Other Published Work

The musings of writer and actress Darrah de jour.

Bun in the Oven!

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Found this from when I was preggers in July! Guess I never hit send! (And, yes, I did find the shirt… ;)

I’m so thrilled to be pregnant and everyday is so special. Today, I was doing great, getting things unpacked and enjoying my new abode, when all of the sudden I got really tired! I laid down and two and a half hours later, I woke up to the front door opening and my honey getting home from work. The weather, hormones, activity, and how difficult it is to find a comfy position during the night all contribute to the necessity of mid-day naps!! ;)

I’m so grateful to have the most amazing man to call my own and the father of my baby. He’s super supportive, understanding, masculine and creative and is always finding ways to make me feel alive, centered and adored.

The pregnancy has definitely brought my family closer. My mom is stoked and we talk more often.

I’m eating very healthily, with a few cravings, such as: citrus fruits, pickle juice, vegetarian cuisine (I had to give up my beloved sushi!), and a major change was adding some dairy to my diet, which was previously a no-no, as I’m lactose-intolerant. Your body needs what it needs, and I’ve preferred vanilla yogurt and a few other dairy items (ice cream!) during this radical and fabulous time. And, I can’t get enough sour candy – Sour Patch Kids and gummy worms are my favorite. ;)

My honey and I had an amazing holiday in Hawaii, visiting Maui and indulging in oceanside massages, shopping in Wailea, watching fireworks on the 4th in Lahaina, even watching little kids hanging onto sheep for dear life to win at a rodeo in this uniquely cowboy town called Makawao.

I really didn’t want to leave! In fact, I was so tired and sad that I picked a fight with my man on the flight home. Luckily, we were made up by the time we hit the ground! I really love Hawaii. <3

I’m finishing up our registry at Baby’s R Us with all of the necessities, and then I will be starting a new one at another one-stop-shop. Probably Juvenile World, or Bellini.

My life has taken such a beautiful turn and I can’t express how grateful I am for the change, the blessings and the new friends I’ve made. I love how, upon acceptance of your life as a truly inexplicable journey, you can enjoy the mellow turns and righteous curves. Some, you secretly hoped for, and others you could never even have imagined in your wildest dreams.

Sending love!

Darrah

P.S.: I *really* want that t-shirt above! The model even has red hair! Oh! I got some blonde highlights in my hair yesterday. I’ve never had any color added to my naturally scarlet locks, but I’m really indulging in the levity of newness and so… I went for it. It’s fun for summer. I’ll post a pic next week.

XOX

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My Mardi Gras Célébration!

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Had SO much fun celebrating Mardi Gras – or “Big Fatty” as it’s called – at Zanzibar in Santa Monica last night. My good friend Robin and I dressed up as belly dancers/gypsies. Luckily, Robin had a costume for me that fit like a glove! I love red, and the dress was amazing. She’s a seasoned performer/music festival maven, so she easily brought over several possibilities, but this costume was by far the easiest to covet and capture!
We stopped off at a Cantina on 3rd Street before hitting Zanzibar, a westside club, for a Carnival themed, percussion-filled eve. We were mistaken for a lesbian couple at the restaurant, which we totally went with.
At the club, Robin danced her arse off (I did too) until about 1:15am. Then, I sat it out and she finished shimmying and shaking her caderas until almost 2am. The Criterion Collection film “Black Orpheus” played against a screen, filling in for any fleeting in-between moments, on one of the coolest dance floors I’ve ever experienced.
The Afro-Cuban “Brazilian Swing Tribe” performed and the dancers, like Gina Amato, doing the Samba in a glittery sequined bikini with head feather, were enough to inspire me to take a new dance class!
Enjoy these photos, Lent and anything else you’re up to!
Hugs!
Darrah xx

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Ani DiFranco Covers Phil Ochs’ “When I’m Gone”

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[ani_ochs_gone]

Such a gem! Ani is one of my all-time favorites, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see her perform live a couple times. This was my first time hearing this song and cover, and the lyrics are embedded below for your pleasure. As you may know, DiFranco is a staunch anti-death penalty advocate. I’ve always been undecided on this issue. Lately, I’ve been thinking about capital punishment, and watching a lot of Werner Herzog’s documentaries, like Into The Abyss and his miniseries On Death Row. I’m still undecided, to be honest, but I will say that it’s not an easy matter to argue for, for either side. There’s a sanctity in life, and that sanctity is the same argument used by both sides.

