I opted to write a poem related to a delegate, Cynthia McKinney, from my home state for the Personnages Obscurs site. They will post a poem a day that includes the name of a delegate – starting today.
When the bill to bar women from serving in direct ground combat roles came up for vote in the House of Representatives, Cynthia McKinney was the only one to oppose it. I’m with her. If we’re going to be killing people and doing it up close, we should all bear witness. When enough wives and mothers and sisters and daughters have killed, I think the state of war might change or, at the very least, our general acceptance of it.
Viriginia Woolf wrote, “It is obvious that the values of women differ very often from the values which have been made by the other sex. Yet, it is the masculine values that prevail.” Women are quite capable of killing, so why shouldn’t we? Particularly when it comes to defending the home …
If our country requires that we kill, we should each be equally obligated, regardless of gender. The weak argument might be that women aren’t physically capable, but that’s a load of manure. I can hold a gun and shoot someone. I am quite capable of learning how to use the basic weapons our country has developed. A woman’s ability to kill is not really what makes us pause — it is the idea of women killing that makes us shudder. And the hypocrisy of demanding a country’s citizens to kill in the name of defense while excluding women from such demands should truly cause us to question the idea of said defense.
No one questions a woman’s right to defend her child from an intruder. She is defending life. But to send her onto the battlefield, to send her to another country and order her to take the lives of that country’s citizens, well, that would disturb our national psyche in a meaningful fashion. All U.S. citizens may begin collectively questioning the necessity of each invasion or “pre-emptive strike.”
Here is the order for the poems for the first ten days: Barney Frank, D-4 MA (Julia Cohen); Michael Michaud, D-2 ME (Steve Benson); Marilyn Musgrave, R-4 CO (Jasper Bernes); Kenny Hulshof, R-9 MO (Julie Buchsbaum); Wayne Gilchrest, R-1 MD (Katie Degentesh); John Conyers Jr., D-1 MI (Joanna Fuhrman); Cynthia McKinney, D-4 GA (Amy King); Charles Rangel, D-15 NY (Ange Mlinko); Barbara Lee, D-9 CA (Jess Mynes); David Hobson, R-7 OH (Carol Szamatowicz); Fortney H. “Pete” Stark, D-13 CA (Alli Warren) –> Some good poets there – I’m very happy to be in the mix!
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.