Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

31 March 2008

WAM! - The Day After: The Good.

I live blogged WAM! and now it's time for a wrap-up post.

The Good:
I got to meet some awesome bloggers and writers that I have admired and aspired to be like. Starting at the networking session there was Jen Angel of the dearly departed Clamor, and Miriam of Radical Doula and Feministing. At the Friday night reception I met Allison Stevens of Women's eNews and Echidne of the Snakes. Did I mention EotS likes this blog? haha...sorry, I still can't believe that moment happened.

Seriously the best part was the Radical WOC bloggers session where I got to meet BFP and far too many other wonderful WOC. Again, this was a freaking love fest session. I've been struggling all day on how to explain what I felt during this conference. Since I'm in the "good" part of this post, I'll do the good part first.

As a Latina who has never felt a real strong connection to the Latina community especially since I don't speak Spanish, I have never felt so welcome than on Saturday. Part of it was that I've come a long way in my Latinaness. The other is that I was surrounded by other WOC who have peace with their own position as a WOC. Unfortunately success in many communities of color is still equaled to being white or a sell-out, so I think that most, if not all, of the women in the room have struggled with not being X enough as a WOC. I hope you followed that.

The love continued on to the WOC reception that was held off-site. I meant to stay for just an hour or so and then head on over to the official WAM dance party, but honestly I was so comfortable and loved with my hermanas that I blew off the other party.

I met so many other fabu women during breaks, in the lunch line, and justing sitting around. Apologies for not listing you all here. But if you have a blog, please leave a comment so I can find you!

Of course, the best part was spending time with my dear friend, Jennifer Pozner of Women In Media & News. I've been one of her biggest fans for so long and this weekend she really showed me that she is also one of mine. It's not that I didn't know it, but watching her stumble thru introducing me (seriously, I do a lot of stuff, you try summing that up in 20 seconds) AND then having random strangers come up to me and say "Hey, Jenn keeps raving about you!" It was way more than nice. I'm always in awe of how many people she knows, but as long as she lets me keep following in her wake I'm happy. Not to mention our girl talks.

Jenn & I roomed with Anne Elizabeth Moore, a fellow Chicagoan whom I never get to spend too much time with. So it was wonderful to have some good chats with her about politics and fashion. Of course, now I need to find some time here in Chicago to chat with her over some issues I have with blogging. This is the positive post, so no negative stuff, k?

I met lots of folks who said "Hey, maybe you can blog for us!" or even mentioned writing articles. I'm very flattered. Please don't be shy to contact me about any of it. I can't say that I have a lot of time right now, but let's work on it. Everyone I met have some kick ass projects going or brewing.

One of the epiphanies I had over the weekend was this: I call myself a professional feminist, but I think I'm also a professional cheerleader....maybe a professional feminist cheerleader. I love, love, love getting people together. I think half of the time I was talking with someone, I either said "Oh, you should talk to...." or I was thinking, "Who should I hook them up with?" And for that, I thank all the wonderful women of WAM.

Technorati tags: WAM!, WAM! 2008

Feliz Dia de Cesar Chavez!

I really wish I knew how to make the upside down exclamation mark.

Did you know that today is Cesar E. Chavez day? It's an official holiday in eight states
(Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin) according to the Chavez Foundation site. Althou Dolores Huerta is in Chicago to celebrate and Democracy Now! says that Illinois celebrates as well. OK, maybe we celebrate but it's not an official Illinois holiday.

Who is this man I'm mumbling about?

Cesar Estrada Chavez, Senator Robert F. Kennedy noted, was "one of the heroic figures of our time.."

A true American hero, Cesar was a civil rights, Latino, farm worker, and labor leader; a religious and spiritual figure; a community servant and social entrepreneur; a crusader for nonviolent social change; and an environmentalist and consumer advocate.

A second-generation American, Cesar was born on March 31, 1927, near his family's farm in Yuma, Arizona. At age 10, his family became migrant farm workers after losing their farm in the Great Depression. Throughout his youth and into his adulthood, Cesar migrated across the southwest laboring in the fields and vineyards, where he was exposed to the hardships and injustices of farm worker life. More at the Chavez Foundation.

To mark the birth of this Latino hero, please head on over to a petition to make March 31st Chavez day across the country. And no, I had no idea that there was a breakfast this morning or else I might have gotten my tired ass out of bed early enough to shout "Viva!" at 8 am with Dolores. She is amazing.

Oh and a little humor to celebrate:




Technorati tags: Cesar Chavez, latino, holiday

30 March 2008

WAM! - Sunday Late Morning Sessions

Again I'm going to go to more than one session.

How to Get Heard: The Art of Strategic Communication with Editors
Barbara Beckwith, Jeanne Harnois, and Shirley Moskow
  • Don't turn in an assignment without pitching a new story
  • Hang out with writers - It's a lifestyle
  • Never pitch a story with an attachment - It will end up in a spam folder
  • Always turn in things on time
  • Just get out there and do it
  • Don't be afraid to push back
Barbara's notes
  • While most people say that you shouldn't work for free, she did start out writing for Sojourner which paid very little ($15) or nothing at all. Her early writing was her experience that she used to be a more professional writer.
  • Don't minimize your experience. You aren't just a college student - You wrote for the Beacon.
  • Meet your editor if you can in person.
  • How to approach an editor - Know that you have value, express a sense of congeniality, don't use their first name until they use yours thou, know that they need your ideas to get their work done.
  • Bringing up money enhances your credibility and professional status in an editor's eyes.
  • Try the top, try the bottom. Don't think that you have work your way up from the bottom.

