Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

29 February 2008

Feminism at its Finest February 2008

February's round up of the "best feminist posts" is out and I'm in it. More linky love for my write up of Dr. Susan Wicklund's visit to Chicago.

Now for any newbies reading (ahem, WMG) don't think that I'm all that hot or that my write-up was so popular that the carnies are all linking me.

Just head on over to the Blog Carnival site, search for a carnival that fits your post's theme and submit your post. Wa-la! It's not a guarantee that you'll get in, but most of the time I get in. Of course, the trick is to REMEMBER to submit to these carnivals so that you can increase your blog traffic.

For new readers visiting from FaiF, welcome. Stick around, comment, and come on back. Thanks for visiting.

Technorati tags: feminism, Feminism at its Finest, blog carnival

Whose your favorite woman blogger?

Well of course it's me, but seriously. The Women's Voices Women Vote site is asking people to nominate their favorite blogger and then they will list the top 10 and then there will be voting. So head on over and vote for some awesome bloggers, K?

28 February 2008

The Problem with Pro-Choice

Many feminists, especially feminists of color, have made excellent platforms of why we, feminists/progressives, need to stop saying pro-choice. The bottom line is that pro-choice usually focuses just on abortion rights and maybe birth control. In reality, we should be fighting for reproductive justice - abortion, artificial fertilization, having healthy babies, and the right to birth where we want and with whom.

One reason why I have a problem with pro-choice is that it is often used as short hand for a candidate's stance on women's health. And oh how wrong that can be!

Example 1: Peter Roskam, IL-6th District (R)
He was elected to office in 2006 over a woman war-veteran. She had the backing of many women's organizations especially pro-choice organizations. It was recently brought to my attention that he brought home the bacon! Specifically $243,000 for Access Community Health for mental health treatment and chronic diseases. I was seriously floored when my friend told me that he brought home this much money for health care, especially chronic care which effects women more.

Example 2: Cook County President Todd Stroger (D)
Two years ago his father fell ill from a stroke and never recovered. Of course, Todd & Co. (family & party) kept saying he'd be ok. Pappa won the primary from his hospital bed. As soon as it was too late for a replacement to be democratically chosen, the Stroger family said that Pappa was too ill to run for re-election and Pappa named Todd as his successor. Todd ran a hard race against right-wing Tony Periaca. Again the pro-choice organizations came out in force and I even recall one mailer that put the fear of Roe in me. What does it matter if the country president is pro-choice? Cook County runs one of the biggest hospitals for the poor in the country AND does free abortions. *DING*

Today I get an email from the Chicago Foundation for Women:

What happened? The Cook County Board of Commissioners last night rejected a budget amendment to reduce the backlog of mammograms at Cook County Hospital, by a vote of eight to nine. At least 6,800 women could have received mammograms if the amendment had passed.

What did the amendment say? President Todd Stroger’s proposed 2008 budget gave each commissioner an extra $60,000 for their staffs’ salaries, more than $1 million in total. Last night, commissioners Quigley, Claypool and Schneider proposed redirecting that money to pay for mammograms at Cook County Hospital. Unfortunately, a majority of commissioners put their “staffs over women’s health,” as the Daily Herald reported on its front page today.
I'm not saying that I wish Periaca had won or that I'm glad that Roskam did. What these two instances show is that being pro-choice is not always pro-woman. We need to ask candidates more questions, even if our most trusted organizations say they are ok.

BTW - Click on the CFW link above and send a than you to your Cook Co. Commish if he voted the right way. Shame on all the women of Cook County for voting AGAINST women's health. Considering that the late-Pappa Stroger didn't go to Cook County when he had a stroke, something tells me that none of the women on the board go there for mammograms.


Technorati tags: Cook County, Todd Stroger, Personal PAC, pro-choice, feminism, abortion

27 February 2008

School "Choice" in CPS

Saturday ushers in March and the hope that spring will overcome winter, some televised spring training games, Shamrock shakes, and of course, notification from the Chicago Public School lottery and all those privates & parochial schools on whether or not your child was selected. All of this is because Chicago Public Schools have school choice. It's a nice slogan. It lulls you into the belief that you, the parent, has control over where your beloved offspring will be learning their three R's. In fact it is a madness that pushes parents into an annual emotional marathon.


The Chicago Tribune points out the intense competition to get into not just CPS schools, but religious and private schools:


Statistically, it's more difficult, for example, to get into Drummond Montessori, a public magnet school in Bucktown, than it is to get into Harvard University. About 995 children applied for the 36 openings at Drummond next school year, a 4 percent acceptance rate. Harvard accepted about 9 percent of its applicants last year.


At Sacred Heart, an independent Catholic school in Rogers Park, the competition is so fierce, parents are applying now for "early admission" for 2009-10.


And at the private British School, which just last month opened a $25 million, five-story schoolhouse in Lincoln Park, the preschool and kindergarten classes for next year already are full, with a waiting list. Annual tuition: about $18,000.


Of course, we could chuck it all and head into the suburbs where school choice is much more limited and honestly, people buy in suburbs based on what school they want and can afford. And that right there is what is so wrong with the school system in general.


For the record, my husband & I sent in at least a dozen magnet school applications, had our daughter tested for both gifted programs, and applied to one independent/private school. We are both products of public schools in the suburbs and had vastly different experiences. Heck, my sisters & I had vastly different experiences! But we fled the suburbs for the city and fell in love. We love being surrounded by different people, having the choice to hop on the el to go to a Cubs game, and how different neighborhoods are just a few blocks down. We want her to grow up in an environment that might be a bit more forgiving of difference than the suburbs (sorry suburbanites, I lived it, I know what I went through).


Also for the record, I lived in a working poor suburb. My parents chose a house for us that was barely in district for one of the top high schools in the state. I am not a trust fund baby who lives in Lincoln Park who wants a prep school for my child inside a Chicago Public School. What I do want is for every child to have access to quality education, inspiring teachers, and the ability to make friends of all types - that includes academic. While I was in honors classes most of my school career, I had friends in average classes as well as friends who were far more smart than I was. Diversity of thought is important for everyone.


While touring some of the tuition-based preschools, I saw exactly what John Kass tongue-in-cheek suggests - almost total separation of the neighborhood kids from those whose parents are writing a check:


Now, a so-called gifted academy will be saved, to reopen in a building of non-gifted (or is that regular students?) school on the Northwest Side. Parents of the gifted are worried that the non-gifted parents may try to squeeze new kids into the gifted program. Happily, the school bureaucrats have come up with a plan.


They'll keep the children separate, so they don't mingle, perhaps with fences, as if the non-gifted are diseased with cooties. I suggest a moat filled with ravenous crocodiles, to keep the non-gifted in their place. Just wondering, but surely the gifted parents must consider themselves Democrats, as their gifted children are in "public school," right?


I live in the city FOR the diversity. I'm not going to pay thousands of dollars to keep my Latina daughter away from others like her. I say that because I rarely saw other people of color on these school tours. I suspect because tours are during the day so we can ooh and ahh over the darling children while they learn algebra in 2nd grade. Thankfully magnet schools have to keep a certain racial breakdown. While the one independent we did apply to isn't full of racial diversity, it is one where we feel very comfortable with in every other aspect - outside the tuition bill, of course.


Why don't I just stop complaining and send her to our neighborhood school? If we need to, we will. But again, my main thesis is that we shouldn't have to choose whether or not to send our kids to a school 30 minutes away from home just because they have recess or art or new computers. In magnet schools they can keep a handle on classroom size while neighborhood schools have to take everyone. I firmly believe that classroom size is one of the biggest factors in a student's success. It just makes sense.


