Tag Archives: women

R-E-S-P-E-C-T the Queen of Soul

“I don’t think it’s bold at all. I think it’s quite natural that we all want respect — and should get it.”

Bow down, Beyonce; the Queen is ascending.

Aretha Franklin was aptly called the Queen of Soul, and for good reason. Her vocal presence was enormous, felt from the humble beginnings of New Bethel Baptist Church where her father preached, to the R&B charts across America, and on to a universal audience belting along the best that we can to her beloved songs. While best known for her amazing voice and magnificent music, Aretha Franklin was much more than a musician. She was champion for civil rights and a feminist icon, professing her feelings loudly and proudly on and off the stage.

Born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin moved with her family north to Detroit when she four years old. She grew up in the Motor City, and she made a name for herself singing at her father’s church. Her father took her around the country to further her musical talents, and she spent time with the likes of Sam Cooke, and Mavis Staples and her sisters. She also met Martin Luther King Jr. and sang at his events, and eventually at his funeral. She did have a much more joyful time singing at an historic moment for Americans decades later when she sang at Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration in 2009.

With immortal hits like “Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, it’s easy to understand how Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, especially when you consider that her best known song, “Respect” was originally written and performed by Otis Redding two years prior to her version! (I’ll write about this more in the future.) Her rendition has some key musical and lyrical differences, and it is sang from the perspective of a strong woman who is demanding the respect she deserves. It’s no surprise that the song became an anthem for the feminist movement, as well as the civil rights movement, not to mention that it is a fantastic song.

Listening to her incredible voice, with its range and power (she does not need, she does not need, a microphone!), it is easy to deduce how Rolling Stone twice declared her the greatest singer of all time. One of my favorites from her to further demonstrate that killer voice is “Think”, which she sang to great delight in one of my favorite movies.

In The Blues Brothers, Aretha Franklin gives the most memorable of the musical numbers from a performing musician (and that’s saying something because there are a lot and they’re all great!) “Think” is another awesome anthem of empowerment with Franklin pouring her soul into that soulful music.

Aretha Franklin was a remarkable woman whose music and message will live on forever. Her strength, charisma, and natural talent and how she shared it with us all, are all reasons why she earned her reputation as an admired entertainer and force for change. Her voice was not just a musical marvel, but a call for freedom, and what she did with it earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award a United States citizen can have bestowed upon her.

Farewell, Aretha Franklin! Thank you for taking care of business here!

Sock it to me, sock it to me,

Alex

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The Mousy Nurse of Oxford, Massachusetts

Once upon a time there was a shy little girl named Clara. She was born on Christmas in 1821, in Oxford, Massachusetts where she lived with her mother, father, and brother, David. Her father was a soldier who served under General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, and he taught Clara to love her country. Aside from David and her friend Nancy, Clara did not spend much time engaging with anyone because she was terribly withdrawn. Despite being so bashful, Clara had a natural skill of helping others, which was extremely evident when she helped David to recover from a fall off the roof of a barn when she was only 10 years old!

In her teenage years, Clara was too nervous to attend high school with numerous other students, but she learned many skills, both physical and social, from her peers in her family. Her parents suggested she help younger children learn and work as a teacher. She was hesitant to do so, but gave it a try. Clara proved to be a natural teacher, thanks to having taught herself how to do so much, and she went on to excel with even the toughest classes of kids in Georgia and Canada.

She later worked in the Patent Office as a clerk, but it was hardly as enjoyable for her. Clara was ridiculed by her male cowrokers, and eventually she was fired because of her tolerance toward non-whites. Fortunately, just a few years later, the new President, Abraham Lincoln, also shared her sentiment, and she returned to the US Patent Office hoping to inspire other women to work in government. However, Clara would find her true calling in the midst of the most horrible conflict in American history.

As the American Civil War raged on, Clara returned to her previous skills as a nurse, and became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” for her efforts in saving lives and treating the wounded. After the war ended, Clara sought to bring closure to the families of the dead, so she headed the Office of Missing Soldiers, where she helped to locate and bury tens of thousands of previously “missing” men who had been killed in battle.