Something I have learned from the inmates that gave their time and sometimes, their candor, in Herzog’s contributions is that the exact things they nightly dream about lushly: avocados with salt and pepper and a side of Patrón, blowing out birthday candles, smelling ocean air, walking freely, having privacy, growing your hair long… are the simplest of pleasures many undervalue. They are urging us, in their own way, to view our own lives with new eyes. These caged men and women are serving up a lesson to the “free”. To us, living beyond the barbed wire. To appreciate what we have. What we take for granted. Our loved ones that are simply arm’s length away, and to be grateful. Everyday.

In health,
Darrah x

Lyrics:
There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone
And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone
And you won’t find me singin’ on this song when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t feel the flowing of the time when I’m gone
All the pleasures of love will not be mine when I’m gone
My pen won’t pour out a lyric line when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t breathe the bracing air when I’m gone
And I can’t even worry ’bout my cares when I’m gone
Won’t be asked to do my share when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t be running from the rain when I’m gone
And I can’t even suffer from the pain when I’m gone
Can’t say who’s to praise and who’s to blame when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

Won’t see the golden of the sun when I’m gone
And the evenings and the mornings will be one when I’m gone
Can’t be singing louder than the guns when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

All my days won’t be dances of delight when I’m gone
And the sands will be shifting from my sight when I’m gone
Can’t add my name into the fight while I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone
And I can’t question how or when or why when I’m gone
Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

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Gimme Shelter

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Cool compilation vid. For any 60s fan. For those who lived through it, those born into it, and those who glamorize, are inspired by or revel in the many firsts of that generation. Seeing the footprints on the moon was really special. Somehow, it’s still so relevant. With everything going on in Gaza and around the universe. We have many that wish to build a stronger military, bolstering ‘violence as the answer’ mentality. Let’s not forget that history repeats itself. I don’t pretend that war is never necessary, but I’ve come to realize that it would take an experienced intellectual to call the right shots. Not a barbarian with no first hand knowledge of the atrocities of war. Parts of me feel that every Commander-in-Chief should have served in our military in some way; otherwise, it’s a far-off concept or notion, and sending women and men off to battle at the front lines is like pulling the strings of a marionette. I have lots of friends, and some family members who served and currently serve in the US military. Hats off to them. I value their opinions, and have shared this with them. They tend to agree. On this Thanksgiving weekend, I wish to give thanks to these heroes. For, whatever our concepts around war are, soldiers and veterans should never take the brunt of our anger. If we have learned anything from Vietnam and the aftermath, let that swim to the forefront. Addiction, joblessness, homelessness, shell shock. Whatever. We need to take care of them.

[Gimme Shelter:RollingStones]
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

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Hurricane Katrina Survivor Offers Hope

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AfterKatrina.net: Hurricane Katrina Survivor Offers Hope
Jerome Boykin Jr, founder of JB Sweeping

New Orleans, LA (RPRN) 10/09/12 — Story Details Courageous Journey From Victim to Millionaire On New Site

 Jerome Boykin, Jr., 30, survived one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina. Now, the owner of JB Sweeping Company, a million dollar sweeping company, he has created AfterKatrina.net to share a short story inspired by his and other survivors’ firsthand experience. With this inspiring tale of survival, determination and overcoming the greatest obstacles, Boykin hopes to inspire others to reach high and to never give up on their dreams.

“That’s when it struck me that we have been forgotten in the lost city of New Orleans,” says JB, the narrator of “Rags To Riches: A Story of Hurricane Katrina Survival.” Giving up and dying was not an option for JB and his sister Ceira and brother Brandon in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. They survived for days in an attic, believing their father had already drown in the house. Their only means of survival was snack chips, one bottle of water and the thin light of a dying flashlight. The close-knit siblings wondered if they would ever see their family — or their city — in one piece again.

New Orleans is a community famous for its French Creole architecture, Mardi Gras, blackened catfish, and, of course, jazz. It was originally settled on the natural levees or high ground, along the Mississippi River. According to National Geographic, in 2005, storm surge from Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic failure of the federally designed and built levees, flooding 80% of the city.

“I see an axe cutting through our roof and now we start to celebrate because finally we are getting rescued,” JB says, on AfterKatrina.net.

