Saturday, August 27, 2016

It's Time To Fight Back Against the Systemic-Historical Violence of Male Governance By Nile Pierce

Art by Arna Baartz


Beyonce thinks girls run the world. I like her optimism, but it’s off-base. If women ran the world – if it was really true that we run the fucking world – 3.5 million female children in Turkey wouldn’t be in contractually-arranged rape relationships (child ‘marriage’), and the pregnant girls of Boko Haram wouldn’t have been abducted, impregnated, left alone to fend for themselves, and shamed by their community. We would be fucking safe from rape, from abuse, from misogynist social policies. We wouldn’t be scared for the safety of our children. We would be able to make more and better choices for ourselves and our families. We wouldn’t be marginalized and shamed for enjoying motherhood. We wouldn’t be fucking oppressed like biblical fucking slaves.



We are in the fucking wilderness.



If you’re a woman and you decide to have a baby, good luck. It’s not easy to navigate the array of social (let’s just call it ‘bullshit’ for the moment) bullshit and expectations surrounding the experience. If you’re a single mother, the level of bullshit is increased ten-fold and navigating it all is much more intense because you are alone. That being said, It’s not always difficult being a single mother. But for a vast majority of single moms, it’s fucking hard. And it’s lonely, and isolating. Women that have the privilege of having a partner (whether that partner is male or female) have help. This means they have financial help in most instances, and that kind of help goes a long way toward relieving a lot of pressure and helping other things in their lives, such as physical and mental health for example. Having someone else around that you can trust to care for your children when you are sick or tired, is an amazing thing. You can rest. They can rest. However, many of us don’t have that privilege. We just go and go and go and go. All of us have to make difficult decisions to make things work financially. Sometimes to the detriment of our relationships with our children and ourselves. We women have to make choices. But the choices that we are ‘presented’ with by society are not fair. Not by a fucking long shot.



The truth is, we are controlled. By men. I’m not going to waste time dragging in statistics here to prove this point but if you want to google some feel free. Take a look at the ratios of men to women in positions of power all over the world and you’ll get a better idea of how controlled we are. From presidents of countries, to corporations, to town hall and city council boards, we are controlled in every which way imaginable. Because we are rarely in positions of power, men make the majority of decisions that affect our lives in both public and private ways. They rely on their own male understandings of reality when they do this – which is obviously highly problematic considering how many of them are religious fundamentalists and think that the pains of childbirth are our punishment from God for tempting Adam in the garden. This is literally what they think. They also think that we are all objects to be fucked. This is what they think. The porn industry is as successful as it is because our society has normalized its acceptance. Women need to wake the fuck up to what this is doing to us and our daughters. And our sons.



We have children on our own terms. But even when we do, the only options ‘offered’ to us are options created by men in power. We are not consulted for policy that affects our livelihoods and existence. We are forced to pay tax on necessities like tampons and fucking menstrual pads. Our social, sexual, emotional, and financial resources are continually extracted by men in power for their own benefit and it needs to stop. These extractions are violent because they are forced and they are against our will and against our intuitive intelligence. Forced extractions do not equal choice, just as forced ‘sex’ does not equal sex – it equals rape. This must stop. Our resources are valuable and we must protect them.



If we have a baby, we are forced to return to work. Frustrated with being forced to return to work, we are forced to play the capitalist game - which is essentially a misogynist game that places more value on the accumulation of capital than on the building of a strong and healthy society. Enmeshed within this system, rife with a variety of damaging liberal feminisms disguised as progressive politics that are patriarchally oppressive in nature to women, we are forced to perform male-sanctioned 'work' and neglect caring for our children. We are forced to make 'choices' that hurt. We are forced to literally go against our nature and our instincts, to leave our children in the care of strangers who we are not allowed to personally vet; we are forced to trust the state and its policies and practices in the governance of our lives and that of our children. We are forcefully placed between a rock and a hard place:



  1. Between slaving away in a bullshit capitalist economy that devalues our motherhood and our work at home through a variety of misogynist social mechanisms constructed to oppress and erase us - or -
  2. Staying home and having our maternal work devalued through a variety of misogynist social mechanisms.



