Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

22 June 2015

POV returns on June 22nd with "Out in the Night"

In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African-American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of "Killer Lesbians" and a "Wolf Pack." Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four — Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain — maintained their innocence. The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women's uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system. A co-production of ITVS. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). 



I watched "Out in the Night" over a month ago and it still haunts me. This documentary kicks off POV’s 28th Season on PBS.

In our current environment of #BlackLivesMatter, Charleston and countless Black men, women and children being killed by the police, this documentary is poignant and timely. As the summary above states, one night a group of friends, all black lesbians, were out on the town. A dude walks up to them and starts harassing them violently. They fight back. Most of the incident is caught on camera, but it is not enough to save them from prosecution. The majority of the film is about the impact of not just the injustice of the incarceration of four of the women, but the impact of incarceration on their family's lives.

I won't kid you, it is a difficult movie to watch. For those of you who work in the prison abolitionist movement, few things may shock you. But for those who still believe that incarceration is the best way to punish people, your socks will be knocked off.

The strength of the women who were incarcerated is intense. It is not often that I am left speechless to describe a film. All I can say is that you must watch this film. Check your local listings to see when you can catch this moving film.

17 June 2015

Former Child Grooms Say "I Do Not"

The past few years have brought increased attention to child brides and the dangers of young girls marrying so young. And if you are like me, you picture an older man marrying a child. But CARE, a global humanitarian organization that fights poverty by empowering girls and women, is shining a spotlight on the fact that in some parts of the world child brides marry child grooms.

Just as we know that child brides end their education far too young, child grooms lose education as well:
Pannilal Yadev can’t remember much about his wedding other than the carriage he was carried in to meet his bride, 7-year-old Rajkumari. At the time he was a year older than she, and the two barely interacted for the next six years. By the time they moved in together he was 14, she was 13. She had already halted her education after their marriage, and when she became pregnant with the couple’s first child, Yadev dropped out of 10th grade.
https://ooh.li/d846c82
Photos: © 2015 Carey Wagner/CARE | Illustrations: Stephen Purnell/CARE
Child grooms are often fated to live in poverty due to lack of education. Often they find themselves as child grooms due to their families already living in poverty. Sadly, families decide that one way for boys to take care of themselves is to have them marry young and go from boy to husband. Nepalese law prohibits marriage before age 18...but the practice remains common in the poor, predominantly Hindu communities along the border with northern India. This cycle often repeats with the fathers placing their sons in the same position.

We can't stop girls becoming child brides as long as we have child grooms. The good news is that former child grooms are working with CARE to disrupt the tradition in their home villages. Forced into marriage at shockingly young ages, child grooms of Nepal are working to save the next generation from the plight they have suffered.

CARE sees child marriage, both child brides and child grooms, as a human rights violation. And we need your help with this issue. Please visit CARE to learn view their report on child grooms and to sign a send a letter to your Representative and Senators to support the allocation of at least $150 million in the next State Department budget to address gender-based violence, including child marriage. Please help CARE raise awareness of this issue by sharing this post with friends.

CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty with a commitment to empowering women and girls. CARE is committed to its mission to serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. CARE seeks a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and people live in dignity and security.

11 June 2015

GIVEAWAY & Review: Coloring Flower Mandalas by Wendy Piersall


I've been coloring various pages from Coloring Flower Mandalas: 30 Hand-drawn Designs for Mindful Relaxation by Wendy Piersall for a solid month now. And I gotta say, I don't think I've ever been so popular! Everyone wants to chime in on the grown-up coloring book trend. "Oh, I read about that!" "WOW! That's a great pattern." "What do you use?"

To answer that last question, I've bought myself a fresh pack of color pencils. And I carry them practically everywhere I go. And here's what I've discovered...

Instead of peeking at my phone while my mind thinks it needs something to do, I pull out my coloring. I have no idea how to explain the difference in my mind, but it is ore relaxing to kick back with a coloring pencil and a mandala.

I have a few Xena coloring books (I horded in the 90s) and a Wonder Woman one. Because these are rare beings, I only color in them when necessary. I love the feeling of coloring. I always have. Now with the rise of grown up coloring books, the possibilities are endless!

The best part of Coloring Flower Mandalas is that I'm discovering what colors I like to put together. When I bought my color pencils, I got a 24 pack. Now I wish I had a ton more to do more gradients. I guess I could learn to do that with pressure, eh? Anywho, this non-artsy gal is loving feeling like she knows what she's doing with color on these pages. And yes, the images you see above are all from me. Yeah, this is like my fridge display.

Coloring Flower Mandalas comes out in August, but you can pre-order it or buy on eReader. My copy is electronic and I love being able to print out a page or two, stash it in my padfolio and have it handy when I need it throughout my work day. It's a great brain refresher. That's my tip for you!

