Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

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.

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. 

16 December 2014

Bindercon & Women of Color in the Media

I missed BinderCon because it was in NYC and I was at Space Camp! I haven't heard a lot of what happened so I was excited to see this video clip from the panel "Looking Forward: Roles for Women in the Future of Media." Jessica McGlory, the founder of Forecastr (@TVforecast) says some awesome stuff. Hopefully BinderCon will realize that those of us in the Midwest would love to host!


12 December 2014

Judy Baar Topinka, the Polka Queen of Illinois Politics Dies at 70

Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register
Illinois politics is a lot of things, but boring rarely is the word to describe it. That is until yesterday. In the wee morning of December 10, 2014, Illinois politics lost its Polka Queen, Judy Baar Topinka.

Since I am an unabashed feminist who normally votes Democratic, one might wonder why Topinka means enough for me to write this post. Well it is because she was freaking awesome to watch. As many people in the media have said over the past day, she was blunt. The only spin Topinka knew how to perform was on the dance floor. I really wanted to share a video of her spinning around during a polka but every single media outlet's videos seem to be tagged with "Topinka polka" at the moment. ARGH!

She seems to be best remembered for her Chicken Little moment of telling Illinois that former Governor Rod Blagojevich was under federal investigation. But Illinois reelected him anyway after he linked her to the previous Governor who was already convicted of corruption. I told ya Illinois politics ain't boring. I still believe if she had chosen almost anyone else other than Joe Birkett as her running mate she may have won. Birkett's strident anti-choice stance pushed a lot of women away from even considering Topinka. For me, I could not forget his role in the Rolando Cruz case. 2006 was the year that the Green Party topped 10% of the vote, meaning a lot more voters than just me had lost faith in Rod, but couldn't vote for Joe.

But what she should be remembered for is that she was one of the first politicians, Democrat or Republican, who marched in Chicago's Pride parade. She was also pro-choice. Hell, she even bragged about voting for the ERA! That was Topinka, a straight shooter.

Which reminds me that one of my friends on Facebook (can't recall!) said something about picturing Dawn Clark Netsch and Judy meeting up in Heaven over some drinks and just shaking their heads at the mess the rest of us are left with. I can see it. And I hope so, because we're gonna need all the divine help to get through the budget mess we are in and appear to be headed into the "even worse" category.

Topinka was beloved by not just Republicans (heck, during her race for Governor her male primary opponents were so vicious to her, Hillary must have send her a card.) but also a lot of us Democratic women who respected her ballsy ways, her feminist sensibilities and how much fun she made politics look.

Thanks, Judy. You inspired a generation of women to lead this state with a wink and a hearty laugh. We shall carry on.

10 December 2014

Happy Nobel Peace Prize Day!

Women testifying

Today is the day the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. While recent awards have been controversial, today Malala Yousafzai receives the award for her work advocating for the education of girls, along with Kailash Satyarthi an advocate for children's rights. I'm the type of person who believes all our issues are connected, interconnected and intersectional. 

In that spirit I share with you a three-part series based on the Nobel Women's Initiative delegation to Mesoamerica I traveled with in 2012. These films are an excellent representation of the whole delegation. In these films you will meet women who are feminists fighting for their homes and families. Far too often the media in the USA depicts Mexico and Central America as lost lands. The framing of Central American children fleeing from their homes is sometimes seen as fleeing from countries that cannot be saved. Yet these women are fighting to reclaim or retain what has been their land for longer than one can imagine. Take a moment to watch at least one film today. Save the others for later.