Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

29 March 2015

Review: I've got a bad feeling about Princess Leia's comic book series

When I learned that Princess Leia was getting a comic book series, it made sense. Women-led comic books are all the rage, especially given the ass kicking that "Thor (2014)" has been doing in sales. But after two issues, I am quite disappointed. "Princess Leia" picks up at the end of the "A New Hope" when Leia presents Luke & Han with medals.

SPOILERS BELOW....

The issue that Leia must contend with in this series is what to do after the destruction of Alderaan. Not just personally, but as the Princess of Alderaan. And here's where I feel the plot goes off track...The idea that the Empire is going to hunt down any remaining citizens of Alderaan is believable. I get that. But what I do not get is that Leia is portrayed as not just impulsive, which she is, but dumb impulsive. She was bad ass. See video I found on YouTube below...Go on, watch...



The first two issues paint Leia as too trusting and far more Princess Vespa than Leia.

Now her mission is to find all of Alderaan's orphans and preserve its culture. I hope this is more Indiana Jones than anything else. But I fear for the worst.

This is disappointing because for one thing, this is supposed to be a mini-series. We have little time to allow for Leia to act like as immature as she does. And we must remember this bridges "A New Hope" with "Empire" where Leia is clearly climbing in leadership status. Perhaps this series is part of a learning curve that helps ANH Leia evolve into ESB Leia? I am confused folks! I want bad ass Leia, not a princess that clearly needs to be saved and grounded.

Are you reading the series too? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @veronicaeye.

26 March 2015

The Power to Offend: Why Dan Bernstein Says What He Says

The latest case of foot-in-mouth disease, Chicago sports radio personality, Dan Bernstein.

Wednesday night, Bernstein took to Twitter to question the ability of a woman sports reporter's abilities. He woke up the next morning with a Twitter hangover. But unlike the young man who called Mo'ne Davis a slut, so far Bernstein has gotten off scott-free.

The Chicago Tribune reports that "Bernstein admitted on air he didn't realize he was in the middle of a blazing social media firestorm until he woke up Thursday morning. Only then did it hit him that making Twitter comments about a woman sports anchor's appearance probably wasn't a good career move." Ya, think?

What was his offending tweet about? Boobs


Since he joined the radio station in 1995, we can assume that he is not a teenage boy unaccustomed to seeing women or women's body parts. So what would make a grown man say something, never mind it was on Twitter, about a colleague's appearance in such a gross manner?

Power.

As a white male in a white male dominated industry, he has immense power. He has also been the co-host of his current show since 1999. That means that the powers that be at WSCR know him very well and appreciate his work. That gives him more power. This type of institutional power exhibits itself in many ways in other arenas - this is what gives people the sense of invincibility and they are often correct. We are far more a society of forced apologies than having real conversations about what the offense really was about.

This is why the Starbucks "Race Forward" campaign was such a flop. As a society, we have little skills to talk about racism, sexism, homophobia and all the other 'isms a rational level that does not involve those in power (usually white heterosexual men) to be offended.

For me, as someone who studies organizations and why some continue to be safe havens for racism and sexism, the first thing I wanted to see if there were any women on-air at the station. Here are the line-ups:

OK...maybe not hosts. I get that women are often the side-kick or side-line reporter, let's see what that looks like:

 
Oh.

And then I noticed a link above the hosts line up.

WSCR EEO Report: Click here.

Oh....So yes, I clicked right on over. In a simple PDF form, you can see how CBS hired all their openings for one year. I restricted my quick research project to WSCR. Over the course of July 23, 2013 – July 22, 2014, they hired eight individuals.
(11) Local Sales Manager (WSCR(AM)) Internal Candidate/Promotion
(12) Account Executive (WSCR(AM)) Referral (Employee, Industry, Personal)
(13) Account Executive (WSCR(AM)) Referral (Employee, Industry, Personal)
(14) Account Executive (WSCR(AM)) Referral (Employee, Industry, Personal)
(15) Promotions Manager (WSCR(AM)) Internal Candidate/Promotion
(16) National Sales Assistant (WSCR(AM)) Referral (Employee, Industry, Personal)
(17) Board Op Sounds Producer (WSCR(AM)) Internal Candidate/Promotion
(18) Content Producer (WSCR(AM)) Internal Candidate/Promotion
And you get to see where they got their interviewed candidates. I could not find information on their actual resume pool, but given what we know of the job market, I think it safe to say there were more than 54 applicants for eight openings. And where did WSCR get their interviewees from?

28 from internal applicants
17 from personal referrals
9 from the CBS job website
1 from an outside job website

And 100% of the jobs were filled with people who were referred to the openings or internal candidates. It is true that it is who you know!

Back to Bernstein...People are now wondering what should happen. Fired? Suspended? Whichever is fine with me. But what we really should be talking about is how did a radio station, even a sports radio station, get to where there are NO women on their photo staff roster? Well, I think I just showed you.