School choice lets us believe that every child has a shot at being in a top school. That blind lotteries are fair, no peeking at the parents bank account, no play parties to see if the kids fit in, and no testing. In reality it's not as even of a field as we would hope. Not even the gifted schools are safe. On Super Tuesday the voters around the South Loop school voted in favor of a non-binding referendum to ask CPS to remove the gifted students because their commuting was causing too much traffic. Ah, yes...traffic trumps the education of our children. I have no idea what CPS will do with this request, but I'm happy that we didn't apply to a school where outsiders are clearly not welcome.


In the end, my husband and I have to choose the best school for our daughter. Gifted, private, neighborhood, or magnet, we just want a school where we know that she can learn and be respected. I'm grateful that we had the time to visit open houses and fill out applications. I'll continue to work and agitate so that kids can go to school with their neighbors & not worry that they aren't missing out on fresh air, Beethoven, or science fairs.


This was cross-posted from The Red Thread at Chicago Parent


Technorati tags: CPS, kindergarten, school, Chicago Public Schools, education

54th Carnival of Feminists

The 54th Carnival of Feminists is out and yours truly is in it!

Here are some of my favorite selections from this issue:
  • Penguin Unearthed on identifying as a mother: "This blog does not have any real focus. But if it had one, it would be the intersection of parenting and work - how the world of work should change, and how to make that happen. So maybe that’s why I identified as a mother - it seems obvious to me that I’m in the world of work, but it’s easy for the world of work to forget my life as a mother."
  • Julie Fairey's hilarious look at becoming a mother: "My days and nights used to be mine to command. Now I live at the beck and call of a tyrant, one who insists on using a foreign language that I am slow to learn...His tyranny extends to determining when I sleep and when I wake, even sometimes when I can eat, and the dictates of the Holidays Act and other relevant labour legislation simply do not apply in this area of employment."
  • Karnythia at Angry Black Woman is considering breaking up with feminism over this Obama - Clinton debate that puts women of color, especially Black women, in the middle. "I’m a black woman. I’m a feminist that’s voting for Obama. I was on the verge of ceasing to call myself a feminist since it’s become quite obvious that many white feminists think I’m too stupid to notice them saying nigger under their breath after every call for sisterhood. But then it occurred to me that there’s no reason to let them be the face of the feminist movement."
Each blog listed is fabulous, so check them all out.

Technorati tags: Carnival of Feminists, feminism

26 February 2008

Upcoming Events in Chicago

I'm taking a mental break from a proposal that I must finish today. It's almost done and I hope my sanity can be regained. Thus in lieu of a real post, today you get invitations to some awesome events in the next week:

  • OK, not an event, unless hitting the bookstore is an event (for me it is!), but the Chicago Foundation for Women is Women & Children First's organization of the month. Just print out a coupon and present it when you make a purchase and CFW gets 10% of your purchase total. Easy!

  • Thursday, February 28th - T's Bar & Restaurant - Fundraiser
    Please support “Revolutionary Expressions: A Celebration Commemorating International Womyn’s Day” by joining Latinas Organizing for Reproductive Equality, Mexican Students of Aztlan, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, F.I.R.E., and Young Women’s Empowerment Project at:

    T's Bar
    5025 N. Clark St
    Thursday February 28th
    7:30p – 11p

    **Portion of the proceeds from food and drink sales as well as ALL proceeds from purchase of raffle tickets and jello shots go to “Revolutionary Expressions” conference**
    Sadly I can't attend as it's my husband's night to be out on the town. Buy a jello shot for me!

  • REVOLUTIONARY EXPRESSIONS:
    A Celebration Commemorating International Womyn’s Day

    Thursday March 6, 2008
    9:30 am – 3:00 pm

    UIC’s Student Center East
    6th Floor (Student Center Tower), Rm 605
    750 S Halsted St
    Chicago, IL 60607

    For additional information please contact
    latinalore@gmail.com or (312) 479 – 2464

    I am going to try to pop in and out of this, but I have to attend a work training/meeting.

  • Status of Women in the Workplace

    A symposium sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and the Chicago
    Foundation for Women

    Work/Life Balance, Pay Disparity, Equal Opportunity and Other Issues
    that Follow Us to Work

    Monday, March 3, 2008, 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM

    McDermott Will & Emery
    227 West Monroe Street , Chicago

    To RSVP, call (312) 577-2801 ext. 229 or follow this link (online registration will open on
    Feb. 18) :

    http://www.cfw.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=863&srcid=863

    Advance RSVPs are required for security reasons.

    Speaking at the event:

    · Doris Moy
    Manager, Equal Opportunity Workforce Division, Illinois Department of Labor
    Ms. Moy oversees the administration and enforcement of five of the agency’s 28 labor laws including the Illinois Equal Pay Act, Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA), Displaced Homemakers Assistance Act, Private Employment Agency Act and Nurse Agency Licensing Act.

    · Melissa Josephs
    Director of Equal Opportunity Policy, Women Employed
    Ms. Josephs conducts research, develops recommendations, directs advocacy campaigns, and monitors implementation of policies on a range of employment issues such as paid leave, sexual harassment, fair wages, and enforcement of equal opportunity laws and affirmative action policies and practices. She also conducts federal- and state-level lobbying on workplace issues. Josephs directs WEI’s Job Problems Counseling Service which advises women regarding unfair and illegal workplace issues and currently leads a growing statewide coalition whose goal is to pass paid leave legislation in Illinois.

    · Carol M. Sladek
    Principal, Talent and Organization, Work-Life Consulting, Hewitt Associates
    Ms. Sladek specializes in work/life and time off strategy, issues, and developments. She works with clients around the world helping them to attract, motivate, and retain employees through strategic design of time/work/life solutions. Sladek’s recent publications include Work/Life: It’s All About Time,” “Developing a Work/Life Strategy,” “A Guide to Offering Work/Life Benefits,” and “Integrating Work and Family Needs Into a
    Flexible Benefits Plan.”

    Moderated by Andrea Kramer
    Partner , McDermott Will & Emery

    This program is graciously hosted by McDermott Will & Emery’s Women’s Leadership Group & WLMA: Women's Leadership & Mentoring Alliance.

    I will be at this one! Please look out for me and say hi.
I am working to find the best calendar for this blog. I get a lot of event invites and want to share them with my readers. I can't make them all, but I want you to know about them all. And please feel free to report back on whether events were good, bad, or whatever. Guest bloggers are welcome.

25 February 2008

Bitch on Bitch - Again

Due to Tina Fey's endorsement and the onslaught of "Bitch is the new black" ware on the internet AND some women being uncomfortable with the B-word, I point y'all back to Andi Ziesler's essay on "bitch."

JFTR - When I first got online, one my earliest email addys was bitchgoddess@domain.com. Of course, now you can't do that because Yahoo, et. al don't like swear words in your email addy.

Technorati tags: Bitch Magazine, Andi Ziesler, bitch, Leonard Pitts, John McCain, feminist

24 February 2008

Tina Fey Returns to Weekend Update

Obama's a witch, Clinton's a bitch

Of course the ever subtle Sun-Times political cartoonist Jack Higgins thinks that Hillary is both with this incredibly sexist cartoon.

But Starhawk, a real witch, writes a beautiful piece that isn't pro-anyone other than pro-us. Not US, but us, you and me, working together to make this country and this world a better place:

As for me, I do believe, as Obama urges us to—not in his or any politician’s ability to make change, but in ours. If we as a people find our own vision, and speak, march, lobby, write, push for it and enact it in every way we can, then this moment of fear and crisis can become a turning point. We face huge losses in the years to come, and to get through them we need trust and connection in one another, courage, creativity, and compassion. None of that arises out of cynicism and despair. All of it comes only when we begin by believing, “Yes, we can!”

Starhawk also outlines why many of us are falling under the spell of Obama:

Obama evokes some powerfully appealing archetypes. Think of all those myths and fairy tales about the humble-seeming outsider who turns out to be the true king, throwing out the corrupt rulers and restoring health and healing. We’re a contradictory people—we love underdogs, while we despise losers—but there’s nothing we love more than the little guy who comes from behind and beats all the odds to win the pennant.

She also offers some wonderful advise to Clinton on winning this race. Starhawk found Hillary's voice:

In the contest of archetypes, women are at a disadvantage, facing a deep, unconscious sexism that limits our collective imagination. We so easily turn into Mom, either Nagging Mom, or Bitch Mom who doesn’t really love us, or harried, responsible but dull Mom, complaining about how she does all the real work while sexy, divorced Dad just takes the kids to Disneyland. My personal sympathies lie deeply with Mom’s cause. She does do all the diaper changing and the homework while Dad breezes in for Ski Week and holidays. But if I were Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisor, I’d tell her, stay away from that archetype. Responsible Mom is not going to win over Aragorn the Exiled King. Instead, I would urge, be Joan of Arc. Find your vision, and be so passionately driven by it that you would stand forth and challenge kings and armies. Show us your courage, which we know you have. Tell us “I stood forth and went into realms where few women dared to go, because I care so deeply about the welfare of all of us.”

Whatever you do, don’t attack Obama on issues of faith and trust. Doing so will be just as effective as warning your teenage daughter that the sexy biker she’s fallen in love with has no history of gainful employment. (bold is mine)


To that I have to chuckle. Do you recall that after the 2000 election so many people tried to figure out how Dubya beat an established leader like Al Gore? The answer? People identified with him. Guys wanted to have a beer with him. Women wanted to date him. Of course, women seemed to say they would marry Gore, but only after a tryst with Dubya.

Again...disclaimer...I love Obama BUT...How can people NOT see that we're going thru the same "cool kid" versus "smart kid" scenario in this primary? How many times has Hillary been dissed for acting like Lisa Simpson? Always wanting to show that she's right? Christine Stansell says it best:

How many of us have heard brilliant and resourceful women in the workplace dismissed or devalued for "detail-orientation" in contrast to a man's supposed "big picture" scope? How many of us have seen what, in a man, would be called "peerless mastery," get called, in a woman's case, "narrowness"? How many women have we known -- truly gifted workers, professionals, and administrators -- who have been criticized for their reserve and down-to-earth way of speaking? Whose commanding style, seriousness, and get-to-work style are criticized as "cold" and insufficiently "likable"? These prejudices have been scandalously present in this campaign.

In last night's return episode of "Saturday Night Live," Tina Fey goes on the offensive for Hillary (damn that writer's strike!!) and let's loose of gawd damn funny retorts to why voting for Obama is better. Her bottomline was something like this (damn no immediate transcript!!):

Is Hillary a bitch? YES. And you know what? Bitches get things done. This one does.

I have many girl crushes, but if I ever come face to face with Tina Fey, I am giving her one hell of a kiss. Her feminist rants on SNL are brilliant and SO needed. Why can't she do the ABC World News Tonight or have her own political talk show ala Bill Maher?

I blog this not to diss Obama and his followers, but to diss the many issues people have with Hillary. I wanted this campaign to be about issues not inspirational talks or whether taking back a cheating spouse automatically disqualifies you from the Presidency. If so, I think FDR might owe this country a few terms. War votes? Let's get to them. Health care reform? Depends on what the meaning of "universal" means.

But since that's not where this primary has ever lived, I'll just head on off to bed where I can dream of what could had been - The perfect moment for the Democratic Party to show this country that it and not the GOP cares about the overall welfare of the citizens of this awesome nation, not how much money their consultants can talk the candidates into spending.

PS: You can send some feedback to the Sun-Times about the sexist cartoon Higgins drew and they published.

Technorati tags: Starhawk, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Campaign 2008, pagan, wiccan

23 February 2008

Feminism is good for boys & men

I vividly recall being in a meeting maybe six years ago trying to figure out what committees should exist for a feminist group. There was the usual call for a "diversity" committee, but I said that we needed a men's issues committee instead. I was quickly yelled down by a few key leaders of said group.

So when I read Jeff's post at Shakesville about gender and boys, I said a little thank you to the Goddess! Thank you for showing me another sign that I wasn't insane for suggesting that feminists reach out to men in an attempt to bring down the patriarchy, to find new/more partners in our fight for reproductive freedom, and to end gender roles in society.

That "acceptable femininity" has expanded in scope is unquestionably a good thing, and while we're not there yet, one can see the day coming when girls are considered girls simply for being girls, no matter their dress, interests, hair length, or sexual orientation.

The same cannot be said for boys. Boys are still, to large extent, expected to fit into a very narrow range of "acceptable masculinity." Boys are supposed to like sports, rasslin', "kinetic activities." They're supposed to show toughness, supposed to show little interest in emotion or caring for others. Quite simply, boys are supposed to be boys, and any boy who dares step outside that box is going to be called a girl or a homosexual, not just by his peers, but likely by his own parents.

The quote from Orenstein is heartbreakingly accurate: boys are as likely to want to play at parenthood as girls are to want to kick a ball. Boys are as likely to want to read quietly as girls are to roughhouse. Boys are, quite simply, no more likely to "be boys" as girls are to "be girls."

But while we as a society have recognized that girls can and should want to be made of more than sugar and spice and everything nice, boys are still supposed to be all snips and snails and puppy dogs' tails. That this is a problem for boys is obvious; that this is a problem for girls should be.
Thanks Jeff.

Technorati tags: gender, boys, tagname, girls, Shakesville

22 February 2008

What We Think

See this banner? It's for my book. OK, it's not MY book, it's Adele's, but I do have an essay in it. It's entitled "Occupation: Professional Feminist." Obviously it goes over why I call myself a professional feminist and explores a bit of how feminist careers go far beyond what is generally thought - domestic violence center director, women's health clinic director. All careers that are awesome, but are just the beginning of the universe of careers that feminists can hold that are feminist careers. In reality, I think almost any job can be feminist if feminist ethics and morals are used.

I don't know exactly when the book will be out, but don't fret, I'll let you know. I also believe that part of my sweat equity for the book is to do some events as well as publicize the book. So yes, my friends, you may need to come out and buy the book at a signing. HAHAHA!! The idea of me at a book signing is just too funny for me to contemplate right now. I wonder if the campus bookstore will stock me next to the books from PhDs. OK, now I'm gonna pee my pants from laughing too hard.

Now I really want to get my hands on my piece for edits. I have an image to craft baby.

Technorati tags: feminist, book

21 February 2008

How Barack and Bill -- Yes, Bill -- Can Create Real Change

My latest column at Work it, Mom!

The Presidential campaigns have been raging for just over a year now. The GOP has their candidate, even if a certain former Governor hasn’t gotten the memo, and the Democrats are still in a horse race. What has been most intriguing to me during this primary is how Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton have been seen in the media.


