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Showing posts with label WHM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WHM. Show all posts

31 March 2010

Women's History Month: The End...Or is it?

Today's Women's History Tidbit:
1776: Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John, who is helping write the Declaration of Independence: "Remember the ladies...[we] will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice." *

The end of my favorite and least favorite month.

On Facebook, I started the month off by quipping that March is the month where so many of my friends spent half their time in airports traveling around the country spreading the gospel of women's history. And making most of their money.

I know far too well the pressures that colleges and universities are under and that the market for speakers is super tight. My campus has leaned towards local speakers since the last Governor decided to balance the budget on our backs. If we do cobble together enough money it's just for one speaker, not the 2-3 from years ago.

And why do so many awesome feminists make most of their money this month? Because they aren't thought of outside of Women's History Month for speaking gigs. It's awesome that we take a month to celebrate our history, but we need to break out of this ghetto and we need your help. Make sure that in September & October that there is a Latina for Hispanic Heritage Month. Ditto for all the other history and awareness months out there. Hell, bring them in for a political talk, media talk, sexuality talk or just for the hell of it talk.

We have Women's History Month because our education system fails to teach women's history outside of March, so why do we keep our speakers in that month?

Let's not go out of this month like lambs, but like the bad ass lionesses we are. Keep talking about women's history tomorrow and all year round. Buy kids books about women in history for gifts. I especially suggest Judy Moody books which slips in women's history without being all "Hey! Women's history! Right here!!" I wish I had the time to reprint every day of the calendar I've been citing this month. I haven't used a paper calendar in forever, but I bought it because of the daily women's history tidbits. Instead I'll leave you with a list of links for women's history. Please leave your favorite in the comments!

And thanks for sticking around this month.

* Source:
2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress

29 March 2010

Women's History Month: Traveling into women's history

Today's Women's History Tidbit:
Amy Sedaris, Lucy Lawless and Jennifer Capriati were born.*

This was originally posted on the AWEARNESS blog. 
USA Today ran an excellent piece...called, "10 great places to honor our foremothers." It was a nice surprise as I took that short plane trip from Cleveland to Chicago.

Despite the fact that I read about the ten places on a plane, I am actually quite the road trip gal. I like having time to stare out the window, read a good book or knit another scarf. I love checking off one more state visited, even if most of the time I spend is in a family restaurant eating pancakes. The Arizona Women's Heritage Trail fits my definition of a dream vacation.

I'm lucky to have been in Jane Addams' Hull House many a time. No matter how often I go there for an event, I am still awed at the history of the place.

And the one trip I want to make out of all of them is up to Seneca Falls, to where it all started...the Women's Rights National Historical Park. That one will be a family vacation, as my daughter is named after Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Baseball Hall of Fame is just a quick trip away. Oh and you know we'll pay homage to the women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, even if USA Today didn't include them.

Where else would you suggest a women's history junkie take a stop? Is there a little-known tribute to a great woman from history in your neck of the woods?

* Source: Wikipedia

28 March 2010

Women's History Month: Are Women Athletes Winning or Losing?

Today's Women's History Tidbit:
1982: Louisiana Tech defeats Cheney State, 76-62, to win the first NCAA Women's Basketball championship.* 

This was originally posted on the AWEARNESS blog.

Hot on the heels of the American & Canadian women hockey teams thrashing their international competition is a renewed conversation about whether or not women's sports has matured quickly enough. Some even ponder whether or not it will ever be truly competitive.

As I have written before, women athletes are in a constant damned if they do, damned if they don't position. We can be strong, but we need to be feminine. Those with families are pushed out in front in a way male athletes are rarely treated... well, unless they are lesbian.

Now the questions being raised surround the notion that women's sports have limited potential for success. That of all the girls playing basketball, only one dynasty has emerged, and for some reason that's bad.

Honestly I think we are still far too young when it comes to women's sports to consider it a failure. While we have had a few generations of girls grow up under Title IX and playing sports, we still have not integrated that into our social fabric. Friday night football is huge, but what about Saturday afternoon women's soccer matches? Leaving work early to hit the Yankees game is a given on a summer evening, but is it even an option for a Liberty game?

Girl and women athletes have done monster work to build up the sport, but in this era, teams must have someone there to watch them score, win and lose. That is why girls flock to UConn and other powerhouse teams. But we need to follow them.

I am not ready to call an end to this "experiment" of women's sports. Because it's not an experiment, it's a reality. Women will not go back to the sidelines. So sit down, grab your pom-poms and cheer them on.

* Source: WNBA.com History of Women's Basketball

27 March 2010

Women's History Month: That stripper pole is someone's office!

