International Women’s Day 2014 – this Saturday!

It is International Women’s day, and as it seems that nobody else is writing about it in the local blogsphere, I am doing it again. It must be my feminine side that motivates me to write about this subject. As the author of the article “What the heck is a man’s ’feminine side,’ anyway?” says, it is kind of creepy for a man, especially for a Latino, to bring up a guy’s feminine side (link below). I hope that Nameless will not give me a hard time.

Last year I quoted Melinda Gates, from the Gates Foundation, to illustrate that the International Women’s Day has become a mainstream occurrence (link below). This year I am quoting the observations of a female journalist,on a  World Bank report on women:

“Today, the radical ardor behind the original project has cooled considerably—to the point where the celebration sometimes seems like just another excuse to sell cheap pink crap… Much as I’d love to be doing a happy dance and celebrating all the advances women have made since Clara Zetkin’s day, it’s sobering to realize how little things have changed for so many women around the globe. Even in countries where women have advanced, gender economic inequality remains a serious problem.”

The details and analysis of the report are here (link below). Last year I mentioned two fine ladies who symbolize the spirit of this day in my city, Cynthia Ward and Yesenia Rojas. They have continued to play an active and important role in making Anaheim a better place, courageously fighting the powers that resist changes. I also mentioned the three ladies in the council, whom although representing the powers resisting changes, deserve recognition for exercising a leadership role. It is a negative one for many of us, but a role nevertheless.

I was hoping that time would heal the divisions in our civic affairs, make our city less polarized. Unfortunately I was wrong, although some significant changes have taken place, like a promising Chief of Police, wider resistance to corporate giveaway as in the Angels’ negotiation, and the opportunity to further democratize our electoral system and city governance.

The majority of the city council, in which these ladies are the majority, is one of the main barriers to the changes and healing needed. When they talked in a council meeting about their opposition to the district’s option, after the lawsuit settlement was reached, they did in such virulent, disrespectful manner that inflamed and renewed the toxicity of polarized communities. I could not believe that they would be talking in such divisive terms, rather than acknowledging differences in a way that would promote a more civil resolution of the disagreements. One of their statements was something along the lines that there are not other strong Latinos as the plaintiffs in the district’s lawsuit, to pursue changes in the city. It was insulting. It re-energized those of us present at the meeting to show them that we are more than three, that we are hundreds that will the do our best to get people to register and vote on November.

While I was sitting listening to them in the council chamber, my reaction was not gender-based but class and race based. As much as one is conscious not to make class and race determining one’s perspective, I could not help seeing three arrogant, comfortable, white ladies talking down to minorities and poor people.  It was not a gender-based event, as one of the men in the dais did not talk, did not say anything to counter these negative arguments. Brandman’s silence came across as acceptance of their divisive reasons. Only Mayor Tait spoke out against those arguments. Yes Dan Chmieliewski, only Mayor Tait did. (for those not familiar with the characters of the OC blogsphere, this man Dan C is a so-called liberal who has become the mouthpiece for the powers that usufructs of the city of Anaheim’s resources).

A positive outcome has been the emergence of more people determined to play a positive leadership role. Two of them are ladies who became involved after tragic circumstances, both having sons killed by the police. They have taken their experience, not only the tragic one but their overall experience as residents of neighborhoods normally excluded from the city powers, to get involved in civic affairs. Genevieve Huizar on her own prevented an angry crowd at the last Kelly Thomas’ demonstration from vandalizing the bar that allegedly called the police on Kelly’s fatal night. The same day she kept people from confronting the police and from getting arrested. Donna Acevedo speaks out at the council meeting, has become a community organizer and is now running for the city council! I salute these two ladies.  I also salute Ms Lorri Galloway , although I still don’t agree on her reasons to run against a Mayor whose overall record , as a Mayor,  has exceeded expectations making our city a more inclusive one.

I salute all the ladies advancing gender equality and a better life for everybody. I salute the ladies writing on this blog, Inge, Cynthia and the Valkyrie, and I hope that next year they will be the ones writing about this day.

About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly.