Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

19 May 2015

Join me for #STEMchat with SciGirls on May 21!

As long-time readers know, my paying job is to support women who are studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). I often get asked what the magic key or silver bullet is for getting more girls into STEM. While the actual answer is complex and nuanced, when I am talking with parents it usually ends up being, "Let them break things & get dirty." This is why I am excited to invite you to join me for #STEMchat with SciGirls on May 21st about citizen science. I love the tagline, "Do Try This at Home," because that is such a key to the puzzle! Do science at home. Demystify it. You don't have to be a genius to do science. And I'm super excited to be chatting with SciGirls.

Now in its third season, SciGirls features real-life girls and mentors engaging in science, citizen science. As the SciGirls track toads and count clouds, they also hope to inspire SciGirls (and SciBoys) to join the citizen science movement. Citizen science invites children and their families to make key observations as well as record and share data on large-scale research projects run by real scientists. It’s a fun way for the entire family to participate in the scientific process. Some citizen science projects run for so many years, that participation in them can easily become a family tradition.

Speaking of families, PBS Parents has a bunch of STEM-sational resources, including an overview of SciGirl episodes and extension activities you can do at home.

#STEMchat will take place on 5/21 from 9 – 10 PM Eastern.

I'm on an awesome panel of grown-up SciGirls to help lead the #STEMchat on Citizen Science:

@SciGirls, SciGirls is an Emmy Award-winning PBS KIDS TV show, website and outreach program that seeks to change how girls think about STEM.

@CoopSciScoop, Caren Cooper, a bird-loving biologist and blogger who is literally writing the book on citizen science.

@ScienceGoddess, Joanne Manaster, Read Science host, STEM advocate, biology lecturer, and former international model.

@TheSpaceGal, Emily Calandrelli, promoter of science literacy, space exploration and equality. She’s also the host and producer of the Show Xploration Outer Space. Read her STEM Girl Friday Feature.

And @KimMoldofsky, also known as The Maker Mom and founder of #STEMchat. You might also follow her at @STEMchat, which is her default account if she lands in Twitter “jail.”

Spread the news to your STEM-loving friends and colleagues. Share the #STEMchat joy with these sample tweets!

*Join me for #STEMchat on Twitter 5/21 at 9 PM Eastern to talk #CitizenScience with @SciGirls

*Join me for #STEMchat with @Veronicaeye and @SciGirls on Twitter 5/21 at 9 PM!

11 May 2015

Forecasting women’s leadership with Ford’s Chief Futurist

One of the best outcomes from Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” is that the issue of women in leadership has taken center stage in the public conversation. Concepts such as the glass ceiling, the wage gap and gender bias in the workplace have a renewed sense of purpose. What also has renewed activity is the debate over having it all and work/life balance. I got the opportunity to speak to Sheryl Connelly, Futurist for Ford Motor Company. Yes, I got to speak to a woman who is high up on the leadership ladder whose job it is to spirit the future.

First thing's first, what is a futurist? Connelly says, "Well, I am not a fortune teller and I do not try to predict the future. What I try to do is pick up on trends that will be important to Ford’s long term plans." According to Connelly, any organization that does long term planning and strategy is futuring.

Considering that the conversation about women's equality, especially in the workplace and elected positions is always "in the future," why not ask someone who is an expert on trends? Don't we all want to know when we will see enough women in leadership roles to see meaningful chances to the USA towards paid leave, paid sick days and affordable child care? Connelly admits that the USA is behind the curve globally, but sees parallels to marriage equality. Change sometimes looks like it happens overnight, but it never is. "I have two daughters, 11 & 13. I took the 13-year-old to see Arianna Grande. Many people see Grande as an overnight sensation, she is not. We saw her 18 months ago for $25 and this year she sells out a Detroit stadium. Grande worked hard to get to this level. Things do not just happen." Connelly returns to talk about watershed moments and the decades of building blocks in order for marriage equality to be where it is now.

The way she reads the tea leaves, women are on a precipice of change. "Women are outnumbering men in education. In the cycle of a generation or two, women could be the majority of the workplace. As we move from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy, what is prized are things that women are really good at." The change is part of a public dialog. Advertising and marketing messages like "Run Like a Girl" are important for girls at a very young age. But Connelly says we need to realize that women's issues are systematic. "Women communicate differently. When you ask men for something they say, 'Consider it done.' Women will say to me, 'I'll do my best.' I see women only apply for jobs if they fit 100% of the criteria. Men do not hold themselves to the same standard." She advocates that we need to be teaching girls and young women to think the same way.