Conscious Women Rock the Page: Using Hip Hop Fiction to Incite Feminist Action
JLove Calderon, Elisha Miranda, Sofia Quintero, and Marcella Runell Hall

I jumped in and out of this session NOT because it sucked but because my brain is full. I needed to find a place to chill out a bit before brunch.

Technorati tags: WAM!, WAM! 2008

WAM! - Sunday Morning Sessions

I'm going to be jumping between 3 different sessions this morning, so here are my notes.

Strategies for Making Change: Models for Feminist Media Justice

Not that I'm biased or anything, but this is the cutest panel of the entire conference. Jennifer Pozner, Anne Elizabeth Moore, Betty Yu, and DeAnne Cuellar

Jenn is talking about the POWER Sources Project. This is the oldest feminist project to bring more women's voices to media (newspaper columns, op-eds, sources, talk shows, etc.) by helping journalists connect to expert women in a multitude of areas. Thus removing the excuses of "We'd love to put a woman on the panel, but there aren't any women in [insert field not health care, children's issues, and abortion] OR I just can't find any women in [insert field not health care, children's issues, and abortion]. Everything that WIMN does involves not just women as a monolith, but women as a diverse group (ethnicity, geography, socioeconomic status, careers, age, on and on). This allows WIMN to change media on a palpable way on a case by case way.

WIMNs Voices
is a group blog that uses the resources of over 50 diverse women blogging about different fields and how media is covering that issue. Women, media and....Economics, health care, science, disabilities, sports, on and on. There are journalists, media activists, bloggers, etc on this blog.

The best example how WIMNs Power Sources and the group blog worked together to move the media conversation is during the Don Imus controversy is that journalist and WIMNs Voices blogger Jill Nelson wrote a piece which got picked up by other blogs and then corporate media. Ta-da! Finally a black woman talking about what Don Imus did instead of just straight white men debating whether Don Imus was racist, but also sexist.

Anne Elizabeth Moore is discussing her recent trip to Cambodia, zine making, and the FCC hearings in Chicago.

Resisting Walls and Bars: Amplifying Voices from Death Row and the Prison Industrial Complex

Barbara Becnel, Alice Kim

I came in just as Alice was wrapping up about how the increase immigrant arrests means that more immigrant women are in prisons.

Barbara is talking about Stanley Tookie Williams and the work they did together to keep young people from joining gangs. Told her that he did not want his legacy to be founding the Crips and he wanted to write books for kids. When she took the books to publishers they wouldn't sell it because the books were targeted to poor inner city kids - who have no money to buy books. But Barbara didn't let up. She went to the American Booksellers Association con in Chicago around 1995. 6500 booths and she went to every one of those booths pitching the books over two days. In the end she got 3 interests and one finally published the books. She did end up self-publishing a book, which a lot of people thought was published by a major publishing company, without any censorship. She was there on the day of his execution. After his execution, she was able to get Simon & Schuster reprinted his memoir. Again, no censoring in this memoir.

The mainstream media (MSM) very biased against prisoners and their allies. The prison system is also biased. A lesson learned....$9B spent on prison system, but 43rd among the states on how much they spend on public education and #1 on prisons. This is what we have to fight. The MSM doesn't want to buck the $9B institution. Prison official who was dishonest about Stanley admitted a year and a half later in the New Yorker that he had been dishonest, gotten approval by the system and the state atty general to lie. He implied that the Gov was in on it too.

There is an opera in the works on Tookie Williams with some of the leading young black opera stars. AWESOME! There is also a documentary in the works. Pacifica also gives Barbara 2-3 times a week a small time to talk about whatever she wants.

Fact vs. Fiction: Advancing the Truth in Today's Media Maelstrom

Rebecca Wind and Janna Zinzi

I walked in on a writing exercise to simplify a sentence full of stats. Be careful of acronyms. Remember that you are talking about real people. Use real experiences.

Ex. Recent study in Ghana, talked to teens about HIV, STDs, etc. Janna just read a few lines from the study conclusion that is total expert speak. NOT the way you should be blogging, writing for the public, or talking with teens. You need to translate it into real speak - Humanize the qualitative evidence.

Rebecca will now discuss trouble shooting & crisis management.

What if your data is used incorrectly? If it is a major media outlet, you can write a letter to the editor and contact the outlet. You can send out a press piece about the correct data. You can also use an editorial to correct the information. You need to always calculate whether it is worth your time and energy to correct the misrepresentation of your data.

Remember that not engaging is a way to DISARM people who are misusing your data & information.

When the NYTimes wrote about a Chinese drug maker's tainting of the abortion pill as inflammatory (compared to a well written piece by the Wall Street Journal) the makers of the pill circulated some talking points about the issue and the errors/misrepresentations in the NYTimes piece.

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Overall an amazing morning session. Well worth the early rise. This is what I hate about conferences. There are always overlapping kick ass sessions. The dilemma of picking one or trying to get a little bit of multiple sessions.

Technorati tags: WAM!, WAM! 2008

29 March 2008

WAM! - FACT-UP Fact Check, Research, & Think Critically like a Radical Librarian

Presented by Radical Reference volunteers Jenna Freedman and Lana Thelen

The presentation is online! WOO! Gotta love it.

