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31 December 2007

White Privilege

I don't want to just send you off to another blog to read something, but sometimes I can't do justice to a piece.

So head on over to Alternet to read Alex Jung's White Liberals Have White Privilege Too!

I don't agree with every word, but gawd damn, it's pretty right on and does explain white privilege pretty darn well. And it was this paragraph that really drew me in. It was as if someone was writing about me except that I did have a bit of a realization that being Latina meant something, but being as non-Latina in the company of non-Latinas was emphasized without saying those exact words. At least that's how I read the signs.

Growing up in the company of white people, I was unaware of systems of whiteness. I knew that, as an Asian American, I looked different (and was unhappy about that), and that my parents faced linguistic and financial barriers (which I blamed them for). I did what "good" Americans did, and I individualized my struggles, believing that if I had enough gumption and know-how, I could rise to the pinnacle of society regardless of my starting point. I was an acolyte of the Temple of Ayn Rand. I didn't connect my experiences, or those of my parents, with larger institutions (i.e., capitalism) or cultural biases (i.e., white is right!), and blamed myself for failing to meet those standards rather than critique the systems that generated those standards. I had internalized whiteness, and if I had, then white people certainly had. As I began to develop what W.E.B. Du Bois called a "double consciousness" -- the perspective of "always looking at one's self through the eyes of others," I could not stop looking. Race (which in its fullness includes gender and class) was impossible to ignore, and I could not believe I had perpetuated racial hierarchy as much as I had.

Technorati tags: white privilege, racism, latina

30 December 2007

Reminder: Piper Reed Giveaway

A quick reminder to get your comments & email address in for the Piper Reed give-a-way. I have three comments, but only one left their email address.


The 1st Pro-Choice Carnival

There's a new blog carnival in town folks - The Pro-Choice Carnival. Check out the first issue!

Of course, yours truly makes an appearance for my musings if abortion can be in a love story. That was an awesome birthday present. Thanks!

Technorati tags: blog carnival, pro-choice carnival, feminist

2008 Feminista Resolutions

Britt Bravo at Blogher asks us:

What Are Your 2008 Activist Resolutions?

1. Give more money. I really am horrible at giving money to organizations that I support or even volunteer with. I'm going to put reminders in my Treo to help.

2. Write more. This isn't just because I want to be a better writer, but I really do try to incorporate my feminism into everything I write, thus I feel that my writing is an extension of my activism.

3. Get published more...anywhere. See #2, but getting published somewhere other than this blog means a much wider audience.

4. Say no more often. I say yes far too often and that not only makes my life a mess, but it also means that I don't give my best effort towards whichever action I'm trying to do. Sadly, I think my increase in work responsibilities may mean the end of one of my beloved 'after-school' activities and perhaps a need to pick up another one - that is more work related and local.

5. Be a better advocate. In high school I was one of those kids who shoved my ideas down people's throats. After the backlash, I pulled back...a lot. Now I feel that some days I've inched my way back to shoving ideas down certain people's throats and perhaps not pushing others enough. I know I need to know my audience, but I feel off kilter..a lot.

6. Get to book club. I've been a member of an awesome book club for years and I need to make it a priority to get there each month. The members and the book help me learn more about me, the world, and my feminism.

7. Take care of myself. If I'm sick, no one wins.

OK readers...what about you?

Technorati tags: blogher, 2008 Resolutions, feminist

I'm back!

I'm back from vacation and ready to rock. Stay tuned for some actual blog posts.

20 December 2007

Susan Faludi wants you to read this

As some of you know, I am a board member of an awesome feminist media organization, Women In Media & News. Well it's that time of the year to ask you to reach into your wallet, perhaps looking between the cushions of your couch, and that spare change in your bag. And who better to ask you to give a little love to WIMN than the amazing Susan Faludi?

♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥

Dear Friend of WIMN,

Award-winning journalist Susan Faludi has spent decades documenting the dangerous impact of media sexism on American women, and on our country. Now, the author of Backlash and The Terror Dream asks for your help to improve the media landscape:

“Women in Media & News offers a desperately needed and all-too-rare public service: spotlighting media’s misrepresentations of women from all angles–from distortions to falsehoods to utter erasure–and countering them with careful reporting, no-nonsense statistics, and intelligent analysis. And WIMN’s dispatches are fun to read, to boot. What’s more, WIMN actively changes women’s status in the media: both by bringing a vast repository of informed female sources to the media and by teaching media consumers a crucial skill–how to dissect and debunk those supposedly ‘objective’ media messages about women that they are being bombarded with 24 hours a day, and how to improve those messages. Please join me in giving as generously as you can to support WIMN’s vital work, professionalism, and commitment. The organization can’t survive without you.”