I was a senior in high school when Bill and Hillary were on the path to the White House the first time. I was proud and quite surprised that the country was embracing this strong feminist of a woman. It seemed odd to me that so many people were embracing the idea of having a hands-on First Lady. Of course, I knew that she wouldn’t be the first. In the fourth or fifth grade I was obsessed with First Ladies. I even made a zine of them and highlighted my favorites: Abigail Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jackie Kennedy. Having grown up with some pretty wimpy First Ladies – Barbara and her books and Nancy and her guest appearance on Diff'rent Strokes telling us to “Just Say No.” I was more than ready for a First Lady who looked like she was ready to change the world with the platform she would inherit. I still kick myself that I never got my hands on any of the “2 for 1” or “Vote for Bill, Get Hillary for Free” T-shirts that I recall seeing on the news.


Fast forward 15 years (dear goodness! It’s been 15years since high school?) and we working moms find ourselves in a rather odd situation. The woman that many of us heralded as our second President is now running for President herself. We witnessed Hillary Clinton attempt to reform our health care system, attend the 1995 United Nations 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing under a very feminist mother banner, and try to raise Chelsea away from the media’s prying eyes. She redefined the definition of working mom. The wife of her main opponent is also a working mom, one about whom I’ve heard many women say, “I wish she were running!” If Michelle Obama does have time for baking cookies, my money is that the Pillsbury Dough Boy is helping, too.


Michelle sat down with Katie Couric last week and Katie asked her the big question for First Ladies: What will be her cause?


read the rest at Work it, Mom!

20 February 2008

How many feminists does it take to pick 6 books?

A: It's not how many feminists, but how many rounds of voting it takes!

To the left is a photo of the voting rounds from the Women & Children First Intergenerational Feminist Book Club. We meet twice a year to choose books and it's always a riot. Monday we had just five people and about 17 books up for vote.

The first round we each got 6 votes, that eliminated a few books, but then we needed another round and another...Eventually we picked all six books in 4 rounds. The funny thing is that it took so long to whittle the list down to 6 because so many of us liked the same books, but just not enough to have a clean first vote.

There are the books that made the cut. We didn't have a copy of "The Golden Notebook" so we used a sticky note as a stand in. Who says feminists don't have sense of humor.

"It's So You" is the selection for March. We figured that after this insanely frigid winter we needed to think about fashion again.

April is "The Golden Notebook" which broke our cardinal rule - the person who recommends the book HAD to have read it already. We didn't always have this rule and have had disastrous results.

May is "Hijas Americanas" for Cinco de Mayo (althou, bookclub isn't on Cinco de Mayo).

June is "Like Son." The story is about a father & son, who isn't really a son...Father's Day.

July is "Self-Made Man."

August is "The Girls Who Went Away" which I have read and cry just thinking about. A must read.

Chicago readers...Please stop by and join bookclub! It's super fun. We discuss not just the book, but the issues that pop up from the book. And sometimes we grab a beer afterwards.

Book club is held the 3rd Monday of the month at 7:30 PM. See you there.

To purchase any of these books please visit the book club's webpage. If you purchase at the store, just mention the book club and you get 10% off!


Technorati tags: books, feminism, Women and Children First

19 February 2008

Yup

You're lucky that I have too much other writing to do to write a long ranting post about this comic and how true it is and not just in terms of math.

That or you can curse all my deadlines for keeping me from posting. :)





H/T to Brutal Women

I'm a Body Warrior!

Head on over to Hijas Americanas today because I'm the featured Body Warrior. Leave me some love if you want.

Technorati tags: Hijas Americanas, body warrior, body image, Latina

18 February 2008

How macho should a State's Attorney be?

My antennae are standing up.

I had read a piece somewhere and heard it on NPR that there are rumblings to reinstate the death penalty in Illinois. For those not familiar, Illinois has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 2000. It was one of the last things and the best thing former Governor Ryan did before he left office. He's since been convicted of corruption and is serving time in a Wisconsin prison.

While this new piece on how state's attorney candidates feel about lifting the moratorium doesn't quite hit the whole "you need to be for it to be tough on crime" I'm sure that it will end up like that by the time we hit November:

Democratic Cook County state's attorney nominee Anita Alvarez said Friday that Illinois must enact more reforms and allow the public a say before lifting its death-penalty moratorium.

"I believe there were a lot of reforms, and there were a lot of recommendations that I don't believe have been put into effect," said prosecutor Alvarez during a taping of the "At Issue" program, set to air at 9:30 a.m. Sunday on WBBM-AM 780.

In contrast, Republican state's attorney nominee Tony Peraica said he favors lifting the 8-year-old moratorium on executions, a view Republican DuPage County State's Atty. Joe Birkett advocated this week .

Alvarez is up against Peraica, someone not known to play nice and is eager to hold a larger office than he does now. That said, I do admire how spunky the guy is. But I won't be surprised when ads come out trying to paint Alvarez as soft on crime. She'll be battling someone who is a veteran at campaigning. I'm sure she'll have a good team on hand since she is the party candidate now. At least I hope so!

She's got to fight the image that women are soft on crime. She'll have to fight the idea that she's working against her people (aka us Latina/os) by fighting crime. She's a mom and that never seems to project bad ass law enforcement officer.

What I do think she needs to do is play up all those so-called negatives. If you've ever known a Latina Mother, you know they are NOT to be messed with. You would rather spend the night in jail with mass murderers than to call your Latina mother for bail money. Oh, yes. While I did many a thing to test my mother's will (Goddess rest her soul), I never tempted her by getting a tattoo. She swore she'd cut it out with a butter knife and I didn't put it past her. I got an in-school detention in the 5th grade and she warned me that she never wanted to get a call from school again about me. I wasn't a saint from then on, but I made damn sure that she never got a call...instead I pleaded with the Dean of my high school that *I* tell her the bad news and yes, she'll call you the times I really messed up.

So Anita, I think you need to shoot an ad that plays up the mom factor. Aren't we all afraid of our moms in some way? And while I oppose the death penalty outright, I hope you will stay strong and keep the moratorium in place for a long time.

Technorati tags: Anita Alvarez, latina, death penalty, illinois

16 February 2008

Def: Mommy Bloggers

Next month I'll be attending the WAM conference and speaking on a panel about blogging, feminism, and I'll add in mommy blogging to that list.

So my question for my small band of readers is this:

What comes to your mind when you think mommy blogger?

Be honest...use the anonymous comment feature if you must. But I think that mommy bloggers are fighting a huge stereotype. I know we're not a monolith, but with all 'groups' others see us as one.

So tell me, what do you think? If you were to meet a blogger and they said they were a mommy blogger would you check out their blog? What if they said they were a feminist blogger and dropped hints about their children?

OK...off to enjoy Saturday before my daughter complains about me being on the computer too much!


Technorati tags: mommy bloggers, stereotypes, WAM

15 February 2008

Michelle Obama on Working Moms


It's as if Michelle knew I'd be listening.

To be honest, my mommy blog collab has finally made contact with the Obama campaign and we're thisclose to having a chat with a few of their policy folks about the issues that are important to our readers & writers. Don't fret dear readers, it won't be all about mommy stuff. We're women too.

I saw this piece before I headed out to work. My husband asked me, "What do you think?" I said, "She hit all the points perfectly." Now we know why Barack calls her the closer.

It got me remembering back in 1992 when so many of us were excited to see Hillary Rodham Clinton talking about feminist issues. "If only she were running!" many of us exclaimed. I hear the same chorus about Michelle. Obviously the men in power aren't dummies about who they choose as their partners.

