceasefire out of fear.  Specifically, fear of fraternization.  Soldiers are better able to do their job of killing the enemy if they don’t know their enemy.  It’s why we demonize our opponents as a faceless “other” and use derogatory nicknames to dehumanize them.  If a soldier sees the enemy as human with a family and personal aspirations, it becomes difficult to shoot to kill.

Consider the line “from a distance, you look like my friend, even though we are at war.”  It’s taken from an anti-war song called “From a Distance.”  The song became popular during the First Persian Gulf War in the early 1990’s and it evokes a universal sentiment.

In 1914, the soldiers in the trenches ignored their governments and saw the enemy as a friend.  On Christmas Eve, they sang Christmas carols to each other across no-man’s land.  On Christmas Day, they crossed no-man’s land to exchange food and talk of their families back home.  In one instance, they played a game of football (i.e., soccer).

After Christmas, some of the soldiers decided they couldn’t return to war.  One anecdote says that some French and German soldiers refused to fight each other.  Their commanders threatened them with all sorts of disciplinary action to no avail.  Eventually, the affected French and German units were pulled out of their trenches and sent to fight in other sectors.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 has never been repeated.  As wars continue around the world, that is one of the saddest commentaries on this holiday season.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website: www.complianceriskadvisor.com/.

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The Other Side of the Couch – What Do You Do When Your Heart Is Broken?

broken-heart

November 8, 2016 started out as a day of hope for millions of United States citizens.  By November 9 that hope had been transformed into what felt and has continued to feel like a surreal nightmare.  As one young friend said to me that day, “This is not the country that I thought I lived in.”  Reminding one’s self that this election did not reflect the majority vote is helpful, but it does not change the fact that the person who triumphed in this race did so by unleashing the forces of bigotry and hate.

What can a person do who is struggling with what happened?  What do we tell our children, who in many cases have awoken to a totally unexpected world – a world in which bullies triumph and hate speech is condoned.  What do we tell our friends from other countries, whose skin color, accent, race or religion have been targeted?  What do we tell each other as women, whose ability to have control over our own bodies is in jeopardy?

I don’t have good answers to these questions.  I know that in this democracy power is passed peaceably.  I try not to believe that all the people who voted for him support these kinds of attitudes.  I have heard people say that they voted for him in spite of these attitudes because they are so desperate for change and felt so unheard.  Well, good luck with that.  You have unleased the genie, and putting all of this anger and hatred back in the bottle is going to be a hard job.

I know that he will be the 45th president.  I also know that I can’t give up and stop trying to effect change, be it at the most micro level by the way I talk to someone, listen to someone, write to someone, challenge someone.  I will hold my broken heart and sew it back together with words and actions that continue to support the values of caring and inclusion on which I have based my life.

What will you do?

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

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The Women’s Movement:  Still Work To Be Done

equality

My greatest role model was my mother, a true woman of the 1950s.  She was, and remains for me, the smartest person I’ve ever known.  She was college educated, well traveled, cultured, the only child of a high profile, socially and politically active local power couple.  But when she expressed her desire to become a lawyer, her father, the judge, encouraged her to become a teacher.  Much more appropriate for a woman, he told her.  Women lawyers at the time were considered, in her words,  “mannish,” and not attractive as wives and mothers.  And so she became a teacher, married, raised a family, cared for elderly parents, volunteered and eventually, re-entered her profession.  She was a voracious reader and encouraged discourse during family dinners.  No topic was off limits.

During my childhood in the 1960s and ‘70s I had a front row seat to watch the women’s movement unfold, although I was too young to be an active participant.  Sometimes I feel like I fell between the cracks; too young to claim the struggle and too old to be a real beneficiary of my older sisters’ fight.  And so I began my adult life without a template, my bra a bit singed but still intact, my mother’s encouragement that I could be anything I wanted ringing in my ears, but still unsure of how to carve out a path.

Over the years, I’ve managed to raise kids, own a business, return to grad school twice and become a community leader.  I’ve watched my daughter grow into a strong, independent, free thinker whose life choices so far are very different from my own.  She and her generation are the real legacy of those that fought the good fight.

And yet, there is still work to be done.  A few years ago we were shopping for a family car.  At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom and the car was for me to drive while schlepping kids around.  At the dealership, the salesman continually addressed my husband with details about the car, despite the fact that I was the one asking the questions.  At one point my husband, God love him, looked the salesman straight in the eye and said, “You should talk to her.  She’s the one who will be driving the car and she’s making the decision.”

I am now about to open a new business and on a recent afternoon, meeting with a leasing agent for a space, my business partner and I were encouraged to “work our feminine wiles,” to get a good deal.  My partner, who is much younger than I am, blew it off.  I, however, am still seething.  This man, about my own age, objectified us and when I called him out for his sexist stereotyping of us, he defaulted to the old, “I’m just kidding,” response.  It was not funny to me.

So what’s next?  At this time in our nation’s history, I fear the progress my older sisters fought for will be rolled back.  A journalism professor of mine, who’d been a wartime reporter in Vietnam, wrote about the influence of birth control on women entering the workforce.  Armed with the ability to choose when, and if, to start a family, women had more control over their lives.  So, too, with Roe v. Wade, women can control their own health care decisions.  Will this all disappear?  The public discourse today sounds to me like an old newsreel from my childhood.  Sadly, it’s not.

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana wrote in 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  And while it’s easy these days to give in to despair and fear, I am determined to remain hopeful and heartened.  I remind myself that everything changes and I can be a catalyst for positive change.  I also take heart as I watch my daughter embark on a career once reserved only for men, in the world of sports.  She has found a place in which to express her passion and talents and I hope she will also reach back into her history and know she stands on some very strong shoulders.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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