"This workshop will introduce skills to novice and veteran media makers alike, encouraging them to 'research like a librarian,' providing tips on how to find and recognize appropriate resources for researching and fact checking their stories. The presenters will be happy to adapt this workshop to whomever is in the room, but the impetus for proposing it is sharing skills with those newer to advanced research and critical thinking. However, people who are already confident in their research skills will undoubtedly learn some things, too. The facilitators can field questions on fact checking and research, but also on the mysteries of tagging, RSS feeds and the like."

The first thing taught in library school is how to evaluate sources aka check your facts.
  • Make time to fact check
  • Keep track of where you are getting your facts & what you change.
  • Ask a 3rd party to go thru and point out any facts that need to be checked. Names, places, data points, etc.
  • Go thru one last time that you have all the facts highlighted
  • Check your sources
  • Check quotations!
    • Read your quotes back to them
    • Don't share anymore of your article at that point
    • Stay in charge of the story
Be aware of editorial comments that frame the story in a certain way...Are you skewing the story?

Boston Public Library has an excellent online library and you can get an electronic library card.

To search a website via Google type in " site:.gov "supreme court" kimbrough " this way you don't have to use the site's own search interface.

Wikipedia is a great place to START a fact check, but wouldn't use it to verify a fact. Don't forget the citations at the bottom of Wikipedia. Those just might be what you do want to cite.

They have a great list of good places for references. Feel free to log into the site and add a comment with your own great source.

Another trick to remember on a websearch: "link:site.org"

This was a great session for journalists as well as bloggers who write about facts. haha...Don't we all? But seriously, my pet peeve is when someone blogs about a science or health research article, but doesn't read it. I know it's hard, but when you take a firm stance on something, you have to know what kind of foundation you're standing on.

Technorati tags: WAM!, WAM! 2008

WAM! - We B(e)lo(n)g: Womyn of Color & Online Feminism

I'm sitting next to Liza and she asked just before we started "Is Brownfemipower here?" When she said, "Yes!" I ran to her, but Liza jumped over a table. We embraced BFP in such a large hug. Oh, yes...we set the stage for the love fest.

We are beginning with introductions about our wishes. Here is my introduction:

I wish that I didn't have to justify my Latinaness just because I don't speak Spanish. I wish that my daughter will not wrestle with this and grow up always surrounded by love.

There are a lot of awesome wishes which I won't even attempt to write down here for fear of misstating them. We all wish for better representations, complete histories, I wasn't so tired, that our brothers had a positive view of themselves in media, and many many more. The openness of just our introductions is so heart warming, so honest, so needed.

There is a blog that is associated to our wishes! wishes fulfilled. Go, post your wish. We're in a six minute exercise to write our wishes down. Since I already did I'll write a few more wishes for this conference:

  • I wish that I would find more awesome bloggers to collaborate with
  • I wish that I could take all these women home with me
  • I wish that I felt as awesome as I feel for them
  • I wish I had a better answer for "So why do you blog so much? Especially not for pay?" when people start grilling me
  • I wish we could all feel this loved
Discussion points:
  • we need to value our spaces, our blogs, our words, our work
  • how do we get involved in/find the WOC community
  • we need to not only find our own WOC mentors, but also find time to mentor others
The conversations were awesome and because this was such a safe space, I really don't want to write too much of what was discussed. It's not that some totally private stuff was said, but ya know?

Now we're wrapping up. Please don't forget about the WAM! Ning site and the WOC group I set up.

Technorati tags: WAM!, WAM! 2008

WAM! Friday recap

Good morning!

Yesterday was awesome and I don't feel like I did that much. It's too funny.

Speed Networking: I got there late because my flight was canceled and I got on another flight an hour later. I met a lot of awesome women, got some leads, gave some leads, and just had a great time.

Reception: More meeting of awesome women, getting some leads, and met another author who is considering blogging. She's coming to my panel (that's in an hour!) on feminist blogging to get some idea if she really should do it. Considering that more and more authors are jumping on this blogging bandwagon, I do hope she does. And of course, I'm more than happy to walk her thru it all. Authors are like drug dealers to me...They have access to books. Oh yeah...

The best thing thou was this beautiful woman came up to me and simply said, "I love what you write." and hands me her card. OH MY FUCKING GAWD....It's Echinde of the Snakes! I mean, hello? She likes my stuff? Yeah...I'm a total fangirl this weekend so I don't know how to handle any sort of compliment other than, "Thanks." haha!

Keynote: Helen Thomas rawked. She's seen it all and that's what I wanted to hear about. How she has seen the Presidency evolve since JFK, what she thinks of them (I haven't read her books), and what we can do to fight back against lying media crap. Some do think she was a bit divisive when she went off on why she will be voting for Hillary, the misogyny of the press on her, and how Obama gets softballs (until Tina Fey & SNL) from the press.

She told some awesome stories and I would had live blogged it but the place was packed and I was sitting on the stairs. With Jenny! The plan was to actually ditch Helen Thomas for Jenny, but she wanted to see her too, so we went together.

Jenny & I then grabbed some coffee and talked forever about being a mom, our cutie pie kids, and blogging. Thanks so much Jenny for driving out to see me.

I'm missing the Saturday morning keynote in favor of a huge bowl of oatmeal and a mint mocha.

I'm still on the hunt for some of my fave bloggers.

Technorati tags: WAM!, WAM! 2008

27 March 2008

Tomorrow's the day!

I have a confession...I'm actually a pretty shy person. Oh, sure, I can blog on and on, but that's because I don't have to look at you and when you laugh at my missing word, incorrect use of a comma, or at my entire point, I can't hear it. But when we're face to face, I clam up.