Today's Women's History Tidbit:
1900: Effa Manley is born in Philadelphia. From 1935 to 1948 she will run the Newark Eagles, a Negro Leagues baseball team, which she co-owns with her husband.* She is the first woman to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.**

This was originally posted on the AWEARNESS blog. 

At least that's what Quansa Thompson is trying to claim. She's a smart cookie exotic dancer from Washington, DC who is suing her former "employer" for not paying her and her fellow dancers a wage. I put employer in quotes in this context because the owner of the club claims that "he treats dancers as if they were patrons, charging them $20 admission, then letting them keep whatever they earn without any additional fees."

No matter what your stance is on strippers or exotic dancers, I hope that you agree that they are working. They are providing entertainment that draws people in to pay real money to enter an establishment and buy food and drinks. Sure they get paid a lot (at least the ones in the WaPo article do) to entertain, but that doesn't mean that employers should get off the hook. Thompson says that she might start a magazine; I think she should enroll in law school. There are a lot of other women out there who need a gutsy woman like her, who is willing to speak out for her rights as an employee, to stand by them!

And thanks WaPo for an educational and entertaining article. I can't figure out if my favorite line was about Warren Buffet or the safety net.

* Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress 
** Source:  ESPN

26 March 2010

Women's History Month: Heartache

Today's Women's History Tidbit:
1973: London Stock Exchange allows women members for the first time. *

My heart's been aching the last few days.

First came the news that the genius Mikhaela B. Reid was retiring from political cartoons. Why? She lists all her reasons and yes the market for political cartooning sucks, she's tired, she's expecting a baby (but she admits she's still be retiring even if lil M wasn't on the way) and she's burnt. I get that. TOTALLY. But I still cried when I read her good-bye on her blog. Part of it is the very real fact that we don't have a mechanism to fully support creative folks like her, thus they can either skimp together a meager living or work themselves to the bone 24/7 to get thru the "real job" and the "creative job." I cried because while the baby isn't the primary reason, there is the real fact that babies just slow you down. They just do. How fast you get pull out of the pit stop depends on many factors. Then I cried for the burnout. Mikhaela mentioned that one reason she hasn't retired earlier is that she felt pressure to represent for women in her industry. I so get that. I ponder that a lot actually and not just about myself.

Mikhaela: I wish you much love and luck as you complete your journey into mamahood. Relax and recover with your lil one. Let time heal your creative soul. I'm sure you'll be back creating things whether it is a cartoon or a super cute dress.

Today I cried again. This time for my friend Susan aka WhyMommy. Cancer...again. I saw her at Blogher 2009 at a party and was able to introduce her to Cinnamon. "She's a rocket scientist!" Seriously, I love bragging that I have a rocket scientist as a friend. Then she let me know that we had a student in common. Someone from my campus was interning in her neck of the woods. That student was forever changed by Susan. So just from a professional stand point, she's awesome. But the fact that she's battled and kicked cancer's ass before, shared her journey with us as a way to bring awareness to the rare form of breast cancer she was diagnosed with a few years ago. And now cancer is back. Fuck.

Susan: I don't know what I can say that you haven't heard before. Cancer wasn't in my job description when I signed up to help keep women in science, but I guess it goes with the territory, eh? You say you need, we need more research? That's where I will help. I like to talk pre-meds out of medical school by pointing them to areas in the medical science pipeline where they can be the ones making the discoveries, doing the basic research so that we never have to entertain the thought of losing one more friend. And if they still decide to go to medical school, I'll help to make them see they need to treat the whole person, not just the disease. No matter what, you'll be part of my pitch.

* Source: BBC On This Day

25 March 2010

Women's History Month: Lt. Mom

Today's Women's History Tidbit:
1971: Sheryl Swoopes, the WNBA's Most Valuable Player and Defense Player of the Year in 2000, is born in Brownfield, TX.

As my fellow Illinoisans know, we've had one hell of a period of political drama. The one that I'm trying to keep track of us is the search for a Democrat Lieutenant Governor candidate or as I've started to call it "Who Wants to Be Lieutenant Governor?" The process has included accepting applications, a public poll (still on!) and now we're on to the interview round. For transparency sake, my friend Megan Drilling is currently in 3rd place in the poll. That means she is one of 17 people asked to interview for the position on Saturday in front of the state Democratic bosses.

I stumbled upon this video of one of the applicants, who sadly didn't move on to the next round.

I love, love that Rayne talks up her parenting as a strength and her social media skills.

We can talk all we want about how we would want a seasoned politician in this spot as Illinois is in a crisis. But hey, didn't seasoned politicians get us in this mess? Why not put a mom who knows how to Twitter in there? Either way, it's awesome to see Rayne in this video go after an elected office like this. Hopefully it won't be the last we hear of her.