You can purchase your copy through Powells or IndieBound to support VLF.
==============
GIVEAWAY:

I have three copes of Coloring Flower Mandalas to give away! Here is how you can enter:

1. Leave a comment with your favorite coloring tool (crayon, chalk, marker, etc) and your email. Without your email I can't tell you if you won!
2. Tag me on Instagram or Twitter with a pic of something you drew, colored, or doodled.
3. Post a pic a pic of something you drew, colored, or doodled on VLF's facebook page.
4. Additional entries if you are following me on Instagram, Twitter or like VLF's facebook page.

Sadly, this giveaway is limited to those with US or Canadian mailing addresses.

All entries need to be in by June 18th.

10 June 2015

Support Women's Sports....Join TakePart.com


As you all know, I'm a big sports fan. I started a Facebook community for people who pledge to attend just one women's sporting event a year during the 2008 Winter Olympics. Since then the issue of supporting women's sports continues to grow, but still a conundrum. I noticed last year Chicago's local ABC outlet began to regularly give our Chicago Sky's (WNBA) score in the highlights. And while other stations do as well, ABC is more likely to show a game clip too. So they are getting the props here today. Occassionaly, our NPR station will mention women's college hoops scores or the Chicago Sky's, but I feel like it is just when there were a lack of men's games the night before.

Currently my family has full World Cup fever. Which is why I am excited to share TakePart.com’s newly launched “Equal Playing Field” campaign. It features an original documentary with US National Women’s Soccer team star and Chicago Red Star Christen Press and interviews with Julie Foudy, member of the 1999 US Women’s World Cup championship team, and produced by Frank Marshall, this mini documentary exposes the challenges that professional female soccer teams endure due to the inability to receive the same funding as professional mens soccer teams.

I truly appreciated this mini-doc not just because I am a fan, but I'm raising a soccer player. When you ask Ella what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, "Professional soccer player." And she means it. While we aren't going all Béla Károlyi on her, we do offer her a lot of opportunities to become a better player. Since I am her mom, she also gets a healthy dose of sports politics. I showed her the mini-doc as soon as I was done watching it. Which was also just hours after Press scored the winning goal during the first World Cup match. TIMING IS EVERYTHING!! Since we do go to a lot of women's sporting events, she sees the crowds. She knows the Bandits don't play in front of tens of thousands of people like the Cubs. Same with the Sky and Bulls. But she also sees how engaged the fans are at these games. Having Christine Press make the economic case for supporting women's sports is exactly what this feminist mama needed.

When I have talked with women sports journalists, they cite the lack of attendance for the lack of media attention. But as Julie Foudy says in the mini-doc, without media attention people don't know there's a team to cheer on. My Chicago Red Stars use to play at the same field as our men's pro team, but after the second league busted, they moved to college stadium. This allows them to have a small crowd, but look huge.

I try to get to at least one Red Stars, Sky, Force and Bandits game every summer, but it's hard with our busy lives. Especially with the short schedule the Force plays. And one year I swear I'll get season tickets to at least one of them!

But first up is a cross-town bout in Chicago roller derby and then we're off to the World Cup. OH YEAH!!!!!!!





07 June 2015

#365FeministSelife Update: Logo & Fundraiser

I did not feel the need to create a logo for #365FeministSelfie until we hit year two. And that was mostly because we were planning two retreats for participants to get together. And now, as we plan for our November retreat in Columbus, Ohio (tentatively scheduled for November 7th ant 8th), it was time for a logo. And here it is.

Since I am not a handy person with a pencil and paper, I needed a lot of help. Emily F. from the #365FeministSelfie community helped take my ideas and sketched them out. I took those sketches to Victoria & Alma at Spark the Creative Agency. It was so easy to work with Victoria and Alma. And back to Emily having the ability to take my "what if it looked like this?" words and draw a road map for Victoria and Alma to follow.


In order to pull off a successful and low-cost retreat in November, we need to fundraise. Cara, one of the leaders of our community, has created a t-shirt fundraiser. We need to sell 100 shirts over the next 10 days in order to have a successful fundraiser. Each shirt is $20 and all profits will go towards covering the cost of the retreat. We successfully held the Portland retreat at no cost to participants, I think we can do the same for Columbus. BUT...they only go to print if we reach the 100 shirt mark.

And no restrictions on who can purchase. Whether you have taken hundreds of selfies with us or just a few, no worries! Heck, even if you are like my daughter and have been in a lot of my selfies, but never taken your own but support the project, grab a shirt.

Thanks to Cara for putting this together!



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!

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Kim put together a recap of the twitter chat! 

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.