Of course, this isn't good for going to conferences, especially ones where you really should network and get to know new people. Hell, I have a growing list of people I need to at least meet and tell them in person how much I love their writing. I am such a fangirl of some bloggers that I know I'll get tongue tied many a time. The thought of getting into WAM! tomorrow around 1 and then leave on Sunday around the same time is mind blowing. Only 48 hours to try to meet some of the most awesome feminist bloggers and writers around? I need 48 hours just to pluck up the courage to say hi. Now my in person friends will tell stories of me walking right up to certain musicians and offering them a beer or two, but seriously that took me years to build up to.

Despite the fact that I've been blogging in some fashion since late 2000, I still feel like a newbie. Despite the fact that I get asked advice from real newbies, I still feel like I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

But I also know that I'm going to have a rocking time.

Should a feminist listen to misogynistic music?

R@d@r asked this about a post from last week:

as a songwriter/musician i am very interested in this question of whether a feminist "should" be into certain booty-shaking jams. (i know you were just being flip but this is actually something i think about.) chris rock did a whole routine about it that was pretty interesting as well as funny. my wife, who is a pretty hardcore feminist, really really loves "the seed 2.0" by the roots & cody chestnutt, in fact it is one of her favorite songs - but if you actually listen to the lyrics they're pretty horrible. i know that a lot of people enjoy songs and ignore the lyrics, but as a singer and writer of lyrics this disturbs me (or, perhaps it's just a blow to my ego). it's a phenomenon i find curious.
My friends know that this is one of my side issues...meaning that it's a great question, but one that I try to ignore as it reveals so many hypocrisies about myself as well as the movement.

And honestly, I wasn't being flip...I meant it when I said I was listening to un-feminist music. I like to explain a lot of my choices as a teen as just that, being a teen and making bad choices. But in reality, I think I did them because well, I liked the beat, the music, and even the attention that it brings a young woman when "Rump shaker" is on the sound system. Especially a young woman with a rump.

Fast forward to now and there has been a lot of attention brought to misogynistic lyrics & music in hip-hop, which brings anti-racist activists to bring to light the horrible lyrics of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix, as r@d@r pointed out in his comment as well. Misogyny in music is not a new invention nor is it located only in hip hop music where you can easier say that "I don't listen to the lyrics, just dance to the music."

I honestly think that un-feminist lyrics fall into that vat of "WTF feminism" that includes Brazilians and going to strip clubs for the fun/irony. I sometimes have no idea what to make of it.
Are we bad feminists when we listen to misogynistic lyrics? Or are we bad feminists period?

Last year I was at two feminist conferences. Both had a dance party one night and at both we ended up dancing to music that just earlier in the day we had enlightened and engaging debates about. At one point, one older feminist who was also shaking her thang pulled me close to ask, "Um, isn't this what we're protesting against?"

So r@d@r, I don't have an easy answer to your question. It's a good one. And one that will continue to be debated as long as feminists end up in dance parties...Which I believe I'll be at another one this Saturday and maybe in my own hotel room.


Technorati tags: feminism, music

26 March 2008

The Price of Motherhood

My latest post for Work it, Mom! is up now. It's about discrimination against pregnant women and mothers. It's more of a big question for everyone rather than me spouting some point.

Technorati tags: blogging, motherhood, Work it, Mom!

25 March 2008

Booger is a Feminist

The Feminist Majority has a new video with a slew of stars, men and women, and some every day people talking about being a feminist. One of the men included is Curtis Armstrong who played Booger in the Revenge of the Nerds movies. Of course this made me chuckle. Sorry, but each time I see Curtis, I think of Booger and his amazing belching skills. I am still in awe.



Of course my favorite Latina is in the movie (as is Betty's sister & beloved Daniel). Which is awesome.

And as should be expected is a few seconds are spent on how being a feminist makes you good in bed. Oy...can we please move past this? Yes, being in control of your life is empowering everywhere else, but this whole feminist = good sex thing is far too over played. Do new feminist recruits all get a tube of lube and a sex toy? Do young women only care if feminism will make them awesome in bed? Overall it's a great movie and had a great number of men in it. Check it out.



Technorati tags: Booger, America Ferrara, feminist, Feminist Majority

WAM is on Twitter







Can't make it to MIT for WAM!? (I know my editing friends will love that opening line.)

WAM! has a Twitter channel...group...whatever it's called. So if you're into that Twitter thing and want to see what's happening (well when you're not reading my live blogging), visit their profile page and start following.


Technorati tags: WAM!, feminism, twitter

24 March 2008

Bush's War on PBS

We're only 40 minutes into the PBS Frontline special on "Bush's War" and my heart is broken all over again. The arrogance is sickening. Just sickening. I can't believe that I haven't puked. I'm surprised I'm not crying my eyes out. The arrogance, lies, and that smirk. That fucking smirk. Oh how the press kissed their asses and now they have an arrogance about a wrong war. The media needs to be brought up on war crimes too. Just like Cheney, Rumsfield, Bush, Rice, and the others. Blair and Powell are living their punishment, IMO. They let the others play them, run over them, and they know they were right to focus on Afghanistan. People still talk about Powell with reverence - VP, President...I can never trust that man again. Go teach others how to deal with war mongers.

The saddest thing of all? The lies we sold the Afghan people, especially the women and girls. There are many a day when I think I can justify the invasion of Afghanistan, but most I still can't justify the harm we did to the women and children.

Technorati tags: George W. Bush, war, PBS, Afghanistan

22 March 2008

Speaking of good authors...

