Meeting famous women is not something new to some people, especially if they happen to be active in politics. Rarely though, and no offense to all those famous women who write the checks and help agents of change do their work, are they as intelligently articulate regarding their cause as Alfre Woodard. I say this as a high compliment. I have sat through speeches, spoken intimately and shared bread with many, many people and Alfre was the only woman who I felt a spark listening to, that resonated long after the event was over. I obtained a copy of her speech that inspired so many at a political PAC event in 2006. It is unusual for me to get that interested in something that is put out there, to want to read it again. I have always read the works and inspiring speeches of great historical leaders, but somehow this speech was so 'today', so meaningful to me as an activist that I appreciated it so much more.
Sheila, Alfre, Mary, Jill
PAC Fundraiser 2006
(You will recognize Mary from the documentary about her husband, The Suicide Tourist and Jill is the owner of the property featured in my postWandering in Time.)
Alfre Woodard Speaks To Supporters
"I have no fear for the future when I am among purpose-filled people who are committed at all costs to stem that tide. We simply will not let our lives be compromised by what is essentially a fear and, for some, a loathing of women. We will not stand by and let such medieval attitudes touch our beautiful daughters. We will not let our mothers’ wit and reason be disregarded and dishonored for political gain.
As we come together to celebrate our success as women in keeping the whole world turning lo these thousands of years and recommit ourselves to the health of our planetary household, we realize that in these gatherings we are, in effect, preaching to the choir. But sometimes the choir deserves to be uplifted. Sometimes the choir needs to review the right reasoning of why we stand up for ourselves and for each other, and why we are determined to leave no woman unprotected.
However, the atmosphere is so charged and heated right now, and those who oppose us are so vitriolic. We must continue to ask ourselves, “What do I lovingly say to my sister who is anti-choice?” Because our experiences are widely diverse and we are all walking this path as best we can, we need to unmask this crusade against women and girls for our sisters who claim a moral hesitancy to support choice. We need to sit down and reason together, so that she can understand that every woman, including herself, deserves the space to choose for them selves how to govern their own bodies, their families, and their lives. And there is no more moral place to stand than there.
We are protecting her choice for herself as well. That is why choice makes a good law; it is a higher inclusive standard of practice that, in a real democracy, leaves room for the citizen to retain her natural rights and freedoms. Our hesitant sister can in good conscience know that she is taking the higher ground, helping to save the lives of women and girls who would be in danger if terminating a pregnancy were made illegal.
Throughout the history of mankind, women have been the keepers of family. Throughout the ages, this has been women’s work. We have been the deciders about the flow of family. Sometimes we cross into a sacred place to make hard decisions—yes, even reaching out to our higher power for guidance, for strength, for comfort. Strangers must not be in that room. Only loving, caressing hands are allowed to be present when we have to visit a place that our foremothers have tarried before us. We lean on the spirit of their experience to help us let go when needed.
And they help us cross back into continuing on. It is a fragile place where only those with the ability to understand the language are allowed. Strangers cannot enter our red tent; the reckless cannot enter. How can government with its sharp edges, and cold surfaces, and blind corners even dare attempt to enter into our ancient space? Because we understand the opposition to women governing their own affairs is directly tied to keeping us under control in all aspects of our lives. We are highly incensed when it is masquerades as religiosity.
They don’t value the children of this nation who have been born, who walk this earth, and who have a history among us. Where is their protection of our American children’s rights to be esteemed among men, with a usable education, and guarantees of medical help if needed? Where is their outrage that millions of American children are hungry right now, are abused right now, even in the best households? Where is their protection of their own daughters, whom they fear once their bodies sync up with the moon, and they keep them at arms length and set limits as to how successful they can ever be professionally, financially, politically?
We cannot allow those who fear us to punish girls and women, or the men and boys who love us. A government and its supporters who practice such blatant disregard of children can design the laws of traffic, but they must leave the higher laws of nature and family to those who have been entrusted physiologically with the office. God gives us the flow, the intuition, the compassion to suckle. He brings balance into the world through our bodies because we can be trusted to see a broader landscape, to see further up the road.
I would say to my dear hesitant sister that everyone is included in choice. Take our hands. If we can step across the aisle, across the pulpits, across the boundaries, across the country to stand together as people with common hopes and fears, needs and desires and dreams to ensure mutual protection in all areas of our lives, it would usher in a new age of women aligning themselves on common ground for the purpose of taking all of us, our children and our partners to a higher experience of life. The world has never seen such power and such peace.
We implore our sisters to be clear and to feel free to know that they are righteously engaged when they save the lives of women and girls who have mothers, and fathers, and brothers, and cousins who are living a history on this earth already. They save the lives of women and girls when they join hands with us and say to those outside the tent that “You may govern in public places on public issues, but the private sanctity of our bodies remains our jurisdiction.”
We say to those who seek to rule over our intimate circle, “You don’t decide what’s for dinner in my house. You don’t get to decide how I talk God to my children. You don’t get to decide how I view the landscape, or dictate how I love. I decide the songs I teach to my daughters and my sons. I decide how to bring my gifts forward. I decide. And I will not behave the way you want. I am the daughter of Sojourner Truth. And I will leave no girl unprotected. Now ain’t we some women!”
~Alfre Woodard, 2006 Personal PAC Luncheon
On August 26, 1920, women obtained the right to vote in the United States. This right did not come easily and without pain, suffering, protest and time. I would like to encourage all women to celebrate that right to vote, the women who made it possible for them to have a voice. I want everyone to understand the pain, the humiliation, the force feedings in prison, the indignity, the suppressive nature of that government which would deny us, based on our sex. Do not forget. Tomorrow is still being shaped and today is the step to our tomorrow. It can all be gone in a heart beat, if we are not diligent. In our own best interests and that of our children, our own daughters, we must stand vigilant, to protect and uphold our rights.
There is no mistake in this. We must be watchful, we must guard against those who would exploit us in the name of their beliefs, disguised by religious fervor, manipulating and extinguishing opposition to misogynistic behavior and practices. We cannot give up our place at the table, and our opportunity to have a voice, our choice. Sheila
Copyright 2010 SheilaTGTG55 content unless otherwise attributed or noted.