WE. ARE. AT. WAR. With ourselves, internally, and with the patriarchal structures of society, externally. We are at war with ourselves internally because the external social mechanisms and forces of misogyny press down upon us, press down upon our minds and our hearts, twisting our emotions, making it hard to know what to do with the 'choices' we are forced to accept, realizing that in this system, the 'options' available to us are not really choices after all, and so we are made angry, we are deeply hurting, we are made to feel like we have given up, like we are not contributing enough if we choose to stay at home with our children, we are made to feel like we are weak, non-contributing social leeches, unable to perform like everyone around us, according to male capitalist expectations.



FUCK THAT.



We are not fucking slaves. Not to capitalism, and not to patriarchy. Our children are not pawns to be used in the misogynist accumulation of capital. We are not slaves. Our children are not slaves. We owe it to ourselves and to our daughters and the future of our world to stand up to this systemic-historical violence and take our fucking power back. We will no longer allow male-dominated systems and patriarchal regimes of rationalisation to govern us through oppressive rules, policies, agendas, and misogynist practices. We will no longer allow men to dictate what options are available to us. We will no longer accept male-constructed realities of capitalist 'choice' as the only options on our table. We will no longer tolerate the extraction of our natural resources. We will create our own structures of power and governance. We are going to dismantle this system and make it work for US. We are going to make it work in the name of Goddess, in the names of all of the mothers who have gone before us and been abused, violated, devalued, marginalised, mistreated, raped, maimed, oppressed, and silenced. We are the lifeblood of this world. We have always been. They depend on us. Without us they literally wouldn't exist. They owe it to us to listen. And if they don't, we will fight back.



We will shame them. We will publicly call them out on their bullshit. We will not take 'no' for an answer anymore. We are stronger than what we may appear. We are a force more powerful than any government, policy, or religion.



We are going to change the world.

An excerpt from the upcoming Girl God anthology, Single Mothers Speak on Patriachary.


Nile Pierce is a secret academic and artist currently living and working in Glasgow, Scotland. Her first poem was published when she was 7 years old, albeit under a different name. She has been writing and doing spoken word for many years and has amassed a trove of poems that now number into the thousands. She is a proud single mother and loves her child more than anything else in the world. You can find her social commentary on feminism and single motherhood at magnadea.org 


Thursday, August 25, 2016

£4 billion - the current outstanding child maintenance bill by Louise Pennington

Painting by Lucy Pierce


£4 billion.

This is the outstanding arrears of child maintenance owed in England and Wales. According to a report by the charity Gingerbread called Missing Maintenance, the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) estimates that only £467 million will ever be recovered.1 This leaves nearly one half of single parent families, the vast majority headed by women, living in poverty.

The current Conservative government is in the process of closing the Child Support Agency (CSA) to replace it with the Child Maintenance Service, which charges women £20 for the privilege of opening a file and then a sum each month if some semblance of the maintenance is actually paid.2 The new vaunted system has seen only 53% of the families registered receiving maintenance with 90 000 people having not paid during one three month period. There is already nearly £53 million in unpaid maintenance. Many of the families will receive only negligible amounts of money, as the DWP does not require the full maintenance to be paid in order for the account to be registered as compliant. Realistically, a father of 4 earning £70 000 a year can pay only £5 a month and still be included within the 53% statistic.3

Equally problematic is the fact that the Child Maintenances Service is actively writing to the primary caregivers to request they ‘forgive’ the debt owed by non-paying fathers4 - as though the primary caregivers of children, who are overwhelmingly women, can neglect to pay rent, council tax and the credit card debts they rack up buying groceries knowing these debts will be 'forgiven'. As Polly Toynbee makes clear, 
 
Some 90% of CSA cases have now been transferred over to the CMS, but only 13% of mothers affected have decided to pay the new fees and apply to the CMS: the DWP must be pleased, as it had publicly estimated that 63% would pursue their claims. All the pressure in official letters is to deter mothers. The £20 fee may be a mild block, along with charging fathers 4%, but the evidence suggests mothers just give up when prodded by these letters.5

Charging mothers to use the Child Maintenance Service is simply a way for the government to abdicate responsibility. They are very clear that the sole purpose is to force more parents into dealing with child maintenance themselves. In doing so, they have refused to recognise the reason why men, and it is overwhelmingly men, refuse to pay maintenance: it is both a punishment and a form of control over their former partners. This is male entitlement writ large by men who do not care about the welfare of their children.

