Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fawna by Lady Chaotic Monday

The day I met Fawna, I was bowled over.  That "bulldozed" feeling has been a common one described by the people who have met her and ultimately, had become enchanted with her.  She was humor and fire, easily slipping in and out of accents, voices and jokes.  It was as if she were many people under one skin, and they were all fighting to share the spotlight.

I'm not ashamed to say I was intimidated.  Being around Fawna was like watching a hurricane, thrilling and engrossing, and also a bit dangerous.  You never knew when you would end up at a voice sex sim, planning a musical based on Orgasming on voice in front of a bunch of strangers, or planning elaborate dance numbers complete with stage, lighting and back up submissives in the middle of the Dominion Courtyard, or at home, around a campfire, harmonizing to "Royals".  Then, at the end of the night having her pass out on your patio furniture.  She was deeply touched that I actually covered her and gave her a pillow while she was sleeping.  I was touched she felt comfortable enough to sleep over.

I miss her, and even though I shouldn't, I sometimes wonder how it would be if she was still with us.  She was 40 years old when she passed away.  Too young.  She was talented, and beautiful and vibrant.  It's going to be two years, in July, that she'll be gone....

 Tanarra, my best friend asked me... "Okay, ChaCha, what's the point of you saying all this?"

I guess I had several points.  I miss her.  I want her to be remembered and I want people to know her.  I could sit here for hours and hours and tell you all about her, sharing every nuance and funny thing I remember.  I don't have hours, though... and I doubt you all would sit still.  So I will extend this invitation to you.... Go see her, her rants, her humor, her beautiful singing voice... and remember that still is just a tiny sliver of who she really was.

Female Role Model by Lady Kimi

Several names spring to mind when I think of who inspires me. I have had wonderful friends, teachers and bosses. But one in particular helped me define the kind of woman I want to be.  I graduated from college in 1986, and then spent a year abroad, teaching English in a French school.  I felt confident being so far from home, because I had a friend in Paris, an American woman I had known for years,  who brought her children over to the US every summer.   Connie had a summer house behind my childhood home on Martha's Vineyard.

So there I was, invited to spend Thanksgiving with the Borde family in Paris.  Thanksgiving is the one time Americans all over the world seek each other out and sit down to eat.  It is not always turkey, but my friend had written a book on American cooking in France, so dinner was bound to be amazing.

I flew up to Paris and breezed into their apartment to find Connie sitting in a swath of blue taffeta, struggling to make floor to ceiling curtains for her dining room. One whole wall was window.   She was sewing, and sewing.  There was fabric everywhere, and yet the smell of cornbread wafted into the room from the kitchen.

She finished one panel, and started to work it onto the curtain rod, and then she stopped.  She looked at me and threw her hands up in the air and said, "What am I doing with curtains? I am cooking dinner for 30 people! And I have 6 kids coming home from school any minute!"

And what struck me in that moment was what she didn't say.  Connie  was a professor of political science at the Sorbonne.  She was  the head of the US democratic party in Europe, a delegate to the national convention, and had written 2 books.  But she still saw herself as a mom and homemaker.  She was brilliant and no nonsense, but still put family and friends first.  And thankfully she also looked out for me during my year in France.

Needless to say, the curtains did get finished, and it was a Thanksgiving I'll never forget.

Since then Connie has written more books and translated Simone de Beauvoire's "La Deuxième Sexe" into English.  She travels the country and lectures about her work, yet she still has a house full of grandchildren (usually just the children, not their parents) all summer on Martha's Vineyard.  She cooks for 100 people or more every Bastille Day.   She hosts political fund raisers for Democrats Abroad, and still turns up at the dawn yoga class to gossip with her friends at the beach club.

Connie has been an inspiration to me for many years, because she has shown how a woman can balance public and private life. She has maintained strong family and community ties, and still excels as a scholar and political activist. She is a natural leader, does it effortlessly, just because everyone responds to her character, drive and dedication to family.