AfterKatrina.net: Hurricane Katrina Survivor Offers Hope
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Unfortunately, being relieved from hiding in the safety of an unbearably hot, dark attic was the highpoint of a strife-filled journey to come. Accounts of being shot at, jumped by neighborhood rivals, robbed at gunpoint, and finally fleeing with a mentor who would become like a mother, fill out this jaw-dropping tale.

“It’s my birthday. I just turned 23 and we are still at the convention center living like animals without any assistance from the city or state. Suddenly I saw lots of buses pull up in front of the Convention Center.” JB says.

With the wreckage all around, but a strong will to overcome this tragedy, JB applies for a bank loan. With the help of his mentor and the advance from the bank, he is entrusted with the opportunity to purchase a $75,000 sweeper truck, and sign a lucrative contract to sweep Wal-Mart parking lots.

Writes Boykin, Jr., “JB Sweeping became an instant hit. I was even getting phone calls from people outside of New Orleans.” He continues, “I was making over $35,000 per month. Not bad for a homeless guy who lost everything to Katrina.”

Inspired, in part, by Jerome Boykin, Jr.’s true life experience, he has turned this calamitous tragedy into a humanitarian opportunity. He hopes to inspire people across the globe with this story of luck, tenacity and faith, detailed on AfterKatrina.net.

“I will fight and die for you,” JB says to his brother and sister, before being separated for weeks, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Luckily, he didn’t have to.

In 2006, Louisiana voters adopted an amendment to the state’s constitution to dedicate all revenues from off-shore drilling to restore Louisiana’s eroding coast line. Congress has allocated $7 billion to bolster New Orleans’ flood protection.

About

Family owned and operated JB Sweeping Company has serviced New Orleans and its surrounding communities since 2005. Jerome Boykin, Jr. continues his work as an entrepreneur, with a successful real estate firm. He’s landed on the pages and covers of Inc. Magazine, Black Enterprise, and others.

[RPRN]

————
Need a press release written for your company? Contact us at Stargirl PR.
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Burning Down The Red Tent: My Interview With A Hare Krishna Monk

Cycle of Life

Hare Krishna Father & daughter at Krishna's Appearance Party

by Darrah de jour

By chance and invitation, I attended the Hare Krishna Festival in Venice Beach last weekend, with my friend, SuicideGirls columnist and Zen monk Brad Warner. While there, in my cleavage bearing, brand-spankin’-new sundress, with my faithful dog Oscar Wilde trotting along in his new hipster T-shirt, we perused the vegetarian selections, caught wind of a Krishna-adapted stage play of The Wizard of Oz, and generally people watched.

As a woman, and as a non-believer of the Hare Krishna movement, I felt fairly safe avoiding the subtle, yet omnipresent evangelizing going on at every rest stop between the herds of hungry beach dwellers and spiritual devotees, migrating amid covered tentpoles with signs that bragged, “Questions & Answers,” “Vegetarianism: The Higher Taste” and “Pizza by the slice.”

Brad was dying to scavenger hunt at the literature table, fit with a menagerie of both spiritual texts, and some cool modern selections that I would actually buy, like Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World! A man in orange robes and face paint began disciplining Oscar, pointing a finger at him and saying, “Be good.”

“Oh, he is good,” I snapped back. Almost as if accidentally referencing many an ex-boyfriend, I added, “He can behave badly, I’m very tolerant.”

The man eyed Brad, then in what I assumed would be a much different retort, had I been a lone brassy woman at the festival, lowered his voice, and said something like, “Tolerance is spoken about in the texts.” He went on about humility and more stuff, that went in one ear and out the other as I bent down to feed Oscar water from the same Arrowhead bottle I drink from.

Taking cover in a shady spot on the grass, I quickly noticed a cute, shaved head dude standing behind the book desk. Effortlessly magnetic, he rested, arm up, palm clutching the tentpole like my ex did when he first cornered me to ask me out. He was electrifying and unavailable. My favorite kind of man. Brad approached me. I leaned in and said, “take a picture of me and that guy.”

“What?” he said, laughing. “He’s not gonna take a picture with you. I don’t even know if they’re allowed to.”

“Oh, he will,” I said.

I watched as the sexy man in the orange robes smiled broadly at one of the femmes eyeing the donation-requested-but-we’ll-let-you-take-one-home-if-you-really-don’t-want-to-give-us-five-dollars book choices.