We need to start calling the refusal to pay maintenance what it really is: financial child abuse. Forcing your children to live in poverty because you cannot be bothered to support them or refusing to punish the mother are not the signs of 'good fathers'. It is the hallmark of an abusive father.

It is not difficult to implement child maintenance policies that are effective and ensure that men cannot hide their assets. Placing the Child Maintenance Service under the heading of HM Revenue & Customs so that child maintenance is garnished directly from the salary of the non-resident parent. This coupled with actual punitive policies for those who refuse to pay, such as a fee for every missed payment, interest accrued on outstanding payments, and the use of enforcement agents (bailiffs) to confiscate personal property, and, potentially, criminal proceedings would see an immediate increase in the number of men who start to pay their maintenance.6

There is a quote bandied about in discussions of child contact and child maintenance that says 'children aren't pay per view', as though children were nothing more than a possession to be passed about. As with Women's Aid campaign, Safe Contact Saves Lives, we need to stop talking about children as possessions and start talking about children's rights.7 Children have the right to live free from violence. Children also have the right to live outwith poverty.

The erasure of men's financial responsibility for their children, supported by government policy, is an absolute disgrace. It is, simply, state sanctioned child abuse. 

This is an excerpt from the upcoming Girl God Anthology, Single Mothers Speak on Patriarchy

Louise Pennington is a feminist writer and activist who works for the campaign organisation Everyday Victim Blaming, which challenges media misrepresentations of domestic and sexual violence and abuse. 


References:
 
1 Report: Missing Maintenance. Gingerbread: Single Parents, Equal Families. (June 2016). PDF: http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/uploads/media/17/9809.pdf
2 ‘Use the Child Maintenance Service or Child Support Agency’. https://www.gov.uk/child-maintenance/overview. Accessed 29.8.16.
3 ‘How we work out child maintenance: a step by step guide”. Child Maintenance Service. (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/325219/how-we-work-out-child-maintenance.pdf) Accessed 29.8.16.
4 Polly Toynbee. ‘Why the silence on the scandal of unpaid child maintenance?’. Guardian. (16.5.2016). https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/16/silence-scandal-unpaid-child-maintenance?CMP=share_btn_tw. Accessed 19.5.2016.
5 Polly Toynbee. ‘Why the silence on the scandal of unpaid child maintenance?’. Guardian. (16.5.2016). https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/16/silence-scandal-unpaid-child-maintenance?CMP=share_btn_tw. Accessed 19.5.2016.
6 Canada also includes the suspension of drivers licenses and passports as part of their maintenance enforcement programs. http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/enforce-execution/pwo-pqp.html. Accessed 29.8.2016.

7 ‘Child First: Safe Contact Saves Lives’. Women’s Aid England/ Wales. https://www.womensaid.org.uk/childfirst/ Accessed 29.8.16

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Simpatico by Arna Baartz

Painting by Arna Baartz

art
the samurai
a language born of soft nib
trailing sticky rouge
pressing up
off the floor
art answers to my wild driver
cuts corners, sliding sideways
unravelling
this tiny golden soul from the ribbons of a patriarchal past
ovarian ribbons, wet, sliding ribbons, sweaty, perfumed ribbons
ribbons wrapped tightly, stripping through my naked body
like art
a thoughtful sword
ribbons that hold my breath shallow when it should be deep
that blister my waist when they should kiss
that maul my power
when it should open in awe
this art is determined
deliberate
necessary
to loosen fear defined boundaries
to unwind and clarify
to sooth
to alight upon me in shades orange and pink and bring us
into rhythm
together
a symbiotic climax
momentary
simpatico
a taste of the sound of leaves
on the painted wind of time

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Goddess of my Own Damned Life by Trista Hendren

"Goddess of Deliberate Creation" by Arna Baartz

An excerpt from Hearts Aren't Made of Glass - out today!