As one of our loyal readers, you know the vital work Susan’s talking about. In 2007 alone, we:

  • Brought feminist media criticism to the mainstream, with multiple appearances on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and PBS. For example, on “Hannity & Colmes” in the aftermath of the horrific Virginia Tech massacre, WIMN was the only voice in broadcast media to expose how violence against women has been at the root of most of the worst school shootings over the past two decades.
  • Produced hundreds of blog posts, articles, and action alerts skewering sexist double standards in reporting on female politicians; debunking biased science journalism, such as the New York Times column on how women are biologically programmed to desire rich men; highlighting the invisibility of women in war coverage, including rape as a war crime and the again-invisible plight of Afghan women; and offering astute insights on pop culture inanities from Britney Spears’ panties to the hookups of “The Bachelor” and supposedly-sexy corpses on “America’s Next Top Model.” Our analyses often changed media coverage: for example, after WIMN’s Voices blogger Jill Nelson challenged the invisibility of Black women’s voices in media debates over radio host Don Imus’s on-air slurs, her commentary was reprinted widely and Nelson–an award-winning African American journalist–did radio interviews and was quoted extensively in regional and national media, shifting the tone of the national discussion and broadening the whitewashed opinion lineup.
  • Placed women as featured experts in major news outlets such as Fox, ABC News, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, and Pacifica Radio and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Bitch, Ms., In These Times, the American Prospect, and many others.
  • Conducted media trainings for more than 20 women’s groups such as the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, the New Orleans Women’s Health and Justice Initiative, and Vibe Theater Experience, and led media literacy programs for more than 1,000 young people at colleges across the country.
  • Advocated for media justice in powerful arenas: Following conversations with WIMN, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards’ campaign began speaking publicly against media consolidation.

If that doesn’t convince you to open up your checkbook, this reality check should: WIMN has achieved these successes, and many more, with just one full-time staff person (who works without a salary or health insurance), no office, and only minimal foundation support.

In order to keep moving women’s voices from the margins to the mainstream, WIMN needs to raise $15,000 in donations from individuals like you. Please make a tax-deductible gift to WIMN today!

As an added bonus, for every donation of $35 or more, you’ll get a fabulous gift, courtesy of our friends at the Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild (see their site for pictures and descriptions of these items):

  • Donate $35, and you’ll receive a tasty tin of EmpowerMints
  • Contribute $50, and you’ll receive a finger puppet of Emma Goldman, Harriet Tubman or Susan B. Anthony
  • Give $100, and you’ll receive a nifty “disappearing civil liberties” mug
  • Donate $250, and you’ll get a copy of WIMN’s Voices blogger Anne Elizabeth Moore’s brilliant new book, “Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing and the Erosion of Integrity”
  • Donate $500 or more, and you’ll get all four
  • As Susan Faludi says, WIMN’s work is essential to improving women’s status in the media. Your support will allow us to become an even greater force for change. Please give generously today!

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer L. Pozner, Founder and Executive Director

    Lisa Jervis, Aliza Dichter, Sunita Viswanath, Veronica Arreola and Sara Beinert, WIMN’s board of directors

    PS: Many companies and non-profits match charitable donations; ask your employer if your tax-deductible gift to WIMN is eligible for matching funds. Thank you for digging deep and making your donation today. We can’t keep our programs running without you!

Technorati tags: Susan Faludi, feminist media, WIMN, Women In Media & News, Jennifer Pozner

Show me some love!

Hoyden about town is taking nominations for best feminist blog post of the year!

It was hard picking out two to self-nominate, but I did it. Now to find some other feminist posts that I think were awesome and didn't get a lot of play outside a small circle of readers. I'm all about getting the lil blogger some recognition.

So dig through your posts and nominate yourself while you send in your favorite post from here. ;-)

2008 will be the year of no shame for me.

Technorati tags: feminist, blogging

19 December 2007

Nicaraguan Pro-Choice Advocates Need Your Help

From Ipas Policy via The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health:

Dear friends,

I’m writing to update you on more disturbing news from Nicaragua and ask for your solidarity. First, some context for the situation.

As you may remember, in 2003, members of the Women’s Network against Violence (Red de Violencia contra las Mujeres) in Nicaragua helped a young girl known as “Rosita” obtain a therapeutic abortion, which at the time was legal in Nicaragua. Rosita had been raped and became pregnant at the age of nine. At the time, she said the rapist was a neighbor in Costa Rica; the man maintained he was innocent and he was never convicted of the crime.

In August 2007, the Nicaraguan media reported that “Rosita” had become pregnant again and given birth to the baby, and that the accused rapist was her stepfather. She testified in court that her stepfather had raped her and fathered the child, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She also said that her stepfather was the one who had raped her in 2003.

