“‘You need to call the Green Gang.’ The Green Gang. It was a strange, frightening phrase. Rajput had never heard of the group before. When she began asking about it in local villages, the details seemed too fantastical to be true. It was a gang of hundreds — no, thousands — of women, almost all of them poor and low-caste. It was said that they took on anyone who dared to hurt a woman, including violent in-laws, philandering husbands, domestic abusers, land-grabbers, bootleggers, molesters, and rapists. Sometimes, they beat sense into aggressors, and other times, they scared them into submission.”
—Elizabeth Flock, “The Green Gang.” California Sunday. August 1, 2019.
“While some sporting brands used International Women’s Day to launch their Women’s World Cup team kits, lawyers representing the world-champion U.S. team were on their way to a California courthouse to file a landmark lawsuit that would rock the sport.”—Philip O’Connor, “U.S. women’s fight for fairness puts soccer World Cup in focus.” Reuters. March 9, 2019.
It seems like this might be a good time to mention the Original 9, Billie Jean King and women’s tennis:
“We wanted to be paid equally and we wanted to be treated fairly. Originally we had hoped to partner with the men’s tennis tour and have a unified voice in the sport on a global basis. But the guys wanted no part of it. And not every women’s player wanted to join us.
So we went to plan B.
For a tense few days in September 1970, we sat in a semicircle in Gladys’ home in Houston and debated the pros and cons of breaking away and starting our own tour. For us, everything was at risk. The USLTA (now the USTA, the governing body of tennis in this country) threatened us with suspension and expulsion. The Australians faced an even stronger enemy in their federation. They were told if they signed with us, their playing days were over.
With one unified voice, each of us signed a ceremonial $1 contract with Gladys to play in the inaugural Virginia Slims of Houston. We drew a line in the sand and we put everything we had on that line. It was now up to us to create our own tour, to find a place to make a living and to breathe life into women’s professional tennis.”—Billie Jean King, “The Legacy of the Original 9.” The Player’s Tribune. August 26, 2015
It’s now 49 years later, and it’s still the same nonsense. But, on a hopeful note, things do change. It’s also great to see women players that have benefited from previous generations, such as Serena Williams, lending their voices to help women in other sports. If you are inclined, you might want to consider adding your voice as well, there are links to FIFA’s social media accounts on its website.
Also worth a mention, there’s a good retelling of Billie Jean King’s story in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, read by Jessica Valenti. It’s something little Rebel Girls, or anyone in your life, will appreciate. Recommended.
“‘People now have the freedom to have crosscutting identities in different domains. At church, I’m one thing. At work, I’m something else. I’m something else at home, or with my friends. The ability not to have an identity that one carries from sphere to sphere but, rather, to be able to slip in and adopt whatever values and norms are appropriate while retaining one’s identities in other domains?’ She paused. ‘That is what it is to be free.’ …
…As a rule, it’s easy to complain about inequality, hard to settle on the type of equality we want. Do we want things to be equal where we start in life or where we land? When inequalities arise, what are the knobs that we adjust to get things back on track? Individually, people are unequal in countless ways, and together they join groups that resist blending. How do you build up a society that allows for such variety without, as in the greater-Detroit real-estate market, turning difference into a constraint? How do you move from a basic model of egalitarian variety, in which everybody gets a crack at being a star at something, to figuring out how to respond to a complex one, where people, with different allotments of talent and virtue, get unequal starts, and often meet with different constraints along the way? …
…To a pragmatist, “truth” is an instrumental and contingent state; a claim is true for now if, by all tests, it works for now.”
—Nathan Heller, “The Philosopher Redefining Equality.” The New Yorker. January 7, 2019.
Sounds like it is time to revisit with John Dewey.
“The one thing I would say to any girl who is reading this right now is this: You can’t lose your fire. You can’t let anybody take your fire away from you. If you have big dreams, the fire is the only thing that will get you there.
Talent alone will not do it. Patience will not do it. You’re going to be tested and pushed to the limits of what you can take. You’re going to have to work just as hard as the men to get to the top of your sport, but for a lot less money. You’re going to cry. You’re going to throw up. You’re going to ache… every single player showed up on time and gave 100%. Every single day. No excuses, no complaints. No one could afford to complain. I would come home at night and I was so sore and exhausted that I would pass out on my bed at seven o’clock with my homework scattered everywhere.
These are the moments that nobody sees. But you can’t lose the fire.”
—Ada Hegerberg, “Not Here to Dance.” The Players’ Tribune. December 16, 2018.
“This attack is accomplished by making you feel that your very existence is inimical to the Movement and that nothing can change this short of ceasing to exist. These feelings are reinforced when you are isolated from your friends as they become convinced that their association with-you is similarly inimical to the Movement and to themselves. Any support of you will taint them. Eventually all your colleagues join in a chorus of condemnation which cannot be silenced, and you are reduced to a mere parody of your previous self.”
—Jo Freeman. “Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood.” Ms. April 1976.
The problem with identity politics, in a nutshell. If your politics is a bloodsport and treats people as representations to be “called out” rather than real people with all their complexity and flaws, then you probably aren’t going to have much of a “Movement”.
“I had to retrain my eyes and brain to find older men attractive when I started dating again in my fifties. The last time I was single the men I was looking at were in their thirties and I still had that youthful image fixed in my head. It was depressing at first, choosing from a pool that’s not regarded as desirable or vital in your society. I was paddling around in that same pool myself. I’d walk down Oxford Street looking at bald men and men with grey hair and paunches and say to myself, He’s about my age, that’s the demographic I should be looking at. I realized I had a very small group to choose from: men over fifty who’d kept themselves vaguely together physically, were single, mentally stable, solvent and not gay were rare creatures. I managed to re-educate myself eventually. Now I’m only attracted to people my age. A young face looks like a blank page to me.”
—Viv Albertine, “Viv Albertine on Dating Again in Her 50s.” Longreads.com. May 2018.
It is so rare to see a frank account of some of the problems of growing older that it is a bit startling to see it in print.
“The Guerrilla Girls are feminist activist artists. We wear gorilla masks in public and use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias as well as corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture. Our anonymity keeps the focus on the issues, and away from who we might be: we could be anyone and we are everywhere. We believe in an intersectional feminism that fights discrimination and supports human rights for all people and all genders. We undermine the idea of a mainstream narrative by revealing the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair.”
“Alifa, a young shepherdess in northwestern Somalia, provides an extraordinary view into her dusty, desolate corner of the world in Beerato, a small village in the autonomous region of Somaliland. With her mother dead since her birth and her grandmother far away in the city, Alifa lives with her aunt, learning the ways of the village from the other women…it’s her aunt who has started giving Alifa more food, preparing her for the ritualised female genital cutting that awaits her and nearly every other girl in the region. Alifa hasn’t told anybody, but she is afraid. Informed by the experiences of the Beerato-born writer and activist Amina Souleiman, this film by the New York-based directors Antonio Tibaldi and Alex Lora is a subtle but uncompromising exploration of what it is to be a woman subject to violent traditions and culture.