“The past must be examined closely, I believe,
before we can leave it there.”
-Alice Walker


One might wonder why I chose to publish this book—particularly after reaching a good spot in my life.

I had planned to wait until my children were grown and try to put all of this behind me in the interim. However, even after nine months of bliss in Norway, I still was not feeling well.

I kept reverting to old patterns, long after I knew intellectually how to live better. The past, it seemed, wouldn’t die without me taking a good long look at it.

Upon reflection, I realized that I had often chosen (on some subconscious level) to be around dysfunctional people who created constant drama. It was my way of avoiding the trauma in my childhood—and dealing with it.

When I came to Norway, there was no more drama. Anders is practically a saint, having never said one unkind word to me or my children over the last five years. Even when I tried to create an argument with him, he would respond with love.

I no longer had any distractions; so I plunged myself into my work. I self-published four books and a calendar within my first year in Norway.

While working on New Love, I had some painful realizations and unblocked some of my repressed memories of childhood abuse. I burst into hysteric sobs several times on Anders' shoulders. I began doing some critical reading of my own—some of the same books I was recommending to others via my work. The Courage to Heal, The Body Keeps Score and Trauma and Recovery were a big help to me.

If I were to write out a narrative from my twenties, it would be quite lively and long, but none of it would have any particular meaning or make much logical sense. I had a lot of fun, if you can call it that. I lived out of a premise that I was “liberated” from my fundamentalist Christian background—by what I don't know—I suppose you could call it “liberal feminism.” I theorized that I was taking back my body from those who had tried to steal it from me in my earlier years. Giving it away to everyone else certainly wasn't reclaiming it for me though. I had to find ways to repossess myself in ways that truly were liberating and healthy.

My great grandmother used to tell me, “If you don't have any regrets, you haven't lived!”

I have plenty of regrets, and I've certainly lived an interesting life thus far. (Sometimes a bit too interesting.) But I have learned, and grown, and died and bloomed again.

I regret deeply how I treated my first husband at the end of our marriage. Although he forgave me long ago and encouraged me to forgive myself—I often wonder now how much I was punishing myself all those years in the karmic belief that I somehow deserved to pay.

There is no logical reason why I should have ended up with my second husband. We never fit. Even if I was terribly misinformed about addiction and naive about drugs, people were always puzzled about how we ended up together. Some have theorized it was about the money. I don't think so. When he was at his best, he treated me like a princess. And there was something completely irresistible about that.

However, being a princess is a trap. It is only by discovering the Goddess within us that we can heal and thrive.

Raising my daughter caused me to re-think everything about my life and how I had been raised. Five years ago, sick with “princess culture,” I angrily wrote on my Facebook wall:
Do you want your daughter to be a Princess or a Goddess? Princesses usually have no mother, are forever submitting to their father and spend all their time looking good for and finding “Prince Charming.” Goddesses are powerful in their own right and can do whatever the f**k they want! #ChangeHowYouSpeakToYourDaughter
Painting by Arna Baartz

It took me a few years to transfer that to myself—and realize how deeply ingrained princess culture was for me growing up in the seventies and eighties.

Despite decades of feminism, every sort of self-help book, an MBA, and a strong career, I remained trapped in a view of myself as helpless. I was still waiting for my Prince to come save me.

That belief only buried me deeper into sinking sand.

Becoming the Goddess of my own life was about stripping everything away and starting from scratch. I left my money, my credit, my “good looks,” my career, my house, my car, my cell phone, my pride, my core beliefs, and every toxic relationship behind.

In short, it was over a decade of hell.