“He’s so sexual. He’s oozing sex,” I observed, rationally.

“He’s celibate,” Brad reminded me.

I approached said man.

“I’m from out of town and came to the festival today,” I lied. “Will you take a picture with me?” I smiled nervously.

“For five dollars,” he spit out, almost as quickly as I could scan him from head to lower torso (the rest covered by the desk). This was the beginning of a crisp wit, I would have to throw myself on mute several times to catch; as I get overly-bubbly in the face of exciting men, and the smart ones rarely stammer — or repeat themselves.

Brad laughed.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

He came out from behind the veil of the tent, and stood next to me. “Can I touch you?” I asked.

He said we had to put our hands together in prayer. I did. He said we had to say, “Hare Krishna,” I did. He said he wanted Oscar in the picture. I leaned down, picked up my furry little baby, and clasped his paws together for the photograph.

A few days later, I called Yasodeva Das, to arrange an interview with him. After nine years of consecrated Krishna worship, the twenty-six year old Delaware native (who lived in New Zealand for nine years) now resides in L.A., spreading the good word of his God with the Hare Krishna Temple in Culver City. What’s more subculture than being a rock star for a religion The Beatles once called their own? The questions percolated in my head… I did research for a few days, which consisted of reading essays he’d written that were available online, watching videos of environmental activists in India, like Vandana Shiva (the Krishnas are strictly vegetarian and seem to be against GMOs), and scouring articles that introduced the layperson to the basic principles of Bhakti Yoga, chanting and their particular brand of new member outreach.

Yaso (pronounced Yah-sho), whose “mother name” is Nicholas, invited me to a kirtan block party at the temple that Thursday to help celebrate Krishna’s birthday. I brought Brad, a Soto Zen Monk, who has been studying the Hare Krishna religion for some time now out of sheer curiosity.

Yaso and His Boyz

Yaso took me into an office of some sort, where we could escape the sights, sounds and delicious smells of Indian food, a mixed crowd of Hindus, whites, and Krishna’s swarming the stage area where they replicated the Wizard of Oz adaptation that showed at the festival (instead of “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” it was “aging, disease and death, oh my!”). Many parents dressed in traditional embroidered garb chased after their small children who had been seduced by the eery, lifelike statues of a man’s lifespan from birth to death.

I sat atop the wood ledge of a bay-style window, aside cymbals and pictures of gods I couldn’t name. He sat very far away in a folding chair, in the minimalistic room with hardwood floors, a towering bookshelf and not much else. I asked him to sit closer to me, and flipped on my recorder. The flashing lights of Dorothy and Toto and the reverb of their adventure played through the window, not unlike me and Oscar and our lives together, skipping along the yellow brick road. Searching for God, Bobby Fischer and the truth. Maybe this dude could help us, who knew?

After I asked him a few long-winded questions that cracked him up, like “how old is Krishna?” and “Does he use Botox to retain his youthful glow?” I unburdened some of my more complex ones… but first, a little history lesson:

Founded in the late-sixties in NYC, the Krishna movement gained momentum when the likes of Allen Ginsberg and George Harrison embraced “His Divine Grace,” a 69-year-old Indian swami named A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Oft referred to by his followers as “Srila Prabhupada,” which means “at whose feet masters sit,” he was and is seen by his followers as a divine being sent by God from heaven to enlighten the world. He taught his followers – and they believe – that he and his teachings have been empowered by God to take over the world. Ginsberg and Harrison were swept away, and went on to sing about it. The movement adopted an acronym: ISKCON (International Society For Krishna Consciousness) and their mantra seemed to pop up everywhere, including the wild hippie beacon of stage play goodness, “Hair”.

Robust Man in His Prime

However, ISKON went through a difficult period in the 70s and 80s, when boarding schools in India and the U.S. closed after allegations of child sexual and physical abuse (as is documented in the book Monkey on a Stick) forcing ISKON to file Chapter 11. Think of the teachers as robe-clad Sandusky’s and the schools as mini-Hindu Penn States.

How could something like this happen? Apparently, after Prabhupada died, all went to hell in a handbasket. Yaso assured me the movement has altered drastically since then, and in his seven years as a monk, the schools have undergone changes, which include new, trained staff and “because ours is a very intelligent culture and movement and philosophy, we’ve learned from those mistakes.”