Her Sword by Lady Portia

Her Sword
© Astrid de Manyet
the sun never shone on the stones
where the gates fell to that un-natural night
where haze entwined gravely
and claimed the child’s haven
breaking her
maiming her
there were a hundred happy lives
outside the gates, smiling freely
knowing laughter
while she died slowly
and dreamed a cemetery dance
on the knees of her passions
it is never naturally night
when the hour is noon
and the dead are alive
and the living are only half right
when they bury the living alive
in miserable houses they call love
and remedies
she had to be her own hero
because sometimes the ones
you think you can’t live without
can live just fine without you
lock you up and lose the key
and so she cut the sword loose
pulling it from the sheath
that was her own body
bleeding in the process but finally
and severed the bonds
of thousands of lonely nights
strung together like the coagulated beads
of crimson blood gleaming around her neck
like a war trophy

she is the goddess of her own war

A Love Letter by Lady Eva

This is a love letter to the most important person in the room. Me.

I know, I know.  There is a small chance that I am not the most important person in the room to you.  And I shouldn't be.  You should be. But that's not always the case, is it? Especially if you are a woman.

How many times are women lauded for putting themselves last? For being self sacrificing? "She always has time for me."  "She'll drop everything to help out."  The good mother, the good sister, the good friend - these are the roles we are taught to fill, the goals we are taught to achieve, that will make us feel fulfilled. But at what cost?

The cost for me has been steep at times.  My health, both physical and mental has suffered.  I've neglected my career and my passions and even my most important personal relationships in order to be "there" for others, some of whom I barely know.  But I'd be lying if I said that I did it all out of kindness and concern.  I also wanted people to think highly of me.  I did it for the pets and pats and compliments. I did it for my ego.

It's a stupid way to live a life.  But I know better now.

I am putting myself first.  I am taking care of myself first. Doing and getting what I want is my number one priority.  I am living my life for me.

Does that sound wrong? If it does, maybe you should ask yourself why.

We should be living our own lives, first and foremost.  We should be at the centre and core.  No one else should occupy that space, not our children, not our lovers, no one.

I'm proud of myself for putting me first.  I'm proud of myself for ignoring the subtle (and not so subtle) guilt from acquaintances and even good friends who feel they deserve my time and attention.  I'm proud of myself for saying, "no", without apology or explanation.

Also, I am proud of myself for learning to not guilt others for taking care of themselves.  I don't need you to sacrifice any of your time and energy to be a good friend to me.  Give it freely if you have it and want to give it. And I'll do the same.  But most importantly, go and get what you want out of life.

So thank you again to me for figuring out that no one is going to give me anything, or make things happen in my life if I don't, that no amount of validation from others will make up for a life neglected and half lived. I get it.  I am living it.  And I hope you are too.

Remembering Rosario by Lady Chaotic Monday

On September 11th, 1998, my grandmother, Rosario, passed away. She was an amazing woman, birthed 12 children, raising 9, as three had not survived, I never knew what their names were. My own mother is the oldest of her children, one of six daughters.

To say that the Mexican culture is a macho one is putting it mildly. In my culture, women are raised to make way for the men. Working, caring, birthing, cooking, cleaning, nursing and basically withstanding any and everything thrown our way. We are taught to love unconditionally and to take what little is given us in return. Infidelity, abuse, and worse are considered "normal".

My grandmother, however, had to put up with a lot of these things.  She wouldn't have let her kids or family know for a second she was anything but happy. Her biggest concern was her family and providing for them, raising them with morals, manners and with a better life than she had. She was warmth, love, comfort. She wasn't coddling, though.  Her affection was shown in coscorrones (a rap on the head with her knuckles) and pelliscones (pinches). She was tough and strict, but she would tolerate my hugs and kisses, and although everyone else was expected to call her "Abuelita" she allowed me to call her "Nana".

When I was 14, I went to live with her because my parents split up, and there was no place for me. I showed up at her house with almost no clothing. All I had was a paper grocery bag with a few pairs of underwear, a worn pair of jeans and a couple of tshirts.