I spent a lot of nights crying myself to sleep and divorcing myself from people, places and things that no longer served me. What emerged was my Goddess-essence. I can't say that life is always easy or perfect, but I am finally in a healthy and loving relationship—and my children finally have an opportunity to heal and thrive.

When Adrianne Rich said, “You must read and write as if your life depended on it,” she was certainly speaking to me. There was a least a year that I did little more than the basics of caring for my children. The rest of the time, I spent reading everything I could—and then cried my eyes out writing out my pain and loss.

Working with Arna on New Love was a healing journey for me as well. I come from more of a radical feminist perspective while she gets me to embrace some of the more woo-woo stuff that helps with my own healing. While we were finishing that book, I realized I needed to go back to my past and un-bury some of the trauma I had stored in my body.

I went back to an anonymous blog I had kept as a means to leave my second marriage. I was shocked at how much I had blocked from my memory.

I thought I had written perhaps about 150 pages altogether on my blog. Going through it and taking out the highlights, I ended up with more than 800 pages. My mind was blown away at all the things I had blocked out.

When I began this book, my back literally felt as if it were breaking every day.

I wrongly assumed that writing it would be a simple, cut and dry process. It was the hardest of all my books for me to complete. I cried a lot. I lost my shit several times. I realized that I truly am a warrior Goddess.

Mona Eltahawy said that,“The most subversive thing a woman can do is talk about her life as if it really matters.” Claiming this is harder than one would think. My life does matter—and so does yours.

This book is dedicated to anyone who has been affected by alcoholism, addiction or abuse. It is my attempt to break the cycle that has plagued me most of my life.

I release this book, not with malice, but with the hope that it will help other women get out of hell sooner than I did. Abusive relationships cause immense suffering to the body, mind and psyche long after they are over. And we do not help our children by passively remaining in them.

May we all heal, grow and prosper. And may our children find better ways to celebrate “this thing called Life.”

-Trista Hendren, an excerpt from Hearts aren't Made of Glass: My Journey from Princess of Nothing to Goddess of my Own Damned Life - out today!

Trista with first massive 'Proof' Copy


Brief Description: Trista Hendren candidly shares her journey from "Princess of Nothing" to Goddess of her own life. Hendren exposes the perils of traditional recovery programs to women and gives her own anecdotes on how to blissfully recover from abuse, codependency and patriarchy. 
320 pages.

"Trista Hendren's story, grounded in the particular details of her life, transcends the personal, and beautifully.” -Donna J. Snyder, author of The Tongue Has its Secrets

A Critical look at "Self-Help" by Trista Hendren

Painting by Arna Baartz


After spending the better part of 15 years working toward “recovery,” I have to wonder why the onus is on women to recover instead of on men to stop abusing us in ways that necessitate recovery.

Self-help is obviously an industry; one that is primarily targeted at women. And what do we need the help for? There is nothing intrinsically wrong with being female—although we are certainly made to feel that way from birth.

In my case, I was seeking self-help to recover from male violence.

We know statistically, if we look, who is committing violence on this planet—and it is primarily the male species. Why don't men stop verbally, physically, sexually and financially abusing females?

Men not only get away with this on a massive scale—while often still being lauded as “good men”—but females are then left with the mess of trying to recover from their abuse.

In retrospect, I would advise my younger self to be much more selective about what sort of people I gave any of my time or energy to. And there would be fewer males in that mix.

While we cannot completely protect ourselves from rape and murder, we do know now from looking at patterns that most abuse happens at the hands of men who know us—perhaps who even claim to love us. I think we should—both individually and as a community—cut these men off completely.

I used to think that all male-female relationships had some element of abuse in them. I had built up defense mechanisms since childhood to protect myself from that. I now know after being in a relationship without abuse for the last 5-6 years that it is not actually a component of all relationships. I have had to replace my unhealthy behaviors with new ones—which is not always an easy or automatic task. Embracing Goddess has helped me through that.

