The Worst Part Is Not

Constance Avery:

Many women will find this relatable regardless of one’s career. Written by a woman whose strength and intelligence I admire and respect. Thank you Hope.


This post first appeared as aguest post*

The worst part is not when it all blows over just as you thought something was going to finally happen.  When everything goes on as usual, except that your colleagues pass you in the hall with a wider berth.  That when all the shock and outrage dies down, the only job that changed is yours.  You used to be a valued mascot.  Now you’re a traitor.  You’ll never be Department Chair or Dean now that this has happened.  How dare you throw all the Monopoly pieces in the air – we were letting you play!  But that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is not when his wife and his employees come to you and say please don’t do this to us.  Our mortgage, our children, our paychecks are at stake.  When they ask you if you care about anything…

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I have beside me my favourite book. Bound in sturdy dark navy blue leather with fine paper pages, it has not left me since handed down to me from my Dad. It is well-worn and a bit the worse for wear, but it knows its English, and some ancillary foreign phrases, which suits me perfectly. It is my 1953 Edition of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. Except for my now ancient dictionary from the late 19th century, it is the most personally valued book I own. Not to mention the Ancient One has to be placed on a book pedestal to use, it is so heavy. The reason I mention these revered books is they are a reminder of how little really changes, from one century to another. Let us look at the word feminism as an example:

Webster’s New International Dictionary, 1890: Female characteristic
attributed to women; being womanly. Med: Female characteristics present in males.

Webster’s 1953, First definition is the same, here follows definition (2) which is relevant to this article: “The theory, cult, or practise of those who advocate such legal and social changes as will establish political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” also Feminist.

The word “feminist” has always set my jaw askew and my head to pounding. Why, I wonder, is this the case? I believe in the feminist ideology just as I believe in all manner of causes that fight for human dignity, the ownership of ones body, and freedom of thought and action. After reading a very well written article on the Feminist movement on Twitter, I decided, with jaw once again askew, to seek why this happens each time I encounter the word. As I do, rather than go to the Wiki, or to online modern dictionaries, I decided to seek the word in my old Webster’s first.

As noted above, my 61 year old version of Webster’s acknowledges the word “Feminist”. Definition (2) is interesting in its structure. It seems a bit nebulous; theory? CULT (oh, dear)? practise (a bit tame for a movement)? Yet, as I sat back to ponder this, I wonder just how inaccurate is it? Certainly, the modern dictionaries do define feminism with more active nouns and verbs, that’s good. No mention of it being a cult, even better, but here is where I hit a sticking point for me. Practise.

Ah, practise. No, 61 years later, feminism is not practised. It is not practised by the governments of many nations, it is not practised by voters, politicians, religious leaders, and most of all it is not practised by those who say they are feminists. What seems forgotten in all the rhetoric of young feminism is the shoulders they stand upon. You think women’s rights are disrespected now? Well you’re welcome, because it was worse back in the centuries preceding you. You have the bravery, tenacity, solidarity, and formidable strength of a legion of women to thank for what you’ve gained. A legion who, like the famous 300 of movie fame, stood against an army more relentless than the one you face now. All the women who broke barriers that you can’t even imagine to get where we are today. Is “where we are” good enough, hell no, but action is what is needed, not arguing with each other about how to define feminism in the 21st Century. You’re even arguing over the use of the word vagina? You can’t be serious.

Where’s the solidarity? All the women professors, who by the way were even fewer and far between than now, worked against high odds to succeed and stood up to curriculum committees and fought for womens studies. Difficult to believe there were no such thing as women’s studies programs not so long ago. Homemakers, students, professionals, all the women who stood against the Vietnam War, you do remember that don’t you, or have at least heard of it? Women who withstood gunfire at Ohio State, and some who died in a pool of blood in the arms of their friends. Women who walked up to soldiers guarding the Pentagon from protestors and sticking flowers in their gun barrels. Women worldwide who fought in harms way to save lives in WWI, WWII, Korea, the Falklands, Afghanistan, Iraq I & II. And no it wasn’t television’s MASH, it was bloody awful war. All the wars and all the women who gave up their lives and/or way of life for a greater good, never received equal recognition, pay, or promotions.