When you rely on internal and personal networks to fill open positions, you often replicate what you already have. The way humans works is that we too often associate with people who look just like us. It is comforting. Which is why some organizations make it harder for those in hiring to hire who they know. It does not always work, but at least it pushes people to reach outside their inner circle to look for applicants. And given the long list of diverse organizations that the ads were listed in, there should had been applicants who were good enough for an interview.

Organizational culture is very hard to change. But it can change with enough will from the top. I know some will wave off this incident as just more frat boy sports radio antics and they are right, But it does not mean we should ignore it. Women are sports journalists and they deserve a workspace that is respectful of them as human beings. It can be done, but not if we focus on apologies instead of actions.

18 March 2015

#365FeministSelfie NW Retreat is in the books...


I really did not think that picture would actually take place.

Over a year ago when I launched #365FeministSelfie, I did not think so many people would participate. Then when they did and started to talk about organizing a retreat? Shut the front door! No way. People are going to travel to meet people they met via selfies? Well over the weekend we did.  It wasn't a ton of people and in fact, it was the perfect number of people for the first, beta #365Feministselfie Retreat. I am so terrible at names, it was seriously perfect for me. You would think after seeing each other for over a year, we'd all know everyone's names. haha! But I wasn't the only one who needed a little help now and then.

  
And just as advertised we did not just sit around taking selfies. We heard from Caitlyn of In Other Words (aka the bookstore from Portlandia) about the rewards and challenges of a volunteer-run bookstore/community center. It's hard y'all. Then we heard from one of our selfie sisters who has a background in international affairs. That was pretty awesome. When we did our wrap-up meeting on Sunday most of us said they want to hear more from expert sisters. Not that we did not love our body love workshop (going find a new pencil skirt to buy & rock) or hearing from Andi Zeisler, co-founder and current editorial/creative director of Bitch magazine.

We had some great conversations with our guests and ourselves about feminism, mothering, the medicalization of life (pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding, and so forth), the benefits of backyard chickens, babywearing, body image, being an emotional being when the world wants you to suck it all up, and our love of books. I get the sense that we could have been just as happy sitting around the pool (that I don't think any of us got to) reading and catching up. 

The power of the internet never fails to amaze me. Sixteen months ago most of us were strangers. Now we call each other sister. We are all very different from each other, but what brought us together was the idea of taking a selfie every day for a year to reclaim our everyday feminism. 

Thanks ladies. And the rest of ya, stay tuned for news on a Midwest Retreat in the fall.

 

18 February 2015

First Woman to Head MLB Doctors Group

As a sports fan, I have always been intrigued as to why women dominate the medical field, but not sports medicine. You rarely think of them until you see your quarterback get knocked down or someone slides into second base and catches their cleat on the base. This is why I perked up when I learned that Dr. Kathleen Weber is poised to become the first woman to lead the Major League Baseball (MLB) Team Physicians Association in 2016. She is the Director of Primary Care/Sports Medicine and Women's Sports Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

This was an important interview for me for two reasons. The first reason is my daughter. She is 11 and aspires to make soccer her career. She has a big wall sticker of soccer phenom Alex Morgan above her bed and wears a pink headband like Alex. I want to do whatever I can to help her reach that goal, but I stop short of being overbearing and pushing too hard too soon. Being able to speak to a professional who has seen what pushing too hard looks like was a gift.

My other reason for talking with Dr. Weber is professional. As someone who works with and studies about women in science, I have sometimes been told, "At least medicine isn't an issue anymore." Clearly, there are still systemic issues in medicine in regards to when it comes to women beyond their representation in medical school. To realize that in 2015 we are still celebrating and marking "firsts" for women doctors is remarkable -- and not in a good way. I hope that Dr. Weber's work will inspire young women who aspire to be athletic trainers and physicians and practice in any locker room and sideline.

I recently chatted with her about sports, being a first and the difference in athletes by sport:

VLF: What does it mean to you to be the first woman elected to be the president-elect of the Major League Baseball Team Physicians Association?
Dr. Weber: It is a great honor for my work to be respected by my colleagues. It is a privilege for them to trust me with this leadership role.

VLF: What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
Dr. Weber: I plan to continue the community and leadership that our organization provides. This includes continuing to improve our academic meetings where we discuss issues such as safety. Safety is a big issue in baseball.

VLF: We know that in terms of safety, concussions are a huge issue with football, but what are the big concerns in baseball?
Dr. Weber: In baseball it is mostly overuse issues. Hamstrings, pitchers elbows and rotator cuffs. Concussions are an issue, but not as big an issue as in football. But there is research occurring to develop a cap for pitchers to protect them from balls that are hit straight back to them. We also are always working on ways to better protect the catcher.

VLF: How influential is your position and organization? Does MLB listen to your opinions on safety?
Dr. Weber: I also serve on the Medical Advisory Board which does present recommendations to MLB. We do find that they listen to our findings and expertise.

