TO: PUBLISHER, ROARfeminism

Dear Ms. March:

As a woman, writer and feminist, I’m compelled to address the unprofessional manner in which you, publisher of ROARfeminism, have dealt with the publication, promotion and management of my piece Feminism and the Conway Conundrum  published on March 21, 2017.

I’ve had the great fortune of being published on a variety of online and print publications. Some are large and considered prestigious but my essays have also found homes on smaller sites where they were a much better fit.  Working with many highly regarded and well-respected editors in the publishing industry has taught me many valuable lessons, the most important being: Respect. Respect for the words you choose to convey your story, respect for an editor’s suggestions and respect for the reader in allowing them to interpret and process your words their own way.

I’m not long experienced but I’m not a novice either. I’ve learned enough to know that handling this situation the way you did by adding your disingenuous and incredibly unprofessional statement to my piece, reflects poor judgment by you and lacks greatly of respect for me as the author.

There were far more professional avenues you could have chosen to correct what you felt was a mistake: Post a separate notation saying the writer’s views do not reflect the opinions of your site; write your own rebuttal essay, or reach out privately to the author to explain your concerns and together, decide on the best, mutually beneficial solution. This demonstrates respect for and trust in your writer and begins what sometimes is the first of many successful collaborations.

Instead, you chose to edit my already published piece, adding the following ‘Note from Roar Publisher’:

Note from the Roar Publisher: I think Roar missed the mark in publishing this piece. Kellyanne Conway rejects the label “feminist” – so I don’t see how this writer, or anyone, can call her such. That is, to my mind, both paternalistic and bizarre. Further, it is our position at Roar that if one is not pro-choice, one is not, by definition, a feminist. This author is correct that feminism is for everyone – all women (and men and gender non-conforming folkx.) That does not mean that everyone is a feminist. One’s resume does not make one a feminist. Their beliefs and actions and identification do.

A short time later and again, without my knowledge, you added more:

We chose not to take this piece down — though to have run it was a mistake — because we don’t want to hide our mistakes in the basement. We want to expose them for what they are. We blew it. I’m sorry we did. I think our record up to this point speaks for itself. I think our record moving forward will continue to do so. That said, I am sorry we ran this.  Stay with us.   — Anna March

I found it invasive and presumptuous you took this action without prior notification or consultation with me. You are the publisher of the site. You accepted this submission and contracted with me to publish. Professional courtesy dictates a certain level of decorum, and to add something so disdainful, not once but twice, with no prior notification to me is unfathomable.

Your Submission Guidelines clearly state:  After the original publication at Roar, the rights immediately revert to the writer. (All subsequent uses of the piece by the writer shall, whenever possible, carry attribution of Roar’s publication of the work. In addition to the writer’s rights, Roar retains the rights to publish the original piece in any form in any future roar publication — print or digital.  Roar will relinquish these reprint rights upon written request from the writer.

I emailed at 11:21 pm on March 21, 2017 requesting my piece be removed from your site and publishing rights restored to me and to date, have had no response.

Apologizing to your readers in such an arrogant and condescending manner presumes they lack the intelligence to process my words in their own way, form their own opinions, and engage in respectful discussion. Attacking me personally displays your blatant disregard for me as a writer.

Nowhere on your site of ‘intersectional feminism’ nor in your Submission Guidelines do you specify:

Further, it is our position at Roar that if one is not pro-choice, one is not, by definition, a feminist” as you state in your ‘Note From Publisher’.

Perhaps you should update your submission guidelines to include:

If you are pro-life do not submit here. We are a marginal-feminist site. We only publish work this publisher agrees with. Then, and only then, will we accept and publish your piece and not add a reprehensible disclaimer denouncing you and your published work on our site without notifying you.