I wanted to get from the non-consensual sex to the sexy-sex. Knowing he was celibate, but also that he was smokin’ hot, I was bummed to learn he was rattled by always having to talk about sex, or his lack thereof. He mentioned that attracting women was both his “burden” and his “curse.” I wondered aloud…

Religions tend to isolate sex as a sin and the body as something that’s desecrated through sexual relationships. Those same religions tend to obsess about sexuality, and create strict rules around what does and does not constitute sinful behavior. However, on the sidelines, many people that claim to be celibate are having sex with hookers in Mumbai or they’re raping their wives. Why is this?

Shit, here we are, back at the non-consensual sex. With sex-work sprinkled in for good measure.

“That’s a really good question,” he admits. But soon clarifies the Krishna stance. “First, that’s a little bit of a straw man argument in the sense that that’s not really our perspective; that sex is sinful, that the body is sinful. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita [begins speaking Sanskrit], which assuming you don’t speak Sanskrit, means: when there’s the sexual activity performed according to the principles of dharma, that’s none different from me. That’s a very lofty spiritual activity.”

Given I am SuicideGirls’ resident sex and sensuality columnist, plus, I disagree with the monk, I press on. Attempting to clarify, I remind him that what I’ve read assures me that sex within ISKON is for procreation, not sensual connection or physical gratification. Clit schmit.

“That’s ideal. I doubt that really happening en masse. The fact of the matter is that we live in a sexually charged culture and even devotees, they do it.” By it, he means fuck.

Phew, thank goodness. I breathe a sigh of relief, but as soon as I exhale… he continues, “What you’ve probably researched, which is the ideal according to the yoga psychology, is something called Garbhadhana Samskara. Which means, at the time of conception, if it’s actually done in a certain state of mind, which is not just to enjoy the aerobic exercise of humping and pumping….”

Wait up. Did the twenty-something hottie in orange robes sitting in front of a Hindu painting just say “humping and pumping”? Yep, he did.

“…but actually focused on spirituality, will attract an entity which is of superlative spiritual nature and consciousness. And, that has been proven.” When you wish upon a star, you’ll attract a super-baby from afar!

How you prove such a thing is beyond me. Movin’ on… I wonder if ISKON is accepting of those pesky other clubs, like Islam, Buddhism and Judaism? He says, in so many words, yes. But, admits a “whatever works” attitude is naive, and that in truth their religion is the best, most devoted and quickest route to the big Man Upstairs.

We banter about Occupy Wall Street. While many take the Dalai Lama’s a-political stance once they shave their head and attempt spiritually-infused castration. Not Yaso. He declares, “without any sort of spiritual principles behind activism, it’s just a matter of one person complaining about the powers that be, only because they want to have power themselves. That’s just hypocrisy… I think it’s laudable, but ineffective.”

Hmmm… I can take the man booing Islam. Booing OWS. I can even stand the preacher man pissing on recreational sex. What I can’t handle, however (and if you know me, you know this already) is systematically approved and sanctioned sexism, disguised as a paternalistic “Monk Knows Best” mentality. Ain’t gonna fly.

History Lesson Deux: Prabhupada translated the Vedic text for which the religion is based, the Bhagavad-gita, known as The Hindu “Bible”. He said that Krishna states that women are inherently “low-born” or “of sinful birth.” He has been accused of mistranslating the Gita. However, as the interview continues, I come to understand Yasodeva Das does not feel he did.

When I inquire about the role of women in the Hare Krishna movement, the ideology of feminism and the equality of the sexes, he swiftly answers, “the general tendency is that there are particular roles that are played in natural relationships… men are more comfortable and inclined towards a more predominant role.”

I shift in my seat. He continues, “On the spiritual level, we need to recognize that we are all equal. And that’s the measure of spiritual advancement. On the material level, we have to admit that we’re not equal. The natural position is that the man should have a more predominant, decision-making, leadership role in the family, relationship and community; they’re naturally inclined towards it, and the natural tendency of woman is that they are inclined toward chastity and servitude.”

I lose my shit. We go backward and forward, me trying to prove, in fact, that women are naturally confident, sexual, leaders and him scoffing at the idea. He points to a tower of yogic literature dating back, he says, thousands of years. This is his proof that women are servile and chaste. I offer my thirty years of lived experience. He doesn’t want to hear it.