VLF: I was impressed that you work with so many different teams from baseball to basketball, but also women's football. What differences to you see between the sports and even between men and women athletes?
Dr. Weber: To me they are more alike than different. For one, every athlete wants to win. Their common denominator is that they all have a high drive to be their best. They all work very hard. I will say that the difference is how they express frustration and emotion. But male athletes are just as emotional as female athletes.

VLF: As the mom of an 11-year-old girl who plays soccer and dances, what advice do you have to keep our children in shape?
Dr. Weber: First of all, kids should be having fun. Once you stop having fun you lose the urge to compete. Also, your daughter playing soccer and participating in dance is good. Kids shouldn't specialize until they are much older. Specializing too early is what causes repetitive injuries.

VLF: What advice would you give kids who have Olympic or professional sport dreams?
Dr. Weber: I tell kids that they need to work hard and have fun. Learn to eat well and rest well. Kids need to learn how to recover from injuries. They should enjoy their family and do well in school. As for parents, you need to give them access to good coaches. If a coach shows you that he or she is a jerk, walk away.

Note: Interview is from notes, not a transcription. Ideas were summarized and/or combined for space.

13 February 2015

Catching up with Thor, Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel (Spoilers)


The last time you checked in on your blogging goddess, she had finished the first issue of the new Thor, the first two issues of Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman and a bunch of the new Ms. Marvel. Today she picked up the latest issues bringing us up to Thor #5, Ms. Marvel #11, and SCF Wonder Woman #6. And how are they?

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

THOR: We are still learning about the new Thor. The mystery woman is still hiding behind the mask, but we do learn that she cares about the original Thor. When he comes back from the dead (you knew he wasn't really dead!), she is relived. And while he fights her for his hammer (the source of the super powers & the name "Thor" she now possesses.), he eventually realizes that she truly is worthy of being called Thor. There's a fight scene in one isses where Thor meets up with a bad guy who teases her about being a feminist.

LOVE THIS.

And so far your comics-obsessed blogger is loving "Thor." There are moments when the comic deals head on that Thor is now a woman. Then there are moments when it is just about Thor fighting bad guys. The original Thor is on the hunt for who new Thor use to be, so that will be a fun adventure as his first two attempts were. "Thor" is highly recommended. This little girl would agree. 

SCF Wonder Woman continues to explore the mythology of Princess Diana in short stories. For the most part it's pretty awesome. The art work in the first story of the current issue is a little iffy as it meanders into objectification and stereotypical drawings of women characters. But the stories are both solid. Both deal with Wonder Woman's continuing attempt to solve issues in a peaceful manner.

Last up is Ms. Marvel. Kamala, oh how this character continues to grow as she figures out her place in the world and in her role of superhero. Maybe it is because she is a teen that these stories are more emotional. Her first 'big bad' threw everything at her. Since she is still discovering all her powers and limitations, she continues to get herself in tough spots. And this causes your stomach to drop! Even if you know she'll find a way out. The anticipation is amazing. She is not only representing for young women and Muslims, but also for her generation as you can see from the snap shot I took. She is standing against the stereotype of the tuned out Millennial.

And what did your comic reviewer see at the end of two of these comic books? An ad for a Princess Leia series. Add to this the upcoming all-lady Avengers and you may need to send money fast!

11 February 2015

How I Chose Happiness When #PhDLife Failed

Today bestselling publisher Linda Joy released Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness featuring the soul-inspiring stories of 27 amazing women who share their intimate stories of transformation. Choosing Happiness also includes Reflection Questions after each story which will empower you to integrate the vital lessons of each woman’s journey into your own life. For a limited time you can get over 40 transformational gifts with your copy of Choosing Happiness. Grab your copy today >> http://bit.ly/Happiness_Book
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As some of you know, I went back to school in the fall of 2010 to earn a PhD. But in May 2014, I was unceremoniously dumped from that program. Yeah, it was through email and not even a formal letter. The age of the internet, I guess. So four long years of reading, writing, earning more white hairs and gaining at least twenty pounds for not much to show. OK, the twenty pounds definitely shows! But while some programs dump you and you at least have a masters degree to show for it, I got nada. OK, I did already have a masters degree, but you know what I mean. I was done and depressed.

That was until I started to tell people about what happened. In the course of earning a PhD, you must pass a series of exams. Fail just one of them twice and you're out. Plain and simple. That's what happened to me. It happened to at least one other classmate too.

Just a few weeks ago I had to tell someone about being dumped from the program and the reaction is fairly the same across friends:

1) Eyes bug out while mouth drops to the floor.
2) They recover and say something like, "I'm so sorry," in a soothing tone.
3) They shake their head and say something like, "If they can't see what they are losing, screw 'em."