I don't know why accepting applications is seen by the party as "transparency." The Mayor did it for three aldermanic vacancies he has to fill (he filled two last week) as well. But there doesn't seem to be  much follow up that would allow us to believe it is true transparency.

But good luck to Megan and the other candidates headed to Springfield this weekend! And let's get on with this election.

* Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress 

24 March 2010

Women's History Month: Ada Lovelace Day 2010

For Finding Ada 2010, I would like to talk about Engineer Your Life.

It's a website that is geared towards girls, but anyone can visit and learn, and focuses on why a career in engineering is rewarding and fun. They have a list of 10 reasons why you will love your career in engineering.

Parents and those of you lucky enough to have an impact on young people's lives, please encourage them to visit this site. There is still such a stereotype that engineering is just about rockets and bridges. I blame years of physics and calculus classes for reinforcing this view. As we saw in Minnesota a few years ago, bridges are important. But we don't quite teach that in our schools. We also don't teach our children that engineering touches our lives and will shape the future. That is why we need to point them to the area about finding their dream job.

There is a stereotype, that bears fruit in real life, that girls are more likely to be drawn towards careers that clearly benefit humankind like social work, teaching and medicine.

That is why the finding your dream job section is awesome. Take computer science. This is one field where women are DECLINING in numbers around the country. It's quite a puzzle. But it becomes a bit clearer if we think about what we think about when we consider computer science as a career. Do we think of people programming computers? Creating new software for us to use? Tool makers?

They are, but as Engineer Your Life points out, computer scientists are designing new tools for doctors to use help detect cancer better. Ladies....Dreaming about a mammogram that doesn't squish your boobs into a pancake? That's a job for a computer engineer. Why not encourage your daughter to solve that problem?

There are a lot of ways that parents, teachers and everyone else can help encourage girls to dream of an engineering career. It will take all of us. Read the latest AAUW report - it's not super academic & full of jargon - to see how you can help....even the newborn girl in your life.

23 March 2010

Women's History Month: It Could be Bunnies!

Today's Women's History Tidbit:
1882: Emmy Noether goddess of mathematics was born.*

Tell the FDA to Act on Emergency Contraception from Center for Reproductive Rights on Vimeo.

* Source: The San Diego Supercomputer Center presents "Women in Science: A Selection of 16 Significant Contributors"

22 March 2010

Women's History Month: Batter up! Hear that call!

This weekend's Women's History Tidbits:
March 20, 1991: Supreme Court rules unanimously employers can't exclude women from jobs where exposure to toxic chemicals could potentially damage fetus.* 
March 21, 1943: Cornelia Ford, military pilot, died when another plane on the same air ferry mission clipped her plane's wing, crashing her plane.** 
March 22, 1893: Senda Berenson, the "Mother of Women's Basketball," organized and officiated at the first women's basketball game.***

I've been busy writing up a grant for work all weekend. OK, crunching numbers in Excel for the grant...but that means I was too busy with work to write here. Plus Senor Feminista & I went out for dinner & a movie with friends on Saturday.

In lieu of a real post, I bring you the one song in the world that makes me cry like a baby:

  • Batter up! Hear that call!
  • The time has come for one and all
  • To play ball.
Go to 5:38 of the video for the song! And bring me a tissue! 

    * Brainy History
    ** This Day in Women's History 
    *** Jewish Women's Archive

    19 March 2010

    Women's History Month: The Fly Girls are Finally Golden!

    Today's Women's History Tidbit:
    1989: Japan's Midori Ito captures the Ladies World Figure Skating Championship in Paris. She is the first woman to land a triple axel in international competition.*

    This originally was posted at the AWEARNESS blog.

    My third, last and happiest update on the women of the WASPs...They finally got their gold:


    Can you pass a tissue? Look at that photo...those hands. Delicate as my late grandmother's, yet you know the history behind them. Those hands are representative of "1,100 young women, all civilian volunteers, [who] flew almost every type of military aircraft -- including the B-26 and B-29 bombers -- as part of the WASP program." Some women were too short for the program but somehow slipped through by standing tip-toe.

    Yet because the women were civilian volunteers working to support the government, the government did little to support the 38 who died in the line of duty:
    [26-year-old Mabel Rawlinson from Kalamazoo, Mich. ] was coming back from a night training exercise with her male instructor when the plane crashed...the military was not required to pay for her funeral or pay for her remains to be sent home. So -- and this is a common story -- her fellow pilots pitched in.
    "They collected enough money to ship her remains home by train," says Pohly. "And a couple of her fellow WASPs accompanied her casket."

