Ms. Magazine

Ms. Women of the Year
Marleine Bastien
Jennifer Erikson +Robert Riley
Magda Escobar
Jane Fonda
Rebecca Gomperts
Naomi Klein
Barbara Lee
Yoko Ono
Sylvia Rhone
Venus + Serena Williams
The Women of Afghanistan
World Trade Center Heroes
Michelle Yeoh

Women Who Made A Difference
A few of the brave and tenacious women who left their mark on this momentous year—and one enduring female superhero.
30 Years of Ms.
A few of our words—and yours—about the magazine and its mission, and the roads we've traveled along the way.
Phantom Towers
An excerpt by Rosalind P. Petchesky

Editor's Page: Turning Point

Bold Before Her Time
Edna St. Vincent Millay's reckless life by Le Anne Schreiber

Books:
Reviews
Special: An Excerpt from
Families As We Are by Perdita Houston

Back Page
Inherit the War
Send a Letter to the Editor
>> click here


The late historian Barbara Tuchman wrote about one of the great turning points in Western history in her superlative book A Distant Mirror. She was writing about the impact of the bubonic plague and the 100 Years' War on fourteenth century Europe, which, combined, decimated the population, destabilizing nations and the old social and economic order. Now here we are, amid another great turning point, our world beset by plague and more than 100 years of war. Catholics and Protestants terrorizing and killing each other in Northern Ireland. Indians and Pakistanis, Hindus and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians, Hutus and Tutsis, all in their hideous dances of death. The Khmer Rouge slaughtering millions in Cambodia. So many killing fields, so few places on this planet where blood has not been shed again and again.

Racism; political, social, or economic oppression; religious zealotry; ethnic animus; nationalism; old grievances and grudges passed down from generation to generation; dormant one minute, erupting the next. We kill each other, and the AIDS pandemic keeps expanding—tens of millions dead and dying—feeding on denial, inequity, and greed, human hope and misery; destroying families, crippling economies, transforming societies. Before September 11, most people in this country lived as if all that pain and suffering were occurring on another planet. But that was an illusion. It was all happening here.

Ask the woman living in inner-city America about terrorism, and she'll talk about the fear of drive-by shootings, the bloodshed, the many, many deaths. Ask the folks who work under siege in women's health clinics about the threats, the bombings, the fires, the murdered doctors and workers. Ask the people in Oklahoma City. Ask blacks about the terror of racial profiling—about the Amadou Diallo in their town. Ask yourself about the gendered violence that is so pervasive it's been normalized-about the fear and reality of being stalked, beaten, raped, murdered because we are female.

But on September 11, we were all attacked. Since then we have all lived with fear—not just some of us. Now everyone of us lives in that other world. No, no matter how many times our "leaders" exhort us to go on with our lives as usual, we know that the definitions of normal have been changed. And at the end of the day, when the historians look back through their "distant mirrors," the world as they know it will have irrevocably been shaped by how we responded.

How we responded, not just a few white men in suits and uniforms. Missing so far from the public debate have been women's voices in significant numbers. Because there are still too few of us in the places and positions of power. Because terrorism and war are still considered men's business, as if our bodies are not used as battlegrounds; as if we have nothing to say, no knowledge, no wisdom—because that's how patriarchy plays. In the wake of the bloodshed and horror of September 11, in the midst of the anthrax threat, the alarmist reports, and the fear mongering, our beliefs are being challenged and tested; we are all struggling to find our way.

My way is to stand firm in my commitment to justice, to peace, and to my belief in the importance of affirming the principles of democracy. My way is to refuse to accept the notion that blind support of militarism and the suppression of dissent is the mark of patriotism. I won't be silenced. This can be a new day if we dare to make it so, by raising our voices, demanding our places at the table, pushing our leaders, and taking the lead ourselves. This can be a new day.



Copyright Ms. Magazine 2009