I won't lie and say that it does not still hurt, it does. A LOT. Being Latina adds to the hurt. In 2009, Latin@s made up only 3% of PhDs. THREE PERCENT. I use to joke that if I earned my PhD, I was going to invite every Latina with a PhD to my graduation party because I could fit them in a van. It is not that I wanted to be of the few, because I am already one of the few Latinas with a masters degree. But I take my position as a role model seriously. I do not wave it off because of the weight of it. I accept the challenge. Do I really have a choice?

Instead of leading with three little letters after my name, I have accepted my role as cheerleader of those Latinas who persist. I'm in a private Facebook group for Latinas working on their PhDs and I get to use the fact I fell flat on my face for their benefit. I thought about leaving, but I haven't. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say and supporting the Latinas who persist makes me happy.

The fact my family, friends and people I barely know off-line have been so outraged by my dismissal from the program makes me happy. Earning a PhD is hard stuff because you are constantly challenged. I rarely knew when a professor thought I was on the right track. I know they are supposed to challenge you, but goodness! Anywho, it is nice to hear people rave about how brilliant you are. ha! But seriously, after being told how much you don't fit into a department and all that jazz, it is nice to see people freak out and want to storm the dean's office on your behalf.

I have often said that I have failed me way into the successful life I have and I guess this is just one more example. I can't wait to see what life holds for me after this latest failure. And I'll go into it with a smile.


*******************
I invite you to share how you are choosing happiness in the comments below.

Be sure to check out Linda’s new book, Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness and grab your copy today at http://bit.ly/Happiness_Book to receive the bonus gift bundle worth thousands!

Disclaimer: I am participating in a book tour, but am not compensated for this post. 

31 January 2015

Calls for Papers from Demeter Press (Indigenous Pregnancy, Mothers, Daughters, Social Media, Sons, Ambivalence, Immigrants)

There are a bunch of CFPs from Demeter Press, so I am posting just a summary of the calls with links back to the Demeter Press site with the full details. Warning, all links are PDFs. Good luck!

Indigenous Experiences of Pregnancy and Birth [PDF]
Editors: Dr. Jaime Cidro and Dr. Hannah Tait Neufeld
Deadline for Abstracts: March 15, 2015

In North America Indigenous Peoples are diverse in the way they embrace their traditional institutions and cultural practices surrounding pregnancy and birth. Traditional midwifery, culture, customs, understandings and meanings surrounding pregnancy and birth are grounded in distinct epistemologies and worldviews that have sustained women and their families since time immemorial. Biomedical antenatal care practices in North America remain virtually unchanged from the original models developed in Europe in the early twentieth century. New technologies and diagnostic techniques have been added, yet standardized procedures are adhered to because of their association with lower mortality rates. Rates of maternal mortality are significantly lower in Canada than less affluent countries, however, inequalities exist. Indigenous women experience disproportionately high rates of high-risk pregnancies, associated with elevated rates of maternal mortality. First Nation and Inuit women are more likely to experience complicated labours and preterm births, with infant mortality rates almost 2 to 4 times higher than the general population. It is widely recognized that these circumstances are exacerbated by inadequate access to health and social services as a direct result of colonization, including structural barriers, restrictive and oppressive policies, and complex social determinants of health. Years of colonization have impacted the degree to which women have choice in the place and ways they deliver their babies, and who is included in their birthing experience. Culturally appropriate models of prenatal and birthing care are important components in Indigenous health sovereignty and self-determination.

Mothers and Daughters [PDF]
Editors: Dannabang Kuwabong,
Janet MacLennan, and Dorsía Smith Silva
Deadline for Abstracts: April 30, 2015

This anthology will explore the multifaceted connections between mothers and daughters. We welcome submissions that analyze new fields of inquiry in this area, examining discourses about mothers and daughters through academic writing, narrative essays, and creative work. We specifically encourage offerings that address the identity and experiences of mothers and daughters from within an interdisciplinary framework, which includes cultural, biological, socio-political, relational and historical perspectives. Therefore the uniqueness of this collection revolves around a fluidity in blending not just work from across academic disciplines, but also the forms in which this work is presented: academic inquiry and critique as well as creative and narrative explorations.

Taking the Village Online: Mothers, Motherhood, and Social Media [PDF]
Editors: Lorin Basden Arnold and Betty Ann Martin
Deadline for Abstracts: June 1, 2015

The rise of social media has changed how we understand and enact relationships across our lives, including motherhood. The meanings and practices of mothering have been significantly impacted by the availability of online mother groups (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) as well as internet resources intended to 'enhance' and inform maternal experience and self-concept (ex. pinterest, YouTube). The village that now contributes to the mothering experience has grown exponentially, granting mothers access to interactional partners and knowledges never before available. This volume of works will explore the impact of social media forms on our cultural understandings of motherhood and the ways that we communicate about the experience and practice of mothering.

