WITH JORDANNA THIGPEN
A form of suicide
By Jordanna Thigpen
October 2, 2006
Lately, America has been called many things.
Strapped against our will to the stainless steel hospital table
of global public opinion, we have been diagnosed as schizophrenic
(because we have dark symptoms with early adulthood manifestation);
sociopathic (because we do harm without regard for others); and
psychopathic (well, you know why.)
This week in dentist's-office-read Time, Hugo Chavez says that
America is suicidal. "Bush wanted Iraq's oil and I believe
he wants Venezuela's oil," Chavez says. "But the blame
for high oil prices lies in the consumer model of the U.S. Its
reckless oil consumption is a form of suicide."
Suicide is the ultimate revenge, isn't it? And revenge should
appeal to red-blooded Americans, right? But at least for those
who have considered suicide, there's something really pure about
it. And it's comforting - if you're ever really sad or angry it's
like coming home. It's always there, if you're really desperate;
just like you can always make a PB&J if you're really hungry.
But unless you're one of those who consummates this aching and
final desire, something always brings you back, and it's not fear
- it's compassion.
Is it possible, in your most ebony hour, to feel compassion for
others? Our nation is about to find out.
Our prosperity, and our consumption, has been subsidized by the
rest of the world for generations. No American can say she is
truly prosperous. No American can truly say he is a self-made
man. No American can say that he is not living off the blood,
sweat, and tears of hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women
around the world - many, as we saw this week, living without basic
sanitation. Every American, from the homeless of San Francisco
who are supported by tax and nonprofit dollars, to the top out
of sights whose names you will never know, is subsidized by cheap
lives and cheap oil.
So have we become a nation of vampires, even serial killers,
methodically and knowingly assassinating the lives and character
of those in the so-called second and third worlds? Hugo Chavez
sees this clearly. And so does the rest of the global community.
At the very least, we are exhibiting suicidal ideation - we haven't
actually committed suicide yet, so there's still hope.
Epidemiological factors associated with suicidal ideation include
being male, white, greater than 65 years of age, with stressful
life events and access to firearms. A majority of those seated
in Congress, as do Cheney, Rumsfeld, the majority of the Cabinet,
and department heads meet these qualifications.
Psychiatric disorders associated with suicidal ideation include
major depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia, panic disorder,
borderline personality disorder and - this is key - in adolescents
(and our nation can fairly be considered adolescent), antisocial
and aggressive behavior. Certainly our nation has exhibited signs
of each of these disorders, particularly in the past six years.
In a 1999 article, Dr. Michael Gliatto from the Veterans Affairs
Medical Center and Dr. Anil Rai from the University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine proposed a several-step process for evaluating
and treating suicidal ideation. The hospitalization process involves
determining the following:
(1) Is the patient expressing suicidal ideation?
(2) Does the patient have access to lethal means, have poor
social support, and poor judgment, and cannot make a contract
If the answers to both questions are yes, the patient should
be hospitalized. We are so there!
Many people have spoken of America's "addiction" to
oil. But our collective behavior is indeed closer to suicidal
ideation. Nothing can ever be as final or chilling as actually
doing ourselves in, and yet every day we return to our favorite
comfortable place, taunting the members of our global family with
the prospect in an increasingly desperate game.
A happy ending will come, when we behave with compassion towards
ourselves and the world's people. Our nation as we knew it no
longer exists. It will live in memory. The era now is a collective
one: one of shared wealth, and shared oil. Our prayer now can
be, may no nation have hegemony.
Perpetual war for perpetual profit
By Jordanna Thigpen
September 24, 2006
There are plaintive and increasingly desolate cries coming from
all corners, all faiths, all disciplines, for an end to the war
in Iraq. It is time for the public resources that are being misspent
in the private sector to be returned to the American people -
but we must have an active plan for domestic improvement, if we
are to avoid economic disaster.
The modern United States was built because of war. World War
II caused housing and infrastructure to be built. It created the
military-industrial complex, an unholy alliance which is now transforming
our country into a nation dependent on perpetual war for its survival.