    And, because Rawlinson wasn't considered military, the American flag could not be draped over her coffin. Her family did it anyway.

    Now we know where the women got all their moxie from, eh?

    But whether or not they lived to receive their Congressional Gold Medals, scores of us who learned all about how the Greatest Generation was composed of sacrificing baseball players and Rosie the Riveters, now know that there were also a group of Fly Girls who did things like tow "targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting -- with live ammunition."

    And to have the awarding of their medals happen in March, Women's History Month, whose theme this year is "Writing Women Back into History," well, it's a little too much for this writer to comprehend without another box of tissues.

    [Image: Columbia Missourian]

    * Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress

    18 March 2010

    Women's History Month: Translating the F-Word:Defining Feminism in a Multicultural Society

    Today's Women's History Tidbit:
    1964: Speed Skater Bonnie Blair is born in Cornwall, NY. She will compete in three Winter Olympics, winning five gold medals and a bronze.*


    Come on out and discuss feminism with us!

    This panel discussion will examine feminism through the lens of race, class, gender, and sexuality, discussing both their work and their personal experiences.

    Panelist will include:

    Siobhan Brooks, Postdoctoral Fellow of Gender Studies at Lawrence University.

    Courtney Martin, award-winning author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters.

    * Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress

    17 March 2010

    Women's History Month: Support the Reproductive Health & Access Act

    Today's Women's History Tidbit:
    1910: Charlotte Gulick and Luther Gulick establish Camp Fire Girls, the first nonsectarian organization for girls in the United States. *

    For over two years reproductive right and justice activists have been working towards passing a comprehensive reproductive health bill. Now we have HB 6205, The Reproductive Health and Access Act which is in the Illinois House RIGHT NOW!

    The anti's are saying terrible things about the bill, it's lies. Wanna know the truth head on over to the bill's campaign myth-debunking page. 

    So what's our next step?



    You need to reach out to your Illinois House representative and tell her or him why you want them to vote yes on HB 6205.

    It's no lie, our health depends on it!

    * Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress

    16 March 2010

    Book Review: Enlightened Sexism by Susan J. Douglas

    Today's Women's History Tidbit:
    2001: Annika Sorenstam sets an LPGA 18-hole scoring record (and ties the men's PGA record) when she shoots a 59 in the second round of the Standard Register ING tournament in Phoenix, AZ.*

    Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message that Feminism's Work is Done by Susan Douglas falls flat to connect to the audience Douglas targets.

    Douglas attempts to unveil the contradictions in society, especially pop culture, that allows us, men and women, to believe we live in a post-feminist world but in fact do not. She fails to convince me, despite believing it, due to her contradictory examples.

    Douglas' definition of enlightened feminism is brilliant: A response, deliberate or not, to the perceived threat of a few gender regime. It insists that women have mead plenty of progress because of feminism - indeed, full equality has allegedly achieve - so now it's ok, even amusing, to resurrect sexist stereotypes of girls and women." To that, I say hell yes! She further goes on to skewer irony in the way that many people use it today. T-shirts that say "Who needs brains when you have these?" or the use of long-buried racial cartoon characters in a "Hey, we're so post-racial, I can wear this!" way.

    But while Douglas does an excellent job at connecting the dots of how enlightened sexism is a result of the emergence of feminist wins and a "sense of threat to make dominance" in so many places in society, I felt that her treatment of feminist wins was so off-putting that I couldn't enjoy the rest of the book.

    I did enjoy Douglas' use to Janet Reno and Cindy Crawford as the polar opposites of femininity in the 1990s and beyond. What I didn't like was that Douglas didn't seem satisfied with any of the mergers we saw on TV or on the silver screen.
    • Xena was too violent, beautiful and busty;
    • Buffy was too infatuated with Angel & didn't embrace her power;
    • Dark Angel had the sex drive of a cat;
    • La Femme Nikita was forced into her role;
    • Professor Stromwell calls Elle (Legally Blonde) a girl in the pivotal scene in the salon;
    • Down with Love reveals that feminists want to fall in love and get married too;
    • Kerry Weaver and other ball-busting characters are too tough.
    The same damned if we do, damned if we don't scenario women find themselves in the world is used by Douglas in critiquing pop culture.

