AGA Roll Call

AGA Roll Call: Violence & Feminism

"We always knew when we took on the issue of violence against women that somehow our opposition would come after us. " - Patricia Ireland

"[We need to] talk about the root causes of terrorism, about the need to diminish this daily climate of patriarchal violence surrounding us in its state-sanctioned normalcy; the need to recognize people's despair over ever being heard short of committing such dramatic, murderous acts; the need to address a desperation that becomes chronic after generations of suffering; the need to arouse that most subversive of emotions -- empathy -- for "the other"; the need to eliminate hideous economic and political injustices, to reject all tribal/ethnic hatreds and fears, to repudiate religious fundamentalisms of every kind. Especially talk about the need to understand that we must expose the mystique of violence, separate it from how we conceive of excitement, eroticism, and "manhood"; the need to comprehend that violence differs in degree but is related in kind, that it thrives along a spectrum, as do its effects -- from the battered child and raped woman who live in fear to an entire populace living in fear." Robin Morgan, from The Demon Lover

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AGA Roll Call: Womanchild

I was one of those girls who went to bed one night a Girl, and seemed to wake up the very next day with a giant set of breasts. My body developed early: I was the first girl in elementary school to have breasts, the first to try and figure out, alone, why I both wanted to hide them and have them seen. I was the first to be forced into a brassiere (and was really pissed about it), the first to have to fend off the strap being snapped behind me all the time.

What came with that was an unexpected bipolarity of being treated like a girl -- including the benefit and enjoyment of some level of androgyny, being allowed to play football afterschool with the boys, picking fights, having "buddies," not being groped -- and then being treated like a woman, but only in the respect of appearance and sexuality, as well as sexual objectivism. I didn't inherit any new rights with my changing body: of course, it was a woman's body, so there weren't any real rights to inherit.

AGA Roll Call: A Room of Our Own

"Women, then, have not had a dog's chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one's own."~ Virginia Woolf

When we went through the applications to choose each of you, the biggest common thread you shared (and which we were looking for most) was that you all both wanted women's community for yourselves, and expressed a dedication to nurturing women's community for other young women.

Write about why you want and need women's community. Here are some ideas to play with:

• When you don't have it, what is the experience of that missing piece? How do you think it effects women individually and as a class to be without their own spaces?

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AGA Roll Call: For Strong Women

    A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
    A strong woman is a woman standing
    on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
    while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
    A strong woman is a woman at work
    cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
    and while she shovels, she talks about
    how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
    the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
    develops the stomach muscles, and
    she goes on shoveling with tears
    in her nose.

    A strong woman is a woman in whose head
    a voice is repeating, I told you so,
    ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
    ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
    why aren't you feminine, why aren't
    you soft, why aren't you quiet, why
    aren't you dead?

    A strong woman is a woman determined
    to do something others are determined
    not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
    of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
    a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
    to butt her way through a steel wall.
    Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
    to be made say, hurry, you're so strong.

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