Yet, where would our country be, if not for World War II? And
where would it be, if not for the war in Iraq?
Everyone sells something to somebody. This country is now selling
What industry is left? Garish and fickle tourism, subject to
the whims of international polity and fluctuations in major currencies?
High technology, established now and soon in "developing"
nations? Chemical and plastics production, shifting even from
There is nothing left. The high cost of health care, of living
wages, of our very American existence, has forced every viable
industry to make the mundane choice of profits over people. And
it will continue to happen, until we agree to look at the reasons
By September 30, 2006, the war in Iraq is scheduled to cost this
country $318.5 billion. Contractors of all stripes are raking
in money - from 2002 to 2004, Kellogg, Brown, & Root (a subsidiary
of Halliburton) pulled in $11.4 billion, although it has been
under investigation by the General Accounting Office for non-performance
of work and severe accounting problems.
Calling KBR's actions in Iraq incompetent is simply too kind.
There are many egregious issues with the Iraq contract system,
too numerous to mention here - but you see for yourself at the
for Public Integrity.
The war in Iraq is the most perfect and exquisite example of
war profiteering that has ever occurred. Perhaps I am spending
my precious youth as a cynic, but the handwriting's been on the
wall so long it's faded.
The war in Iraq is truly, madly, just for money.
What is of grave concern - what should give everyone pause -
is that a sequel to the war in Iraq is being pitched up in some
corners: a nuclear weapon may be unleashed on Iran. The fact that
there are even whispers of such an act is evidence that this administration
is entirely and completely out of control.
In the chronicles of human existence, there is no excuse for
the nuclear option.
The only responsible thing to do at this point is for our country
to take the billions it is spending on this desperate fiasco and
re-direct the spending to domestic programs. Re-build our own
cities and towns, starting with New Orleans.
Re-build our fine schools, from K to beyond. Prioritize grants
in everything from the arts to physics, so that the young can
develop ideas to sustain this country and help us evolve past
Our entire world economy depends on a robust United States. But
it does not have to be a United States that is engaged in a fifteen-year
Crusades - Part 2000.
San Francisco's Green Collared Future
By Jordanna Thigpen
March 9, 2006
San Francisco has a thriving small business community and a healthy
tourism industry. We are lucky to have several of the world's
largest corporations headquartered downtown.
Our nonprofit community is one of the biggest in the country,
and an urban legend abounds that we have more lawyers per capita
than any other American city. Hey, a point of pride!
But to stay sharp, it is time for San Francisco to develop a new
industry: a green industry. Green collar jobs for low-income workers
are part of the solution.
Thus far, "green collar" jobs have been limited in the
public discourse to green and sustainable interior design or architecture
on one hand, and engineering and alternative technology development
on the other - both highly creative fields, yet neither providing
a lot of opportunity for low-income workers except in the construction,
installation, or manufacturing phases. It is time to change the
perception that green collar jobs are only the provenance of the
In Washington DC, there is a program called DC Greenworks (www.dcgreenworks.org).
This program trains low-income workers to develop the urban ecosystem
by installing landscaping and Low Impact Development technology.
The workers benefit by gaining a marketable skill, and the entire
community benefits by having a greener city. By creating a similar
program here in San Francisco, we can train workers for the public
and private sectors in green collar jobs with a future.
DC Greenworks goes beyond tree and sidewalk landscaping. Low Impact
Development (LID) technology includes green roofs, rain gardens
and bioretention, and permeable paving. All of these solutions
lessen the impact of storm water and runoff. The plants collect
up to 30% of the water before it hits the sewer system.
In a wastewater system such as ours, which is in the process
of a major upgrade, these technologies are vital. We should implement
them now in areas in which the system is subject to heavy use
and flooding, pending PUC upgrade. Mayor Newsom and Supervisor
Alioto-Pier's pending proposal to lower the sidewalk landscaping
permit fee is a perfect vehicle for private implementation. The
City can set aside a small portion of the budget surplus to address
Yet who will install these solutions?
At DC Greenworks, workers are trained on installation of LID.