    Douglas' chapter on black women (You Go, Girl) was uncomfortable. As a Latina, I get to be the outsider in these conversations, but also an insider. As a kid and even now, I see positive images of black women as a positive for all women of color and thus for me. Douglas seems equally uncomfortable with embracing the idea that black women have a power that white women don't have - the power to talk to "the man." She cites Wanda Sykes as the black woman who has that power. "So Wanda Sykes letting Larry David have it on Curb Your Enthusiasm - well, I want to steal it, the pose, the attitude, the confidence, the language, the pronunciation, the whole damn package." The chapter deals mostly with how "Black Speak" is a way for black women to tell it to the man and make white women part of the club (Oprah). Douglas does touch on how this isn't always a positive for black women, but continues to hail it was something that white women lust after.

    She goes on to talk about how showing highly successful black women such as those we see in The Cosby Show, Grey's Anatomy and Living Single as part of enlightened sexism. By the fact that successful women, in general, are still few and far between, the rise of the successful woman of color in pop culture makes us all think that everything's fine, no need for feminism here.

    While I agree with that premise, I also think that Douglas misses out on the strength of positive women of color characters for well, women of color. While I loved Florida to death, I was happy to see Claire move into my TV as well. It was aspirational and a relief to see women of color not struggling just to get by. The gals on Living Color allowed me to dream of one day living with my supportive girlfriends as we struggled our way thru men, romance, starting our careers and all that.

    And that brings me back to my gals Xena and Buffy. While I usually credit Bob Fertik as bringing me into the wonderful world of the internet with politics, it was Xena who kept me coming back day after day reading my emails, debating the feminist theory behind a busty woman kicking men's asses week after week. Yes, Lucy Lawless was beautiful...and still is. Sarah Michelle Gellar as well. But the reason so many women, myself in the front of that pack, loved Xena and Buffy so much was that we were finally kicking some ass.Yes, the weight of their roles in the world weighed on them, but isn't that what we want from our leaders? A flip leader cavalier about their role in our lives leads to arrogance - see USA 2001 - 2008.

    We saw how Xena & Buffy spreads their power among the women in their lives. From Minya in A Day in the Life and Gabrielle, Xena attempts to empower women she encounters. Oh, there are flaws all right, but what hero doesn't have a flaw? And let's not forget the most feminist 15 minutes of TV history during Buffy's finale? Dear gawd, I'm crying just thinking about it.

    While we know in our heart of hearts that Xena & Buffy don't really exist, we need those images to get us thru our lives, to take over our bodies when we are faced with danger and especially when we are making amends for past sins.

    There were also some hints of unenlightened feminism. Such as in the discussion about Amy Fisher, Douglas said, "[Fisher's laywer, Eric] Naiburg sought to Fisher as the victim, claiming she had been raped repeatedly by Joey, a line somewhat harder to sustain once people saw her turning tricks on Hard Copy." For many feminists of my generation and also Douglas' target audience, sex workers can be raped. Douglas does nothing to toss that myth onto the media, but embraces it with silence.

    Enlightened Sexism has its problems. It's a book I recommend for younger feminists to read if they are studying feminist theory. It's not a book I would ever give to a young woman as her first or second introduction to feminism. There are a lot of valid points in this book, but far too many stumbles for someone not well versed in feminist theory, especially intersectionality, to come away with a positive view of feminism.

    Other reviews that you should read:
    * Small Strokes
    * Gender Across Borders

    Disclaimer: The only payment I received was the copy of the book after the publisher contacted me.

    * Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress

    15 March 2010

    Women's History Month: Why I hate parking garages

    Today's Women's History Tidbit:
    1905: Actor, writer and director Margaret Webster is born in NYC, where she will found the American Repertory Theatre and become the first female director of the Metropolitan Opera House.*

    Damned if we do, dead if we don't.

    That's what I was thinking the other day as I was reflecting on the ever continuing death and disappearance of women and girls in our world. Those who want it reversed include people who live in some of the roughest neighborhoods of Chicago and believe that owning a gun is the only way to truly protect themselves and their families. I was thinking this while in the shower, where I feel the safest.

    Then as I was parking in a public garage, I was thinking of how much I hate them. They remind me that I'm a woman. That I'm vulnerable. That I need to park in a well-lit spot so that I'm not hidden and big baddies have less space to hide in as well. There's a Target that I frequent where even if it's pouring rain, I will park on the top level so that I don't have to park under anything. Why? Because I feel more safe that way. I finally admitted it to my husband a few months ago when we actually shopped together. He was floored at my thought process. And he's not a guy to not consider safety when traveling out of our home.

    But parking garages are my weakness.

    I can walk anywhere in my neighborhood without much thought of safety. I wouldn't even know how many gangs intersect at a nearby corner if it weren't for my neighbor telling me. I am safe in my cocoon of ignorance and bliss. Until I park my car...alone.