I'm in this month's Bookworm carnival for my two book reviews:

Viva la Feminista reviews Wendy Walker’s Four Wives about four housewives from Connecticut and their secrets. In another post she reviews The Baby Lottery by Kathryn Trueblood, a novel about the influence one woman’s abortion has on her circle of long-time friends.

But since I know you've already read those reviews, head on over to the Bookworm Carni to read what others are saying about women's literature.

Ode to editors

I just finished looking at my essay for What We Think and wow...some amazing editor took my last minute written essay and whipped into something that actually looks pretty darn good. And yes, I'm holding back because it's something *I* wrote and I don't want to get your expectations up when you do finally read it. ;-)

But seriously, as someone who isn't a professional writer in the classic sense, I do have writer envy. Peering down at the fabulous books I gorge on and wonder, "Why can't I write like this?" Reading tight grant proposals and wondering "What's wrong with me?" I usually end up falling back on the very true fact that I don't have a great grasp on grammar and thus, I blow it off. But it's more than that.

Now that I have received my edits, I know something else. Writers are not to be envied, it's the editors baby!!

I have one for the anthology, I'll have one for the magazine article, and now to find one for my work writing. Hmmm...don't think that fits into my budget thou. Oh well. Back to the writing board.

21 March 2008

Un-Feminist Music Jams

My husband just turned down the NCAA game to put on the radio. A station is playing some freakin' awesome mixes. I started listening during a Brooks & Dunn song that merged into Margaritaville into some booty-shaking music from high school. Just now:

- My Humps
- Nothing But A Good Time
- Keep on Rocking Me Baby
- Glamorous Life

And in between the actual songs are snippets of other booty-shaking songs that really a feminist shouldn't be shaking her ass to, but I do. Sue me. Now if only I can finish my damn article on women of color in the mommy blogosphere. It's due next week and while it's very short, I'm totally freaking out as I have a lot riding on this baby. Mostly I don't want to disappoint the totally awesome people who will be reading & editing and maybe thinking, "Damn, maybe we don't need this..."

Back to work!

- You're The One I Want over Snoop Dogg just started...

A serious question about Richardson

Before I hit the road for the weekend...

Does Richardson have any influence in the Latin@/Hispanic community outside of his state?

So I'm not the most Latin Latina (apologies to Hijas), but I have never ever heard another Latin@ say anything good or bad about Richardson, quote him or anything. OK, maybe that time when he was in the Clinton administration and that thing about nuclear secrets & spying. But it still wasn't anything very supportive about the man.

That leaves me to ponder, how the hell is he going to deliver all these Latin@ votes for Obama?

Now if Jimmy Smits were to come out for Obama...I might think about it. But Richardson? I dunno.

Technorati tags: Bill Richardson, latina

Tagged!

A fellow mommy blogger tagged me for this one. Thanks Kim!

Here are the rules:
A. Post the rules at the beginning.

B. Answer the questions about yourself.

C. Tag 5 people and let them know in a comment on their blogs that they have been tagged.
Meagan, Sara, Pickel, LawyerMama, PunditMom

What Was I Doing 10 Years Ago?
Enjoying our post-college years and trying to decide to move to DC or not. Obviously, I didn't. Instead I stayed in Chicago and spent the next 3 summers at Wrigley Field. I'll never have a better tan than during that time period.

Snacks I Enjoy: Chocolate, cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, and cinnamon pita chips. Gotta have something semi-healthy!



Five Things on my To-Do List Today: 1) Transfer money from my account to our joint account; 2) Email Jenny re: meeting up in Btown next week; 3) Write my column that's due on the 25th! 4) Finish up a mailing for work work; 5) Got out of the office early so we can hit Target for Easter goodies.


Things I Would Do if I Became a Billionaire: I would pay off the in-laws house and cars, set up a college fund for the nephews and the daughter, travel to all those conferences I want to attend and retreats, stay home do volunteer work, work on my writing, and of course, open up that family care center on campus that is sorely needed. You know, where workers can bring in the baby and Grandma for the day. Family fun! Oh...and buy that 6 flat on the block, duplex both sides and turn the first floor into offices and a studio for a certain crafty chick.

Three Bad Habits: Eating at my desk, too much time online, and saying 'yes' too often.

Five Places I Have Lived: I've lived in the Chicago area since I was 4, but before that I lived in Columbia, SC (dad's basic training), Corpus Christi, TX (mom left me there with her big sis for a few months), Colorado Springs, Co (more Army fun!), and I think I logged a few months in San Antonio, TX during the insane first few years of my life while Dad was in the Army and Mom & I followed him around the country.

Jobs I Have Had: Pizza Puff maker (drop frozen puff into vat of hot grease), movie theater concessioner (Mmm...free nachos), tuxedo rental place assistant (yes, I hemmed, sewed, and ironed tuxes...which is why I don't iron now), Payless Shoe worker (where I met my husband!), Greenpeace door canvasser (ding dong...Hi! I'm Veronica, did you know that in the event of a nuclear meltdown, we have X minutes to take cover?), office assistant in a brokerage firm (got fired from there!), sold t-shirts and stuff at the United Center (during the Jordan II era), fish researcher (published baby!), academic advisor, and various variations on my current job.

Things People Don't Know About Me:
Hmmmm....I'm pretty open, so if you don't know it, I probably don't want you to know it. That or I haven't found the right time to tell you.