As I consider my own future path, I wanted to know how a futurist plans for her personal path. Turns out she's not very good at it."I'm a busy mom. I'm like the cobbler whose kids have no shoes. I do think about the future of my kids. I do want my children to be generalists and not specialize at five." 

How does a futurist relax and unwind? Like the rest of us by binge watching Netflix. "Also, I am big into family. I have a twin sister and a lot of siblings. My sister lives very close. I also like to escape to quiet places in the world and unplug. You have to take time to enjoy the moment."

And since Connelly is a futurist and seems to be tapped into trends, I had to ask her the big question...Are we ready for a woman president?

"Yes. I also hope by the time my kids are older, that gender, race and other descriptions are a non-issue. We need to focus on who is the best candidate for everything, not just President."

With that I let her get back to figuring out which car we might be buying in 10 years, while I still ponder if we are ready for the world she says is just around the corner.

10 May 2015

Some Mother's Day Writing For You


I made it into the NYTimes, folks! I wrote an op-ed about how the perfect gift for Mother's Day is a selfie. It stems from the fact that I do not have a lot of photos with my mom. Please check it out and share widely.



I also wrote a Mother's Day piece for LatinaMom.me about learning to love Mother's Day again:
It has been 12 years since I've had a mom. It has also been 12 years since I became a mom. The cognitive dissonance can be overwhelming and becomes unbearable as we build up to Mother's Day. My mom died at the start of my third trimester, as I was pregnant with her much-requested first grandchild. And it sucks more and more every Mother's Day. But every year, I also grow to love Mother's Day in a new way.

Soon after my mom's death, I let my subscription to Mother Jones lapse because their renewal notices had marketing copy on the envelopes that read: "Your Mother Wants to Hear from You!" In my head was a litany of curse words about my mother not being able to want much of anything anymore, $%#@#$'ers! This should have been an early warning for the eventual turn of the calendar, which would bring me to not only my first Mother's Day as a mom, but also my first Mother's Day without one.

My husband did his best. He bought a gift and signed the card from our 9-month-old daughter. But inside, I was emotionally unavailable to truly celebrate that moment. When writing this piece, I went back through my blog archives to see what I have written in the past about this awkward relationship I have with Mother's Day and I found a short piece I wrote when my daughter was able to reframe the day about me:
Read the rest at Latinamom.me. 

It is funny that I went years without really talking about losing my mom and then in the last six months I have written about her three times. For some people talking about things is healing. Apparently I need to write about things a lot. Especially since losing my mom impacted so many different parts of my life.

And let's end this by acknowledging the radical origin of Mother's Day!
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe
Boston
1870

06 May 2015

Last Minute Gifts for Mother's Day

Are you looking for last minute gifts for Mother's Day? Well I'm last minute blogging about it!

CARDS: Don't send the mother figure in your life a cheesy card from the drug store. No way! Send the radical woman in your life a radical Mamas Day card. I particularly love this one because my university's graduation falls often falls on Mother's Day as it does this year. These cards are awesome because you can send it to her via email, but the images are beautiful enough to print out and hand make a card.

GIFTS: You can refer to previous gift guides to get some ideas, but since this is last minute we need to think strategically.

Give the gift of Bitch Magazine! If your mama is a feminist and loves pop culture, she'll love Bitch magazine. Or if she can wait a bit, get her a print of the "Home & Away" issue. Maybe she needs some new coasters to rest her Manhattans?

Oh yeah, I am now on the board of Bitch Media, so I'll be asking you to donate, subscribe & buy their wares a lot more! WOO!

Another great idea is to gift mama with some gift cards to buy books from either IndieBound or Powells.

One last idea...donate. I'm sure your mama has an issue she is passionate about, a nonprofit that she educates others on or a school she volunteers for. So why not just donate to that organization in her name?

But don't underestimate the gifts like a day off, doing the laundry, gift certificate to her salon, manicure day or as a recent survey found - a meal out. Because in the end, all moms want is to hear "I love you" and feel like you notice all the work they do.



16 April 2015

Review: Hillary Clinton Coloring Book

In what will be just the start of Hillary products I get pitched comes a fun peek at the girl who would be President. Hillary: The Coloring Book gives you over 60 pages of coloring including a page dedicated to when she was dancing up a storm in South Africa.

