March 21st, 2017 |
I know, I know! You can’t tell a book by its cover, nor know what’s in a person’s soul by looking at what they’re wearing. But quite honestly, I do pay attention to what people wear, and it can tell me even more than meets the eye.
In 1965, Mary Beth Tinker and her brother John wore black armbands to school in Des Moines, Iowa. They were protesting the Vietnam War. School officials expelled them. The students filed a suit and the case went to court, all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court decided in their favor, by stating that students do not “shed their constitutional rights at the school house gate.” What a person wears can count.
Now, consider the pink pussy hats at The Washington Women’s March. This attire, along with the t-shirts that defined the wearer as a self-proclaimed Nasty Woman, were fashion statements messaging President Trump that women are the vanguard of resistance to his presence in the White House.
And don’t forget the white dresses worn by Democratic congresswomen at President Trump’s first congressional address. The dresses were a reminder of the attire worn by suffragettes at he Women’s Suffrage March in 1913, the day of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. That was when 5,000 women took to the streets of Washington demanding the right to vote. It got violent. Badgered by onlookers, over 100 women were hospitalized.
What is worth noting is the fact that a year later, on August 29, 1914, 1,500 women marched in New York City. It was a march against the war in Europe, a march to let President Wilson know, in no uncertain terms, that women were in the streets to resist sending United States troops into what finally became World War I.
A whole army of suffragettes, a generation of nasty women in the early 1900s, marched and worked to gain what men had, the right to vote. Marching their way to a ballot box, they also protested the march to war in Europe. In their wisdom, they saw that the war, described as “the war to end all wars,” was in fact, just another war, one that would most surely perpetuate more war. It was no more than death-dealing militarism.
Think of militarism as a boa constrictor that wraps itself around every aspect of our lives, chocking the life out of everything we care about. Since it is by a woman that we have life, war is a feminist issue, par excellence. It is a male-perpetuated, monstrous erotic distortion. War makes love to itself, in a perverted way that procreates more war.
War abuses women. War is rape. War disrupts the peace. War sacrifices children. War creates homelessness. War seduces men. War attacks the poor. War destroys the earth. War gives birth to refugees. War creates jobs for killing. War disables its own troops. War is a march toward a graveyard. War is the enemy of faith hope and love.
I never met Jeannette Rankin; I only wish I had. The first woman to be elected to Congress back in 1917, she was a leader in the suffrage movement, as well as a leader in the creation of the Women’s Peace Party. A Republican feminist pacifist, she voted against WWI and WWII. In 1968, she marched in Washington against the Vietnam War. Her own testimony: “It is unconscionable that 10,000 boys (eventually over 50,000) have died in Vietnam. If 10,000 American women had mind enough they could end the war, if they were committed to the task, even if it meant going to jail.”
“Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent,” says Mikhail Gorbachev, in a recent Time magazine interview, “and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war.” I would only add, an escalation of the war we are already fighting.
On the way through Lent, toward Easter, there is more to say about this after a good night’s sleep.
Entry Filed under: Fig Tree Notes Archives