In turn, they can translate these skills into the private sector.
More sustainable homes are being designed, and private contractors
are looking for workers with the skills and knowledge to work
with sustainable materials.
Here in the City, there is a growing demand for green design
for new homes and for remodels. The demand is here - but there
is no supply of suitably trained workers. Employing workers in
this capacity would provide them with jobs in which they could
continually develop new skills. Some could end up owning and operating
their own landscaping and LID businesses with the skills they
As an example, green roofs are already in use in many cities around
the country. For locals who are interested in learning about green
roofs, a Green Roofs 101 course will be offered by Green Roofs
for Healthy Cities (www.greenroofs.net)
on March 31. The course is meant for professionals, but by taking
the course, perhaps individuals will be inspired to train workers
to install green roofs. Better yet, perhaps someone will be inspired
to create an analog to DC Greenworks.
It is time to provide green collar jobs with a future.
By Jordanna Thigpen
March 3, 2006
What does true power look like? How do the truly powerful treat
their constituents, their employees, their friends? Certainly
not by playing Frogger 2006 with human lives and dignity.
The truly powerful are nonviolent.
Harper's February 2006 edition has a divine essay by Garrett
Keizer entitled Crap Shoot: Everyone Loses When Politics Is
a Game. This is a very timely and very necessary truth for
us to accept if we are to implement and endorse progressive values.
In a resigned, delicate, and hopeful voice - hopeful the way
the hopeful believe our country does not engage in war profiteering
- Mr. Keizer describes the destructive influence of what he calls
"players" in the American political system.
Drawing on a 1938 theory from Dutch academic Johan Huizinga,
Mr. Kezier contrasts "players" with "workers."
In their worst manifestations, players treat the world and all
those within it as pawns in a game, and workers dumbly, blindly,
go about their business doing the work the players tell them to
In the end Kezier calls on progressives to lay aside our identification
with either players or workers, to accept that if we want to be
the change we wish to see in the world, we must fight for it.
Never mind that through fighting we might ourselves become players,
unless we remember to adopt Nochnoi Dozor (Night Watch)
Here in San Francisco, players are alive and well.
In my mere five years in San Francisco politics, the most pathetic,
most despicable scenes I have witnessed have resulted from the
players' chess games. Some are entrenched, some are on the periphery,
some believe they're in the game when really, they're just watching,
or were benched long ago.
Players, a special invitation! There is a place for you, and
it's not public service: it's the corporate sector! The Enrons
and the WorldCom's of the world need you. Stand in your black
trench coat and black hat next to Jack Abramoff (with the Neighborhood
Watch guy on your other side, for symmetry's sake), and be counted.
We use the term politics as a general term for the players'
games. Alliances form, armies are raised, lines are drawn, battles
are won. The outcomes of wars have yet to be determined and the
contracts are still up for sale. This series of events could describe
"office politics" where all that's at stake is a promotion
or an office with a view, or our very party system.
Sadly, in all industries, there are players who intervene in
the normal course of affairs, who can't just let things be.
The worst players are those who play just for the sake of
it. They're not attached to any political outcome or, God
forbid, societal progress. They are the mercenaries. They
are the most destructive because they bear loyalty to no man or
cause. Their dark and only joy is to know that they have seeded
chaos. They usually abhor the spotlight, although sometimes in
their vicious, viscous little way they can't help but seek some
They will take quick, coiling and wry pleasure in the fact that
our upcoming primary occurs on 6/6/6 this year.
As long as we tolerate the presence of these individuals in our
political system, we will never evolve. As members of the public,
we must shun the players. The players among us, interfering with
our leaders and our process, do violence to our democracy.
How do we change? We refuse to engage. We see the game, we know
the rules, and we simply do not play. If we are threatened with
machinations, with players' vile, base display of their power,
then we must act with nonviolence and with quiet dignity and ask
the players to join our league. A truly powerful act is an integrative
act, and yet, an act of integrity. True power is the elimination
of players from our very political process. It doesn't mean we
do not have the courage for the fight. Our effort will take sustained
strength and valor far beyond what a mere player could sustain.