Since coloring books for adults are all the rage, why not grab one where you get to color in a zillion pant suits? My favorite pages are of hippie Hillary. And thanks to the publisher, I can offer you a head start on creating your own Hillary campaign poster. Just download the PDF file and grab your crayons.

Support Viva la Feminista by purchasing your book through Indiebound.

15 April 2015

Review: Bitch Planet #1, #2 & #3

If you were to judge "Bitch Planet" by its back cover, you would expect a barrel of feminist camp awaiting you. The back cover of the first two issues are a play off 1950s comic book ads for x-ray glasses and hypnotizing tools, this time the glasses see through men's intentions and you hypnotize women away from being perfect...to allow you to take the top slot! I do want to conceal $3.00 in an envelope for a new signature.

But once inside, the world of "Bitch Planet" will take your breath away. The premise is that in the near future humans have found a planet to exile problematic women at an auxiliary compliance outpost, aka Bitch Planet. It is clearly run by a cadre of men who take joy in seeing non-compliant women punished into submission. But with a tip of the hat to Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale," the women are greeted and interrogated by virtual women who look like Faye Dunaway in a Xena costume and even some women in riot gear.

The first issue showcases how easy it can be for men to call the compliance police on bitchy wives and how easily mistakes can be made. Without spoiling this issue, we do see the classic middle-aged, middle-class white woman in peril. We also encounter the Foxy Brown Black woman who is not going gentle into that good night. By the second issue we also are knee-deep in the well-worn framing of a penal colony that is so remote that human rights no longer exist and riots are such a common occurrence that they happen at the peripheral of the comic's frames. Every third issue of the series will be a special guest artist issue and will dive into one character. We find out what led to Penny Rolle being sent to Bitch Planet. Her whole mystery is not revealed, but enough that it is another punch in the gut. Her name makes me wonder and hope that it is a tip of the hat to Penny and Ester Rolle from "Good Times." Because I LOVED THAT SHOW as a kid.


Here is where I admit that I completely missed the chatter that built up this comic series. And if you did too, you might get to the end of the first issue thinking, "Why the hell did I buy the second issue? What kind of blaxpotation is this? Is this good? Um, what happens next?" After that dizzying moment you look at the next page and realize that Danielle Henderson, the genius behind "Feminist Ryan Gosling," was instrumental in the development of "Bitch Planet." WHEW!

OK, so yes, there is a chance that an amazing Black feminist theorist can have a hand in a problematic project. BUT...Danielle's past work gave me the faith to keep reading to the second issue. But that's not all. The first issue includes a call to arms from Danielle in which she asks us if we are compliant. It addresses many of the challenges feminist movements are facing at a time when we have women leaders and role models, but patriarchy is just under the surface of our lives. Or so disguised that it seems under the surface. Danielle asks if we are scratching that surface and challenges us to keep it up. So I'm gonna keep reading. And you should start.

Like now. Really.

13 April 2015

Book Review: It Runs in the Family by Frida Berrigan

Half way through Frida Berrigan’s contribution to mom lit, It Runs in the Family: On Being Raised by Radicals and Growing Into Rebellious Motherhood, I thought this was the best book ever. I even said in my Goodreads update that it was so good that I could put my aspirations of writing a book on motherhood to bed. Now that I am done with her part-mothering book, part-memoir, I can say that I still might give mine a go, but this is certainly one the best books about raising children I have ever read.

Berrigan is the daughter of acclaimed peace activist Philip Berrigan. Some of us might know his name from the Dar Williams song, I Had No Right, which depicts Phillip and his brother Daniel’s trial for burning draft cards. Frida was raised in strict accordance to her parents’ dedication to the peace movement which included a commitment to living as simply as possible and shunning good ole’ fashioned American consumerism. As a former priest and nun, Frida’s parents also raised them to live by Jesus’ example. This meant working for social justice on behalf of the poor and oppressed, not condoning homosexuality and women’s rights. As I have heard many a Catholic say, they lived according to Jesus’ actions not the Church’s teachings.

As someone who has tried very hard to raise my daughter from a feminist perspective, I admire how well Frida and her husband have maintained their commitment to living according to their beliefs. They maintain a family on one salary in order to stay just below an income level that relieves them from paying any income taxes to the government. Thus they are not supporting the war efforts through this mechanism. This vow of sustainable living means that Frida can mention her ancient flip-phone and the fact her children have little technology in their lives. “What does that look like in practice? Potluck dinners, composting, knowing our neighbors, belong to the community garden and the food cop-op…” and her list goes on to mention every hippie parent stereotype.

