Season of Women

Watching the response to the “Women’s March” on social media and news outlets, raised my curiosity about the women who voted for the President? Who are the women and what makes them think that their status is safe, and do not identify with the motivations that prompted millions of women to march on January 21, 2017? The fact is that women are second-class citizens in our country.

Yes, I marched in the Women’s March in Floyd, Va. and along with millions of other women and men around our country and the world. In my small rural community, several hundred men and women gathered and marched through our one traffic light to the courthouse. I marched because our equality is an illusion and in grave peril of disappearing and hard to believe that I am marching for women’s equality in 2017!

Back in 1976 I did a photographic study of mountain women, which resulted in an art show at the Roanoke Museum at Art on Cherry Hill titled “Season of Women”. I was hopeful that the restrictions facing women were getting better. During this time I was also Director of a Women’s Center at the Roanoke YWCA, which was co-sponsored by TAP (Total Action Against Poverty). I was convinced that my interest in art and social issues could be entwined and through social activism I started writing workshops for abused women clients of the Women’s Center. From these workshops that were lead by talented writers volunteering their time, I witnessed a healing transformation with the women who were wounded from their abusive relationships. Finding their voice in these writing workshops in the basement of the Roanoke YWCA, gave rise to the inspiration of creating an outlet for women, inspired by the Greek goddess Artemis, titled “Artemis Journal”. For the first 3 years, 1977-1979, Artemis Journal was a feminist journal and in 1980 enlarged our scope to include men, as submitters and as board members.

This year, Artemis Journal continues to publish our yearly journal and we are celebrating the 40th anniversary, because of women who cared and wanted to support and empower other women. But let’s admit it, women are still second-class citizens. Men are still debating our rights to control our own uterus, our prenatal care, women still have to pay taxes for basic sanitary needs, still don’t have a paid or unpaid maternity leave (Estonia allows parents to take up to 3 years of leave for fully paid 435 days), have to fight to breastfeed in public, are underrepresented in our businesses, local, state and national governments (“Iceland has 44% women of CEOs the United States is at 4%”, Dina Legyerman, “You are not equal. I am Sorry.”), have to fight for equality for equal pay and for women of color, gay or transgender.

The Women’s March last January by millions of women ignited the recognition that women’s rights are human rights. We are all better off, our families, our communities, our businesses, our education and our health thrive with equal rights. In the world scale, the United States ranks 45th for women’s equality, behind Cuba, Philippines, Jamaica and Rwanda. Our pay gap in the United States is at 20%, whereas New Zealand has their gender pay gap in wages at 5.6%.

Millions of women who marched last January ignited the recognition that women’s rights are human rights. We are all better off, our families, our communities, our businesses, our education and health thrive with equal rights. The United States ranks 45th for women’s equality, behind Jamaica, Rwanda, Philippines, and Cuba.

So forty years later, Artemis Journal still carries the torch for equality giving a voice to the artists and writers who share these ideals. Artemis, namesake of our journal and goddess of light, had the divine duty of illuminating the darkness. Often she is depicted carrying a candle or torch, lighting the way for others and leading them through territories yet uncharted. Known as the chaste Greek goddess associated with the moon and hunt, her connection with the natural world symbolized her own untamed spirit, and she became the patron saint of women, childbirth, protector of wild animals, virgins and the powerless.

In 1976, with my young idealism, I believed it was the “Season of Women” and never thought I would be here forty years later, expressing my worries and concerns over our fragile rights. So our conversation continues as women come face to face with the real possibilities of losing their health insurance, their freedom of control over their bodies, their reproductive rights and work balance issues. Our equality is an illusion and the threats to our status are very real. So for the women who do not believe that these dangers are real, we will continue to carry the torch, march and be vigilant for them. Perhaps this year of 2017 will actually be start of the “Season of Women”.

Jeri Rogers
Editor & Founder
March 1, 2017

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