    When I do walk to my car alone at night, I do the girl trick...I call a friend, usually my husband. "Hey, it's me, just walking to my car. Walk with me." When I saw that
    Shayla Raymond was talking to her boyfriend on the phone while waiting for the bus to arrive, yet still died from harassment, I was floored.Yes, a possibly drunk driver hit her and threw her into the path of another car, but the blood is just as red on the hands of the men who were harassing her. They entered her safe space at that bus stop and she moved to get away from their prying hands and words into the path of a car. Stop Street Harassment also blogged about Shayla.

    A few months ago I was coming home from some event kinda late. I was on that high you have when you were just hanging with new friends and had a great time. The martini helped too. I was reading a book on an El train when I noticed this flock of college aged women. Blond, pretty and having a great time. Then the dude. This dude walks into their circle and is trying to engage them. They send clear signals of no, including I also believe a "No, leave us alone." But he didn't.

    Instead he kept inching into their space. And he looked like he was enjoying himself...yes, his hand in his pocket, smiling and making some moves with his hand. eewww...The women kept trying to keep him away from their festivities. He kept trying to crash. Finally when we pulled up to a stop, I screamed at the top of my lungs for the fucker to get the fuck off the train. I pushed him off. But I let go too soon. He slipped back on. By then the other men on the train woke the fuck up.

    They made a barrier between him and the women. The dude kept complaining that he had the right to be there, he wasn't getting off the train and I know he threw some names at me. I can't recall what he said cause I was fuming and running on adrenaline. But he was still on the train and the next stop was in my direction not his. I wasn't going to rely on a group of lazy ass men, who didn't give a rats ass until I stepped up, to protect me. I got off the train and moved to a new car at the next stop.

    Which brings me back to the handgun ban.

    I support gun bans. All of them. 1000% sane, regular hunting people should not have guns built to kill people. Period.

    But I think, would women be safer if we all were packing heat? Would Shayla be here today if she could whip out a gun instead of walk into the street to get away from harassers? Would I park anywhere the hell I wanted if I had a gun inside my purse? Would I had kept that dude off the El train if I had waved a gun in his face?

    Honestly, no. Honestly I think even if every women in Chicago, in the world were armed, we'd still get harassed, pushed, groped and assaulted. I don't think arming ourselves will solve one damn thing.And that's really sad.

    * Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress

    14 March 2010

    Book Review: Sexism in America by Barbara J. Berg, Ph.D.

    Today's Women's History Tidbit:
    1972: A small group of young Jewish feminists under the name "Ezrat Nashim" presented a manifesto entitled "Jewish Women Call For Change" at the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly convention.*

    Sexism in America: Alive, Well and Ruining our Future is an excellent feminism 101 book. It might bore those of us who have been keeping up with how sexist our society still is despite our many successes. Dr. Barbara J. Berg does a fab job at summarizing so many parts of our society in short and succinct chapters. Some chapters were so short, I was like, "That's it?" But it's not the length of the chapters, but the information she crams in there without feeling like I was being lectured at.

    Despite my statement that this is a primer text, I still would recommend this book to us vets. Why? Because Berg pulls a Nancy Drew, digging up items that I'm sure some of us have forgotten or just plain missed. I found myself nodding along, sometimes in a "yeah, yeah" stupor only to be bowled over by a factoid like part of the post-WWII safety/Red Scare was built upon women keeping their homes clean. For reals. Just when you thought you couldn't hate the Donna Reed stereotype more.

    It's not just a downer, Berg takes the time to point out the high points and in a sense, points to them as a way to say, "If we can have THIS, why do we put up with THAT?"

    It took me a bit of get into the book, for the reasons stated above...One more women's history 101 book...yawn, but grew to love Berg's take on how we live in a so-called post-feminist society yet still need feminism desperately.

    I wrote this post while listening to I highly recommend it too.

    Grab a copy for yourself at
    an indie bookstore or Powells.com.

    Disclaimer: The only payment I received was the copy of the book after the publisher contacted me.

    * Source: Jewish Women's Archive

    13 March 2010

    Women's History Month: Migraine Mania!

    The past few day's in Women's History Tidbits:

    March 11, 1923: Agatha Barbara is born in Zabbar. She will serve as president of Malta from 1982 to 1987.*
    March 12, 1982: The first games of the first women's NCAA basketball tournament are held. Thirty-two teams will compete in the tournament; in 1994 the tournament will expand to a 64-team field.*
    March 13, 1986: Four-time champion Susan Butcher wins the first of three straight Iditarod Trail Sled Dog races in Alaska.*

    The last three days have been migraine mania for me. I won't go into details on how it came about, but suffice to say that it was an allergic reaction to a chemical. But from Wednesday evening until today when I woke up, I was rocking a world class migraine. Thankfully I have a well stocked pharmacy in my home. Of legal drugs people!