Mothers and Sons [PDF]
Editors: Besi Brillian Muhonja and
Wanda Thomas Bernard
Deadline for Abstracts: April 30, 2015

Conceptual and empirical research and scholarship as well as creative works tend to primarily contemplate parental interactions and influence in same sex generational dyads: mother-daughter or father-son. This consideration of parenting assumes gendered parental legacy. This anthology, which engages the cross-sex parent child paring, invites submissions in the form of academic writing, narrative essays, book reviews and creative work from across the disciplines that explore the idea of 'mothers and sons' across cultures, polities, and temporal spaces as a cultural, biological, socio-political, psychological, relational and historical identity, relationship, experience, philosophy, and practice.

Maternal Ambivalence [PDF]
Editors: Dr. Tanya Cassidy, Dr. Susan Hogan & Dr. Sarah LaChance Adams
Deadline for Abstracts: September 1, 2015

This anthology will examine the diverse and complex experiences of maternal ambivalence from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Most simply, maternal ambivalence can be described as the simultaneous and contradictory emotional responses of mothers toward their children: love and hate, anger and tenderness, pity and cruelty, satisfaction and rage. Mothers often feel as though their own desires are directed against themselves when they are in opposition to their children's needs and wishes. When one's beloved child cries in despair at one's departure, one may both want and not want to leave. When the mother simultaneously desires intimacy and distance in relation to her child, when she feels the impulses to both harm and protect, to both abandon and nurture, this is when maternal ambivalence is at its perplexing height.

Immigrant/Refugee Mothers [PDF]
Editors: Helen Vallianatos and
Anna Kuroczycka Schultes
Deadline for Abstracts: March 15, 2015

The experiences of mothers who are immigrants or refugees vary across time and space. Immigrant scholars have long discussed potential factors that impact the immigrant experience, such as contexts of reception, racialization, economic marginalization, language use, and cultural identity, among others (Portes and Rumbaut, 2001; Telles and Ortiz 2008). In this edited volume, we wish to explore how and why immigrant/refugees mothers' experiences differ due to the challenges posed by the migration process, but also what commonalities underline immigrant/refugee mothers' lived experiences. How are the lives of immigrant mothers dependent on cultural, environmental and socio-economic circumstances? Papers may look at how mothers' perceptions of gender roles be influenced by migration and the host culture, what everyday mothering means to immigrant/refugee women, their families, and communities, and what challenges immigrant/refugee mothers face. We would also like papers that investigate how refugee mothers' issues may differ from immigrant mothers. The collection will focus on ethnographic (research based), theoretical and creative submissions.

13 January 2015

From Durango, Mexico to Mayor of Chicago?

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia was ready to enjoy his first uncontested election. He had a few good books picked out that had been taunting him. Then he want to visit his friend Karen Lewis after her surgery. She greeted him with, "Sit down. You need to run." Lewis ran down all the reasons he was the best person to run for mayor of Chicago. And with that Chuy went home to discuss the idea with his wife. Her response?

HELL YES!

A few months and thousands of signatures later, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia is building a coalition of community people who want to work together to make Chicago a better place to live, learn and do business.

When I heard Chuy was jumping into the race I was excited. I had never met him, but I had followed his last campaign to become a Cook County commissioner. He seemed to be the exact type of politician so many people, myself included, wish where were more of. Chuy appears to have always fought for his community and with integrity.

That is why I said yes when I was asked to join a list of over 100 Latino leaders to endorse Chuy. Being at the Latino Leader event was exhilarating. The campaign office was filled with energy. Supporters spoke about Chuy's commitment to Chicago, to supporting neighborhood schools, to real comprehensive immigration reform and being part of a people's movement. Chuy spoke of being the Latino candidate who would work to empower the Latino community. As I shook his hand I mentioned that my dad is also from the state of Durango, Mexico. He lit up and smiled.

Later that day I reported to my dad and we had a great conversation about their homestate's penchant for mustaches and supporting our familia. My dad and I don't talk about a lot of things outside of his granddaughter and sports, but I can see us having a lot of talk about over the next few weeks.

On Sunday I attended a coffee where Chuy came to answer questions. I have been to enough of these events that I space out during "safe neighborhoods" and "strong schools" talk. When perked me up was how he brought up coalition building among community organizations. Chuy lamented the tragedy of community groups feeling that they are in competition because of limited foundation and government grants. He also impressed me with his response to a woman's question about her perceived distrust that African-Americans have of him. Essentially he discussed how discrimination against African-American workers and the hiring of immigrant workers has built a tension between the communities as some believe we need to fight over the same piece of pie. Chuy wants everyone to benefit from the whole pie.

I like that idea. This will require a lot of work, including policy changes, but to start, we need someone who will champion them. I really believe that person is Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

This campaign has national ramifications, so if you cannot vote for Chuy, please consider contributing to his campaign. $50 or $5,000 will make a difference!

11 January 2015

EVENT: Chicago Women's Mayoral Forum


Chicago Has A Women’s Agenda –
Where Do Mayoral Candidates Stand On It?