So what happened to Hillary? Where are all the women who were backing her 15 years ago? Is this a case of careful of what you wish for? Would she be in a better position if she had waited to run for the seat that Obama now holds so she could "stay" in Illinois and not be weighed down as a carpetbagger?

I dunno...but the venom that spews from anti-Hillary people makes me think that no matter what she does, she can't win.

If we do end up with Michelle as First Lady, I hope she follows the path that Hillary crafted as an engaged First Lady, especially in the realm of work-life balance solutions.

Technorati tags: Michelle Obama, working moms, CBS News, Katie Couric, feminism

Thoughts from a mother bear

I drove into work today with a heavy heart for my students.

First, I consider every student on campus mine. I've always thought that, it's not a motherhood thing, but I feel that it lives in the same place in my heart & soul.

The last time I felt this much dread for my students was September 12, 2001. If you recall, the cries of the terrorist attacks were from Arabs was already flying around. I believe there was already a hate crime reported from somewhere like Oklahoma. With the high number of students who identify as Middle Eastern, I felt fear for them. Would they be safe at home? On campus? Walking around town? How did they feel 'knowing' that someone who looked like them might be responsible for the attacks?

Today I drove in worried for them and how unsafe they must feel. Being at a university in the middle of Chicago and in an area where students' parents still think is "the worst neighborhood" in Chicago I feel that if the shooting that happened at NIU yesterday happened here might not be a big surprise to some.

I saw a student from NIU say on the news last night that "This isn't how it is at NIU." I doubt that this is how it is anywhere in this country.

NIU isn't that far. I know many of my students have friends at NIU. I have a good friend whose son goes there. I know at least one person from high school works t here. DeKalb feels like a world away, but when something like this happens, it's just down the street. One of the victims hailed from my hometown. I don't think I know the family, but knowing they came from the same town makes it even more personal.

I just needed to get all this out into the ether before I buckle down for a hard day at writing. I can't quite focus on mentoring networks when I have all this weighing on me.

It's days like this when I think that I feel too much. That I care too much.

Technorati tags: NIU, shooting, university

14 February 2008

Happy Valentine's Day Texas!

I haven't checked my referrals that closely to know how many readers I have from Texas, but I want to send a quick VDay shout out to the Lone Star State. Congratulations on the recent ruling that legalizes your "personal massage" devices:

A federal appeals court has struck down a Texas law that makes it a crime to promote or sell sex toys.

"Whatever one might think or believe about the use of these devices," said an opinion written by Justice Thomas M. Reavley of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, "government interference with their personal and private use violates the Constitution."

Under Texas law it is illegal to sell, advertise, give or lend obscene devices, defined as a device used primarily for sexual stimulation. Anyone in possession of six or more sexual devices is considered to be promoting them.

In case you were a law abiding citizen and now need to stock up, I point you back to my post on Early To Bed's special holiday gift packages for you and your loved one or just you. The good part of being in this hyper-consumer society is that there's always a holiday to provide you with an excuse to buy yourself a treat. Buzz on, Texas...Buzz on.

Edited to add: While we celebrate, let's remember that we still have Mississippi to liberate.

Technorati tags: Valentine's Day, sex, Texas

13 February 2008

I wanted to be Pat Benatar....I think she wants to be Natalie Maines

I'm a child of the '80s and thus grew up in the hey day of MTV. You know, when they actually showed music videos and the non-music shows were related to music (Remote Control 4EVER). So I logged more than my fair of time watching, acting out music videos and yes one of my favorites is "Love is a Battlefield."A few years ago I heard of a new summer camp for girls - Girls Rock! How freakin' kewl is that? One week learning the ins and outs of an instrument, writing music, and forming your own band? Hell yes! Can I be 10 again?

So when I received an email about a Girls Rock! movie, I was so all over it. Watch it. I'll wait for ya...

Yeah, now you want to be 10 again too, eh?

I have to admit that I cried like a baby watching the trailer.

While I grew up post-Title IX, it was also pre-Girl Power. I hung out with the boys during recess because I liked playing sports, I liked getting dirty and honestly kicking their butt (seriously, no matter how many times I would tackle them, they still thought they could take me). I rejected all things pink, hated wearing skirts, and fought the nail polish & make-up thing all through grammar school. I lived in a place and time where a girl needed to choose. Tomboy or girly girl. Skirts or jeans. To see girls today, especially my 4 1/2 daughter, float effortlessly between rugged grrrrl and pretty princess, well, it is pretty overwhelming for me. To see them rock out and find and USE their voice as seen in the trailer, you get a big pile of ooze that was me. Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Heart, and Lita Ford were the rockers I wanted to be. Oh, yeah, and Leather Tuscadero.

My daughter is more interested in soccer and dance class (see, I didn't think you could balance those two in my day!) right now, but I'm pretty sure that by the time she is 9, she's gonna want to attend camp. She already does a good air guitar and air fiddle & banjo to the Dixie Chicks.

There is a Girls Rock! camp in Chicago, but doesn't seem to be affiliated with the Girls Rock! from the movie. But hey, we're in Chicago and we gotta rock with it. If your girl will be nine by the summer, check 'em out. They take girls on a sliding scale, so don't fret if your fave punk rock girl isn't flush with cash. If you are, you can donate to the cause.

H/T to Kim at Hormone Colored Days & Momformation for sending me the trailer link!

Technorati tags: Pat Benatar, Natalie Maines, rock & roll, guitar, Girls Rock!, movie, feminism

12 February 2008

Body Warriors Unite!

This week is full of deadlines at work, so I give you some homework and this one is a tough one.

I want you, the women who read this blog, to consider becoming a Body Warrior. What is a Body Warrior?

Author Rosie Molinary features Body Warriors on her blog each Tuesday:

...women of all ages and backgrounds celebrating their body, beauty, and identity. Would you like to be A Body Warrior to Meet?

You don't have to be 100% happy with your body or yourself to be a warrior...some of us like me are constantly working on our love-hate relationship with our bodies.

The questions Rosie asks of the warriors are hard ones to answer...at least for me they were. My answers were short and hopefully sweet. I'll let you know if I'm featured.

Technorati tags: body image, Hijas Americanas, Rosie Molinary

11 February 2008

Parents at the Polls

Today on the Chicago Moms Blog and our sister sites (Silicon Valley, NYC, and DC Metro) many of us spoke about politics, what we're teaching our kids, and why we're voting for one candidate or another. It's some good stuff, so jump on over and start reading. If you want, jump right to mine and then read the rest. Or save mine for last...kinda like dessert.

One thing that I want to throw out there...Should fear play into your vote?

A lot of us progressives, liberals, etc. hated, hated that Rudy Guliani was running on the fear of 9/11. If someone asked him what his worst date was he'd pull a "Miss Congeniality" and answer September 11th. So why are so many people allowing "everyone else's" fear of Hillary or Barack to decide their vote? Not just in our collaborative posts, but in many places in the blogoshere and in my own conversations with friends.

HRC will polarize the right and we'll lose - FEAR
Racists won't vote for Obama - FEAR (I don't see a KKK member voting for Hill either.)

Vote your choice, but please, don't base it on fear.

Technorati tags: parents, polls, voting, Chicago Moms Blog

Privilege Meme

Bold the ones that are true for you.

The list is based on an exercise developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. The exercise developers ask that if you participate in this blog game, you acknowledge their copyright.

Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college [if you count junior college]
Mother finished college
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home [I tried! But there's only so far the Scholastic Book Fair can take one kid]
Were read children's books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 [gymnastics in 1st grade and tennis in 7th grade...that was it.]
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs (I f'ing wish!)
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp [I'm assuming sleepover campl, which is a no. Girl Scout Day Camp for one week, yes.]
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18 [I actually loved my cousin's hand me downs because she was too kewl for school.]
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them [My grandmother gave my dad the money to buy me a piece of crap 1982 Chevette...I still love that car...RIP Adobo]
There was original art in your house when you were a child
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18 [not my own line, just a phone]
You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
You had your own room as a child [for some glorious few years!]
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School [For about 2 glorious years before I moved back in with my younger sister when she started high school...something about not wanting to wake the baby sister. ]
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up [to the disdain of my sisters...there were serious smack downs and tantrums thrown]
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family [not sure if this is a privilege since my parents worked hard to hide our poor status from us as kids, really hard and they succeeded for the most part.]



Technorati tags: privilege

Dear Orgs who want to blog

The last few years blogging has exploded to the point where everyone wants one or rather everyone thinks they need one. Yes, email is for old people, but it is still a great way to communicate. Yes, blogging is fun, fluid, but takes up a lot of time. It can also be a fabulous way to get your message out to people who aren't on your mailing list.

That said, before you launch a new blog, please try to consult with an expert. Yes, I am considering myself one of them. Despite not having a huge following myself, I have been around long enough to give you some great pointers for your newborn blog. And if you're a friend, I'll even do it for free. If you're not, I'm pretty darn inexpensive. Ask Planned Parenthood. If you're a feminist org that I am in love with, we can chat. If you're a conservative group, I'm $200/hour plus travel expenses. See...I'll still work for ya, but I know you have money.

It just saddens me to see blogs started by awesome orgs who should be using blogs only fail to say, name their blog or have it look nice on every platform.

It's really not that hard to learn, it just takes time. Please, let me save you that time and get your rocking from day one.

Your BFF,
Veronica

Technorati tags: blogging, organization

Raising a citizen

Originally posted on the Chicago Moms Blog



My husband & I like to joke that we are raising a candidate.

We take her with us to vote (this photo is from Super Tuesday), I've taken her to door knock for Congressional candidates, she knew the phone bank script for an Aldermanic campaign last year, and we talk to her about politicians we see on TV or in magazines. About a year and a half ago we were in a doctor's waiting room and I pointed to the cover to TIME magazine and said, "That's our next president."  I was only half joking, but more seriously explained that the smiling man was our Senator.

I really do view a lot of what I do in life through a feminist lens. It's not easy, but it's not cheesy either. I don't vote just because I have something to say or want someone to do something for me, but I know the history of women's suffrage and well, I am so not going to tempt the ghost Alice Paul to haunt me.


I will teach our daughter that history as well as the sad facts like the disenfranchisement of ex-felons, that the changes at the Chicago Housing Authority destroyed the only "poor peoples"  voting block this city knew, and that despite our huffing over democracy, that money can still buy an election. But I will certainly stress that many women fought long and hard for her to have the right to vote, that it is not something to take for granted, and certainly that she can't complain about this or that if she opts out of voting.

When I think about the awesome fact that she has an opinion on whether to vote for Barack or Hillary (she wants a tie, she likes them both) AND that she is willing to voice this opinion, I have to be super proud of her. And honestly, I'm pretty proud of us as parents.

Will she ever run for office? I haven't a clue. But I know that she will grow up knowing that she should always vote and that the first Presidential race that she may recall will have a white woman or a black man on the top of the ticket.

We're not raising a candidate, we're raising a citizen.

Photo credit PBS Kids

10 February 2008

Traveling

I've spent the weekend with two sassy 4-year-olds so my brain is a bit fried. In lieu of a real blog post about the resignation of HRC's campaign manager (a Chicago Latina!) or Barack's sweeping of the weekend, I present you my upcoming travel calendar. Please let me know if you'll be at any of these events:

March 28-30 -- Women, Action & the Media
June 5-7 -- National Council for Research on Women Conference
June 19-22 -- National Women's Studies Association Conference
July 18-20 -- NOW National Conference

At this time, I do plan on presenting or will be submitting a proposal to present at all these events. I do love presenting to others as it really is a big conversation about one topic or another and I feel that I learn more when I open my mouth and others comment. I love meeting new people too. If you're local, I'm more than happy to chat about me coming to speak to students of any ages.

08 February 2008

Latinas & the election - Local Edition Part Two

A quick follow-up to yesterday's post about Anita Alvarez...My former State Senator, Iris Martinez, beat back her opponent and the Tribune is attributing her win and many other women's wins to the number of women who went out to vote for Hillary and just kept voting their gender all the way down.

We didn't take into account that Alvarez was the only Hispanic and only woman in the race. Of course we didn't. For years we've been writing and blabbing about the Hispanic vote as the great "sleeping giant" of American politics. We've sagely pointed out that places like Cicero, where the population has gone 80 percent Hispanic, still have white ethnic mayors and board majorities. Hispanics don't vote in proportion to their numbers, we said. Whenever will the giant wake up?...

Often this ethnic voting stuff cancels itself out. White ethnics tend to return the favor with big margins in their precincts for their candidates. But on Tuesday, it seemed that Democratic women of all backgrounds, many hellbent for Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, proceeded to vote their gender all the way down. How else to explain the dumping of Illinois Appellate Court Judge Alan Greiman, with all his newspaper and bar association endorsements, for a circuit judge named Sharon Johnson-Coleman? Or plucky State Sen. Iris Martinez, who handily defended her seat against a guy backed by organization Democrats.

John McCarron has a tinge of something in his tone...I can't label it, but it's that "isn't it sexist to vote by gender?" tone, but he's clearly a supporter of Alvarez and happy that Martinez beat out the machine in her race. Which I think is one aspect of this primary race that many people don't get or don't want to get.

While there are clearly women out there who want a woman President, they also want a woman President who will represent their interests. If Condi Rice were the front-runner for the GOP, Ann Coulter & Phyllis Schafly might be in her corner and not Kim Gandy & Dolores Huerta. Why can't anyone see that difference? That yes, a woman president would be awesome, but not one who would work against my interests. I would gather that the same goes for racial politics in that someone looking for the first African-American President would vote for Barack and not Clarence Thomas.

Jill Filipovic says it best here:

Please, please stop using the term "identity politics" as a negative. "Identity politics" is a term adopted by conservatives (and moderate-to-right-leaning lefties) in an effort to insult the political action of women, people of color, the LGBT community, and other traditionally marginalized groups. It assumes that advocating for gender, racial or sexual orientation equality is about promoting particular "identities" as opposed to doing what white men have always done -- engaging in the political system, often in a self-interested way. If you're going to use the term "identity politics," go for it -- but own it as a good thing. We are all influenced by our identities; but since white, straight, Christian male is the default, it's only commented on when the rest of us voice our opinions.

Maybe we could petition for a straight woman ticket? Remember when we could do that in Illinois? Just one punch and wa-la! All Democrats. Yeah...just one touch on the screen or connected arrow ans wa-la all women. I jest of course, because we all know many women who don't represent very well.

Technorati tags: latinas, election, Iris Martinez

07 February 2008

Latinas & the election - Presidential Edition

Being in Chicago during this primary season is, well, interesting to say the least. Everywhere I turn I see Obama signs, stickers, and you can feel the Obamania in the air. I heard of polls that said Latina/os were for him, against him...That Latina/os should not support Clinton because of this or that. My husband heard of a group for Clinton supporters called Chicas for Hillary or something like that. It was kinda funny actually. For every reason I heard that we should support Obama, I heard almost the same thing for Clinton. In the end Obama got his ass kicked by the Latina/o vote, especially in California.