I didn't start out like that, but when my parents split up, my (step)father remarried, within 3 months of the divorce.  At that time, I still believed my step-father was my real father, and he used my ignorance to his benefit. The lady he ended up marrying had children, who had friends. They ran rampant, stealing my clothes, cutting my hair... making my life miserable. I had to make excuses at school, to explain why my long, thick, waist-length hair suddenly became choppy and uneven, some places no longer than a half an inch.

I arrived on my Grandmother's doorstep, threadbare, emotionally and mentally beaten down. I was so happy, just to be somewhere where I was wanted. She made sure I had clothes, getting hand-me-downs for me, or just making them herself. I was fed, I was cared for, and I was loved.

A few months after my mother left me there, she came to join me, and we started our lives here in San Diego. She was just as beaten down as I was.  No, even more so, I had only 14 years of it, she, by that time, had 43 years of it. We found refuge, we found a home... after all the times that I had told my mother I wanted to run away, and we would hold each other and cry for hours, and finally we found a place where we didn't want to run from.

Remembering Rosario... remembering my comfort.

I Am Woman by Lady Ashe

Ashe's Confession - How I Discovered BDSM

About 18 months ago, while exploring a non-lifestyle sim, I observed a couple of female avatars, dressed in the stereotypical femdom attire... latex, leather and thigh high boots.

Something in me stirred... it was very primal. Having never been exposed to BDSM, I didn't really understand what I was seeing. I only knew what I felt inside my body. When I observed these women, I saw power. I saw a fierceness and strength. And a kind of "aliveness" that I had not felt in my body for some time. When I recognized the feeling of aliveness, my instincts told me to follow it, because when you are faced with a chronic health situation that has "no cure", you look for and follow aliveness.

Flashback to 3 years ago... early 2012.

"You have cancer. It's advanced."

Six rounds of chemo therapy, called the Red Devil. 6 is all the body can take, then they switch you to a different kind of chemo, if you still need it.

Over the summer of 2012, I endured what many women diagnosed with breast cancer undergo... and it would challenge me to the core of my femininity. Those things that are physically beautiful about a woman, would be stripped away, laying me bald and without breasts...

Who would I be with no hair? No boobs? My long eyelashes, lept to their deaths into the bathroom sink, a few-at-time. "Not my eyelashes too, God, really? ..."

But that summer, I made myself dance outside and celebrate my life, feeling the warm kisses of thunderstorm raindrops on my bald head.

Flash forward, to 18 months ago and discovering SL, and then later, BDSM.

After a full year of treatment, everything in my body was different. I had no desire to be sexual. I didn't feel the same. I couldn't feel my sexual energy. Areas of my chest were very numb from surgeries. The reconstruction made me "look" somewhat normal, but underneath my clothes, it wasn't my body anymore. I didn't want to be touched.

But while observing those women avatars doing tai chi, in their femdom clothes, ... something inside me came back alive. I acted on the instinctual curiosity, by telling her that I liked what she was wearing. Later that day, I would look at the designers she recommended in the Marketplace and have the realization that what I was looking at was known generally as "BDSM."

My exploration, into BDSM, helped me get back INTO my body, after cancer. In a strange way, I am healing by consensually hurting *smiles.* When I found the whip, a deep erotic pulse was found inside me... (no surgery or chemo could strip it away). The women, whom I saw, WERE me. A future self, I had yet to discover. Somehow my now-self had the ability to recognize Her, and it's brought me right here, to this moment now, where I'm sharing my very personal story.

There are not many here, I dare say, that if I polled the room, asking, "Do know of someone, friend or family, affected by cancer?" I'm certain, you do. It doesn't make me special.

What makes me special is how I decided to face it. How I decided to trust and follow my own primal call. What makes me special, is knowing it's part of my mission, to share the story with you.

And the truth about my story is, that I AM every woman. There are many ladies here listening right now, that face a similar chronic health situation (I refuse to say illness when wellness is the dominant force in my life/body). Many of us, face chronic, debilitating, painful conditions in our daily lives.

Look around...

If you are kneeling, look up into Her face and recognize the Superior Woman.

She is not what happens to Her, but how She chooses to handle it. She is grace under fire, and She'll take those fires and use them to transform Herself and everything around Her.

