“Girls Are Strong”

The girls and boy in the video are saying “Girls are strong Trump is wrong”

I was in eighteen, having sex with my first boyfriend and I didn’t want to get pregnant.  There was no one in my life that I could ask for advice or help in getting birth control.   So I opened the yellow pages and saw an ad that had a drawing of woman with long hair and a description that made it sound like it was a clinic run for women by women. I think it was called Women’s Choice.

I don’t remember much about the experience.  It’s pretty fuzzy to me now.  I think mostly because I don’t want to remember.

I drove myself to the clinic which was really  just an office with a small reception area.  It was above a closed storefront in the dying downtown in Hempstead NY.    I was the only patient there.

Everything I remember about it was dark.  The shuttered store front, the stairway leading to the office, the reception room, the exam room.  In my memory it’s even overcast outside.

When I think of the  receptionist/nurse I get a picture of Nurse Ratchet in my mind.  Whatever she really looked like,  she spoke very little and was formidable.

I had no idea what to expect, no idea what an exam would be like.

The doctor was a very old man.  I don’t remember having any conversation with him, but I must have spoken to someone because I left the office with a diaphragm.  Thinking of the dinghy, shabby exam room,  still gives me the creeps.  My mind is closed to the details of the experience.

Needless to say I never went back.

Soon after that I heard about Planned Parenthood from my health teacher in Community College.  When I told her where I went to get birth control she was horrified.  That’s an abortion clinic she said, you don’t want to go there.

In comparison, her description of Planned Parenthood sounded like a dream.

Sometime later when I decided to go on the pill, I went to Planned Parenthood.   It was clean, brightly lit and staffed by friendly women who actually talked to me.  Still on my parent’s insurance, I only had to pay what I could afford.   Since I couldn’t let my parents know I was on birth control the receptionist told me if they had to call me they would identify themselves as “Sue”.  (this was way before cell phones, of course) I didn’t even have to explain to them how not only couldn’t I  imagine talking  to my mother about sex, but even if I could, she didn’t believe in women having sex before they were married.

I don’t know that I would have had the courage to find another place to get birth control if I hadn’t heard about Planned Parenthood.  I went back there  every year, no matter where I lived, for the next 15 years while I was on the pill.

For me the Women’s March On Washington was personal.    As personal as my own body.  As personal as all the indignities that I’ve ever endured as a girl and women.

I didn’t know I’d feel this way when Jon, our friend Cathy and I set off to be a part of it in our small town of Glens Falls NY.  Even then it was more abstract.  I imagined it would be like calling my senator with my opinion on an issue or signing a petition.

But I found being a part of the  Women’s March reached deep into my psyche and was as  physical as my body.

I’m still a little stunned that yesterday’s March, and all it hundreds of sister marches through out the world,  was in essence about and for women.  I know there were many issues tied up in it.  People marched with their own agenda’s.  But at the heart of it was women, unapologetically making a stand.  Saying that the physical, psychological, societal and economical indignities and injustices that have plagued us is unequivocally wrong.

I don’t know what will happen now.  How this will play out.

So I’m going to start by doing the only thing I can think of right now.  I’m going to volunteer at the place that was there for me when I needed it.  The place whose roots are in the birth control movement started by Margaret Sanger in 1916.   The place  that I know means so much to so many women and men. (because men benefit from Planned Parenthood too)  I’m going to start by volunteering for Planned Parenthood in Glens Falls, where the Women’s March began for us yesterday.  It’s a place to begin, something I can do.    My way of staying engaged.  And standing up for my truth.

13 thoughts on ““Girls Are Strong”

  1. Maria- I loved your straightforward and personal statement about the women’s march. I so wished I was there physically marching with you, Cathy and Jon- and everyone there….love to you Gail

    1. I love your writing and photos of the march Cathy. Thank you for sharing them with us here. you captured the essence with your photos of the really unique and individual signs that the people made and carried and the people themselves. And how we all came together so peacefully. It was also wonderful the way people could still come together even though they had some different beliefs. We were all untied in love and standing up for women.

  2. Hi Maria, I remember that you liked Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ writing – here is something she had to say about the women’s march and the current political mess; apologies if you have seen this already – very best, Sabina

    We were made for these times
    My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

    You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

    I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

    Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

    In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

    We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

    Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

    What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

    One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

    Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

    There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

    The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

    By Clarissa Pinkola Estes

    American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

    1. Thank you so much for this Sabina. I hadn’t seen it. But I will be using it again and again to remind me of what I want to do. I will share it too. It’s so what I believe.

  3. yes, me too, Maria, and I thought of your blog entry when l saw Clarissa’s piece – and I think so does this cateye lady in your new quilt which is absolutely stunning and very impressive, I love her with her snake hair (Kundalini awakening perhaps?) and her strong arms – wow!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Full Moon Fiber Art