So it was quite a shock that when I checked in on Latina Lista on Wednesday that I saw that Obama had finally sent in his statement for her readers. I blogged in November that Clinton, Gravel, and Dodd had sent in their statements. I think that was all we got until Obama. I do know I was sitting at home waiting and waiting for more statements. It was really disappointing to see that. As I've said before, I like my senator! But not sending in a statement to a Latina-centric blog is, well, disappointing.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez discussed how she was wooed by the Clinton campaign, but declined to endorse her because she liked Obama better. What happened when she called to use her stand in the community? She was told to volunteer at the local phone bank:
At first I thought it was a joke. After all, Toni Morrison's endorsement of Obama was being trumpeted far and wide in press releases by his team. Now, I am not - repeat NOT - comparing myself in quality or skill or fame to Toni Morrison. But I do think that among Latina writers in the United States, I am at the top of the short list of those of us who have any "fame" at all.

This isn't a slam post on Obama, but more of a critique of how he seems to be handling the Latina/o vote. I do hope that if he does pull out this nomination that we'll be courted better.


Technorati tags: latinas, election, Barack Obama

Latinas & the election - Local Edition

Anita Alvarez became the first Latina/o and the first woman to win the nomination for Cook County state's attorney. I wish I could say that I voted for her, but I didn't. I went with one of the dudes running who had the backing of the progressive community. I wouldn't had known Alvarez from any other Latina just before the election. I just didn't know her and I used up all my election research/contemplation time on Clinton & Obama. I did know what barrier she would break if she won and I applauded that, but I wasn't going to vote for her based on that. Now that she's won the nomination I do plan on voting for her. She is the Democrat in the race! This nice piece came out in the Tribune about her and I think I'm going to like getting to know her:

The daughter of a Mexican immigrant waiter and seamstress mother, Anita Alvarez seemingly came out of nowhere in the blood sport of Cook County politics to win the Democratic primary for state's attorney.

No one was more surprised by her sudden political rise than the candidate herself. But she said Wednesday that who she is and where she came from make her ideally suited to challenge what she calls a "good ol' boy mentality" in the prosecutor's office.

Fresh from her upset win over five men in Tuesday's election, Alvarez spoke about the need to hire and promote more minority and female prosecutors to bridge the gulf between local law enforcement and communities, especially young people who mistrust the authorities.

"So many times we think of the prosecutor as this stereotypical man, a male white for that matter ... always playing hardball," said Alvarez, who has risen to become the No. 3 official under retiring State?s Atty. Richard Devine. "I'm living proof that that's not true, that you don't have to be that way. You can be, for lack of better words, softer.

"You can do this job and you can be tough when you have to be tough in court, but I think you have to have a soft side, you have to be sensitive [because] you are dealing with people who are experiencing some of the most horrific things."

She's even been called a sell-out for prosecuting Latina/os. A woman who rose from the streets of Chicago to become educated and most likely the next State's Attorney of one of the biggest counties in the USA and she's a sell-out? I don't like to dwell on the stereotypes of my people, but this whole being educated = selling out thing just is such bullshit. Add to that the audacity of her actually doing her job and prosecuting people despite sharing a common culture. *sigh* I know she can't clean everything up in the office that allowed Burge to torture innocent men, but I have some hope that maybe, just maybe she has learned from the past.

Technorati tags: latinas, election, Anita Alvarez

06 February 2008

The kindergarten hunt continues

It's been a long time since I've blogged about seemingly never-ending search for a kindergarten for our daughter. Part of it is that I do believe in conspiracy theories and don't want to black mark my lil one with this blog by complaining too much. The other day a news story broke that made it clear - We live in Chicago and even the school system is Chicago.

Chicago's magnet applications should be audited following revelations that parents tried to clout their kids into one magnet school by falsely claiming they had a child already enrolled there, the head of a government watchdog group said Tuesday.

Disclosures that 12 applicants falsely claimed to have "siblings'' at Sabin Magnet -- giving them a clear admissions edge -- is "the Chicago Public School version of Chicago clout in action,'' said Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association.


But it's really not much of a surprise. I grew up in the burbs where kids pretended to live with cousins to attend our better schools. Or the reality is that grandma was the babysitter so it made sense to say you lived with her so you could walk to her house after school.

Last weekend we attended a "play party" for our lone independent/private school candidate. We really like that school, but can't get our hopes up due to the very small pool of seats available. My daughter had fun at the party. They let the kids play in the library and gym. I'm sure she thought she was the poop for being in school in the first place. She said she had fun. Thankfully the interview part for us was pretty low-key. It also helps that the school expects parents to volunteer for things and well, we're not a non-volunteering couple. My husband even offered up that we're fundraisers. I know he is, but I wouldn't initially had thought that, but I guess I am.

The interview, while it lasted all of 15 minutes, is a weird thing. You want to say things that make you look good, stand out, etc. But you also don't want to look like a total suck up. It's just weird. While the school isn't as diverse as we'd like, it does feel like the right school.

March is just around the corner, so we'll know soon.


Technorati tags: kindergarten

Bitch Blog is back!

Of course, I'm behind on the cool kids, as usual...But looking thru my referral log I saw that Bitch Magazine's blog is back...with a vengeance! Rockin'!

And totally humbling that the awesome Ms Andi liked what I had to say here.

So my small, but growing horde of readers, go check out my fave mag's shiny revamped blog. I swear I checked their site a few months ago for an updated blog...

Technorati tags: Bitch Magazine

05 February 2008

Planned Parenthood on Obama on choice

This afternoon Planned Parenthood Chicago Area CEO Steve Trombley spoke out on the questioning of Senator Obama's votes as an Illinois State Senator on choice. I have seen this issue pop up in many places across the blogosphere. While I did cast my vote for Clinton today, I still support and admire my junior senator. Each candidate has their flaws. Choice is not Obama's flaw. But judge for yourself:

When Obama was an Illinois state senator he worked with Planned Parenthood to develop a strategy combating a series of extreme anti-choice measures designed to paint pro-choice legislators into a corner. Obama and numerous other state senators voted “present” on these bills in order to protest the politicization of the health and safety of Illinois women. Illinois is one of the few states that allows legislators to voice their objections to legislation through a “present” vote. These “present” votes are counted in the official roll call of the bill, and they DO affect the outcome. For all intents and purposes, they are a vote against the bill. As a matter of fact, Senator Obama wanted to vote “no” on these bills. But, he stood with his colleagues in protest against the anti-choice extremists who controlled the Illinois Senate at the time.

During his time as a state senator, no major pro-choice organization questioned Obama’s present votes. Instead, Obama received endorsements from Personal PAC, NARAL of Illinois PAC, the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, and, YES, EVEN Illinois NOW.

Technorati tags: Planned Parenthood, Barack Obama, choice, reproductive justice

04 February 2008

I've decided...I think

T-minus 7 hours until the polls open in Chicago and I think I've decided. I say think because goddess knows I might change my mind.

We have dueling feminist letters. Pro-Hillary, Pro-Obama.

I've seen friends turn on friends, feminists turn on feminists over this race. Deborah Siegel's piece at HuffPo doesn't deserve the venom it is getting.