And for a few of you—the fortunates ones—She'll set you on fire.

~ Ashe Athenais (astarteh resident)

Anette Kellerman by Lady Persephone Absent

Sometimes you think things just happen by accident and until I read this article by Justin Parkinson I had never heard of this powerful and charismatic woman who helped pave the way to female freedoms in the world we now inhabit . I have a lot to thank her for and do so in this week dedicated to women's leadership.

It's 100 years since Annette Kellerman became the first person to appear nude in a Hollywood film. But this was just one of many remarkable events in her life.
She sat naked on a tree branch, her arms stretched upwards, but her hair largely covered her breasts.
It might not seem very risque today, but this scene, from a film released in 1916, was an important event in the history of film. Annette Kellerman is regarded as the first star - male or female - to appear nude in a mainstream Hollywood production.
The fantasy drama A Daughter of the Gods featured her as a character called Alicia who falls in love with a prince and enlists the help of the inhabitants of Gnomeland to help in his struggles with his enemies. The cast included a sultan, the Witch of Badness, the Fairy of Goodness and several eunuchs. No copies of the film are thought to exist today, but at the time it caused a huge media fuss.
An advert promoting the film among cinema owners proclaimed: "It has made big money wherever shown. Book it now."

When A Daughter of the Gods came to Kellerman's native Australia in 1917, The Green Room theatrical magazine said anyone not seeing it would miss "one of the greatest events" in the country's history.
"From the far-away sphere of the Unknown we are immediately borne, by this film, to a land of enchantment," it added. "Something of the wonder of the Arabian Nights, of the glory of the East, of our own war, of fairyland, of womanly power and eternal beauty, is manifested to us by this masterpiece of cinematography."
The film was a first for Hollywood but just one of a remarkable series of events in the life of Kellerman - a champion swimmer, vaudeville pioneer, swimwear designer, stuntwoman, businesswoman and health-and-fitness guru.
"She represented the fit, active and spectacular female body, and urged other women to throw away their corsets and become fit and healthy," says Angela Woollacott, professor of history at Australian National University. "She saw herself as something of a guru for women's fitness, but others also saw her as an icon of feminine modernity," she adds.

Born in Marrickville in Sydney, Australia, on 6 July 1887, the daughter of two musicians, Kellerman was crippled by rickets as a child and took up swimming to overcome the weakness in her legs. By 13 she was healed and by 15 she had learned all the strokes and won her first race.
Kellerman's talent was obvious and, by the early 1900s, she became the holder of all of the women's world records for swimming. Aware of the commercial possibilities her skills provided, she put on shows in which she swam with fish in an aquarium and performed high dives at Melbourne's Theatre Royal.
In 1905, Kellerman moved to the UK, where she swam 27km (17 miles) along the Thames, from Putney to Blackwall. In the same year, she attempted, but failed, to become the first woman to swim the English Channel.
She became a vaudeville star in London and the US, developing a form of underwater ballet combined with high diving. In July 1907, the Chicago Herald Tribune advised its readers: "None should fail to see Miss Kellerman, as she is not only an expert swimmer but a beautiful woman, who is at her best in her bathing suit." In that city she wowed crowds by diving 72ft from the topmast of a steamship. By 1914, she was earning $2,500 a week for her shows, the equivalent of around $60,000 (£41,000) today.
Kellerman pushed sartorial boundaries too. In her native Australia, women taking part in competitions had worn short-legged, non-skirted costumes - the same as men's - since the 1870s.
This wasn't allowed in the UK in 1905, when Kellerman was to give a performance in front of the royal family at London's Bath Club. Kellerman felt a skirt would prevent her swimming effectively, so she improvised, sewing a pair of black tights onto her men's swimsuit to create a full-length, one-piece "figure suit". This is regarded as the beginning of 20th Century women's swimwear.