Your actions unwittingly prove the core issue of my piece: Feminism is inclusive of all humans who believe women deserve the same rights as men. Period. Your statement: ‘if one is not pro-choice, one is not, by definition, a feminist’ instantly excludes anyone pro-life. Just considering the approximately 2.3 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims in the world whose core beliefs are pro-life, your brand of ‘feminism’ is not inclusive or tolerant. I believe it to be marginal feminism, which is an oxymoron and like you, contradictory.

You have lost the respect of many of your peers in this industry and I am already hearing harsh backlash among writers saying not only will they never submit to a site that would treat their writers this way (not to mention the editor you blamed) but will discourage others from doing so, especially after attacking me personally. It’s unethical and petty. Readers and writers deserve better.

On Tuesday, March 21, you chose to fully adopt the Trump administration’s practice of intimidating reporters, shaming and humiliating them publicly, excluding them from briefings, oppressing their journalistic rights, claiming anything they do report as fake news, and granting privilege and access only to those journalists and networks who agree to report that which supports and advances the administration’s policies and agenda.

Is this starting to sound familiar? Are you beginning to see the irony in the fact that you profess to be a feminist yet will not allow content that conflicts with your personal and political beliefs and only publish content that furthers your own personal agenda and will try to publicly discredit and humiliate any writer or content that does get published that directly opposes your viewpoints?

Shame on you!

Although I found your actions deplorable and believe your reputation badly damaged, I have no need, intention or feel any compulsion to defend my work. It stands on its own. I’m proud of my words and people like you cannot discredit or humiliate me; you just make me stronger in my convictions. I also fully understand and embrace the fact that many people will vehemently disagree with the content of my essay but feminism is inclusive and tolerant,  we are all equal, even those who disagree. I welcome their opinions, comments and discussion even if they are in direct opposition to mine.

You, on the other hand, continue to defend your decision ad nauseam. You claim, as a publisher, you care nothing about reach, reads, shares, views, clicks and happily confess you have no idea what your numbers are. But anyone with the slightest knowledge of SEO techniques and tactics knows you have been continuing to share my piece on FB and Twitter including posting it on your personal FB page under the guise of ‘look how brave and transparent I am letting the world see my ‘mistake’ to maximize your reach. Your transparency is visible on far more than social media; I think we all see right through you.

I am a liberal. I endured a back-alley abortion when I was 13 and am a vocal pro-choice advocate. I’ve marched on Washington many times in my life: For civil rights, war, women’s rights and myriad other reasons. Those rights I march for include conservative, pro-life women.  When you callously bandy the word feminism around as you do, it should include, sadly unbeknownst to you, ALL women, even those you completely disagree with. This includes me, a liberal who believes in everyone’s right to say and believe what they choose without fear of attack or retaliation.

You have willingly tried to disgrace me, a female contributor to your site while simultaneously taking advantage of my work which you published on your self-proclaimed ‘intersectional feminist site’ and then condemned it. As a feminist, I find this repugnant but I believe feminism is inclusive of ALL women, which includes you, so I will defend your right to your opinion even though I disagree with you and everything you stand for.

That’s how this works.

You were wrong, but not for publishing the piece. You were wrong to use bigotry and manipulation to benefit from my piece, a piece you openly declare as a ‘mistake’. On the grand scale of things, you look small to those of us who believe all women have rights, not just those who agree with you, your agenda and your website.

And while we’re on the subject of scale, let me share this fact with you since you compare yourself and your site to The New York Times no less than 7 times in the comments section on my piece:

NYT Facebook following:                                               13, 679, 940

ROARfeminist Facebook following:                                            635

You, Ms. March, are no New York Times.

 

*Please do not confuse this site http://www.ROARfeminism with ROAR Magazine

 

Midnite Blue – Part 1 and Part 2

MIDNITE BLUE – PART 1 AND PART 2

rawwordseye

I wrote these a for the brave and powerful site RAWrWords and remain thankful for a landing strip which provides those of us who write from our gut about life events no one should ever have to experience, a home for our words.