For true power, let us reform our political system from the inside
out. We shall no longer write off politics as a dirty business
or a game.
Who among us desires immaculate government, through our own
Stand and be counted.
Let's scrap San Francisco bio-solids Road Show
Turn night soil to black gold
By Jordanna Thigpen
February 24, 2006
Recently, the SF PUC has been touring the City with an Antiques
Road Show describing the changes to our city's sewer system. The
road show is educational and interesting; and the agency is looking
for feedback, so if you have any, you know that now is the time
to provide it.
Part of the road show describes an imminent problem that the
City is facing: in 2007, the ordinance that enables us to ship
our bio-solids to Solano County is expiring.
Rather than lobby for renewal, it is time for the PUC to look
at new technology for solid waste management, one that can help
us turn night soil into black gold.
Anyone else a child of/remember the 80s? Bio-solids are the like
the Banana Round of Ms. Pac-Man: supposedly the final outcome
of the sewage treatment process. And like the Banana Round, you've
got to stay alert and move quickly unless you want to lose. Our
current, hopelessly 20th-century solution of shipping bio-solids
from densely populated urban areas to Solano, Kern, or (Any Agricultural
County) is not going to work in the long term.
Of course after Banana Round, the fruit was random. Remember
that pure adrenaline rush the first time you made it past Banana!
We will have a more focused approach, but bio-solids are not as
final as we have believed.
Locally, bio-solids are already in use as fertilizers for animal
feed. Bio-solids are used in Melbourne, Australia as a base for
soil mix. Dewatered bio-solids have helped rehabilitate land laid
to waste by industrial processing because of chemical reactions
they help produce. They are also important as a base for cement
mix. With the ongoing construction in China Basin, Mission Bay,
and still, SOMA, perhaps it's time to consider a set-aside of
local bio-solids for local construction.
There was a recent announcement that dog poop in its raw form
would be collected at certain City parks and turned into energy.
There is a plan to harvest the methane, as we currently do with
human bio-solids. But dog poop is very different than bio-solids.
Across the world, cities must deal with bio-solids. It's not
easy. Besides the public relations issues regarding beneficial
use, there are obvious environmental problems. Bio-solids are
very high in heavy metals such as zinc, mercury, cadmium, and
copper, all of which can be poisonous to humans. Various applications
create other problems. For example in London and Paris, bio-solids
are burned for fuel, but the process creates ash which still needs
to be disposed of. It's important to note that modern processes
allow for excellent air emission quality, and that the life-cycle
costs of incineration are the lowest of any feasible bio-solids
management option, according to some studies.
There is another method of disposing of organic waste, which
is nascent, and just beginning to gain respect after years of
R&D. It is called thermal depolymerization (TDP). First developed
by Illinois microbiologist Paul Baskis in the 1980s, and evolved
now into TCP by Changing World Technologies (www.changingworldtech.com),
the first major plant to use this technology is located in Carthage,
Missouri, next to a Butterball turkey factory. The plant uses
turkey waste to produce crude oil. Believe it or not, Changing
World actually has to pay for the turkey waste. It's legal to
use turkey waste as feed for cattle and other animals, so the
plant owners could make a profit on their garbage in other industries.
Admittedly, the plant has run into some problems due to NIMBY
complaints about odor, although you have to believe that the turkey
factory hasn't always channeled the perfume counter through the
years. Missouri's Governor Matt Blunt shut the plant down in December
2005 due to citizen complaints.