Such was the incredible first half of the life of Clara Barton, an amazing woman who pushed through social and personal limitations to become one of the most influential humanitarians in history. Her greatest accomplishment occurred 137 years ago today, when she founded the American National Red Cross. At the time there already existed an International Red Cross, but no chapter was present in the United States. She worked to create this new branch after her experience working with the international group in Europe during the Franco-Prussian War. The American Red Cross (ARC) was not immediately born, and grew thanks to Barton’s connections with wealthy and influential people such as John D. Rockefeller and Frederick Douglass. Barton would serve as the president of the ARC until 1904 when she was 83.

Thanks for reading! As always, send your remarks and requests to monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to “cross” this path again next week!

Per Humanitatem ad Pacem,

Alex

 

 

Roe, Roe, Roe Your Vote

It’s a man’s world, like it or not. Even in countries with some of the best standard of living, such as my own United States of America, women rarely get an even break. Here in the States, men make more money in almost every career.  Factor in the unwanted advances of sexual harassment or worse that too many women experience and we’re looking at a rough working world for women in the USA. Consider also the general societal pressures placed upon women to dress and behave a certain way. What I really do not envy is how so many women are expected to be the producers and primary caretakers of children. Now we are really looking at some strenuous stuff that females in the United States have to contend with. So much is demanded of the ladies around us, that it is refreshing to see some justice offered to women which helps to assert their position as being equal citizens.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decisive ruling in Roe v. Wade. The Court determined by a 7-2 vote, that a woman could legal have and abortion in accordance with due process offered by the 14th Amendment, thereby striking down laws prohibiting abortion throughout the country. The landmark ruling still divides political and religious members today, but I believe that it is another critical victory for the betterment of women and society within the United States of America. just as the 19th Amendment finally granted women the right to vote in the US, Roe v. Wade secured a woman’s rights to her own body.

Roe v. Wade is widely known and referenced, but the initial court case that grew into a national ruling began as a much smaller affair in a state that frequently advertises how much bigger everything is there. In Dallas, Texas during the summer of 1969, a woman named Norma McCorvey was pregnant with her third child. She had endured a troubled childhood and young adult life which included her father leaving at a young age, her alcoholic mother beating her, another family member allegedly raping her, and her husband -whom she married at 16 – allegedly abusing her. Her first two children were already adopted out, but she did not want to have to carry and take care of another, so she sought an abortion. Problem was, abortions in Texas at the time were only legal in instances of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life was in danger, so at the advice of some friends, Norma falsely stated she had been raped. Since there was no police report of such a crime though, she was unable to legally procure an abortion. Thus, she set out to obtain an operation at an under-the-table establishment, but that door was also closed after it had been shut down by law enforcement. McCorvey would give birth to and adopt out her child, but not before she had begun working with attorneys Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee to sue the state to permit abortion. For anonymity, they changed her name to Jane Roe, and the suit was brought up to the Dallas County District Attorney, a man named Henry Wade who was tasked with representing the state of Texas.

About a year after Norma realized she was pregnant for the third time, a panel of North Texas judges declared that the state’s laws were unconstitutional and violated the 9th Amendment’s granted right to privacy. Spurred on by other similar cases around the country at the time, the case reached the US Supreme Court in December 1971, was reargued the following October, and then finally decided on January 22, 1973.

Ironically, McCorvey’s personal views on abortion changed drastically over time and she became a pro-life advocate for the Catholic Church. She died last year at the age of 69.

Ideally an abortion is not the go-to for avoiding having a child. I firmly believe that if you are not actively trying to have a baby then you should use some form of protection during sex. There is an immense variety of different items and medications for men and women that help to prevent pregnancy. Find the best for you and your partner based upon your needs and comfort, and revel in erotic euphoria all the live long day if you desire. Personally, I prefer the classic condom as it has remained simple and effective for centuries, and it fits within my philosophy that penises are like Christmas presents: they’re best when they’re wrapped.

Of course, there are scenarios when an abortion is necessary. In these instances, it is just that women have the right to exercise this option if they so choose. Furthermore, the ruling of Roe v. Wade grants the deserved authority of a woman over her own physical self, so while it may still be a man’s world, at least it is undeniably a woman’s body.

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to return here next week for the quarterly State of the Season recap.

You go girls,

Alex