The once-over he gives me when he drops the guillotine, claiming it’s “too late” for me (apparently, being a hot redhead precludes you from the sanctity of the monastic order) coupled with his sexist rant, providing merely old non-news in new non-clothes, deems this modern babe solo once again. My crush is over.

I cut the interview short and flip off my recorder. We play tug-of-war at the door, whereas I try to let him go first in an effort to be servile; he thanks me for my time and allows me to exit first.

By this time, I’m ready to scream, cry or leave the block party. I do all three. But first, I collect Brad.

When I get home, I come across a blog called Hare Krishna Women, which relays what Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKON, is said to have lectured:
“Generally, separation between husband and wife is due to womanly behavior; divorce takes place due to womanly weakness. The best course for a woman is to abide by the orders of her husband….”

After comparing women to a drum and a dog, he says: “If you become lenient, then she will be troublesome. So in India still, in villages, whenever there is some quarrel between husband and wife, the husband beats and she is tamed. In civilized society, ‘Oh, you have done this?’ Immediately some criminal case. But in uncivilized society they don’t care for court or civilized way of…”

Of a woman’s role in marriage, Prabhupada wrote: “you are married wife, so in that position you should serve your husband nicely, always being attentive to his needs, and in this way, because he is always absorbed in serving Krishna, by serving your husband you will also get Krishna, through him. He is your spiritual master, but he must be responsible for giving you all spiritual help, teaching you as he advances his own knowledge and realization. That is the Vedic system: The wife becomes a devotee of her husband, the husband becomes a devotee of Krishna; the wife serves her husband faithfully, the husband protects his wife by giving her spiritual guidance. So you should simply do whatever your husband instructs you to do, however he may require your assistance.”

These sentiments, along with many other archaic and simplistic and violent views toward women, are what ISKON and other male-centric religions worldwide are founded on, holding women and girls in utter contempt. A saving grace, so to speak, when it comes to Krishna Consciousness, is Radha. To devotees, she represents Krishna’s divine female counterpart, the original spiritual potency, and the embodiment of divine love. Not unlike Mother Mary in Catholicism, at least they acknowledge women actually exist, albeit, it is taught that we are entanglements to men, not to be trusted or given as much power as them.

Something Brad said, when we returned to the car, tears falling down my face as I shook with anger, moved me: “I could never be sexist, because that would mean I hated my mother. And I don’t hate my mother. And, I respect you, Darrah.” I know he does. And, I know many men respect, love, honor, cherish, lift up and support women everyday, everywhere. And, it is so appreciated.

As I transcribed this interview, something profound that Yaso said, became illuminated in my mind: “Revolution is not going to happen by some sort of legislative action. It only happens with a change of heart. A change of consciousness. By receiving ourselves and our relationship to the environment around us and the people around us in a totally different way.”

While I praise ISKON’s acceptance of the LGBT community, for them to insinuate that on the material plane women and men are not equal, and then perpetuate that inequality with adjoining texts that continue to offer ways in which to oppress women, is hypocritical at best, damaging at worse. I pray for them to employ a greater reverence for women (ya know the sex whose bodies they sprang from; the empathic, nurturing, caring, loving, intelligent, talented, deeply sensitive and spiritual sex), and to listen to women — not just read about them in books written by men. We are here, we are not chaste or servile, and we’d really love a front row seat to a religion that doesn’t appear to be a big fat boy’s club in orange robes pretending to be anything new. Spoutin’ the same ole rhetoric from 5,000 years ago is nothing liberal, accepting or righteous. It’s just plain old violence against women, only dressed differently.

It’s not just ISKON that’s to blame. Most religions are boys clubs, centered around a male God (it always confused me when “man is made in the image of God” came up, and given that women bear children, wouldn’t the CREATOR be a woman?) with his male desires and his male fallibilities. He determines how women should be, in essence, for his own benefit, not for the true growth of humanity as a whole, and not informed by how women actually are or want to be perceived. How we can have social change, when most of us cherry-pick our spiritual lives based on sexist, racist and divisive texts written thousands of years ago by mortal men, is beyond me. We need a new religion, a new spiritual subtext, that offers peace, unity and love among ALL people, regardless of race, creed, gender, sex, orientation of any kind and is inclusive of the wishes of all. One that inspires a sort of humanity that God might be proud of. I have no idea where it will come from or how it will be instilled in societies across the globe, but I would hope that it won’t include force, rape, pillaging or genocide. Perhaps, if we each just do our part to live peacefully, lovingly and unifyingly, listening before we impose our own beliefs on others and praying for the good will of ALL people, not just those that look and act and believe as we do, the world could come together in that famed way. Given that ISKON appears to be a somewhat progressive confederation, and that their founder’s lectures occurred in the late-60s, I have faith that they too, will come around. Whirled Peas for All.