In 1907, Kellerman was arrested on Revere Beach, Boston, for wearing one of her suits without a skirt. But the judge accepted it had been designed for exercise and was decent, provided she wore a skirt until entering the water.
The incident received worldwide publicity and Kellerman designed her own range of swimsuits. The style became generically known as a "Kellermann" - the original German spelling of her family name.
The writer Mildred Adams remembered later that, when Kellerman had first come to the US, audiences had "found her free and careless grace exciting, though slightly shocking, and some of them went so far as to adopt her swimming suit". However, most converts had worn skirts over them while on the beach "until a good deal later".
Kellerman began starring in short films. In Neptune's Daughter of 1914, she wore a flesh-coloured body suit for underwater scenes.

Two years later came A Daughter of the Gods, misleadingly described as Hollywood's first million-dollar-budget film. Variety magazine estimated it had in fact cost $850,000 (£590,000) to make, and had taken $1.39m (£965,000) in total.
In some scenes Kellerman wore a body stocking, but not in others. The film, though, seems to have been more than an attempt at titillation, receiving a largely positive critical reception - although there were unsuccessful attempts to ban it in some US and Australian towns.
Kellerman's fame by now was enormous. In July 1916, the Washington Post commissioned her to write an article on the behaviour of sharks, following a series of attacks on swimmers off New Jersey.
And, from around 1920, she developed a risque cross-dressing routine for her vaudeville act, which was still going strong, appearing as a monocled gent called the English Johnny.

Her final film, Venus of the South Seas, shot in New Zealand, came out in 1924. It was one of the first to be shot in colour.
Kellerman continued to promote herself, lecturing on health and fitness, offering "physical instruction by mail", as well as producing books and films on the subject and running a health food store in California. But she remains best known for taking her clothes off.
"I don't think she embodied contradictions so much as just how complex Western femininity/womanhood had become in the early 20th Century and how rapidly it was changing," says Woollacott. "She did not label herself a feminist, but in many ways she was one."
She returned to Australia, living by the beach near the Great Barrier Reef. In 1952, MGM released a film of Kellerman's life, Million Dollar Mermaid, starring Esther Williams, herself a former competitive swimmer. Kellerman thought the fictionalisation a little bland.
Kellerman, who was able to do high kicks until well into old age, died in 1975, at the age of 88. In later life she described A Daughter of the Gods as the "best thing" she'd ever done.

I Have A Voice by Lady Portia

I Have a Voice

© Astrid de Manyet

It’s 2016. A new year, a fresh start. Lots to do.

I think how this works at the beginning of the year is that you’re supposed to make resolutions. These days it seems that most people resolve to make no resolution. I decided go against the norm. I definitely have a resolution or two.

I’m ready for a year of healing. A year of renewal and fresh starts. I’m ready to come to the helm and take control and steer the rudder. And once this ship is moving in the right direction… I’m ready to write baby write.

But the thing of it is, I’m resolving for one thing over all others.

I resolve to fight. Yes, you heard right. I’m ready to fight for what is mine, my right to be safe, free of fear, and my right to heal.

I want to be a voice for women who have been abused, as well as a voice for mental health awareness. There is too much stigma still out there.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD, Bi-polar 1 (with severe depression at the moment), Adult ADD, Social Anxiety and Panic Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Agoraphobia. Several of these diagnoses have been brought on by or triggered by the severe domestic abuse I have suffered and survived.

Society perpetuates myths about what it means to have a mental illness. And those myths hold me and others like me back. They keep us from seeking help. They are the reason I am yelled at in the hallways of my apartment building. They are the reason there is a lady down the hallway who throws trash at me when she sees me.

It’s time for those things to change.

Just because I can’t always speak out verbally, doesn’t mean I am less deserving.

I am human.

I am not stupid.

I am not dangerous.

And I have a voice.

And my voice is my writing… and I resolve to use my voice — my writing — to speak out on behalf of others who cannot.

Perhaps that is what my purpose has been all along. Perhaps that is why I have survived what I have survived. If so, then the suffering was worth it. I will speak. I will write.

This is my resolution.

I have a voice.

Violence Inside Her by Anonymous

She has violence inside her.

It was never in her nature.  A gift from her past.  Thrust upon her, given to her by men of generosity.

She has violence inside her.

It's inside that part of her that is like the lost and found of her persona.  Left behind, unwanted by those who owned it, unwanted by her.  It's just there.