TCP can convert plastics, human and animal waste, and major chemicals
to living energy in an alchemical, beautiful magic. It breaks
down poisons and even rogue prions like BSE. For this reason it
is touted as the solution to the spread of animal diseases that
exist because factory animals are currently subsisting on diseased,
rendered animals from other factories. TCP can even remove the
heavy metals that other bio-solids management practices can't
eliminate. Most importantly, TCP is taking waste and turning it
into fuel - and will soon make it impossible for companies like
Exxon, with a $36B 2005 profit, to claim with cocksure, breathtaking
arrogance, that, "The US will always be dependent on foreign
It is time to bring TCP to San Francisco. Changing World Technologies
formed a joint venture with Con-Agra, owners of the Butterball
plant, to address the turkey waste problem. Its business plan
depends on "partnerships with entities which have waste streams
under control." As a municipal entity with a relentless waste
stream, we need to find a similar partner who will help us fund
construction of a TCP plant. Perhaps Senator Perata's ambitious
and necessary infrastructure bond plans can emphasize alternative
waste management practices, but we can't wait. We must act now,
perhaps in concert with adjoining counties, and even the federal
government, to create a TCP fund. Our world cannot wait.
San Francisco Bedbugs: A global epidemic
By Jordanna Thigpen
February 17, 2006
There is a global epidemic, and it's not avian flu.
Instead, it's a broader and more insidious problem: bedbugs. Our
city is just one of many across the world with the problem.
Since 2001, SoMA, Mission, and TL have been infested with bedbugs.
Central City Extra's November 2005 issue was devoted to the problem.
It can be apparently/allegedly be traced to several sources: (1)
SRO and hotel management which refuse to address the problem;
(2) residents, who will not agree to cooperate with a major and
necessary extermination; (3) infestation from other cities and
nations; and (4) a lack of cooperation and coordination between
local government agencies. Why is this a critical public health
issue for the whole city to address? Because even if you do not
reside in District 6 and don't consider it your problem, the bugs
have started to infest tourist hotels, and that means our economy
is at risk. There are recent reports of the bugs turning up at
some big name San Francisco hotels. Perhaps as a city we can now
come together to solve this problem.
Some psychologists say it's comforting for a human to experience
suffering with the knowledge that other humans are going through
the same experience. Is it comforting to know that other humans
are having their blood siphoned from their veins on a nightly
basis, all across the world? Is it comforting to know that each
of us is a potential carrier, because the bugs can lay flat and
hitch a ride on clothing, luggage, and personal effects? Is it
comforting to know that other cities are having as much difficulty
solving the problem?
Here in San Francisco, we have to address all four components
of the problem. First, management should be accountable for the
conditions in the hotels. At a bare minimum, all mattresses should
be covered in plastic. Rooms should be treated with stronger pesticides
(to combat both cockroaches and bedbugs; apparently finding a
dual agent has been difficult.) More stringent amendments to the
Health Code need to be passed by the Board of Supervisors, and
failing that, must be introduced by our Assembly members at the
State Level to literally create a new chapter in Health &
Safety. Assuredly, we need fewer chemical agents in our society.
But this is precisely the type of threat that we should save the
heavy artillery for.
Next, residents need to cooperate with management in solving
the problem. Some residents are unable to leave their rooms -
obviously, these individuals need special aid and procedures must
be set up by management to deal with the elderly, the disabled,
and the ill. But some residents are unwilling, and since any untreated
area can cause a re-infestation, raging against the machine in
this instance is a public health risk. Should residents be forcibly
removed from their rooms for treatment? What means justifies the
In Australia, in the capital cities of Europe, in New York, in
Los Angeles, the bedbugs are biting. Like tuberculosis, bedbugs
are experiencing a second adolescence in our dense urban societies.
It is a worldwide epidemic, and our infestation is due in part
to the mobility of humans (hostels are particularly susceptible.)
Other cities are apparently just as hapless at dealing with the
problem. Only regular treatment of problematic locations will
keep address the continued re-infestation from travelers.
There seems to be a lack of coordination between the various
city agencies which address the problem. The Department of Public
Health needs dedicated resources and a directive to address the
issue in a meaningful way. Perhaps major tenants' and landlords'
groups can finally come together, with DPH as a facilitator, to
What we need is a Bedbug Partnership. Before snarky spectators
dismiss this solution, note that New York has recently established
a task force in response to its own epidemic. We do not know what
solutions are feasible, and what laws may be passed, until we
examine the issue with all sides at the table.
The decline of the middle class
By Jordanna Thigpen
February 10, 2006
We have several major problems in this country,
but here's a pressing one: in twenty years, we likely will not
have a middle class.
