24 Feb


Louise Annarino

February 24, 2012


“It’s a man’s world but a woman’s heaven,” Sister Robertine, Vice Principal and teacher of Latin would tell us girls as she took on the uncomfortable task of teaching girls’ religion class our senior year. It was clear she found comfort in such an idea. I had noticed her on many occasions staring down the Principal, Fr. MacFarlane, arms akimbo, the rosary beads hanging from her wide black belt shaking with passion. It was she who would tell me, “I’ll speak to Father about it” when I complained about a school policy or procedure I believed unfair to us girls. Later, when Father altered his position, I knew whom to thank; although, he never acknowledged Sister’s role in the matter. I wondered why he was called “father”, but she was called “sister”. Was she not his equal? Should she not be called “mother”?


Sr. Canisia was a master of power plays. She would stomp about the classroom shouting “Maozeedung!” as she stalked us from behind, trying to teach us world history. When she became utterly exasperated she slammed her fist against the blackboard, then picked up her pace and stomped about, stopping to push aside a desk to wake up a bored student. One such day she suddenly heard footsteps on the stairs. Since Father’s office was directly beneath the classroom, she listened for those footsteps. We all did. She rushed to her desk, put a finger to her mouth and said quietly, “NOT ONE WORD!”


Father strode into the classroom without knocking on the closed door, eyebrows and voice raised he asked, “What is going on here? We are trying to get some work done downstairs!” Her head hanging low Sister meekly replied, “I can’t do a thing with these heathens today, Father. They are simply uncontrollable. SIgh.” As Father began his lecture, Sister looked over the class, her glaze hardened against any potential traitors who would challenge her version of events. None dared. Father left, humphing and harrumphing. Students resumed breathing; and Sister smiled in triumph. She had pulled one over on him. She noticed my deepening grin and her eyes began to twinkle, recognizing a comrade in arms.


As the male caretakers of morality allow themselves to be used by the Republican Party to distract voters from the true sins of the world – poverty, joblessness, lack of health care, racism, sexism, homophobia, destruction of the environment – I think about those nuns who demonstrated feminism in action to teenage Catholic school girls. Their only comfort was a belief heaven awaited them. I wanted that heaven on earth for women, as it existed for on earth for men. I was unwilling to wait until after my death for equality.


Every nun in our high school had a Ph.D. or was working on a Ph.D. Yet, the only fields then open to women were nursing, teaching or secretarial work. A few were librarians or social workers. They had no other comfort than a belief the future would be better. And that belief fueled the girls whom they taught. We became lawyers, doctors, bankers, plumbers, carpenters, engineers, astronauts, and politicians. Heaven became possible on earth. But, not easy, never easy.


The male domination of the world continued. Men “allowed” us a few slots, and continued to believe in their natural right to dominate us. They refused to change the structures, policies and systems which met their needs and supported their success. The needs of women, especially, those with children, required a change in policies, structures and systems which men fought at every turn. In fact, without readily available birth control, most women could never have taken the stage alongside men. There is no need to rehash what we have each experienced for ourselves – women’s struggles to succeed in a “man’s world”. Those who do, do so because of the support of strong men who are not threatened by women’s equality, and with the support of other women. Women have little trouble admitting to ourselves that we cannot do it alone. We are genetically and chemically programmed to work in tandem with those around us, building communities of support within our families and within the larger family of man. We are strong supporters of the 99%.


It is no mystery that the male morality police have been seeking to stop our access to birth control as a means of restricting our options for escape from their dominance and control. They do not like our insistence on assuring the welfare of human beings as they seek wealth and power around the globe. Women cry out against wars. Women cry out against hunger,poverty,racism, homophobia,environmental degradation. They see the connection between such sins and the lack of a possible heaven on earth for anyone else.They cry out to protect their children,and every woman’s child. Face it; we women get in men’s way, and they have had enough! They are angry because they think that the more we have the less they can get. We expect them to share their toys; they want to take their marbles and go home.


Well, women have had enough, more than enough. Women are careful with their anger, realizing the possible harm which could come to their beloved husbands, sons and grandsons;most of whom gave up male despotism decades ago. Women tread lightly.

But, women tread their way to the polls. Women vote. The 2012 election is vital at the local, county, state and federal level. Do we want anti-science climate change deniers on our school boards? Do we want right to work laws which lower wages for all workers while busting unions enacted in our state house? Do we want to protect insurance company profits by returning to days when a pre-existing condition effectively denied you coverage by electing congresspersons who would dismantle Obamacare?


Do we want to live in communities across the United States which would approve Jim Crow laws, restrict to right to vote, deny women access to birth control, demonize immigrants and assure the fulfillment heaven on earth for white men? Or, do we want equal opportunity for all? Do we want the promise of a future heaven on earth because we support every single person’s right to pursue happiness? We cannot elect those who  tell us only the 1% have the know-how, the innate ability, and the wisdom to allow us to participate in their heaven. Don’t we really want our own heaven on earth? What arrogance to “allow” us what is our right!


Vote for President Obama, whose message of hope is not just for America’s sons, but for its daughters as well. Vote for President Obama, whose message of hope is not just for African-Americans or white Americans, but for all Americans. Vote for President Obama.


We women recognize voting for President Obama is not enough. we must vote for his support system. We must vote out those racists who undermine every move he makes on our behalf, simply because he is an African-American man. We must vote out those who undermine him simply to protect their golden parachutes. We must vote out those who undermine him simply to protect their excessive profits hidden in off-shore accounts. He is trying to rebuild this country to support ALL of us. we cannot elect those who undermine him simply because we are in their way. A man’s world and a woman’s heaven? Not for long, Not for long…


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