23 06 2011

On June 1st I saw the documentary “Postergirl” with Madelyn Hoffman and Denicknel, another NJPA volunteer. Going in I knew next to nothing about the movie, except that it was about a veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While there are many messages to take away from this movie, not the least being that these wars should have ended before they began, my thoughts have stayed with Robynn Murray, the ‘postergirl’ and her experiences after returning to the U.S. This movie got me thinking about powerful women and what I feel is a responsibility for those with power to use that power to help others.

A few days earlier on 1010Wins they were reporting on Sarah Palin’s recent visit to a school. One of the students answered the question of ‘Why do you want her to be president?’ by saying, “because she’s pretty and… she’d be the only girl?”

Now, I understand that this was a child, but apparently grown adults feel the same way, that the dearth of women in the government means we should support any woman, regardless of whether she is qualified or not. I remember hearing that several times as a rationale for supporting Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries.

Women who reach high levels in the government have more influence on a large scale than the average American woman and can use their influence to advocate for the issues they support. But what about the entertainers? Recently Beyonce made a video for her song called ‘Who Run the World (Girls).’ On YouTube vlogger (video blogger) Glozell made the first criticism of the video that I saw. She said she was expecting something like a tribute to powerful women in the world, not a bunch of partially-dressed women dancing like in most other music videos every popular artist has been making. And vlogger nineteenpercent made the point in a longer video that people continue to deny any inequality for women despite the fact that most sexual assault victims and domestic assault victims are women, that women are disrespected at work, at home, in the media and entertainment. And yet, Beyonce can make a video that claims that girls run the world, which in its title and content demonstrate that very inequality.

But why would we expect anything else? So few popular, powerful rich artists use that power to try to challenge the problems in the world. But there are some who do. Meryl Streep, Tracy Chapman, and Susan Sarandon have gotten involved in various social issues. And there are many everyday women who do their part to improve the world, without getting as much recognition.

I believe that those who are given power by everyday people, like our elected officials, have a responsibility to do what those who elected them want. I believe that those who are given power by everyday people, like our entertainers, have a responsibility to speak out for their fans and tell the truth about the issues facing them. Obviously it is possible to do that and still be popular and successful. So what is stopping them from speaking up?

Which leads me back to Robynn Murray. I do not know her goals for the future, how she feels about various other social justice issues, but I do know that she is one woman who is fighting for what she believes in. After joining the Army and serving in Iraq she has struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and subsequent mistreatment at the hands of her doctors. She says she was chosen as the “postergirl” because she was a ‘good soldier’ because she could ‘shut-up and take it’, it being the pressures and sexual harassment that come with being a women in the military. She was put in a position of power and she was taught by the U.S. military that it was okay to point a gun at the Iraqi people because they were less than human.

But Robynn has learned from her experience. She says she wants to apologize to all those people who were traumatized by looking into the barrel of her gun. Now she is involved in several veterans’ affairs groups, speaking out about what she went through, what is still happening to other soldiers. This is no easy task, but she is putting herself out there for that she believes in, and trying to heal from scars that are more than just physical. She isn’t an Oscar winning actress or an internationally known singer, but in my book, Robynn Murray is one powerful woman.

For more information about “Postergirl” please visit:

Don’t forget to comment and let us know what you think about the movie!



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