Last month, we understand that a Nicaraguan anti-choice group with the misleading name, “Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH)”, petitioned the Ministry of Justice to bring criminal charges against nine members of the Women’s Network against Violence for obstruction of justice and as accessories to a crime, saying that they had known about the stepfather’s involvement in the case from the beginning and hid that knowledge. The nine women—all well-known in Nicaragua and globally for their tireless work on behalf of women and human rights -- include: Marta María Blandón, Ana María Pizarro, Luisa Molina, Yamileth Mejía, Juana Jiménez, Martha Munguía, Mayra Sirias, Lorna Norori and Violeta Delgado. The exact legal process being used is unclear, since so far none of the women have received legal documents outlining any specific charges. They learned about the charges through a leak from the prosecutor’s office and have received only summons to go to the prosecutor’s office for questioning.

This is another example of a coordinated attack against the women’s movement and against women’s human, sexual and reproductive rights. The outpouring of support for these nine women in Nicaragua and around the region has been tremendous and comes from diverse sources. Attached you’ll find English translations of letters to the prosecutor from the Nicaraguan Feminist Movement, by prominent Nicaraguans who represent many of the political parties (including the ruling Sandinistas and the opposition party), and by other important citizens. The letters condemn the legal action as a persecution of these nine women’s efforts to defend women’s human rights, including the right to therapeutic abortion. These are just examples of the many public pronouncements that have been made in their favor and disseminated through the national media. A few letters in Spanish are also attached.

We encourage you to join this call for support of the nine women named in the suit and condemn the Nicaraguan government’s actions. Letters in Spanish can be sent to the following individuals at the prosecutor’s office and the attached letters can be used as models:

Dr. Julio Centeno Gomez
Fiscal General de la Republica
Fax. 505-2556832

Dra.Ana Julia Guido
Fiscal Adjunta
celular: 8696299
Telefono oficina: 2556820
Fax, 505-2556832

Dra. Mirna Siles
Fical asignada al Caso
Telefono y Fax 505- 2515652

We request that you send copies of any letters to Ipas Central America (espinozac@ipas.org, blandonm@ipas.org, friedbergp@ipas.org)

Thank you for your ongoing support and solidarity.

Charlotte Hord Smith
Director, Ipas Policy

Thanks to Pearl Friedberg and Ipas-Nicaragua staff for compiling this information.

Technorati tags: Nigarauga, abortion, action

Book Review - Piper Reed: Navy Brat

I am a book-aholic, bookworm, and lover of books.
I get so lost in books that I really do tune out the rest of the world. My second grade teacher could tell you that as one time I missed a spelling test because I was still reading a book. That is why I love doing book reviews. As the mom of a bookworm, I love reading new children's books hoping to find something new and fun to share with my daughter. Piper Reed: Navy Brat is a great book for young girls and boys.

I did try to read this book to her, but she's still all about the pictures in a book and since this is a big girl book, she got quickly bored. You'd think saying it was a "big girl" book would have settled her down, but no.

Piper Reed: Navy Brat chronicles the transition Piper, the middle daughter of a Navy officer. She's not quite Jan Brady, but does have some middle child issues that I'm sure we'll see more of in future books. The book starts off with the family moving from San Diego to Florida. The trip to Florida and their first few days is what is covered in this short story. Piper's attempt to recreate her "Gypsy Club" on the other side of the country is worth the read in itself. If you've ever moved in the middle of a school year, I think you'll appreciate this book -- Hint: If that move is in your kids future, this might be a good book to get. She learns that being the middle of three daughters isn't all that bad some days. Family does save the day!

I was lucky enough to interview Piper's creator, Kimberly Willis Holt, over email:

1) Is this your first book blog tour? If so, what are your hopes for it (well besides book sales)? If not, what do you feel blog tours bring to your books that a traditional book tour doesn't?

This is my first blog tour. The first time I heard of a writer doing one, I laughed. But a second later, I thought, smart idea. My main goal for the tour is to introduce Piper Reed Navy Brat. It's the first book in a series. I hope Piper Reed finds her way into a lot of young (or old) readers'

The blog world has taken cyberspace by a storm. Many of us start our day reading them like we used to begin our day with the newspaper. Traditional tours certainly have their place. There's nothing like meeting readers face to face, but even then writers can't visit every bookstore or library. Anyone with internet service can visit a writer on a blog tour. So the potential is greater.

2) Piper Reed is one spunky gal! How much of you is Piper? You really nailed the middle child "thing" - I'm the oldest of three girls like Tori (Piper's older sister).