It’s the holidays, I know, time for Santa, stockings and Mistletoe but it’s also a time for hard-core partying, excess everything and a perfect stage set for disaster with depression running rampant for myriad reasons.  All I ask my friends, is to think, use some common sense and don’t rely on ‘the kindness of strangers’ or you may find yourself in deep trouble.

Our words aren’t for everyone so proceed with caution, at least on Part 1. Thank you RAWrWords, I am grateful.

 

Midnite Blue Part 1

Midnite Blue – Part 2

Could I Love You

 

manifest

Would those very pants you are wearing ever seem at home tossed across the bottom of my queen-sized bed? I see myself folding them, yet again, and hanging them up for you. I visualize the laundry basket with our clothes already intertwined within each other’s arms and legs and seemingly happy. Would we be seemingly happy intertwined?

Continue reading

Even Warriors Have To Sit

I’m too tired to stand anymore. Normally, I don’t even notice the weight of the armor; I’ve worn it all my life, it’s just a part of me, but today, it’s heavy and painful and I have to take it off. And sit.

I want to sit with Colin Kaepernick in silent protest because black lives do matter. I want to sit with a mother who was just told her black son was shot and killed for no good reason so I can offer her a shoulder to cry on because I surely can’t offer her a reason or an explanation. I want to sit with police officers who risk their lives every day, every second they’re on the job so that people like Colin can sit down. I want them to know I believe in them, what they do and that the power-crazed officers that shoot to kill for no reason are not the sum of their whole. I want to sit down with the rapist Brock Turner until I can make him understand that what he did, raping an unconscious girl was a horrific thing to do. I want him to understand she’s forever broken now. I want to break him, make him feel the weight of what he’s done, make him feel the weight of the armor she’ll now be forced to wear forever. I want to sit with the rape victim and stroke her hair while she’s violated once again enduring a rape kit collection and a trial that will shame her and blame her for what happened. I want to sit and hold the hand of the young girl having an abortion and tell her it’s ok and that her God, if she believes in one, will understand and she shouldn’t listen to those calling her a murderer. I want to sit with the homeless man and eat some pizza with him, it’s all I can do for him right now; I can listen and probably make him laugh a little. I want to sit with the veteran who believes no one will love him with only one leg. I want him to know he’s a fucking warrior too and will find someone proud to be with him. I want to sit with the mother whose lost her baby to cancer and just hold her til she can breathe again. I want to sit with the little girl until she’s strong enough to share her secret that she’s sure she is a boy inside and let her know I believe her and there are others out there just like her and that she will be able to live her true life without judgment. I want to sit with the animals who are tortured because some humans can’t contain their own pain and anger. I want to sit there until they trust me enough to curl up in my lap and lick the hand no longer raised to strike them but is instead offered to heal, soothe and comfort them.

Like so many, I’ve fought all my life. I’m tired of the sweeter-tasting politically correct terminology now used so violence and injustice are more tasteful for juries, friends and family who can’t stomach the visuals our stories conjure in their minds and the rancid taste it leaves on their palettes. Those of us who live the nightmares again and again, who live with the taste of blood in our mouths, have to watch as others get to swallow down a more palatable smoothie so they might be able to experience just a tiny little taste of what we’ve endured. Yet still justice is hard to come by.

Aside from the rapes by my father I had to physically and emotionally survive, I’ve also attempted suicide thrice, endured an illegal and terrifying back alley abortion at 13, a rape, two kidney transplants, a very close brush with death after losing the first kidney and I have a “it’s probably benign” tumor that’s slowly growing inside my brain.

I’m 61. I have no retirement, no home and little money. I live in a basement and am getting ready to move yet again. The woman I live with chain smokes and I remain in my cave of a room unable to enjoy the rest of the house due to the thick layer of smoke and nicotine that coats everything. With the help of my son, I’m moving my things back into my storage unit. I have 30 days to get out. Truth be told, I’d rather live in my storage unit than breathe in what must be several packs of cigarettes a day. I have a kidney to protect and although I knew she smoked when I moved in, I had no idea how much. So, I’m moving on. Again. I never thought I’d be a nomad in the later years of my life. But things always work out and I’ll find a place in time.