Goddess has been a guilty pleasure of mine for the last twenty years, although it wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I was able to fully embrace Her. She had been hidden and demonized throughout my childhood in a way that took me a long time to get over.

Once she was fully unveiled, there as no turning back on the rage that I felt and the power that slowly returned to me. This awakening cost me several of my primary relationships. Despite the loss that I felt, I could not revert to the person I once was. I had to live in the power that I intrinsically knew instead of pretending to still be weak.

Goddess does that. Once your eyes have been opened to what has been suppressed, you cannot close them again. She empowers you in a way that no "self-help" anything can.

-Trista Hendren, an excerpt from Hearts aren't Made of Glass: My Journey from Princess of Nothing to Goddess of my Own Damned Life - out tomorrow!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Married to Patriarchy by Solana Simpson

Painting by Elisabeth Slettnes


Patriarchy exists to serve the interests of men, and in our country, most notably white men. Our laws were made by men, and our family court structure was made by men. The whole structure exists, on the whole, to benefit the patriarchy’s interests. My journey into that started in a different system of patriarchy – my marriage.

At the beginning of my marriage’s unraveling, my ex-husband gave me a list. His list included the requirements for my staying married to him. On the list were dictates that included: begin every sentence with an “I” statement; agree with 100% of what he says; agree with 100% of his parenting decisions; he has to be in charge of where my things go; that I must cease to have strong feelings; that I spend what he tells me to spend on groceries; that I inform him when my menstrual cycle is happening; that I believe everything he says; and that my Facebook and emails are always open to him. When I asked him what the point of this list was, he replied, “Control. I need control.” I was one broken person then, and also scared of what he would do, so I told him I would give him his list. That wasn’t good enough, as he told me – and so we were soon divorced.

As part of our divorce process, we were required to mediate. At the first mediation, I was greeted by a stack of motions detailing my depression and inadequacy as a mother. My ex agreed to provide child support. Allowing myself to be bullied, I agreed to his parenting plan, which was no reflection of what kind of parent he actually was at that time. It meant I had significantly less time with my children, but I wanted to avoid going to court at all costs and knew that the court system favors 50/50 parenting plans, even for small children, and mine was close enough to not be 50/50 that I didn’t want to rock the boat.

We had a second mediation on property and financial issues. By then I had mustered up some courage and was not as agreeable. We were headed to trial.

Right after that, my ex switched attorneys and filed a motion to discontinue child support based on the judge not signing the agreement right away. This was six months after he agreed to pay child support in the amount he offered and according to the chart.

That was the moment at the top of the roller coaster’s first big hill, only there was no sense of play and fun and an end at four minutes. This was a descent into a place that seemed to make absolutely no sense to me, where everything was upside down, and no one cared about my ex’s character. That place was family court.

I should back up here and provide more information. My ex is someone you might see walking down the street. He is a holistic bodyworker and appears to be a pretty interesting, cool person. His family is close. One of them is a psychotherapist, one a deacon in the Catholic church, and another one is an experienced social worker. My ex’s father was a prominent divorce attorney in our town. My ex grew up hearing things like, “logic would dictate...” as a critical way to address his behavior. He was, in the most important ways, brought up in a home court of law. There is a sickness that permeates his family, and they all agree to participate in it. As a result, his family is one of the most enmeshed families I have ever seen. I often compare them to the “Borg” from Star Trek. If you insult one by non-compliance, you’ve insulted them all. If you are on one’s blacklist, you are also on everyone else’s. There is no grace and certainly no middle ground. And there is no one else that matters outside of the family.

His mother also has money. Because of their resources, anything their son wants or needs, he gets. He was never taught how to be a contributing adult, nor that he is capable of supporting himself fully. Years after our divorce, I had a bizarre, heated conversation with his mother, where she repeated my words back to me in a mocking way, and proclaimed her endless love for her son and said that she would give him all the money he needs to take me to court. Not to pay for lessons for the children. Not to pay for their tuition. Not to enrich their lives in any way. But to fund a war against their mother.