    In light of my migraine mania, I thought it was a great chance to introduce or remind you of two women I consider the Queens of migraines and chronic issues:

    Paula Kamen: It's hard for me to summarize Paula because while she likes to tell me that I'm everywhere, I say she was there way before me. Paula has written a play about Jane, the abortion collective from pre-Roe days, a loving tribute about her friend Finding Iris Chang and her own memoir about a 15-year migraine All in My Head. Not to mention she was one of the first people to write about young feminism. And now she's a mom of two lucky children. Seriously zip on over to her website and read up on her. You won't be disappointed.

    Jenni Prokopy: AKA Chronic Babe. I met Jenni thru Cinnamon and she's always the first thing out of my mouth when a woman tells me she's been diagnosed with a chronic disease/illness/situation. "You have to go to ChronicBabe Dot Com." As Jenni says, she's got chronic diseases but she's still a babe! It took me a long time to identify as a Chronic Babe. What's lifelong suffering of environmental allergies compared to say Type 1 diabetes or fibromyalgia? Well, I think a lot considering that a 30-year-old-runny nose is pretty chronic. Plus the sneezing, stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes.

    In my mid-twenties I started to have migraines. At first I put all the blame on my birth control pills. I think they were partially to blame. After weighting the pros and cons of menstruation suppression, I figured that it's not just my pills. Despite my allergies having killed off a lot of my sense of smell, I am sensitive to some smells. I also get migraines if I don't eat & sleep well in a small period of time. So I know if I'm pulling a long day, I better fortify myself well.

    As I try to catch up on the world after my migraine coma, I salute the two Chicago women who have this community covered.

    * Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress

    10 March 2010

    Women's History Month: National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers

    Today's Women's History Tidbit:
    1993: Dr. David Gunn is assassinated and is the first of four women's health care providers to be murdered for providing abortions. This is why we show our appreciation today to all the men and women who help make choice possible.* 

    Can you believe it's March 10th again already?

    This year the National Abortion Federation is asking us to take a picture or make a video of ourselves holding up a sign of thanks. [PDF]

    That's all for today's post. Just go say thanks to a provider. Send a few dollars to the National Abortion Federation or to tomorrow's providers at Medical Students for Choice. 

    Edited to add something Rebecca Turner sent me:

    A blessing for abortion providers
    May Goodness bless all who offer professional abortion care and may they have a chance to use their talents and develop new skills and a place to satisfy their innermost desires to be of service to others.

    May Goodness bless you with energy and creativity and the desire to continually improve your care for women's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

    May Goodness hold you in safety against the evil desires of any forces that wish to do harm; may you be granted wisdom and strength for overcoming whatever malevolence we face.

    May Goodness bless your community as it grows in its appreciation of and commitment to your sacred work.

    May Goodness provide us all a vision of hope for our future and our children’s futures.

    May Goodness confirm and bless the path you have chosen. Amen.

    * Source: History.com

    09 March 2010

    Women's History Month: Why I love Ariel & Belle

    Today's Women's History Tidbit:
    1990: Dr. Antonia Novello was sworn in as both the first Hispanic and woman to be U.S. surgeon general.*

    When Nobel Savage tweeted that Disney was renaming and reframing the Rapunzel story in a way that "allows" more boys to enjoy it, I thought, BULLSHIT! But as I read the LA Times piece, I started to laugh:
    After the less-than-fairy-tale results for its most recent animated release, "The Princess and the Frog," executives at the Burbank studio believe they know why the acclaimed movie came up short at the box office....Brace yourself: Boys didn't want to see a movie with "princess" in the title...Disney can ill afford a moniker that alienates half the potential audience, young boys, who are needed to make an expensive family film a success.

    "We did not want to be put in a box," said Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, explaining the reason for the name change. "Some people might assume it's a fairy tale for girls when it's not. We make movies to be appreciated and loved by everybody."
    My first laugh was because "AHA! Princess backlash!" Perhaps it's not just parents of boys who are keeping their girls from princess movies. Then I got serious and thought, "Shit, I hope the princess takes the fall and not the fact that it was a Black princess!" Then I laughed again at how Disney might have just marketed themselves out of money by playing the princess card over and over.
    Princesses and other female protagonists helped lead the 1980s and '90s revival of the animation unit with "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Mulan." The difference between those releases and "Princess and the Frog" is that those earlier films weren't marketed as princess movies.
    Back in the time of Ariel and Belle, I was in high school. Not the target audience, I know, but still I was a kid. What I loved about Ariel was not just that it was a telling of one my favorite fairy tales, but that Ariel was portrayed as a headstrong teen who was curious and adventurous. I prefer mermaid-Ariel to princess-Ariel any day. Then Belle came along. Oh Belle! We bonded as bookworms. Again, when I think of Belle, I think of her sitting in that mega-library with a cuppa tea and her nose in a book. Now that's my fairy tale.