If that seems judgmental, I concur. There were plenty of places where I felt Frida is lecturing us smart phone-social media addicted parents into living simpler lives. I don’t disagree with her assessment either. Most of my friends with kids know we too often open up our phones when we should be enjoying family time. It can be difficult to then ask one’s child to then be “polite” with their smart phone when they grew up watching you on yours. Ahem…In fact Frida’s book may be the thing that keeps you from looking at your phone 10 times during soccer practice and only a few times.

I have been asked many times over my tenure as a mom how one is a feminist mom. What Frida does with her book is to outline how one is not just a feminist mom, but one that centers daily living around peace and justice. She connects many of our daily actions (gadget lust) to its place in the overall system that continues to keep poor people in poverty, but also has destroyed the middle class. Instead of dismissing the book as a piece of judgmental crap, I find it quite aspirational. What are we doing to ourselves, our family, and our community when we strive for the bigger paycheck, latest phone, and private lessons for our children?

Frida not only reflects on her upbringing the sacrifices her family made in their quest for social justice, but also the state of our society. As a child, Frida’s parents were often the front lines of many peace demonstrations and committing acts of nonviolent disobedience. Her parents were often arrested and spent time in prison. Her recollection of the one time they were both in prison at the same time and left in the care of friends is heartbreaking. After that mistake, her parents made sure to never be incarcerated at the same time again. While some might question ever being arrested while raising children, Frida makes a point to defend her parents political strategies as part of their parenting style. When one becomes a parent, the rest of our self does not die. We may be more careful, but we cannot stop being who we are just because we brought a life into the world. It is a delicate balance that Frida describes well.

And that is the flip of Frida’s judgmental look at parenting. She spends a good amount of time reliving us from modern parenting guilt. Her take on the insanity that is children’s birthday parties is spot on. The state of having to have an equally opulent party from the last kid is only teaching our children to buy bigger and better toys than their classmate. One that parents will wish we hadn’t taught then when the toys start to cost hundreds of dollars.

As militant as you may start to think Frida is with her dedication to a social justice parenting style, her admission as to rebellious ways is heartwarming. As a child the family did not allow a lot of TV time, yet she admits to sneaking TV at friends’ homes and lying about it. Yes, instead of becoming right-wingers, Frida and her brother watch TV. But within this admission, Frida asks us to acknowledge that “children are little insurrectionists” and to stop and learn from their rebellions instead of clamping down on the situation. Again, another lesson to keep in mind as my husband and I begin our journey of parenting a teenager

But this lesson is also a moment where Frida asks us to look at our beliefs and actions. Is it more important for us to have our children use the correct terminology or to act in a socially just and feminism manner? What good is it for us to teach our children the “political correct” way to refer to people if they never interact with people outside their homogenous social circle?

I like to say that I am a feminist who constantly tries to connect the dots, that my commitment to reproductive justice is more than just abortion rights. The way that Frida tackles issues is very similar. As she begins to wax on about the state of women's health in relation to birthing in the USA, she quickly whips it back to the so-called "right to life" community and their lack of action on behalf of children's rights.

Best of all, Frida is forthright about how children turn our lives upside down, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Ok, sure we would want a better child care system, paid maternity leave and all that, but the whole juggle is tough, but can be pretty awesome too. "It Runs in the Family" is a refreshing take on parenting while pursuing social justice in the world.

Disclaimer: I received a copy for review from a publicist. 

06 April 2015

Review: Zazzle Custom Fabric

This is part one of the review as I have yet to do anything but squeal over my Zazzle custom fabric.

As you can see it is very light purple, has the Viva la Feminista logo and my motto "Peace, Love & Feminism" printed on the fabric. I am not a pro with fabric. I know how to sew and once I get my sewing machine all set, I will be turning this fabric (I have 2 yards) into a skirt. Yup, if you see me at a blogger and/or feminist event, you might catch me in it. #NERD. But since my BFF, Cinnamon, is a fabric pro I asked her for thoughts on the fabric itself.

The printing is well done. The ink did not bleed. Apparently Cinnamon has seen custom fabric where the ink did bleed. She also gave the thumbs up to making a skirt with the fabric, which is the Pima cotton. I am super excited to make my skirt and see if I can make something else from it.So stick around to see how my projects turn out! And new fabric designs I'll doodle up.

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.


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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.