I am clearly not an economics expert - amazingly, being a small
business owner doesn't require a solid base in economics. But
it seems to me that in the first half of the 20th century, we
built a solid middle class in the US by manufacturing and consuming
our own goods. We were able to invest in infrastructure, in education,
in massive public works projects. The middle class grew in part
because of unions. In 1955, when the AFL-CIO formed, 35% of the
American workforce belonged to unions. Today only approximately
8% of Americans in the private sector are union members.
In the postwar era, we started accumulating a sizeable amount
of debt, and we shifted manufacturing overseas. Everyone claimed
the service economy would make up for this massive economic transformation.
Now, service jobs are shifting overseas as well. Exactly what
will people do for a living in the next twenty years in this country?
The destruction of the middle class is problematic for everyone.
Last July the Teamsters, SEIU, and others announced a split from
the AFL-CIO because no one could agree on the vision for their
partnership. The Teamsters even said they would consider backing
a Republican because they want to follow a more bipartisan effort.
The split was troubling because it further weakened the labor
movement. And that means our society is further weakened.
A lot of people, especially professionals and small business
owners, have a poor opinion of unions. They feel that unions prevent
meaningful civil service reform from taking place. They feel that
historically, Democratic politicians have been forced to acquiesce
to Labor demands, in order to gain valuable endorsements and for
fundraising purposes. They feel that collective bargaining agreements
hamstring employers and the government by driving costs to unbearable
levels. Perhaps, there is something to these allegations. Perhaps
what some call Big Labor has contributed to this negative image.
Perhaps collaboration on civil service reform, which is in progress,
is the most direct path to resolution. The stark truth is that
unions are absolutely necessary and must become more viable if
we are to get our nation back on track, because unions are the
only reason we still have a middle class.
Unions built America. Unions brought safer working conditions.
Unions won decent wages that raised generations. It's no accident
that the decline of unions over the past fifty years has coincided
with the apparent genocide of the middle class. Multinationals
declared war on unions because it makes for better profits to
send jobs overseas. This is a short-sighted and failed approach,
economically speaking. With no middle class, there will be no
consumer class. If multinationals won't come to support unions
for humane reasons, perhaps they will to protect their long-term
How do we increase union membership to 1955 levels? We have to
go to the largest employers. As consumers, we must ask multinational
corporations such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks to stop unlawfully
discouraging union membership. There is actually a Starbucks Workers
Union, an IWW affiliate, although it is not currently NLRB-certified.
New York City has seen a lot of activity with this union. At 42%
insured, Starbucks actually has a lower percentage of workers
with health insurance than Wal-Mart's 47%. To avoid potential
threats of employer-mandated health coverage, Starbucks only employs
20% of workers as full-time employees. The rest are part-time
employees with no guarantee of a regular schedule. This is a practice
(common to employers in communities where employer-mandated coverage
is the law, by the way) that unions could address.
Wal-Mart, obviously, is a different animal. Much has been written
about Wal-Mart's opposition to unions. Consider that Wal-Mart
purchased the domain name www.unionizewalmart.com, and it's registered
to headquarters in Arkansas, but there's no website in existence
promoting union membership in its stores. Wal-Mart won't even
spring for the extra $10 per year to hide the WHOIS information
on Network Solutions' website. Another brilliant public relations
Corporate America has become quite clever at blaming unions for
its problems. Some commentators blame unions for the implosion
of the airline and auto industries. But it is a stunning lack
of innovation and, in the auto industry's case, a long and unholy
alliance with Big Oil, that has caused these industries to fail.
Making life more difficult for unions might help multinationals
with their profits, but it won't rebuild the middle class. America
needs a new industry, and a strong union base for support. It
is the only way we will be able to rebuild ourselves from the
How much significance does feminism have today?
By Jordanna Thigpen
February 3, 2006
It's hard to say how many women my age consider themselves feminists.