Cycle of Life

Darrah’s Note: The title of this blog references the bestselling novel The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. It gave a voice, albeit fictional, to the women of the Old Testament.

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Rage Against The Manchine

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Lead by a “rad-fem” (radical feminist), RageAgainstTheManchine.com is a portal for some of the most eloquent, articulate, academic, colloquially-spoken, artful and vital conversations around equality of the sexes today.

Nine Deuce is the pen-name chosen by the blog’s owner. I’m unsure whether that is the year of her birth, but I doubt it, given her maturity, writing chops, and her claim to have studied anti-porn feminism for ten years. Nine Deuce’s Twitter and Facebook are not nearly as popular as her blog, which easily garners comments in the hundreds (her post, Why I Hate Men Part 1: I Admit It, has 830 comments). And, not spammers or cage fight/pissing contest crap either. Real conversations that lend to the discourse necessary to move people’s minds, hearts and most importantly, actions toward peace and unity.

Do I agree with everything she writes? No. Do I think there is evident misandry sometimes? Yes. Does she like me, a pro-sex “sexy feminist”? As a movement, no. But, she is against Madonna/whore complex that I’ve written about, and she blows my mind time and time again, and so hopefully soon, I’ll meet her.

Below is an excerpt from Porn Part 4: Half of the Big Picture:

“Men are just as affected by our bizarre cultural expectations and prescriptions for female sexuality as women are. Two millenniums’ worth of Judeo-Christian bullshit about the dual nature of woman has left some strange legacies behind. We’re stuck in a strange tornado of expectations; we’ve all absorbed the message that a “good” woman is chaste, demure, and pure, but men still want to have sex with women. That leads to some serious cognitive dissonance. Natural desires + repressive expectations = hostility and fear about those desires, which gets misplaced onto the object of those desires. So women who do what they are expected to are prized but also denigrated as prudes, and those who don’t are prized as objects of desire but also reviled and devalued for their transgressions. If men were able to identify with women as human beings with complex desires and motivations like themselves, it wouldn’t be possible for this dichotomy to continue. It wouldn’t be possible for women to be divided into the two rigid categories of whore or wife material.”

While I don’t claim to live my life feeling disempowered, choosing instead to focus on the power I do have, the blessings I have been bestowed, and the incredible friendships I have with men I love, I will say that I had an authentically disappointing experience of sexism — which, is just as bad as racism, in my mind, by the way — while interviewing a Hare Krishna monk Thursday. I’m still deciding whether to write the story… friends on Facebook say I should. In the meantime, you can read Brad Warner’s blog about it from his POV. He’s a Soto Zen monk, who’s not celibate and is a pretty decent f-ing human being, to boot.

Now, I turn the mic to you: What do YOU think we need as a human race to reach equality in the minds, hearts and actions of all people?

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Miss Representation Screening Hits Downtown Los Angeles!

Miss Representation Director Jennifer Siebel Newson and I

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Had the privilege and honor of attending a screening at the The Downtown Independent Theater of Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Miss Representation.

If you haven’t seen Miss Representation yet, please do yourself a favor and find a screening somewhere! Thanks to Chelsey Dailey for putting this on (as well as showing her short film “A Smile Wrinkle”).

Miss Representation Director Jennifer Siebel Newson and I

Siebel Newsom is truly inspiring and this is a must-see film for girls AND boys! It will change your perception around media and advertising, enlighten you about what we are actually teaching our boys about violence, sexuality and disconnection, it will strengthen your will to make a difference, it will also shine light on what you can do to bring about change for future generations! Miss Rep is at times frustrating, scary, and reflective of a truly vitriolic news system that ritualistically tears women in power down, puts female leaders “in their place” and trumpets misogyny like you’ve never seen (unless you listen to Rush Limbaugh, then you know it up and down, and his well-versed antics you may be numb to — I’m not). How video games and advertising can shape our minds and actions — I know, from being in media myself — though, I like to think I contribute something good not harmful — nobody wants to blame movies for violence. But, hear me out. I do think there’s a such thing as social responsibility and failing to recognize that images and depictions of women as “things” and men as “heroes” that fuck them makes a huge difference in how people act. Culture and socialization are learned and passed down. Culture can be unlearned and socialization can evolve. To be more reflective of truth, not goals like domination and capital gain.