    Oh yes, I know all the feminist critiques of both characters and movies, but for me, I fell in love with them for other reasons. The critiques are valid mind you. But Disney...Disney, oh how I do love you! Correction: I love Disney movies, not Disney the company that seems to be playing hard ball with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.^ You must understand that I didn't fall in love with the princess aspect of the tale, but rather the adventurousness and the intellect of the leads. Don't scrap Rapunzel, scrap the princess-centric tale and marketing plan.

    While you're at it, scrap the lazy dude theme too.

    If I had a boy, I would have tweeted as I walked out of "Princess and the Frog." We don't need a movie about how a woman has to kick a guy in the ass to work. Yes, the prince is lazy and he learns otherwise, but lately the media is all about telling our boys that they are lazy, they don't work as hard and yes, a lot of us joke about it. But you, Disney, have no need to wallow in that pool. Telling tales of girls and their dreams doesn't mean that the boys in the movie can't also dream big.

    Cause really, in my fairy tale, my guy and I share the same big dreams of adventure and intellectual intercourse.

    ^ I know it is hard to split the company from the movies from the theme park. In fact it is impossible. My heart of fond childhood memories of the Big Mouse, trips to Orlando and the movies keeps me coming back for more. But my head keeps me focused on the fight. Please read CCFC's response to the latest showdown with Disney.

    *Source: This Day in History and  the National Women's Hall of Fame

    08 March 2010

    Women's History Month: International Women's Day

    Today's Women's History Tidbit:
    1911: International Women's Day is first celebrated in Europe. It will receive official UN recognition in 1975.*

    This post originally appeared at the AWEARNESS blog.

    Happy International Women's Day!

    Over the past 18 months I've written for AWEARNESS, I've written a lot about rights. For International Women's Day Gender Across Borders wants to know what "equal rights for all" means to me.

    Equal rights for me means just that, equal rights. As a human being with two X chromosomes I should have the same access to education, jobs and safety as humans with only one X chromosome. That access goes far beyond any city, state or national border too.

    My activism is rooted in my early education of human rights though working with Amnesty International. The U.S. Congress could pass every law feminists could think of, every judge could believe women when they ask for protection against violence and the police would enforce everything and I still wouldn't be satisfied.

    I would relish that our job was done here in the U.S.A. and it left me with more time to fight for the education of my sisters abroad, for them to be free of forced marriage, for them to be healed from fistula and for their work to be honored around the world.

    As long as there is a young girl trafficked, denied her education and forced to bear a child at way too young of an age, I will be there to fight for her. It's not enough for women in one country to enjoy freedom.

    If you want to work on international women's issues, any one of these organizations would be happy to have your support:

    • CARE
    • Fistula Foundation
    • Half the Sky Movement
    • Heifer International
    • MADRE

    Have your own favorite? Please share it here!

    * Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress

    Women's History Month: Weekend in DC

    The weekend's Women's History Tidbits:

    March 5, 1974: Reporter Helen Thomas becomes UPI Whie House buraeu chief*
    March 6, 1937: Pearl Buck dies. **
    March 7, 1938: Race driver Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 (1977), is born in Iowa City.*

    As noted last week, I was in Washington, DC over the weekend. I had a grantee meeting and then the rest of the family showed up to take in the sights. My partner & I love DC. We always feel like we're going home when we go there. It's familiar and still takes our breath away. Althou navigating the Metro is still a learning process for one of us. *glare* But we are having a great time trying to instill that love to the kid.

    While she did get bored walking everywhere, she had a blast at the Air & Space Museum. She made sure we saw Amelia Earhart's plane. She made sure, I didn't remind her, heck, I forgot about Amelia! I'm such a sucker for astronauts that plain old plane pilots slip my memory.

    We had a great dinner with family members I haven't seen in ages. One second cousin is in communications & teaches journalism (I didn't have the guts to talk about my own writing-I had someone close to me complain that all I do is talk about myself, so I stopped talking about myself with family) and other works in public television. Their parents are in their late 80s and still sharp as tacks.

    The weekend went by far too fast and we're already planning a return trip later in the year. Heck, I think I may need to go out a few days early again just to see all the wonderful friends I missed this trip.

    * Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress
    ** Source: Today in Women's History


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