Looking back, my husband and I did all the right things. We had life insurance, built equity in our home, went to work, raised our kids, planned to grow old together. He was diagnosed with Hepatitis C back when insurance didn’t cover it yet. I went into renal failure. We broke; we couldn’t withstand the financial burden of two catastrophic illnesses. Our love broke, too, so we divorced. We lost everything.

In 2009, the kids and I helped him for several months as he died a slow death from cirrhosis. He was a hateful, bitter man at the end. Thankfully, he left some money to our sons but the lion’s share went to his daughter, his favorite. He left nothing to me. I thought at this age, I’d be happily retired bouncing grandchildren on me knee. Not yet.

I live on Social Security and Disability. A meager monthly stipend which is not nearly enough for me to afford an apartment, even a shitty one. I can’t work or I lose my Disability and Social Security. I am fortunate in that renal failure is the one chronic illness in which you are granted Social Security no matter what your age and Disability is usually granted before you’ve had your third dialysis treatment. If I work, I lose both and cannot afford the incredibly expensive medicine I need so I don’t reject my kidney. I can earn a pittance each year without being taken off my Disability so that helps.

My children can’t help me financially in this fucked up world where 1 percent of the population controls the world’s wealth while the rest of us, like my kids, struggle to make ends meet in their own lives. They hate seeing their mom with nothing. They want me to rest. They know all my stories and want to make my world a happy one. That’s not their job. That’s what I want them to know. But they grieve for me and that makes me sad. It’s seeing our children happy that makes us content as parents, no matter what hardships our lives may entail. That’s what I am teaching them, not to pity me but to help fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

I’m fucking exhausted. I. will. sit.

I fight my battles with words. I can write. Hell, I can have you on your knees sobbing in less than 800 words but the pay sucks. A good story might earn me 200 bucks if it’s accepted from sometimes thousands of submissions. But I don’t care much about material things or money. That helps.

Most of what I write are personal essays about my life and lessons learned but since my life is not a happy, fairy-tale story, lots of people scroll on by. That’s ok, I get it. It’s depressing reading my life. I wrote a humor piece for a huge mommy blog that was shared tens of thousands of times. I write about my hard-fought battles and I might get a few shares and usually only by my virtual tribe of warrior women (and some fantastic men) who have suffered as I have, some much more. But we don’t write for the shares, we write for ourselves and we write to give voice to those who have been silenced by fear.

I won’t shut up about any of it and I won’t be politically correct so it tastes better going down because every once in a while, someone reaches out to tell me my story saved them in some way, gave them strength to carry on and as long as I can reach that one person, I’m not shutting up.

Other than my one real life friend, my deepest connections are with my virtual tribe. I had a handful of real life friends but recently had to cut them from my life. I’d known them 45 years. They decided I wasn’t worthy. One spearheaded a campaign against me and the others joined in without a second thought. I wasn’t interested in defending myself. I’m tired of trying to make the doubters understand. I didn’t do a fucking thing wrong and finally realized after 60 years I had nothing to defend.

I’m a solitary creature. I have been all my life so friendships are hard to maintain anyway. There’s so much pretending to be like other people to fit in. My life story isn’t fun, it has an ugly taste that’s easier for them to spit out. When they began spitting ON me, that was it. I am fucking worthy. I don’t tolerate anything less than fierce loyalty and respect because that’s what I give and what I deserve in return. In their world that translates into: she’s crazy, she’s got anger issues, she’s always been difficult to deal with.

Fuck you.

