A couple of weeks ago, a friend stopped me at a party and asked for my commentary on what Lou Dobbs said about the latest Pew study on working women: women are now the breadwinners in forty percent of American homes with children. I knew Dobbs had said something sexist, and that Fox commentator Megyn Kelly had taken him to task for it, but I hadn’t followed the issue closely because my feminist attention has been deeply absorbed by a book I’m reading. As it turns out, that book—Sacred Pleasure, by Riane Eisler—is integral to my understanding of what Dobbs said, and how Kelly replied.
I first encountered Trista Hendren’s name in an article by Elizabeth Plank that described Trista’s work with Rapebook, a page that cataloged and attempted to stop the proliferation of materials promoting rape and violence against women on Facebook. I wrote a blog post about Facebook and misogyny, and Trista and I found one another on Twitter. Imagine my joy when I learned that Trista is also the author of The Girl God, a children’s book about the divine feminine. I immediately ordered the book, and when it arrived, I knew I’d made not just a new virtual connection, but a friend. The more I learn about Trista’s life and work, the more she inspires me. She’s in Oregon and I’m in Virginia, so our paths aren’t likely to cross soon, but I feel sure we will meet in person one day. And when we do, we’ll begin talking as if we’d picked up a long-lost conversation. That, my friends, is the Goddess at work. And so is this—you might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea, because Trista’s answers to my questions will give you plenty to ponder, and plenty to savor.
I am posting today as part of a global initiative in protest of Facebook’s approach to the violent, misogynistic, and often illegal content that it has allowed to exist on its pages for too long. You might have read the open letter that a group of activists recently sent to Facebook asking them to address rape culture on the social networking site; you might also have read that Facebook has acknowledged that they’ve tolerated hate speech toward girls and women, and will take some steps to address it. Despite Facebook’s acknowledgement, this global protest is taking place as planned. Here are the words of Trista Hendren, one of the movement’s leaders, explaining why we are moving forward:
So I just read The Girl God, and am delighted to share it with you. It is a children’s book, and like all the best stories for children, it holds deep wisdom for us all. As you might guess from the title, it is on a topic that is dear to me: the divine feminine. The author, Trista Hendren, wrote the book for her children, and it is dedicated to her daughter, Helani Claire, who is the book’s main character—a little girl who needs to discover the divinity within herself while learning the traditions of both Christianity and Islam. Hendren supports her story with quotations about the Goddess from around the globe, and each page is illustrated with Elisabeth Slettnes’ gorgeous depictions of the divine feminine in both nature and humanity. The three elements of this book—story, quotations, and illustrations—interweave to create a work of art that I will enjoy reading and rereading, to myself and to my children.
As a feminist writer, I understand the significance of the word choice for women. I believe pro-choice and anti-choice are the right words to describe the positions supporting and opposing abortion because abortion is the controversial epicenter of a debate about the relationship between a woman and her womb. However, because abortion became the flashpoint of American conversation about patriarchy and female empowerment, choice has become a loaded word: one which can block empowerment as well as facilitate it. As Susan Faludi asserts in her introduction to the 15th anniversary edition of Backlash, when pondering the question of a current backlash in the media: “…there are still the periodic reprimands, though generally they are presented as the products of a woman’s ‘choice.’ The backlash is now said to be a strictly self-inflicted affair.”