By Beverly Darling.
After listing a litany of major crises facing America, like the rise in unemployment and homelessness, predatory lending practices and the rapid increase in student debt and home foreclosures, forty-seven million people without health insurance and adequate healthcare while the government continues to fund tax-breaks for corporations and the wealthy, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that were leaving a generation of veterans physically and mentally and emotionally impaired, then- Senator Barack Obama asked the throng of people if they were “hungry for change.” In the midst of erupting applauses and chants of “We want Change!”, he exclaimed:
“There are some who say I am not tough enough…too skinny…but remember I am a kid from the mean streets of Chicago. When I am president, there will be a fair economy for all!”
With the recent announcement that now-President Obama is leading in polls among women voters, and that he wants to help working women fight discrimination in the workplace and juggle the demands of motherhood, it must be remembered that economic recessions and depressions, including perpetual wars and lengthy military occupations, for all time take their highest toll on women. Still, today women only earn seventy-five percent of what their male counterparts make. In the work place, eighty-five percent of all sexual harassment charges and investigations deal with women. Therefore, women’s issues of gender equality should always be on the forefront of every presidential administration and congressional legislation. This is particularly true for a male-dominated society, one recently displayed by the Supreme Court.
|"It must be remembered that economic recessions and depressions, including perpetual wars and lengthy military occupations, for all time take their highest toll on women."
At the same time, “Street” narratives have always been important in America. Obama’s presidency and Occupied Wall Street Movements have again revived “Main Street” and Wall Street” narratives. But there is a third “street” story: “Home Street.” After the economic crash of 1929, Meridel Sueur writes1,
“I am sitting in the city free employment bureau. It’s the woman’s section. We have been sitting here now for four hours. We sit here everyday waiting for a job. There are no jobs.”
“Most of us have had no breakfast. Some have had scant rations for over a year. Hunger makes a human being lapse into a state of lethargy, especially city hunger. Is there any place else in the world where a human being Is supposed to go hungry amidst plenty with out an outcry, without protest, where only the boldest steal or kill for bread, and the timid crawl the streets…”
Meridel then records,
“We sit looking at the floor. No one dares think of the coming winter. Everyone is anxious to get to work to lay up something for that long siege of bitter cold. But there is no work. Sitting in the room we all know it. That is why we don’t talk much. We look at the floor dreading to see that knowledge in each other’s eyes. There is a king of humiliation in it. We look away from each other. We look at the floor. It’s too terrible to see this animal terror in each other’s eyes.” For women, animal terror is a horrific experience. It carries with it fatal consequences.
For Meridel and millions of other women, it meant providing for her children while her husband was away looking for work, some who never returned. It meant the likely possibilities of being robbed, of being beaten, even raped. For others, it was meeting “strange men in the park” for a few cents.
Economic depressions and recessions, especially male-dominated ones, always bring out city hunger and animal terror, for they are a part of humankinds primordial nature. Cataclysmic and terrifying situations, like unemployment, sexism and war, causes intense psychological fear and extreme worry. They encourage some people to do unimaginable things, to commit terrible atrocities. City hunger gives rise to an environment where only the boldest steal or kill for food, a kind of unnatural selection. And while the respectable and civil crawl the streets, animal terror commits instinctual and aggressive acts, much like a rabid dog that terrorizes a neighborhood, or “Home Street.”
Meridel described this kind of city hunger and animal terror like “sitting inside a wire cage,” like “the beak of a terrible bird at the vitals.”
City hunger, animal terror, wire cages, and the beak-of-a-terrible-bird-at-the-vitals are occurring across America. In my small community, an Iraqi war veteran just went on a killing rampage, experienced animal terror, by stabbing his ex-fiance multiple times with a hunting knife. A few feet from her body lay one of her sons, also stabbed to death. Her other son, a fifteen-year-old paraplegic, was “gutted,” a hunting/military term denoting ripping open someone and removing their organs. Economic depressions, recessions and perpetual wars always increase domestic violence. They force some to exist with only a code of animal terror. Others are left inside a cage, waiting-for-the-beak-of-a-terrible-bird-at-the-vitals. Four days earlier, the young woman tried to get protective orders against the perpetrator, but there was confusion between law enforcement and magistrates, chaos.
Tens of thousands of break-ins, hostage takings, and threats occur each day. They are easily overlooked by a male-dominated society, just as signs of physical and verbal abuse are. They are painlessly dismissed, at least for magistrates, law enforcement officials, commanders-in-chiefs, and politicians who order civilians to participate in endless military occupations. Again, economic recessions and depressions and war are specifically harsh on women, including female veterans. Women veterans too have suffered enormous emotional, mental and physical impairments. Some have turned to drugs and alcohol to escape. Others have become homeless-more than doubling in the last six years. They suffer in silence, as do female veterans who have experienced unemployment and have lost custody of their children, and those who were sexually assaulted while in the military.
President Obama is correct in saying women’s issues have been oversimplified, for millions of women still sit in steel cages. From Wall Street to Main Street to Home Street, they live in fear of city hunger, animal terror, and of waiting-for-the-beak-of-a-terrible-bird-at-the-vitals, all of which have been embedded in organizations and institutionalized. A fair economy would be one of no more women’s shelters, no more bread lines or unemployment lines, and no more male-dominated city hunger and animal terror.
(1) Gorn, Elliot J., Randy Roberts and Terry D. Bilhartz. Constructing The American Past., New York, New York: Pearson Longman Publishers, 2005., p. 172.
Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John‘s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com. You can read more of Dallas’ writings at www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com.
Source: Axis of Logic