Through all of this I am certain of one thing: Whomever is the candidate in November for the Democratic party, I will vote for, send money to, and work hard to make sure that on January 20, 2009, I will be celebrating like the Ewoks at the end of Jedi.

I do feel dumb for not having made a decision earlier. I have dear friends whom I campaigned with last year in an aldermanic election who have been working their asses off for Obama. I know I would had had a blast with them at phone banking or car pooling to Iowa. I know people in the Clinton campaign whom are wondering about me. Some friends, some colleagues in this struggle. I feel the eyes of friends who say that they aren't as political as me as they watch me struggle with an issue I know they were looking to me to solve.

Thankfully I know I have company in this puzzle. Rebecca Traister says it best about why so many of us are actually afraid to vote for Hillary:

There is shame in voting for Hillary Clinton, make no mistake -- pulling a lever for someone who voted for Iraq and proposed anti-flag-burning legislation provokes its own brand of self-loathing. When I think about doing the deed, I consider the fact that she's brilliant, that she's competent, that she knows her shit inside and out, that she's battle-tested, tough as nails, and that she wipes the floor with Obama in the debates. She provides a steel-solid track record, he a nimbus of vague hope.


Sizzle or substance?

Someone who can move a crowd to things they never thought possible or someone who can negotiate one on one?

Someone who has spent their entire adult life working for change or ...well, I think they both have done that in one way or another.

Honestly, I don't care much about Obama's present votes in the Illinois Assembly. Politics suck and there are reasons for everything. If I'm going to not for him for that, I shouldn't vote for Hillary for the bankruptcy bill or countless other wrong votes.

Am I better off in Illinois now than before Obama took office? Yes. No. I dunno. I have no idea if he made it happen at all. Am I better off since Hillary got into the Senate? Got me there.

All the reasons why I should vote for her are the same for him. Those nuances (the Iraq war vote, health care plans) that make them stand apart in my head are blurring, canceling each other out.

At 7 am, I'll stand in a voting booth with my daughter and make the biggest decision of my voting career. Afterwards, I'll have to tell her who I voted for because she's watched us hem and haw, debate, and ask her for her choice.

But in the end, I have to look at myself and decide. I also have to decide whether to make it public or not. Of course I will.

I've never been the popular girl, always been a trouble maker, and well, have had my heart broken far too many times by sweet talking men.

Hillary is my choice. This bitch will back up my homegirl, my fellow bitch.

Not because she is a woman.
Not because NOW tells me to.

But because if anyone can really get this country in order, it will be her.

I only pray to the goddess that Obama has some role in organizing us to help Hillary make that change. She can do it. He can will us to get off our asses. Sometimes leadership is about one person, but if ever there was a time, the time is now for leadership to be a partnership.

And I hope you will all join me in voting your conscience when it is your turn and stop the bickering between sides. Because my dear, I am your friend as you are mine.

Peace.


Technorati tags: Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, voting, Super Tuesday

More on Dr. Susan Wicklund @ WCF

The event also featured the Chicago Abortion Fund, where I co-chair the board. One of our staff members discussed what the fund does to the standing room only audience. It was an honor to watch this young woman talk about opening up the phone line for one hour each week and how that was an improvement. Yes, an improvement. Just a few months ago CAF's hotline was open only one hour every two weeks. That's all the money we could hand out and have money last an entire year. But our energetic executive director has worked hard to increase our funding from foundations and individuals.

Back to Dr. Wicklund...She said something that really made sense, but was a bit sad. Dr. Wicklund said that her book made both sides of the abortion debate mad. She tells her truth and for that she has received some negative comments from the pro-choice community. Her truth includes admitting mistakes and honesty about how she dealt with them.

One such story she told us and it hurt. Oh, you could hear the air just disappear from the room when she told us the conclusion. Such fallible beings we are and because of that some in the pro-choice community would rather we not discuss our errors. Dr. Wicklund thinks otherwise. I can see why we shouldn't talk about mistakes, but I think it is more of a mistake not to speak of them.

Dr. Wicklund connected this big mistake to the title of the book - This Common Secret. That we, as a society, are so shamed by abortion that we can't talk about it. If we just talked about it, we would realize, without statistics like 40% of women will have one in their lifetime, that it is the most common surgical procedure done.

She spoke of one day in the clinic when two patients met in the hallway to "What are YOU doing here?" The two women were both employees of the same Catholic school. After talking it over, they both went through their procedures on the same day as planned. They ended up scheduling their follow-up exam on the same day so they could carpool. Dr. Wicklund is sure that they ended up still teaching what the Church tells them about abortion, but they know each other's secret.

The goddess works in mysterious ways. As I was cleaning out old files from organizations I don't belong to anymore and sorting grad school notes, I found a poem from Marge Piercy in her collection, What Are Big Girls Made Of? I'll share the first 2 stanzas. I can't find the poem online in its entirety, so I will honor her by not typing it all out:

A day in the life

She is wakened at four a.m.
Of course she does not
pick up, but listens
through the answering machine
to the male voice promising
she will burn in hell.

At seven she opens her door:
A dead cat is hammered
to her porch: brown tabby.
Hit by a car, no collar.
She hugs her own Duke of Orange.
She cannot let him out.

Technorati tags: Susan Wicklund, abortion, activism, feminism

03 February 2008

Dr. Susan Wicklund at Women & Children First

I had the honor of seeing Dr. Susan Wicklund at Women & Children First on Wednesday night. She read from her memoir, This Common Secret. The first piece she read was from chapter one and the same piece that was in Ms. magazine. Despite the fact that I had read that piece over and over and cried over it, hearing her read it was so moving.

The book came about during a time she was living with a family where the father was an author. He would watch her head off to work each morning in her bullet proof vest & sidearm. Each evening she'd come home and not talk much about her day. Finally he told her, "You have to write this down. People have to know."

We had a great Q&A session (even with the weird/anti question) where she talked about performing an abortion on a long-time protester. Each of the staff members had to take time to find a place in their heart for this woman who had yelled "Mommy don't kill me!" for years to patients. How could they treat her with the same love & kindness that they treated the women she had taunted? Well, they did. And once that women went through the procedure, saw the inside of the clinic, and felt the support of the staff, she changed her stance. She never again was present outside the clinic harassing patients.

Dr. Wicklund talked of her daughter going to school in police cars and of the anti's showing up at her school with signs that said, "Sonia's mom kills babies!" That hurt quite a nerve with me. While I'm not an abortion provider, I do know that I take some high profile stances and on occasion can be high profile. I also know that my daughter, like most, loves the heck outta me. Could I ever imagine putting her in that situation? Would I? How could I?

On top of that, a friend of mine whose daughter is abut 6 months older and is also very active likes to tease that we'll end up with girls who in order to rebel will become born-again Christians and protest us. I of course ponder if my daughter will end up hating what I do and me for doing it all.

So I asked, "And what happened to your daughter? How did she end up with all of this?" Dr. Wicklund told us that her daughter actually wrote the afterword (I never buy a book before a reading) and that she had veto power over the book. Her daughter is about my age and is so proud of her mother. She said more, but my heart was pounding & I was trying to hard not to totally cry right there in the bookstore.

Of course, now I have an autographed copy of her book sitting on my dining room table..waiting. Sadly it will have to wait as I have 2-3 books in front of it. But it's there and I love it.

Edited to add: Thanks to Shakesville for linking here. I have more thoughts on Dr. Wicklund's reading in the next post. And thanks to all the new readers, I hope some of you come back now and again.

Technorati tags: Susan Wicklund, abortion, activism, feminism