I went out alone last night as I usually do, walking in the town I live near. It was a beautiful evening and I went to hear some music. The streets were bustling with young kids, older couples strolling hand in hand, lovers sitting outside at little tables soaking in the night air and each other while sipping wine from stemmed glasses. It’s like watching a movie that I’m not in. That’s how my life is. It’s a movie I was never cast in. But I’ve become a damn good director.

I’m going to sit the fuck down.

Mostly, I want to sit with who I believe my God to be so I can understand why, why all this happens in a world full of people whose hearts beat inside their bodies so they can love instead of hate, help instead of harm and show compassion instead of judgment.

I know when I’m ready, my tribe, my virtual family who fight the same battles I do, will stand vigil until I’m restored. It is they who will lift me up again, help me gather strength, adjust my armor, hand me my sword and welcome me back onto the battlefield to continue the fight. That’s what we do.

Until that time, I will sit.

Two Lost Children

She wouldn’t let him see her cry but broke the minute she stepped through the dingy glass door. By the time the elevator doors opened, she was sobbing so that she could barely see the numbers to press on the panel. She stood outside the suite, composed her shaking body and rattled mind and turned the doorknob to enter.

Read full post on BLUNTmoms: Two Lost Children

Thank You To All The Great Dads Out There

My father was not the type of man a child honors on Father’s Day. My father was a heartless and cruel abuser in every sense of the word. But rather than dwell on his heinous treatment of me, I choose to focus my attention where it belongs today – on the real men of the world.

The good men, the good fathers, the good daddies that love their children unconditionally. Some people think that because of my brutal experience with my father that I dislike men or that seeing fathers with their daughters would somehow upset me. I can assure you, it’s quite the opposite. Nothing makes me happier than to see a father and daughter sharing a tender moment or an exchange of love and laughter playing peek-a-boo.

I want to take a moment and thank all those dads who never knew the gift they were bestowing upon me as I watched from behind a tree or peeking up from a magazine I happened to be reading in the doctor’s office or as I sat drinking a glass of wine in your living room with your wife who happens to be my friend. You never knew I was watching along with the little girl inside of me as you were just being a dad – a great dad.

Thank you –

for whispering words of encouragement in her ear so she never hears those of cruelty and anger;

for hoisting your little girl high above your head, flying her through the air so she can feel the untethered freedom of flight and never know bonds of control;

for contorting your body into the most uncomfortable of positions to fit into that tiny chair to participate in the tea party she took so much time planning, arranging and rearranging and nurturing her imagination so doors will open before her instead of imprison her;

for wiping her tears with tenderness after each and every fall and extending your strong hands to uplift and not cast down;

for listening to the tales of her sad and broken heart when the boyfriend du jour chooses someone else to invite to the dance and embracing her in love so she never feels the terror or the strangulation of force;

for taking her arm in yours, walking her down the aisle and placing her hand and your trust into the those of another man, the man she has chosen to spend her life with so she knows true love is sharing in her happiness and not in controlling her destiny.

Mostly, thank you for sharing your world with me and giving me a glimpse of what a real father looks like; what a little girl’s childhood should look like.

Thank you for letting me hear the giggles of delight when you lovingly tickle her little tummy, the squeals of excitement as you squirt bath water on her from her favorite water toy, and for allowing me to see the innocence in her eyes because that for me is the most important.

Her eyes hold no fear toward you, they are filled only with love and adoration for a father that she knows will put her life before his, protect her from all the dragons and boogey men in the world, check the closet for monsters for the tenth time in as many minutes and stroke her forehead as she drifts off into a peaceful slumber afforded only to those children who have nothing to fear.

We, as little girls, grow up learning of the heroic deeds of policemen and fireman, soldiers and conquerors and dragon slayers and beast tamers but fathers, real-life, ordinary dads, they are the real heroes of the world. They are the ones brave enough to cry when they’re sad and strong enough to ask for help when things get too heavy for them to shoulder on their own.

And you, kind, gentle men, are what your daughters will seek out when they go to choose their partner for life – someone that’s a lot like their father, their dad, their hero.