After our trial regarding child support issues, my ex decided to stop paying child support. For the next year and a half, he refused to pay child support. In the meantime, the motions kept coming. I remember there were four months once where I did not receive a motion. Eight months after our trial, the judge handed down a verdict. He had to pay child support. More motions and appeals followed.

In the meantime, parenting with him was a nightmare. One time, I was visiting my old neighbor, who lived next door to my ex. I didn’t know the kids were home, but as I was readying to leave they spotted me from their upstairs window. My little boy, who was barely four at the time, started to run down the stairs to hug me before I left. The next thing I heard were his cries from inside the house as his father prevented him from coming out to see me. My ex is the slippery kind, for his parenting of the children is not overtly abusive. And my constant fear is that my children will normalize some of his more bizarre behaviors. I have two children from my first marriage, and he was incredibly harsh with them. He did not allow them to pursue their interests without his input and control, and he insisted that they do things they were not comfortable doing. That is another story and I did not protect my daughters as I should have. They do not speak to him or his family to this day, even though they had spent nearly ten years of family togetherness through dinners, birthdays, and holidays.

My ex’s parenting skills are still relatively non-existent. He recently went on vacation with the children and my youngest sustained what he thought was a concussion. He had my son call me to tell me that he hit his head, then got on the phone to tell me he thought my son had a concussion. I prompted him to take him to the hospital and he did. But he would not give me the name of the town, only the name of the hospital. I was not even clear what state they were in. He refused to give me that information and when I asked to speak to the doctor, he said, “you don’t need to know that.” He did not tell me my son was throwing up and did not give me clear information – then stood between me and the doctor.

Even worse, he answers emails less than half of the time, refuses to make schedule switches, and puts me in positions where I am “damned if I do, damned if I don’t.”

When we filed to hold him in contempt for not paying child support, he kept very properly and quite legally disagreeing with the court about his obligation. I knew the system was messed up when at his contempt hearing, right after he had handed me a check for nearly 18 months of back child support, the judge congratulated us for “working it out.” The judge, right there, supported his nonsense, and made me realize what a complete joke family court is. That judge retired shortly after this and a new judge was voted in to take his place.

Four months after she was voted in, the court of appeals ruled on his child support appeal, and so another body of judges told him he was obligated to pay child support. The next month, he filed to find me in contempt for various minor schedule infractions, mostly involving my engaging in tit-for-tat as a way to stop him from manipulating the schedule. For example, he would make flight arrangements on a long weekend and schedule to return four or five hours past his scheduled time. But he would not ask me for this adjustment, and he would tell me the day before, despite my requests that he simply communicate with me about the schedule. He refused. He also filed to terminate child support. The new judge agreed with him completely and terminated his child support, as well as finding me in contempt and ordering me to pay is attorney’s fees to the tune of $2300.

Now I am not receiving child support. I have grappled with the realization that I have no partner in raising my children, that I never really did. He refuses to contribute to the children’s school tuition or supply fees, and is now deliberately working less to show the court how poor he is. Yet he somehow manages, with the unfaltering aid of his mother, to keep those expensive motions coming. In fact, I have something worse than having no co-parent at all. I have a hindrance, someone who seeks to financially ruin me and someone who uses a willing system to carry out his manipulation and control. This is essential patriarchy, the collusion of an individual’s power-over dominance with an abusive system already in place to support his superiority.

I am now in college full time. I do not have my degree, despite the fact that I am in my late 40’s. I work full time as a teacher. I take on extra jobs as an artist and a musician. And that doesn’t include the time I spend parenting my children – or dealing with the constant drama that has become this court case. I take on odd jobs for sewing, singing lessons, and artwork commissions. My plate is too full. If I can work my ass off to support my kids, why the hell is he spending his time memorizing statutes in an attempt to retaliate against me? Does he really think this somehow supports his children?

That is what is most disappointing for me, that none of this seems to take into account the children. I have to come to grips with my deep disappointment in their father as a person. A father who is present and loving to his children and does not seek to break their mother emotionally, financially, or otherwise. A real father knows that, regardless of how much he hates their mother, his children benefit when he meets his obligations. My ex could never be put upon to model respect, kindness, and support for his own children’s mother, and neither could his family. It’s a sad double whammy.