Intellectual feminism has its place. I’m very much in favour of being intellectual. But I’m sorry to say, it won’t get you the results you want. What is required is that you get up and go to the ballot boxes and vote for every candidate that embraces the cause of women’s rights. If every woman 18-100+ years in age went to vote, it would be a landslide. Where have you been?

Blogging, tweeting, Facebook posting and E-mailing will not, I repeat NOT, get you the results you want and deserve. Certainly discussion is important, exchanging ideas on how to effect change is important too.  To accomplish many of your goals, you have to shove out the old white bastards who’ve forgotten what a vagina is, and get your friends, family, co-workers, fellow students out to vote for more women candidates and for men who support your rights. Go door to door recruiting women to help you get others out to vote. Human to human, not computer to computer. Not that social media aren’t valuable, but they don’t replace the arm-in-arm solidarity of people ready to speak out for what they know is right, out in the open for the world to see.

“Young” versus “old” feminism is ludicrous. Its in-fighting that is all rhetoric and no action. Take inspiration from Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf, Camille Paglia, Germaine Greer, and don’t forget Susan B. Anthony. Women from all walks of life who walked together. No one cared who was privileged and who wasn’t, or if someone was rude “online.” They knew what they wanted and stayed cemented in each other’s strength. You wouldn’t have the voice you have today if it weren’t for the will of these magnificent women.

Get out and get loud. And VOTE.

After you’ve done all that, we can discuss vaginas.


My Centurion

My Centurion

Let us meet in Spring
We will hang our neuroses out to air in sunshine
We will wallow in our lust and luxuriate in our love.
Remember for me. You and I.

Let us restore the purity of love,
The innocence of hope.
Regain the joy of illusion and
the passion of reality.
I will no longer sing of heartache
but will live to love again.

You will not hear my cries except those of joy.
I will find you once more through the eyes of love.
From this time forward, I have no void,
I have filled it with Reason.
I gave you my soul, It is my only gift to give.

I know it is the only gift you can take.
You fear my touch, my presence would disturb
your well-being and your sense of self.
And that, I could not bear.

For I love you beyond all
In a way no other could understand.
I told you true that I would always love you.
I’ve loved you across centuries and will
love you in centuries to come.

Allow me nightly passage into dreams
to touch your soul.
Let me read your mind and breathe with you.
Secure the gate at sunrise.
Guard the gate well, my Centurion.

©Constance Avery, 2008

A Brit Adrift

I feel a bit uncomfortable sharing my thoughts, ideas, recollections and musings on a blog. I’ve read many others’ blogs and enjoyed them immensely, but felt unusually insecure about writing my own. I think some of my insecurity comes from being English. Often the sarcasm common in English repartee is mis-taken. The nuance of sarcasm is lost in writing to those who are overly literal; unable to see the deadpan face or twinkle in the eye that helps sarcasm go over as one would wish. So, please, before pouncing like a lion in wait, try to find the humour. If you find that difficult, don’t read my blog.

I’ve only been on Twitter a short time. I’ve been in contact with many funny, charming, gentle, raucous, talented people. There are one or two brilliant people. I’m sure you know who you are as you’re not shy about letting us all know. I venture to say there are many brilliant people on Twitter who are not recognised as such simply because Twitter allows one a few moments of non-brilliance. It gets tiring to continually be expected to be “more than.” To my surprise, I’ve found these brilliant people to be surprisingly “sensitive” to having a bit of fun. They often take things personally. If you are truly brilliant, you know, and would assume it’s all in good fun. Well, I suppose we all have our thresholds.