20 March 2008

New Moms Needs Your Help

Earlier this week a fire destroyed a shelter for new moms. I had heard about the story, but forgot about it. Fortunately Firebelly Design sent a reminder email:

This past Tuesday night, (March 18th) an accidental fire caused extensive damage to the New Moms shelter in Humboldt Park. New Moms provides temporary housing and support to young mothers and their children. Thankfully there were no injuries but now 20 young women and their children have nowhere to stay.

I *love* Firebelly. They are an awesome design group and they give back to the community. So if you can, please go to the New Moms website and donate via PayPal. Just $25 is what we're asking for to help out these young moms who are now homeless.

Technorati tags: New Moms

Love Note From My Husband

Subject: thinking of you

Message:
“Bartlet: Charlie! Would you pull the first lady out of whatever it is she's doing?
Charlie: She's with the women's caucus.
Bartlet: Well put on a helmet and pads and get in there.”

-President Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet

19 March 2008

New Gig @ Work it, Mom!


That's me and Sara (fellow CMBer) at our new blog, Moms on Issues, at Work it, Mom! We just launched today and then Sara & I will take turns blogging each week on issues that relate to working moms. From politics to celebrities, so we'll cover Hillary and Christina!

Stop on by and join the conversation. It should be a good time. And please excuse my first post...I've been fighting off a migraine the last couple of days. Ugh...migraines are the bane of my existence.

Technorati tags: blogging, motherhood, Work it, Mom!

18 March 2008

Wanna see me get my ass kicked?

I commented over at Feministing and brought up the "Full Frontal Feminism" cover...again. Hey, they asked for it! *sigh*

I seriously see no difference in getting all huffy about WOC being cropped at the neck and advertising a book that has a cropped white woman's body. And I've already been told that the difference is that it is WOC who are being cropped while the white woman keeps her head. Oh, ok...Maybe I'm thinking too hard.

But, I ask you my dear and growing gaggle of readers, what do you think? Of course, if you see no problem with either depiction of women, say that too. It's a valid stance.

edited to add: I'm admittedly surprised that the conversation didn't get out of control over my comment. Not that I think I'm some walking target, but I've seen the comment section go out of control before when someone questions F'ing's intentions. So I've very happy that I was able to comment and it pretty much went over everyone's head.

Technorati tags: feminism

17 March 2008

The day Barack Obama broke my heart

My husband is amazed at my recollection of mundane and minute details when I get into a political debate. I am amazed at my repression of moments when my heart is broken.

I've written before about when I fell in love with Barack Obama. That late fall day in Federal Plaza when he spoke so eloquently against the Iraq War...oh, he was so eloquent. He sent chills down my spine. That is what teens must had felt during Beatlemania. My screams joined others. I applauded harder than I've ever in my life. Oh, 2002...a lifetime ago. Back when I wasn't a mother, but had one.

Fast forward to the summer of 2007...Cook County (the 2nd largest county in the USA) is embroiled in a political mess, to say the least. Our county government was up for election in March and just a few weeks before the primary the President fell ill from a stroke. His family told us all that he would be just fine. He'd recover to rule again. He won the very close primary...which, truth be told, I think was a bit too close and should had been recounted - It smelled like Florida 2000 in Chicago that winter. So this President still isn't seen in public and it just so happens that he "decides" to remove his name from the ballot just after the date where us voters would have a say in the matter. A scrawled note from the President appears and he asks that the Party put his son on the ballot instead.

Democracy Chicago style.

So we now have the son on the ballot - a man with so little experience that it is embarrassing. He's running against a Republican with some pretty far-right views. The pro-choice and other liberal groups use a lot of money to tell everyone that they must vote for the son. Considering how Democratic Cook County is, I wonder why the son's supporters are so scared?

I'll tell you...the whole situation was sickening to watch. After the son was crowned as the successor, I decided that this might be one election I'll sit out. It was THAT bad.

Then June came...And a press conference. Who's at this press conference? Just about any Democrat who was willing to loan the son some semblance of dignity & respect. One politician at this press conference was my junior Senator, Barack Obama.

Are my eyes deceiving me? Am I seeing the man who ran on a vision of change or not being a party man really up there on a stage trying to convince me that the son could run the 2nd largest county in this country? That being the son of a President is enough for me to vote for him? Oh, hell no!

Well the son won...it wasn't even close. He ran on a promise to cut bloat from the job rolls. Instead there are more workers than before...And many are related to him. He also isn't being as pro-woman as the liberal groups said he would be. At least if I'm going to have a crappy politician, at least they can send me some love!

One of my newest BFFs works in health care and sees first hand the ramifications of the son's ascent to power. It ain't good folks. She reminded me at dinner over the weekend that Obama's endorsement of the son weighed on her as she decided who to vote for in our primary. I had repressed that nightmare.

Now with it fresh in my memory again, I am heart broken all over. Ever break up with someone twice? It hurts even worse the second time again.

I'll still vote for Obama in November and no, I have no idea if Hillary endorsed a political family member like the son or if she endorsed a banker connected to the mob, but I do know that Obama did. And for that, I'll never see him as a truly progressive and grass roots politician who isn't a party man. Because he is.

See, this is why I'd never win an election in Chicago, I am not a party loyalist.

Technorati tags: Barack Obama, Cook County, politics, health care

Prepping for WAM

And even thou I do plan to take the laptop and do some live-blogging, I figured that I should also attempt to Twitter WAM as well. Also note my new tag just for WAM! :)

I guess you need to be a follower of mine to see my updates. As my current status says, I'm still not convinced that this new uber-popularity contest tool will be important, but hey, maybe I'll just use it for times like conferences where people are always saying something awesome.