We need to allow men to feel. To allow their hearts and heads to connect and for them to be able to cry, feel a range of emotions and share them with us, and for this notion of “conquering the world” with machines and aggression to stop. It’s time for that 51% of the world (ya know, the ladies — 100% of us come from them) to add their gift of a different way of thinking to more positions of power. This gentler, empathetic, holistic, family-forward, unique and emotional female sex needs to be let in a little more. To lead more. To speak more and to be heard more. Because parity is essential for an evolved world. And it’s OK to say, “it’s time to change things for the better.” Men have done an incredible job thus far, with the help of many many amazing women. And, I’d love to see – in my lifetime, more women rulers, more Cleopatra’s and leaders of men to step forward and be accepted by men.

Two men tonight spoke bravely about how they are “frightened of women”. One in the film, and one in the audience at the Q&A afterward. I was particularly moved by Paul Haggis, the screenwriter of “Crash” who was interviewed in the film. He talked about both the socialization of boys as well as the fact that because boys and men are scared of women and don’t understand them, they demean and criticize them. As screenwriters, he said, men write women as these 2-dimensional ‘things,’ (fuck toys, superheroines with no backstory, the bitch, the seductress, the hottie) rather than complex whole human beings. He stated that a conversation needs to open up where men engage the other half of the world, and make that a priority, so that they can gain unity with women and stop hurting us in both media and life. (YES!)

Haggis also said that in the 1920s there were more complex roles for women in motion pictures. I didn’t realize that!

Seeing this film made me want to continue mentoring youth, in whatever way god sees fit! :)
Above is a pic of me and Siebel Newson, the director, who was generous enough to put her gorgeous husband, Gavin Newsom, the former Mayor of SF and current Lieutenant Governor of California, in the film as eye candy. Oh, he had awesome stuff to say too, like how he appointed two women as the chief of the fire and police departments when he entered as mayor. But, I’m a hot-blooded girl… the guy’s a certified babe. Am I wrong?

Gavin = Hot

Conscious sexualization of Gavin Newsom complete. Hopefully, I didn’t negate above sentiments. However, no intention to demean or cause physical harm. Just to appreciate the aesthetic beauty of a good man, with an open heart, forward thinking mind, and straight teeth. His insides make his outsides even better. Night! Go see the movie. Night! xox

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Destiny

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I believe it is part of the woman’s journey to speak up, be heard, grow and love. I believe it is part of the man’s journey to unlearn the lies he is taught by society, hear women, love women and himself and his children. To open his heart and move beyond the social structure of capitalism and all of the “isms” that is feeds. Women have the task of teaching and helping men evolve. Of living with them and by them and working with them and by them and loving them and engaging with them and having sex with them, while still voicing their needs and exposing their true selves. Men have the task of listening, learning, opening their hearts and being both the protector and the one ‘man’ enough to allow women to shine. It is no accident that we need each other, but in brute force, we stamp out one of the most dire voices that causes social change, unity and closeness with god. The voices of women.

Nobodies destiny is less great or less difficult. What makes you feel strong? What is part of your daily practice to be closer to women or men? How have you changed from who you were before your eyes were open, to who you are now? What else do you think would help you attain unity with women or men? Feel free to share your experience below.

In love,
Darrah

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The Conversation: Darrah’s Essay is Live!

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I’m really honored to have an essay “Daddy Dearest: When Father Equals Fear” appearing on The Conversation website. Brit blonde host and wife of Nick from The Strokes, Amanda de Cadenet, handpicked the piece from a slew of others. It details growing up inside a less-than-perfect household, and how I finally made (some) peace with the patriarch of my nuclear family.

Will you help me? Please share/like and comment beneath the story. I’d love to hear your thoughts and appreciate the support! Who knows? Maybe – with your help – I’ll start writing for them more often! ;)

XOX

Eleven years old

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