How much significance does "feminism" have today? The
truth is that it matters more than young women think, and sometimes
more than we would like to believe. Shouldn't we have been able
to shelve feminism with the rest of the Social Philosophies
We Have Known and Loved hardbound collection years ago? Shouldn't
we be speaking of the need for it with the same laughing, sobering
wonder that we now speak of with regard to lithium and cocaine
in soft drinks, or maybe eugenics? It may be disheartening to
some, but the reality is that feminism is more relevant now than
When I went to law school, some women spoke scornfully of others
who came to law school solely to get their "MRS Degree."
You know meet a fellow student, get married, he becomes
a corporate lawyer, she stays home with the kids. Some women were
forced to go to law school because of family pressure, and being
a mother and a wife was their only ambition. They were able to
satisfy everyone by getting the degree and promptly rendering
themselves unable to use it. Of course, being a mother, wife,
and holding a job are not mutually exclusive. W hat the white
liberal elite call "having it all" is the de facto reality
for most women. There's absolutely nothing wrong with graduating
with an MRS - it's just that such women are in a unique and privileged
position because they are deliberately choosing to stay home with
their children, an option not economically available to most of
our community. Is "feminism" relevant? You'd have to
For years, I sloughed off feminismcertainly respecting
the movement and being gratefulbut quietly, secretly, internally
rebelling. I didn't understand the continuing need for a full-fledged,
separately defined socio-political movement to make others accept
which was so optimistically obvious to me. Why not just act as
if we're equal? Why not just cooperate with males? The battles
are over, right? Why do we ever have to speak of gender differences
again? And so it goes for most young women, until you brush up
against the proverbial glass ceiling. Or in my case, the double
standard. Most of us come to realize that what's good for the
gander isn't always good for the goose, after all.
When I speak to older women about this situation, they are mostly
of three minds. The first group smiles knowingly and says,
I told you so. They are the ones who lived and breathed active
feminism, who seeded (and ceded) the movement, the warrior queens
to whom we must always be grateful. They are the ones who worry
desperately for the future, since the dialogue on "women's
issues" has now been relegated to domestic violence and possibly
healthcare, and young women aren't experiencing the searing, breathtaking
rage that comes when you realize you've been discriminated against
because you are a woman. Some in this group tend to have deep
scorn for all men and feel that women are superior in every way.
They just can't believe that after all the work they did, young
women would just roll over, as it were.
Another group, although claiming to be feminists, believes that
all women are jealous and catty creatures, desperately and pathetically
plotting each other's demise. Of course these women will tell
you, they don't fall into that category. They are just warning
young women: Watch out. The most disarming and most destructive
agents in your future won't be males holding you back, but females
who don't want you to succeed. In the minds of these individuals,
it is actually women for whom the feminist movement was required
to empower them to have a higher opinion of themselves.
This is a lonely path if it's the only one you can see; for one
thing, it requires a belief that 50% of the population desires
your failure. It simply cannot be reality, and in my opinion,
it is far from the definition of feminism.
There is a third group which genuinely desires the empowerment
of women, and of all individuals. This group feels that female
leadership is key to solving our current social problems, particularly
where peace is concerned. This group does not listen to the drone
of negativity or stop when it feels the cool smooth glass ceiling
because it has an unshakable and quiet confidence in the ability
of women as leaders. Absolutely nothing will prevent members of
this group from achieving their goals. To these women, we owe
our undying gratitude. They are carrying the energetic burden
for us all.
It's easy for young women to forget how far the feminist movement
has come in the past half-century, but even easier to forget how
far we have yet to travel. Today feminism is more important and
relevant than ever before. Today it means that women can and should
be prominent leaders in all segments of society, in all industries,
in all nations, and that the US should have a representative government
which includes at least 50% elected women. Today it means that
as young women, we should remember the battles royale that were
fought so that we could make our own choices about our futures.
Today it means that women should support one another to make the
world a better, safer, more livable and sustainable placefor
District 6 resident Jordanna Thigpen is an attorney, small
business owner and a Commissioner with the City's Small Business
Commission. You can usually find her at work and she doesn't get
to Ocean Beach often enough.
Email Jordanna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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