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Barack Mandela
Lawyer, Military Veteran, and Philosopher

Ani Difranco: Women Must Empower Other Women

Barack Mandela in the Armored Division of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). (From Mr. Mandela’s personal collection)

I am a super-creative and super-artistic free thinking black American from Long Beach, California which is in Los Angeles County.

I was raised in a community populated by strong black, Asian, and Latina women. In fact, as a child, I lived with my maternal grandma “Miss Ann”. My grandma passed away when I was 16 years old, leaving a figurative hole in my soul.

After my beloved grandma’s passing, I began searching for a powerful, spiritual female figure who would serve as my ‘universal mother’.

Once I entered university and law school, I experimented with various religious beliefs and philosophies—hoping to find a spiritual mother figure. While in law school, I converted to both Reform Judaism and Orthodox Judaism. I then moved to Israel and enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

However, before I moved to Israel, a young Jewish activist loaned me her albums by singer/songwriter Ani Difranco. I was blown away when I listened to Difranco’s songs and poems such as: “The Slant”, “IQ”, “Anyday”, “Both Hands”,  “Crime for Crime”, “Not a Pretty Girl”, and “Subdivision”.

As I allowed Difranco’s powerful lyrics to wash over my naïve mind like a waterfall of inspiration, I raised my right fist in the air in celebration. I finally found my ‘universal mother’, and her name is Ani Difranco.

When I chose Ani Difranco as my ideal mother figure, it strongly influenced my ideas about female empowerment, women’s rights, motherhood, and feminism.

During my childhood, I always desired a perfect mother figure who would be soft, gentle, caring, loving, merciful, and graceful. My inner child fantasized about an angelic mother who would be tender and affectionate, who would fulfill all of my childish needs and whims.

However, once I embraced Ani Difranco as my universal mother, my entire paradigm shifted, and I embraced an ‘activist womanhood’; I began to admire women who fight for women’s rights and women-on-women empowerment.

For most of my early life, I was living in a “childish dream world”. I was a “man-boy” crying and weeping in search of a perfect, soft mother who would dry my tears and hold me in her loving arms.

It was Ani Difranco’s activism and lyrics that blasted my brain with hardcore radical feminism and girl power.

With the help of talk therapy and psychology, I was able to burst out of my impressionable childish bubble of immature silliness and embrace a more robust and balanced masculinity. I evolved from boy to man.

Inspired by Ani Difranco, I have written the following song/poem titled: Every Tool is a Weapon:

My inner child cries out

Due to the war that I fight

Because every tool is a weapon

If you hold it right

Male dominated society treats women like weapons

Women’s rights are trampled and stepped on

I want to empower girls and female babies

From the oppression of sexist crazies

Who wrongfully label teen mothers as lazy

Their hatred of the feminine amazes me

My inner child searches for the universal mother

A gentle mother who will save me from the heartless other

A woman who will embrace my sisters and brothers

A virgin queen who is pure like no other

Dangerous fantasies of the perfect female

Unrealistic expectation of womanhood locks women in a jail

Post modern women just want to be free

Free from the oppression of male society

Free to look in the mirror and see

A powerful woman staring right through me

So fly your flag of women’s power

So spit in the face of sexism every hour

Empower women to reach the top of the tower of power

So women’s dreams will bloom like a flower

Girls and women in their strength must stand

A woman in equal to any boy or man

Our entire world must understand

That every woman is a royal like a Kardashian

Yes, all women must be free

A woman isn’t a doll like Barbie

The End

This essay is part three of my series about female empowerment, feminism, and women’s rights inspired by singer/songwriter/poet/activist Ani Difranco. The goal of this series is to empower women and girls.

About the Author
Licensed Attorney. I earned a Doctor of Law at the University of California, College of the Law, San Francisco (Hastings) . I earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Riverside. I was an international student at the University of Costa Rica Faculty of Law and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law. I am a military veteran of the United States Air Force and United States Army. I am a laureate of the National Defense Service Medal from the Pentagon. I am a financial donor to following: Harvard Law, Yale Law, Stanford Law, Berkeley Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, UC Davis Law, Columbine High School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Phillips Exeter Academy, Sidwell Friends School, Viewpoint School, Beverly Hills High School, Eton College in the United Kingdom, Special Olympics, Children's Defense Fund, Obama Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Barbra Streisand Foundation, Princeton University, Florida A&M, Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the British Red Cross. I am former special assistant and staff attorney to Governor Pete Wilson of California. I was public affairs assistant to US Senator Barbara Boxer. I am a member of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
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