Hear What The Leading Candidates Have To Say at the

CHICAGO WOMEN’S MAYORAL FORUM

Saturday, January 24 | 2pm to 5pm
Chicago Temple | 77 West Washington St

Featuring:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Alderman Robert Fioretti
Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia
Willie Wilson

Moderator: Cheryl Corley, NPR Correspondent


Brought together by:

American Association of University Women (AAUW) | Broadcast Ministers of Chicago | Chicago Area Women’s History Council | Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network | Chicago Women Take Action | Coalition of Labor Union Women | Democratic Women of the South Suburbs | EarthHeart Foundation | Girlfriends Group | Girls in the Game | Girls on the Run | GlobalGirl Media | HotHouse | Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) | Jobs For Justice | Mujeres Latinas en Acción | National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore Section | National Rainbow PUSH Coalition | Planned Parenthood | Rape Victim Advocates | The Voices and Faces Project | Younger Women’s Task Force

06 January 2015

#365FeminstSelfie End of Year Honors


Congrats y'all! We won a few end of the year honors!

First Colorlines named me as one of their 14 Women of Color Who Rocked 2014. Then Blogher named me one of their 2014 Women of the Year.

Yes, I do consider these OUR honors because, without all of you, there's no way that this project could be recognized. I had an idea, I put it out into the world and YOU respond without apology! Ok, some of you did apologize to your friends & families to prepare them for a year of awesome, but that's ok.

So take a bow, #365FeministSelfie. We kicked ass last year. Not to mention Mayim Bialik took a liking to us!

02 January 2015

Help Send "Locked Down, Locked Out" to Women in Prison

Maya Schenwar's book, Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn't Work and How We Can Do Better, has been lauded around feminist and progressive media:

Alice Kim at Truth Out:
Deftly weaving her own personal experiences with her sister’s incarceration alongside the stories of prisoners who she has been writing to over the last eight years, Schenwar illustrates the devastating effects of prisons on those who are incarcerated, their families, and our communities. With her book, she not only offers a searing analysis of the prison industrial complex but also possibilities for creating alternatives to mass incarceration.
Sarah Macaraeg from The Toast:
...Maya’s book, filled with the voices of her incarcerated pen pals—one of whom is Maya’s own beloved sister, Kayla. Woven together with her family’s experience facing the formidable hurdles likewise faced by millions as they try to remain connected to a locked-down loved one, Maya’s analysis of our “prison nation” is that of a system rooted in the dehumanization of people of color, particularly Black people. Her assertion that “prison doesn’t work” does not revolve around wrongful convictions, nor does her challenge that “we can do better” point towards mild reforms. Instead her book demands we wrestle with questions posed by indictments and non-indictments alike. What would truly provide healing and safety for our society?
Eleanor J. Bader at RH Reality Check:
Well-versed in the ins-and-outs of the system, Locked Down, Locked Out offers an accessible, easily readable account of the ways the system dehumanizes prisoners, making reentry into the outside world difficult for many. By merging her sister’s story with a broader, investigative report, Schenwar humanizes those we dub “offenders” and assesses how we, as a society, can do better. Rather than depressing, the book is ultimately an inspiring call to action.
I personally have not read the book yet (you gotta see my to-read-book pile, yikes!), but I know Maya and her work enough to know that this book will be an amazing read, especially to those who are currently incarcerated.That is why I was excited to here that the Chicago Women's Book Project has offered to send out copies of Locked Down, Locked Out to people in prison. This will be a demonstration that people on the outside are thinking about and supporting them.

Here is how you can help send a copy to women who are in prison and want to read this book. Just purchase the book from any online retailer [Powells | IndieBound] and have them ship it to

c/o RFUMC
4511 N. Hermitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640

Disclaimer: Purchasing from Powells or IndieBound using the links above benefits Viva la Feminista. Feel free to purchase Maya's book from any retailer of your choosing. 

31 December 2014

I guess you were in for #365FeministSelfie

A year ago I had a silly idea for a personal blogging goal. As I do with some of my posts, I added a "How about you?" at the end in an attempt to start a conversation. But in the era of social media, I knew that most conversation about a blog post happens on social media and not the comments section, so I didn't think much about it. I scheduled the post and waited.

OK, I figured that a few friends would humor me and do it for a day or two. I never set up any systemic way to track how often the hashtag was used on any platform because I honest to gawd thought it would peter away. Now I get people asking me to give metrics on how many people, who are they, how old are they, where do they live? I did create a census form for participants, but I know it undercounts (yes, it is still open!). It is hard to get all those answers, but really it does not matter how many people joined in on my silly idea. What matters is that they did and in that we created a new community.