Technorati tags: Twitter, WAM, Women, Action & the Media

16 March 2008

Sometimes there is no escape from an abuser

I have to admit that each time I hear a story of a woman who leaves her boyfriend/husband and ends up dead a part of me dies too. I became tired of this story many years ago. My heart is dead to the stories in that I no longer cry and scream when I hear about it. The rage is quiet inside me.

The latest story to grab local headlines is the story of Cindy Bischof. The Chicago Tribune has a great story about how she did everything right. I've heard all the lectures about what to do when you leave a relationship and what to do when he freaks out and starts threatening you. Bischof appears to have heard it all and did it. And she still fucking ended up dead!

Cindy Bischof thought her breakup with a longtime boyfriend would go smoothly after he agreed to move out of her house. But Michael Giroux quickly turned hostile, writing up a plan to destroy her home and following through with it.

Terrified after Giroux, 60, spray-painted every wall and piece of furniture in her Arlington Heights home last spring, the 43-year-old real estate broker moved swiftly to secure a protective order from a Cook County judge that prohibited him from contacting her.

When he violated the order on two occasions, including an attempt to hang himself on her patio, she didn't hesitate to press charges that landed him in jail for two months followed by home confinement.

To relatives and prosecutors, it appeared that Bischof was taking all the necessary steps to stay safe and that the legal system was delivering protection.

But after Giroux was released from home confinement this month, he showed up at Bischof's office in Elmhurst armed with a .38-caliber revolver. When she tried to get into her car, he shot her repeatedly then turned the gun on himself.

The shittiest part of this story and every one like this is that the safest way to leave a violent situation is for the woman to change her name and relocate. She does nothing wrong and she's the only who has to leave her job? Her home? Her family? If I had ever found myself in that situation, I would had said, "Fuck that." I'm stubborn that way. OK, so maybe the rage isn't so quiet...But it really isn't fair that some asshole can hold this much power. I really don't have a solution to all of this.

Technorati tags: domestic violence, feminism, violence against women

15 March 2008

An Open Letter to Western Feminists

In the on-going constructive criticism of Western feminists, Religion Dispatches offers up a fabulous call to action from Palestinian, Arab and Muslim women:

While some progressive U.S. feminists claim to oppose the hijacking of women’s rights to justify U.S. invasions, they simultaneously evade any mention about the plight of women in Palestine, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Their statements continue to focus only on female genital mutilation or dowry deaths under the guise of breaking the “politically correct” silence on abuses of women in the “Muslim world” that the Right disingenuously laments.

Some progressives may support such statements with good intentions, but these critiques ignore the fact that Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim feminists have been working on these issues for generations, focusing on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and nationalism.

Their work is ignored by North American feminists who claim to advocate for a “global sisterhood” but are disillusioned to discover that women in the U.S. military participated in the acts of torture at Abu Ghraib.

We are concerned about these silences and selective condemnations given that the U.S. mainstream media bolsters this imperialist feminism by using an (often liberal) Orientalist approach to covering the Middle East or South Asia. For example, on March 5, 2008, as the death toll due to Israeli attacks in Gaza was mounting, the New York Times chose to publish an article just below its report on the Israeli military incursions that focused on the sentencing of a Palestinian man in Israel for an honor killing; the report was deemed worthy of international coverage because the Palestinian women had broken “the code of silence” by resorting to Israeli courts.

Please click on the first link and read it all. I rarely take sides in eons old wars except that I know that innocent people on both sides are being killed, harmed, and traumatized. It may be Polly Ann-ish of me to say this, but both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict need to let the women, the every day, no elected office, those who have to live it women broker a peace deal. Politics shouldn't always be left to the politicians.


Technorati tags: feminism, Israel, Palestinian, peace

Hijas Americanas - A real self-help book

I can't believe how long I've been reading Hijas Americanas. But to be easy on myself, I did read 1-2 other books while reading this and submitted two grant applications. *shrug* This isn't my official book review, but merely my brain fart since I just finished the book today.

The conclusion made me realize how much this book is a self-help book for Latinas. For all of us who have and continue to struggle with what it means to be Latina and how many of us don't live up to that standard we hold. There weren't any exercises to do or journals to keep. Just stories of a rainbow of Latinas, personal anecdotes from the author, and some stats thrown in for fun.

I've reviewed a few self-help books over the past few years and while I think the essence of them were good and worthy, the exercises were always what made the book fall flat to me. This book could had been written as a self-help book with exercises at the end of each chapter...instead, I think Rosie Molinary allows us that time you have in your head when you flip the page at the end of a chapter. That quietness that overtakes you and you start to reflect.

This was a reflection book. In far more ways than one for me.


Technorati tags: books, Latina, Rosie Molinary

14 March 2008

More thoughts on Ferraro

My March article at Work it, Mom! is up and it is about Geraldine Ferraro. Please jump over, read, and of course comment.

There is a harsh reality to affirmative action and diversity initiatives: They sometimes make people of color and women uncomfortable. While many of us support affirmative action, it really is a double-edged sword.

This sword was in full view in the recent comments of Geraldine Ferraro. Well known as the first woman to run on a major party's Presidential ticket, she has also frequently and honestly said that she knows she was picked for the vice-president spot mostly because she is a woman. That doesn't mean that she wasn't qualified to be VP, but the Democratic party and Walter Mondale looked around and decided (most likely due to a poll) that they needed a woman for the ticket.