She has violence inside of her.

Possession is nine tenths of the law, they say.  They blame her.  “You must have done something, they say.  “What did you do, what did you say, what did you wear?”

She has violence inside her.

She covers her ears and closes her eyes and tries to hold her breath.  She wants to stifle it, stuff it down - that thing, that violence inside her.  Kill it, make it go away.

She has violence inside her.

It forces her to breathe.  Take that breath, inhale.  She fights.  She fights them, herself, the violence.  One step in front of the other, reluctantly.

She has violence inside her.

Gaining speed, gaining ground, she allows it to give her teeth and claw.  Propelling her, moving forward, always forward.

She has violence inside her.

But it was never in her nature.

Safe Shelter by Lady Olive Monday

When I was twenty six years old, I had two children, a husband and a lot of demons from my past.  I had already done three years of therapy by then.  I had already walked the depression drug zombie walk.  I had already overcame a lot by a many standards. I still had a lot of anger though and a drive to do something with it.

One night quite by chance I read a posting for volunteers interested in hearing about the Women's Shelter procedures in my home town.  I was immediately intrigued.  The ad was placed by one woman and when I arrived at the meeting I was with 4 other women and one man.  We talked a lot about how women in crisis were managed in our community.  We talked about whether we thought that was sufficient.  Currently women in crisis and their children were being pulled out of the community and being sent to one of two other cities that were one and two hours away from here.  That seemed very counter productive to us.  We felt like uprooting these women and children after already being victimized left them in strange cities with no support systems in place and made them more likely to succumb to returning to a bad situation.

We decided at that meeting that we would move forward and do the research necessary to  find out what it takes to change the current procedures and locate a facility here in our community.  You would be shocked what it took.  The hoops we had to jump through.   But jump we did.  Those years were really a roller coaster of emotions for me.  It was both cathartic and gut wrenching.  As a child of domestic abuse it was incredibly hard learning so much intimate detail about such a personal and intense topic.  The stats added another layer on to the "insider " knowledge I already had. Learning how many cases of reported "officer attended" domestic violence cases there were each year.  Learning how many of those calls were repeat offenders.  Learning what the escalation statics were.  Every night those numbers jumbled in my mind with scenes from my child hood.  Every night I remembered thinking as a child "Can't anyone hear this yelling?"  I was driven by my desire to make sure that there was someone to hear them.  Someone to offer them a safe haven. There were several times when progress stalled and faltered but we drove on and in the end it became a reality.   A little over two years after that fateful first meeting we opened the door to a facility to house women and children   who were victims of domestic violence.  To this day the facility is operational and has a dedication plaque on it's wall with my name on it.

This is proof that one person can make a difference.  One person posted that ad.  One person was joined by others and we may not have changed the world but we made a big difference in a lot of people's lives, in the most vulnerable moments of their lives.

Those years brought up a lot of demons for me and it was emotional for me.  It left me feeling very raw an awful lot. I would not change those years.  As exhausting and draining as it was.  It is one of my most proud accomplishments.

My Mistress by Richtea

This will be a rather hastily cobbled together treatise fueled mainly by tea and tobacco, so please forgive the dodgy punctuation, spelling and barely coherent nature of the following.

I pondered about 'Women in Leadership' for a wee while and the only one I could think of that has had any impact on my life was Maggie Thatcher, but her impact was the polar opposite of positive. Then I thought about the subject on a more personal level and the answer was obvious; my Mistress.

I imagine when most people read the words, 'Women in Leadership', they start to think, (as did I), of politicians, campaigners or a boss of a company or perhaps a singer or an actor. But, for me, I pretty much only feel influence on a personal level.

Is my Mistress a women of leadership? Does she lead? Oh yes, very much so, but she doesn't just lead:

She never pushes from behind, she always encourages from the front.

She lifts me up even though I may be kneeling.

She is strong enough to show me her vulnerability.

She has given me the strength to show mine.

She builds my confidence.

She is a woman and she leads. And I follow willingly and joyously. The impact and influence she has had on my life is so very, very positive and continues to grow