Some people posted on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, and Facebook. Some in all the above. On Facebook there was a private group that one amazing woman, Cara, started for her and friends to participate in private. Soon they invited others and I stumbled onto it. In all of these venues I have been privy to conversations about women (one thing I do know is that most participants identify as women) coming to terms with their bodies, going through pregnancy (I have lost count of how many babies were born this year), new jobs, opportunities lost (ahem, phd), tackling traumas like death, divorce and continuing to deal with being a birth mother. We have laughed, cried, and yawned through the mundane daily life moments. We know what each other's kids look like and some of our partners too.

I will be honest (cause I can't be anything else with this project) that I was not prepared for the emotions of writing this last post. I was not prepared for the finality of "Day 365" and am glad I haven't taken that selfie yet. It was about in October when people really started to ask what would happen on January 1, 2015. Would we go on?

My immediate reaction was no. The project was set up for a year and that is all it is meant for. Let's get one thing straight, while I did create the hashtag, I do not feel like its owner. We all own it in some fashion. Viral things are hard to hold. But it is my baby so there's that. It's a paradox.

So what are we to do on January 1, 2015?

For some people the project will be over. I know for them it was a challenge to do the project and they need it to be done.

For others, the community is too strong to let this project slide to 100% transparency. So it will continue on. Not just for the community, but a lot of people did not join on January 1, 2014 and want to get through 365 selfies! SO HELL YEAH FOR THEM!

There are also a few retreats or mini-conferences in the works, so keep an eye out for info on that so we can take one hell of an epic selfie together. 

And I am working on a book proposal about this project. Yes, there will be a call for submissions as I see the book being part anthology. 

#365FEMINISTSELFIE WILL LIVE ON!

I can't promise to take a selfie every day, but when I do, it'll have the hash tag on it. I have a few people who want to help me shepherd this baby along, so keep an eye out for my deputies.

Lastly, thank you. Thank you for everyone who participated. Especially you die-hards who actually did it every single day. Thank you to everyone who tolerated our faces every day in your social media feed. Who posed with us as we took our selfie for the day.

If you want to be one of the #365FeministSelfie deputies, please leave a comment or email me a note. Let's work on the plan together. 

27 December 2014

Book Release: Intensive Mothering: The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood


Demeter Press is pleased to announce the release of:

INTENSIVE MOTHERING: THE CULTURAL CONTRADICTIONS OF MODERN MOTHERHOOD

Edited by Linda Rose Ennis

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Sharon Hays' landmark book, The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood, this collection will revisit Hays' concept of "intensive mothering" as a continuing, yet controversial representation of modern motherhood. In Hays' original work, she spoke of "intensive mothering" as primarily being conducted by mothers, centered on children's needs with methods informed by experts, which are labour-intensive and costly simply because children are entitled to this maternal investment. While respecting the important need for connection between mother and baby that is prevalent in the teachings of Attachment Theory, this collection raises into question whether an over-investment of mothers in their children's lives is as effective a mode of parenting, as being conveyed by representations of modern motherhood. In a world where independence is encouraged, why are we still engaging in "intensive motherhood?"

"This volume revisits Sharon Hay's groundbreaking work to productively re-examine her contributions in light of changing cultural discourse about motherhood in 21st century Western cultures. Focusing on a breadth of topics by examining the complexities of motherhood from various perspectives, Intensive Mothering demonstrates with keen insight how this ideology has been reinforced, revised, and challenged in relation to women's evolving relationships to work and family. The volume also adds nuance to the field of motherhood studies by accounting for how consumerism and capitalism have complicated expectations and identities of motherhood and mothering in the last two decades."

-Jennifer L. Borda, Associate Professor of Communication, The University of New Hampshire

"Without question this topic is highly significant and important. Given the predominance of intensive mothering ideology defining 'good motherhood' in North America, it is absolutely crucial to critique and assess what this means for mothers, children, families and North American society."

-Melinda Vandenbeld Giles, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Editor, Mothering in the Age of Neoliberalism

"In this text, Dr. Linda Ennis has compiled a thorough and thought-provoking array of articles examining how the dictates of intensive mothering have become the predominant ideology disciplining contemporary mothers. This text is a must read for anyone wishing to gain a more in-depth understanding of the emotional, physical, financial, and psychological consequences of mothering intensively by both the individual and Western society at large."

-Tanja Tudhope, Producer and Maternal Scholar

Dec. 2014 / $34.95 / ISBN 978-1-927335-90-1 / 6 x 9 / 343 pp.

Please visit http://demeterpress.org/IntensiveMothering.html for details on how to order this new title!

26 December 2014

Spending #OfficeHours with Kevin Spacey

Kevin Carroll/a digital cure Photography
Kevin Spacey is not the first name to pop in one's head when you think of who could give women advice on mentoring and risk taking, but Levo certain did! In this entertaining and enlightening video you learn a lot about Spacey and how he became the actor he is today. There is a point where he uses a visit to the Middle East as evidence of how the arts can empower women and it is problematic as he positions the repression of women in that region of the globe. But overall the video is fun and just might stick in your memory the next time you are faced with a career risk. And maybe, just maybe will help you recognize when a dark and scary place ends up being where your dreams have been waiting for you.