I'm the oldest of three girls, too. So I can relate more to Tori than I can Piper. My middle sister was witty and funny. I decided that would be a more interesting point of view for a young reader to hear a story about a military child.

Though I have to say I do share some things with Piper. None of us have dyslexia, but I am a slow reader because I have to hear what I read. Over the years I've trained my lips not to move, but my tongue pronounces each word. Because of that, I rarely finished timed tests. I can relate to kids who have reading disabilities because of that.

Like Piper, I'm a planner. When Piper learns that her family is moving to Pensacola, Florida, she starts plotting to make new friends. I think a lot of military kids are adaptable to many situations because it was a survival technique. We had to learn to fit in quickly. Then in a year or two, we moved somewhere else.

3) You say that you thought your life was boring. Why do you think that? Was the moving & change so routine that it became boring?

I was shy. I thought extroverts had interesting lives. Most of my life was spent in my head, daydreaming. I didn't recognize all the adventures I was participating in--learning to speak and read French in a village outside of Paris, swimming in every ocean before I reached the age of ten, attending fiestas on Guam. Those aren't boring accomplishments. But I had to grow up
to see what an exciting life my military childhood provided.

4) Kids today have lives that are so packed with activities, the internet, and all go-go-go...Did you have this in mind when you wrote Piper Reed: Navy Brat? The book has a fairly laid back pace, a perfect book for reading in a tree house or even sitting under a tree with a glass of lemonade.

It really wasn't a conscious goal, but I guess in that way, Piper's family mirrors mine. The base offered activities that we participated in, but we weren't overscheduled like kids today. We had time to daydream and entertain ourselves. My mom still remembers how I used to write plays and direct them. My middle sister was the star. (At that time, the baby was too young to
participate.) None of that would have happened had I been overloaded with activities. I think Piper's mom is like my mom was. She allows time for creativity and encourages it.

5) While my picture obsessed 4-year-old didn't get into the book, I thought it was a great story with a cute character. In fact near the end of the book, I got a bit upset because I didn't want it to end.

How many Piper books are in the works? The second book, Piper Reed, The Great Gypsy comes out this August. A third will come out the following year. If the numbers are there, hopefully there will be more. I certainly have more stories for Piper and her sisters.

Thanks so much for your time and your story! I can't wait for my daughter to sit still long enough to enjoy Piper.

Thank you, Veronica, for giving me a chance to talk about Piper.

One lucky reader can have their own copy of Piper Reed and a "Get off the bus!" button. That's Piper's signature exclamation. I think I've used it a few times already since reading the book. Just comment on this post by January 1, 2008, tell me your favorite children's book and I'll pick someone at random. Make sure you leave your email address!

Don't forget to check out the rest of the book blog tour too.

Disclaimer: The only payment I received for this review was the review copy of the book.

Technorati tags: book review, blog tour, Piper Reed, Kimberly Willis Holt

17 December 2007

I have the best friends EVER!

I sent out a very last minute plea for help last week. The Chicago Abortion Fund has a new leadership program for former grantees and this year I adopted one of our fabulous women for Christmas. In fact I adopted her and her very young daughter. Thus I opened up my contacts list and sent an email to a small group of women in Chicago who I thought might donate a gift card or two for a woman struggling to make a life for her and her daughter.

I now am temporary owner of 2 big shopping bags (GAP and Ann Taylor Loft), one laundry basket, and one large bankers box of goodies for this woman and her daughter. I was planning on delivering all this to our office tonight, but egads, I'm not Santa! Thus she'll get one bag of goodies (mostly for her daughter) tonight and I'll have to arrange to bring by the other things.

I am honestly completely and totally floored that my friends reacted so quickly and generously. Not that I didn't think they'd come through, but I really emailed them at the last minute. One even emailed to say she wishes she could, but the budget was too tight.

Thank you everyone.

16 December 2007

Does abortion belong in a love story?

Abortion has been discussed a lot on the blogosphere this year, mostly surrounding recent USSC rulings and movies like Knocked Up, Waitress, and Juno. The latter has most intrigued me. Not because I'm not interested in what 8 men in dresses say I should do with my womb, but because I think that pop culture can push and pull society in certain directions despite what the men in dresses say.

The biggest critique of the movies (note: I corrected the link. Sorry!) is that while abortion is discussed (whether for a second or more), the pregnant woman ends up not having an abortion. And for some reason this is a problem for some pro-choice bloggers. And of course, the anti's jump at this plot device as a reason to dub the film "pro-life." (Many anti's held this opinion of Sugar and Spice as well.) In my opinion, I think both are pretty wrong. I find more fault with Knocked Up at showcasing women as stick-in-the-muds who need a slacker lover to get them to wake up and smell the roses. It plays into the theory that men mature with marriage or fatherhood. If the dude isn't mature on your wedding day, keep waiting until he is, k?