He is not a father. He is, in every way, a stubborn, foolish dictator.

One of the hardest things to deal with has been the status of my situation. Meaning, I am somewhere in between severe domestic violence and “normal.” My ex once pushed me down during our marriage, so hard it broke my thumb, but there was never the ongoing cycle of violence with the typical honeymoon phase and build up to a repeat.

I could never show the bruises where he hit me repeatedly, because it didn’t happen. I could never insist that he screamed names and profanities at me constantly, because his tactic was using stony silence to demonstrate how I suddenly didn’t exist during a conflict. There was, however, the low-level poisonous contempt for me that permeated our whole marriage.

This was one thing I could always count on: that my husband deemed me beneath him, incapable of producing a valid thought, irrational because I had feelings, and merely an object there to serve his whims. And the implication was that his thoughts, his wishes, his desires were always superior in every way to mine, and were the only thoughts that counted.

But this kind of abuse is not enough in a family court system where, if an abused mother brings to light that she is abused, it doesn’t matter to a system that Solomon-style, takes the children and splits them between loving mother and documented abuser. If this is the status, how on earth would the court system discredit a controlling, manipulative man? They don’t care. That man has the same rights to his children as I do. It doesn’t matter what he models for the children, or that he doesn’t support them. At that point, it isn’t a mother’s rights or father’s rights issue, it is a children’s rights issue. If our culture cannot even see their way through the inherent injustice of an unsafe, overtly violent situation, how is it going to serve families like mine – where the abuse is covert and pernicious, and where my ex uses the court system itself to punish and subjugate me?

My answer to that is the system is not set up to serve families and children at all. It is set up to serve the very people who created it: white men. It is set up to receive all of their projection, inherent role dominance, and the desires of men. I was married to patriarchy, and I am still fighting it every day.
-Solana Simpson, an excerpt from the upcoming Girl God anthology, Single Mothers Speak on Patriarchy.

Solana Simpson is an artist and musician. She works as a teacher at a school with an awesome, alternative educational paradigm. Throughout her life, she has been a midwife's apprentice, a seamstress, a singer in a traveling gospel group, twice a wife, a knitting and toy designer for a magazine, and most importantly, a mother to four wonderful children. Right now, she is pursuing her degree in psychology with a minor in creative writing. Since she has led a blessedly unconventional life, she is just now getting around to completing her degree. Solana is committed to her own inner work and using the voice of her experiences to help heal wounds unique to women; wounds having to do with parents, partners, culture, history, and society.
She blogs at psycholobitch.com

Friday, July 29, 2016

Adorations For Medusa by Rev Angela Kunschmann



I hear the hissing before I see you
Such a lovely face
Framed by slender creatures
Snapping and hissing
Protecting you
Readying you for transition
A transition into power
That special womanly power

I see your beauty where others see anger
An otherworldy beauty that is a wonder to behold
I see your beauty in your strength
In your passion
In that special womanly power
I do not turn to stone
Like men who freeze in the presence of womanly strength
I do not run in fear
Like men who cannot appreciate your power
I do not arm myself
Like men who fear what they cannot control

Dear, sweet Medusa
May I find my own creatures to protect me
To ready me for transition
To step into my own womanly power.
May I continue to share the glories of You.

By Rev Angela Kunschmann, an excerpt from the upcoming Girl God Anthology, Re-visioning Medusa: from Monster to Divine Wisdom.

Angela Kunschmann is an ordained Priestess at Mother Grove Goddess Temple of Asheville NC and a proud devotee of Freyja. She enjoys a close relationship with Mother Mary, Frau Holle, Baba Yaga and Heimdall. She also teaches various workshops at Raven & Crone in Asheville, NC and is preparing to volunteer at the hospital to sit vigil with lonely and dying. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor sports and hiking with her 3 children, and knits.