That is an age-old question, is it not? Usually asked by upper classes when one they consider an underling dares respond or question their opinions, questions, or any manner of “unseemly” behaviour.
There are not many aristocrats left worth their salt. Few are still of any consequence, yet Americans love to find out they are descended from the very people they revolted against. Had you not revolted agains Britain, you may have had a title! Well, not worth much anyway. Having a title and lineage and $12 will get a Starbucks coffee. Unfortunately, my background is bit like Heinz 57, except without the the billions they’re worth. I came from Spanish heritage via the Armada. My ancestors lost that one. Fled the channel to the north shores of England and settled there. Some made it to France. My direct ancestors were the original Dukes of Mallorca. Nope, don’t get a tuppence from the Mallorca tourism. Sad but true. Therefore, I’m a bit English, Spanish, French, with a bit of Celt thrown in for good measure. The one good thing is it explains my unnatural passion for flamenco dancing. And, YES, for those of you bothering to read this, this is all about me.

Right now I live in a part of the United States for which I’ve had to learn a new language, TEXAN. Do not be alarmed, there are different dialects in Texan. Where I am now is in West Texas. Actually, a fairly nice, breezy sort of Texan. One of the less twangy dialects and somewhat easy to fall into without appearing to be trying too hard. The people here, aside from being very conservative, extremely religious, and a few other eccentricities are kind friendly, generous, good-hearted anglophiles. They like to hear me speak, although I’ve had some of the “you aren’t from around here are you?” I get very generous “There you go girl” when I say, “Bye, Y’all.” One nice young man said I was “prettier than a bluebonnet.” I wasn’t quite sure how to take that until I saw a field of bluebonnets. See, I said they were kind.


Twitter is an interesting exercise. Learning to participate was a trial for me. I’m not one to speak in short sentences and kept routinely going over my 140 character limit. It made me feel inadequate as a writer, and as a human being. What was wrong with me, that I couldn’t say what I wanted to say in 140 characters or less? Well, nothing of course. Yet, it leaves me feeling as though a few more words would have been better. Yet again, it has helped me train myself to respond with less wordiness to out-of-the-blue questions. I like that. Less apologising. The great fault is tone. It loses something in Twitter. You can write things in a way that it actually hurts someones feelings when this was not at all intended. There are people out there who wish to find the one thing they can in order to embarrass you, or make you appear unknowledgeable. Twitter is not a place for a lengthy discussion about ANYTHING. I sent out an innocuous chart regarding the wage differentials between Congress and the average American worker. Oh, my goodness, the tweets starting flying from far right to far left, all being continuously streamed into my Twitter feed. People can be vile. Fortunately, I learned many years ago, that responding any longer than necessary (if at all) only creates a feeling of dominance within some Twits. I don’t engage in nonsense, and that’s what it was, pure diatribe. I try to tell people I instruct that in cases like this, whether it be in person, through e-mail, or correspondence it isn’t worth responding. Engaging at any level with people who do not want to be open-minded or accepting of your opinions aren’t there to discuss anything. Don’t bother with them, they aren’t worth one second of your time because your time is too valuable. Twitter is for ongoing comment, not debate or intelligent discussion.


I like the people with whom I have an ongoing Twitter exchange. Most are in the sciences, some are professional comedians, some writers, but mostly funny, nice people. A lot are challenging. They make it interesting by providing bits of information you may not know and wish to explore. Others are just simply happy people who like to share a part of their day with you. Many are talented photographers from all over the world and “solar system.” I admire them for so generously sharing their talent and that includes artists in all genre who share a part of their art with me.

We cannot, however, neglect to mention the Bad and the Ugly. It is proliferate out there. Mean, misinformed, hate-filled, and sometimes pornographic tweets find their way into our Twitter feed too. I suspect there are also those who, like a beloved uncle of mine, make an outrageous statement just to watch everyone’s response. In my uncle’s case it was the family gatherings at our home in Surrey, after dinner around the fire. He would get everyone going in raucous debate, usually moderated by my brilliant Dad. And uncle? Sitting in a comfortable chair with a smile watching it all and never saying another word.