But all this made me stop and think about how stories are crafted. Can a good love story be crafted where the couple goes through an abortion? Dirty Dancing had one, but it wasn't central to the love story.

Alison Piepmeier's essay in Skirt! Magazine claims that it can because it is central to her personal love.

But given the comments that her essay elicited can a successful romance movie be made with abortion as a major plot point? Can we see people lining up to pay $10 each to see a movie where the couple is struggling, the woman is found crying in their bedroom with a positive EPT in her hand, and their love is strengthened by a visit to their Planned Parenthood? Or where a fairy tale romance between Maurice & Susana is rolling along and BAM! a missed period throws them off course...temporarily. On their flight to Harvard Law School, Susana pops the first of her abortion pills. Kinda like Say Anything but instead of waiting for the ding, they wait for drink service.

I think it can be made. I'm just not sure if people would line up to see it. Then again, what if we framed it as a movie like Knocked Up where the slacker dude and the uptight woman both want the abortion and he is free to slack another day AND fall in love. Ok, maybe that last part was taking it too far.

I really want to see Juno because the trailer really wrapped itself around my heart. I do think that there are more plot devices in choosing to carry a pregnancy to term. How does a woman on the brink of busting out keep up that momentum after becoming a mother? How does a woman carry on after giving up their child for adoption? Can we have the same thoughts in a pro-choice movie about an abortion without giving in to anti-myths such as post-abortion syndrome?

I hope so. I know I won't be writing that screenplay, so I'll be waiting. If anyone does accomplish it, give me a buzz.

Technorati tags: Knocked Up, Waitress, Juno, feminist, abortion, pro-choice, Piepmeier, Skirt! Magazine

14 December 2007

Upcoming Events - Book Tour & Conference

Wednesday, December 19th this will be just one of the many stops on the Piper Reed Book Blog Tour:

It’s not easy being the middle child, especially when your dad is a Navy Chief. Meet Piper Reed, a spunky nine-year-old who has moved more times than she can count on one hand. From Texas to Guam, wherever Piper goes, adventure follows, inspired by her active imagination, free-wheeling spirit, and a bit of sister magic.
Unlike her older sister, Piper loves being part of a Navy family, and unlike her younger sister, Piper is no prodigy genius. Piper is Piper–fearless and full of life!

I'll be posting my review of the book along with some Q & A with author Kimberly Willis Holt. If you leave a comment in this post or Wednesday's post, that will enter you into a drawing for a free copy of this book. And without giving away too much, you'll want this book!

March 28-30, 2008 I'll be presenting at WAM! OMG, I got invited to the big girls table! ;-) I'll be presenting on this panel:
Feminist Blogs: Activism, Journalism or Masochism?
Jennifer Pozner, ME, Deanna Zandt, Liza Sabater
Oh yeah...I'm rockin' it. I'm on a panel with Deanna & Liza! I'll try not to act like a fan-girl in front of them. Jenn...hey, she's slept on my couch...ok I'm still an uber-fan-girl of hers too. Next year we're so proposing a panel that starts with A so we're at the top of the list.

That trip will be a tad expensive and while I'll be doing it with half-a-Chicago Abortion Fund-cap on, I may put a tip jar on here after the new year. So save your Solstice cash for me!

Technorati tags: Piper Reed, book blog tour, books, WAM, Women, Action & the Media

What to get that (really) young feminist in your life

The gift giving season is here! All the big stores have their catalogs out, the commercials are running non-stop, and Santa's waiting line is longer than the Hannah Montana ticket line. But here you are, burnt out on princess garb, too scared to buy anything from China, and frankly out of ideas for the girl (or boy!) who has everything. Look no further than Veronica's Gift Giving Guide for (Really) Young Feminists:

So there...You now have a boatload of ideas on what to give the empowered girl in your life. Maybe you still want to buy her Princess (fill in the blank), go ahead, who gets one present? But take a look at the list above and compliment that princess with some butt-kicking gear.

Crossposted from Chicago Parent

Technorati tags: gifts, NOW, feminist, Feminst Majority, Sticker Sisters, Willie Mae Rock Camp, magazines

11 December 2007

I'm late to my party!

Aiken Area Progressive named me person of the Month...for November. I just found this honor, so a very belated thank you to this wonderful blog! I received this honor for my work on the Planned Parenthood Aurora site. It was a lot of work, but getting emails here and there telling me thank you made it worth it. Now back to a webinar I'm on.