21 December 2014

Guest Post: Roxane Gay on Today’s Feminism: “Better is Not Good Enough”

Nearly three hundred bad feminists gathered at the Chicago Temple on December 10 to hear New York Times best-selling author Roxane Gay discuss issues around feminism, inequality, and the struggles that 21st century women still face at an event hosted by Women Employed. Gay’s commentary and criticisms on Wednesday were in line with those found in her recent book Bad Feminist—incisive and insightful, covering a broad range of topics with her signature quick-witted sense of humor. Some highlights from the evening:
On the wage gap: “Women have compromised enough! 77 cents is a compromise. Pay me a dollar, you asshole!”
On burning out in social services and activism: “Self-care is a priority. You must decide how much self care you need. If you burn out, then you’re not doing anything. If you’re not here, you can’t do any good in the world.”
On not always having an opinion: “Sometimes it’s Tuesday and I’m thinking about macaroni and cheese.” 
On privilege: “Saying that you have privilege does not mean that you do not have suffering.”
On intersectional feminism: “Feminism is so much more complicated than just gender. If good feminism is only about middle class white women, then I don’t want to be a part of that feminism.”
As Gay points out, there are̶—or at least there should be—as many different kinds of feminism as there are different kinds of people. A problem emerges, however, when one type of feminism comes to stand in for all types of feminism—when one approach or perspective claims to authoritatively represent all perspectives. Broadly speaking, mainstream feminist movements have left behind women of color, low-income women, and LGBTQA women. As Gay writes, feminism is certainly flawed, but it is flawed because it is a movement powered by people who are also inherently flawed.  At its best, feminism has the potential to offer a way to navigate our shifting cultural climate and to help women find their voices, which is what we find in Gay’s work.
Bad Feminist is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Gay’s writing is accessible and her tone approachable, yet her criticisms are articulate and pointed, as she never waters down the complexity of her arguments. In fact, one of Gay’s greatest strengths as an author and speaker is her ability to personally connect with her audience, allowing her to present highly sophisticated and nuanced social critiques without alienating anyone through the use of jargon-laden language, as may be the case with fellow academics (Gay is a professor at Purdue University). After all, what good is critical cultural commentary if someone needs a PhD to understand and respond to it? We need clear and discerning voices like Roxane Gay’s to serve as models and encourage us all to look much more critically at the world around us. Furthermore, the breadth of issues that Gay addresses in Bad Feminist speaks to the landscape of today’s feminism—complex, rapidly developing, contested, and above all, still necessary. 
Sure, things have improved for some women, but they have not improved enough, particularly not for women who are not highly educated, straight, middle-class, able-bodied, documented, and white. When women hold less than 20% of seats in Congress, when popular music boasts lyrics like “I know you want it,” when 1 in 5 women are raped or sexually assaulted in college, when there were over a thousand bills proposed in 2011 that intended to limit women’s ability to access an abortion (200 of which passed), when white women earn 77 cents, black women 64 cents, and Latina women 53 cents to every man’s dollar, how can anyone really say that feminism is irrelevant? At this point, we should not be questioning the relevance of feminism, but rather, we should be rolling up our sleeves and asking, “Where do we even start?”
And this is no easy question. During the question and answer at Women Employed’s event, an audience member asked Roxane how to know when to pick your battles. After all, the problems are complex and numerous, and most of us only have a finite amount of time, energy, and resources that we can dedicate to the causes we believe in. Gay’s advice was simple, but powerful: 
Use your voice where it will do the most good.
You can’t do everything, but you can do something. No matter where you live, what you do for a living, or how much time or money you have, there is a unique way that you can contribute to social change. Do you have a bit of financial flexibility? Make a donation to a women’s nonprofit (such as Women Employed). Do you have expertise in your field? Mentor younger women or donate your time and knowledge by serving on a council or board. Even more importantly: do you have a voice? Speak up, and do so as often as you can. Do you have ears? Listen to others who have experiences and perspectives different from your own. If nothing else, be proactive and stay informed about what’s going on. Sure, things are better than they were a generation or two ago, but as Gay aptly puts it, “Better is not good enough, and it’s a shame that we would settle for so little.”
Here’s the truth: all feminists are bad feminists. We’re imperfect, and our feminisms are imperfect. As individuals, we each have limited perspectives. We contradict ourselves. We make mistakes. We’re human. But does that mean we abandon feminist causes? Definitely not, because then we’re really in trouble. We do the best we can with what we know, we get challenged when someone disagrees, we pay attention and remain open to new perspectives, and then when we know better, we do better. We may all be bad feminists, but it’s up to bad feminists to keep fighting the good fight.
Rachel Clark studies Women’s and Gender Studies at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. In December, she had the opportunity to intern with Women Employed, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that advocates for increased educational and employment opportunities for working women. She aspires to one day be a professional feminist.