Technorati tags: Person of the Month

10 December 2007

Mini blogging break

I haven't gone anywhere, but lots of stuff has been happening this weekend and culminating to a luncheon today. I hope to be back tonight with something more intelligent and to finally catch up on the Go Run posts.


06 December 2007

49th Carnival of Feminists is out!

And guess who's in it?

So thanks to Days in a wannabe punk's life for the inclusion. My Dora rant post was featured.

Welcome to those of you reading me who are coming in from the carnival! Hope you come back and feel free to comment.

Other posts that are featured that I want to point out:
  • This post at Feminist Allies was made by Jeff to honor the spirit of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, but since it was about violence in comic strips (oh how funny har har, not) I thought it was appropriate for this category.
  • Anindita Sengupta at Ultra Violet has a scathing post up on the silence, or worse; the squirm worthy coverage of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign, by the Indian media.
  • Natasha at Homo Academicus expands on her reasoning behind calling herself a feminist and not a ‘humanist’ or an ‘equalist’ and works through the pros and cons behind the feminist label.
  • Vidya from The Mountaintop asks if the presence of a divine feminine, irrespective of her representation as being egalitarian or otherwise in goddess worshiping cultures, contribute to an uplifting effect on the status of women; and proceeds to examine the connections between the two.
  • While Science Woman is thrilled that these young women took the top prizes at this year’s Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, she is understandably tired of the gendered headlines blaring about their win, and hopes that a day will come when gendering of a headline becomes a thing of the past and science headlines are treated as just that- neutral gender-free science headlines. And for the record, I am inclined to agree with her.
  • Zuska explores the idea of parthenogenesis using Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s vision of a utopian all female society in Herland as a point of reference of sorts.
Yeah...I almost reposted the entire list, but I tried to pick the ones that really, really, really piqued my interest. Now to go and read them all. You should too!!

Technorati tags: Carnival of Feminists, feminist

Breast feeding is a fundamental right for both mother and child

Today at the Chicago Moms Blog & our sister sites, we are tackling the issue of breastfeeding. This is my contribution.

I don't want to get into the politics of breastfeeding in public (I support it, I've done it) or whether you are a bad mom if you use formula (done that too). I do want to get into what I think is at the base of many of the arguments and that is not whether mothers should breastfeed, but the idea that breastfeeding is a fundamental right. If we saw it that way, we wouldn't have to fight to keep formula out of our goody bags at the hospital, stand tall after 20 hours of labor when the nurse insists on giving the baby a "little something", or to discreetly nurse while on an airplane.

Because if we were really a world of people who cared about children & cute lil babies, we wouldn't deny an infant their sole source of nourishment.

Sayda Umanzor's child was denied:

On Oct. 26, Sayda Umanzor, who sometimes spells her first name Saida, was arrested at home on Maple Street in Conneaut when immigration agents, working in conjunction with Ashtabula County sheriff's deputies, came with a warrant for her brother-in law, who also lived in the house.

Umanzor, 27, admitted to being in the country illegally, she said in an earlier interview.

The federal agents determined that Umanzor had been ordered deported in July 2006, after missing an immigration court hearing. They arrested her as a federal fugitive.

Soon after, caseworkers for the Ashtabula County Children Services Board arrived to take custody of Umanzor's two children at home, as well as the three children of her sister, an illegal immigrant, who was at work.

A crying Umanzor handed over her 9-month-old baby Brittany.

At Bedford Heights Jail, Umanzor complained that her breasts became painfully engorged with milk. Brittany, suddenly without mother's milk, cried incessantly and refused baby formula for days, Dahlberg said.

Janipher Maseko's infant was denied [h/t]:
I was transferred to Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire. I arrived at midnight. I told them I had just had a baby and had been separated from my kids, but they just gave me a paracetamol. I was distraught. My children weren't with me. I was crying all the time. I couldn't eat. They put me on antidepressants.

During the two weeks I was there, no one organised for me to see my kids or told me how they were. Whenever I asked one of the officers, "Please, I have to see my kids. I am breastfeeding. I am in pain," all they said was, "Have a paracetamol." I was told to take drugs to dry my milk. But I wanted Colin back, I wanted to breastfeed because I knew it was best for him.
Unless a woman has physically harmed someone, there is no reason to keep her from her nursing child. I repeat NONE. We jail pregnant women all the time. Some times she might even get proper medical treatment. But our jail & prison system is set up to deal with the medical realities of the incarcerated (most of the time, ok some of the time). Bottom line, I'm sure that here in the USA or in the UK someone could have reunited the mothers with their infants in a secure hospital room or something while they await trial/deportation AND allow the mothers to nurse their children. And until we get to that point, we're going to keep fighting all the smaller battles over and over and over.

Technorati tags: breastfeeding, nursing, Chicago Moms Blog

04 December 2007

We are the enemy

A not so secret bit of trivia about me. While I had a few best girl friends growing up, I never felt comfortable with them. I grew up one of those tomboys who so disliked girly girls that I went out of my way to avoid them, scoffed at their likes, and preferred to hang out with the guys. NG was too pretty for me to feel comfortable with. It wasn't anything she did, I just felt like the ugly friend. KC & I competed too much to be girl friends the way it should had been. We went out or went after the same boys. We both played softball. We were both in honors classes - though she starting opting out. I'll never forget her blabbing about my latest date..to my sister, while I felt that defended her when the L-word was tossed around. In college I made a few girl friends, but due to the commuting nature of our school, I bonded only with a few and I lost track of both of them. It wasn't until I was well out of college that I was able to trust women to be friends and not feel that I was unworthy of them.

Last week I blogged about how a recent study showed that going to an all-girls high school buffers young women from the pressures of competing with men as well as the harassment that boys bring to the classroom. Yet that buffer is lost by the time a woman graduates college.

Over the weekend I went to the White House Project's Go Run training. My roommate is currently attending an all-women's college. We chatted a bit about the school. I remembered getting their information and tossing aside once I realized it was an all-women's school. She said she almost did the same thing, but reconsidered after visiting. Then she said something PROFOUND. That attending an all-women's college is allowing her to figure out women and how to deal with them. More precisely she made a comment about dealing with 'those kind of women.' Oh, yes! Those women!

I knew exactly what she was talking about before she even tried to explain. Why? Because of the great 'failures' in my life, one can be attributed to me underestimating the unfeminist way that some women thought & acted. Of course, this was after some nice years in supportive women's communities. I bought into the sisterhood mantra only to be cut down by a "Backlash"-wielding woman. And I suddenly realized that I think that I threw out the idea of an all-woman's college in high school because I didn't want to be trapped for four years with only women to socialize with. One reason I didn't attend a certain rural campus was that I felt like everyone in my high school was on their way there. Nope, I picked a school that was not only not high on the list of my classmates, but one that didn't look like my high school.

Kelly Valen's brave account in the NYTimes of her being whipped by sisterhood was so hard for me to read it took 2-3 attempts. While I was never raped, I never experienced that "Sex in the City" sisterhood that allows for women to talk openly about sex, love, and men. As Valen found out, I knew quite early on that if I ever 'confided' in my girl friends, it would only be all over the lunch room by Monday. Her description of the "Laura Ashley prairie dresses" matched my classmates who loved to throw "slut" around at any girl in our class who even appeared to have had more experience than a peck on the cheek.

Has my experiences made me less trusting of my fellow XX'ers? Yes. Has it stopped me from trying to make more friends with women? No. Have I forgiven my classmates? Sadly no. Their slut-labeling haunts me to this day. Of course, after college I learned that my hunches were correct...they were having sex in ways that would make a slut blush!

Valen asks us how we are supposed to have survived this and teach our daughters to be strong women:
I want to remain optimistic. After all, here I am with three daughters. What am I to teach them? Cautionary tales about men’s harmful proclivities abound. But how do we help our girls navigate the duplicitous female maze? How do we ensure that they behave authentically, respect humanity over fleeting alliances, and squash the nasty tribal instincts that can inflict lifelong distress?
This is hard and easy one for me. First of all, I'm lucky to have such a fabulous network of women friends now. I plan on modeling good behavior for my daughter on woman-to-woman relationships. Oh, I know I'll trip up and get all catty in front of her, but over all I think she'll look at her mommy and her friends and think, yeah...that's how it should be. Even at four, she's already encountering peer pressure to wear the right clothes or wear her hair a certain way. We try to tell her that she needs to wear what she feels is good for her, so yes, we're letting her pick out her own clothes. Some might think she doesn't match, I like to think she's just very punk rock. She gets compliments on her outfits for punkish women at Kopi.

I also want to be honest with her and hopefully my bad experiences will help her sort out the stumbles she will encounter. I'll also try to teach her how to trust the way I couldn't. One of my few regrets of high school was not trusting NG enough with my heart. There is still a part of me who believes she is a good person and I wish I had allowed her in more.

02 December 2007

Go Run - Safely Home & Afterthoughts

In the end, the sight of the snow storm from the hotel windows scared my posse & me enough to hit the road early - way early. We left at 3 pm.

I'll go over the individual sessions in separate posts, but overall it was worth it to travel to Wisconsin for a day to learn why women are needed in politics. At the beginning of November Tucker Carlon told Eleanor Smeal that women are too smart to be in politics. Well I met some brilliant women this weekend who are in politics this weekend. What Mr. Bow-tie is reallly worried about is the idea that if we do get enough women in politics the game changes.

Panel after panel, women elected to offices that ranged from local to state-wide showed that in very little time, they were changing the way that the game was being played. Being a Chicagoan I know that politics is much more than just passing laws to make this world a better, safer place. There are friends to help out, our cousin's best friend's company to gift a sweetheart contract with, and of course, limiting the freedoms of others.

While the overall tone of the training was that as women we're better suited to lead this country and world because we're more caring & nurturing, I know better than that. BUT...BUT...I do believe that most of the women who run for office are out to CHANGE things instead of out for an ego trip.

The major obstacle for women to run for office? Money? Nope. Experience? Nope. It is the lack of confidence that we can do it and the fact that we are rarely asked to run. If we're asked to run, we'll do it...If we have a supportive network.

I do have to admit that I have a pretty damn supportive husband. The elected official women talked a lot about how women are the ones who take sick days for the kids, take the kids for their shots, and clean the house. Those of you who know me know that I rarely clean my home. Which is one of the first steps for running for office - let someone else do it! Of course, it is my husband who does a lot of the cleaning or reminding to clean. When our daughter is sick we alternative who stays home with her based on whose schedule can handle it or who last did it. Sometimes if we can do it, we'll both stay home with her and work from home. 90% of the time we both take her to doctor's and dentist appointments together. Since I have the car during the day, I do them more than him, but that is only if he absolutely cannot make it.

The biggest flaw in the training was that it was so Wisconsin-centric. I guess it was nice for this Chicago gal to finally be thrown for a loop like that, but I wish I would had known that before hand. There was A LOT in the trainings that was applicable to any campaign or life in general, but there were times when my posse & I felt like we were missing out on an inside joke.

We really wanted to stay for the entire training. Claudia because of the Shirley Chisholm DVD viewing, Ruth just because, and me...the class photo & the online networking. I'm a geek like that. But I'm happy we did leave when we did. I can't imagine us getting into our cars at 11 pm and hitting the slick, icy, and snowy roads while exhausted.

Thank you to Marie Wilson for The White House Project!

Now to go put some clothes in the wash and hit the shower. I have another training this morning before the Bears game. Ah, my life is so exciting.

Technorati tags: White House Project, politics, Marie Wilson

01 December 2007

Go Run - Building to Change

wow...I can't get over how many fabu women are in this room. We just finished up a session on building your community for change. I admit that I am horrible at being strategic about life and this session was all about planning.

More on this later.

Technorati tags: White House Project, politics, Marie Wilson

Go Run - Welcome Reception

Good morning!

Weather report - It looks cold out there, but so far no snow or rain, but everyone is warning that it will be bad later today. Hopefully it'll all happen while we're in the hotel.

So last night...it was great! The woman, er, young woman who runs the trainings is only 26. Ok, so that didn't do too much for my ego, but hey, she's doing an awesome job. She told us a little bit about who is here and we range in age from 17 to 66 years old. Seventeen!? OK, now I really feel like a slacker. But gotta say, if this had existed when I was 17, I'd be here too. We have teachers, students (my roomie is a freshman at Alverno), engineers, homemakers, crossing guards, lawyers, and activists. 25% of us don't affiliate with any major party. We have one sister-sister team and one mother-daughter team (I met them in the elevator and was wistful. My mom was PTA president...sigh).

The White Project is in Wisconsin thanks to some grants they received to work in Wisconsin. Thus a lot of the information we'll receive this weekend is based on Wisconsin data. I have no problem with that mostly because with the urban sprawl we have in Chicago, Milwaukee is just about a suburb of Chicago. That means, at least for me, what happens in Milwaukee is just as important as what happens in Naperville, Joliet, or NW Indiana.

We did learn that President Barbie will be running again in 2008. Later in the evening Marie Wilson did say that Mattel says her feet can't be fixed, but did note that by 2004 the box said "Doll needs support" instead of "Doll can not stand alone."

There was a great inspirational address by WI Representative Tamara Grisby and a really honest panel with four amazing women. Breakfast is in 10 minutes and I need to pack up, so I'll blog about that later.

Until then, enjoy some photos:

Planned Parenthood of Milwaukee was present. They had some great books on talking to kids about sex. There was even a book that was dubbed the "Our Bodies Ourselves for preteen girls." I gotta find that one!

The Latina in the photo is running for office. She's running against a long time incumbent. I wished her lots of luck.

I was told that the woman in the photo is the first African-American ever elected to state-wide office in Wisconsin and holds many "first African-American" titles in WI politics. She was like a rock star...everyone wanted a few minutes with her.

Technorati tags: White House Project, politics, Marie Wilson


This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

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