The backlash against affirmative action is such that knowing you are chosen "just because" you are a woman or a person of color can be debilitating. You start to think others "know" why you got the job. You fail to remember your long list of qualifications and focus on your plumbing or your ethnicity. This is what anti-affirmative action forces want. This distracts you from noticing that someone's frat brother was hired or that, despite other worthy candidates, a Texan is chosen to balance a Presidential ticket. Sure he's qualified, but he will also deliver a wad of electoral votes.


Read the rest at Work it, Mom!

Technorati tags: Barack Obama, Geraldine Ferraro, racism, affirmative action

13 March 2008

Ferraro & Affirmative Action

Warning...this isn't going to be a well edited piece, so I hope you stay with me.

What Geraldine Ferraro said about Barack Obama is correct and insulting all at the same time. I am more insulted than anything. I'm sure this debate is happening at many other blogs and while I usually like to highlight non-A-listers, I'm going to point to the comments at Feministing.

So why am I insulted?

Because her comment that Obama is lucky to be a black man in this race sounds like the times I have heard comments directed at me and others that the only reason "you got into college/ that scholarship/ this job/ that promotion" was because they needed a woman or Latina in it. The scholarship I went to college on was directed at Black and Latin@ students. But we had to have a certain ACT score to qualify and had to continue to have a good GPA while at school. Thus, I feel like I earned my scholarship. I had other scholarship offers at other schools - one from a Michigan school just for being out of state. Huh? If you don't know Michigan suffers from a HUGE brain drain. Affirmative action policies address needs, not hand outs. So when I hear a white woman say that a black man has an upper hand because he's black, I'm insulted.

Then again, I've always known that sexism will win out in almost any race, including against race. When people have asked me if I thought we could see a woman President, I usually would say, "Right after a black man." I don't think that sexism is worse than racism...it's just that I think that given two choices (as we have now) people would rather vote for a man, any man, over a woman. And if you've been reading me, I do think that Obama and Clinton are even given both their pros and cons.

Ferraro's comment is also true...but in a very negative sense. Feministing commenter, kissmypineapple, asks:

I'm not sure what planet you're on that you think women and POC benefit when they enter a field dominated by white men. That doesn't happen here on earth, but hey, maybe you're one of those people that think affirmative action is unfair to poor, poor, white men. It certainly sounds like it.
Having been in a field dominated by white men, science, and actively working to get more women into science, I have to say that yes, it does help when you're one of the only women at a conference. You are noticed. The other white guys blend into the background. Being a Latina or any woman of color, you stuck out like a sore thumb. And that's just it. It can be a sore thing.

BUT...you have to make the most of that moment. You need to be confident in your abilities to go up to people and talk to them. To make that presentation solid, that all your conclusions are supported by fact, and that you nail the Q&A. If a woman has to do twice the work a man does to get half the recognition, people of color and women of color have to do about 10 times the work. This "benefit" cuts both ways. When you fail, you fail for an entire people. When I failed to get into graduate school in science, I felt like I let my people down. "Oh, the poor Latina didn't get into grad school...guess her work wasn't up to snuff."

So yes, I can see that the media's spotlight on Obama is one thing that none of the other candidates can claim...but he could have (and still can) trip up. Instead he's doing a decent job at maintaining his cool under this microscope. Yes, the media is fawning over him, but the "only" spotlight is harse either way.

Am I glad that Ferraro resigned? Yes. Was her comment inappropriate? Yes. Was it racist? It had a tinge. Is she racist? I don't think so.


Technorati tags: Barack Obama, Geraldine Ferraro, racism, affirmative action

12 March 2008

Upcoming Events in Chicago

I've been getting a lot of hits from my first post on upcoming events, so I'll continue to post events to the blog. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to integrate a calendar to the sidebar. Any suggestions are welcome!

1] Church-State Separation Event

WHAT: “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Separation of Church and State … but Were Afraid to Ask!,” historic, 25 city, nationwide movie theater simulcast event featuring celebrities and community leaders to focus need for Church-State separation in 2008 elections.

WHEN: Wednesday evening, March 26, 2008 5:00 PM Central Time

In movie theatres in 25 cities across the nation (Woodridge, Illinois is one!), interested citizens will gather to learn about the threats to church-state separation and to demand that candidates for elected office answer questions about key issues dealing with individual freedom. Ten questions to ask candidates that have a direct impact on Americans’ lives will be featured.

Entitled “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Separation of Church and State … but Were Afraid to Ask!,” the high-definition program is being hosted by First Freedom First, a joint project of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and The Interfaith Alliance Foundation.

Peter Coyote, celebrated Hollywood actor and filmmaker, will emcee the program, which will include such special guests as The Bacon Brothers (featuring actor Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael), actors Michael J. Fox; Jack Klugman James Whitmore; Wendie Malick; Dan Lauria; and Catherine Dent; comedian and Air America host Marc Maron; singer/songwriter Catie Curtis and satirist Roy Zimmerman.

Americans who have fought for individual freedom will tell their stories during the 90 minute simulcast event. Bryan and Christy Rehm (who fought creationism in Dover, Pa. science classes), Matthew LaClair (a New Jersey high schooler who exposed religious indoctrination at his school), Roberta Stewart (an Afghanistan War widow who fought for equal rights for Wiccan veterans), Dr. Susan Wicklund (who wears a bullet-proof vest to provide reproductive services in underserved areas), the Rev. Madison Shockley (pastor and reproductive rights advocate), David and Ryan Altoon (who oppose fundamentalist proselytism at U.S. military academies), Melinda “Lindy” Maddox (who successfully sued Alabama “Commandments” Judge Roy Moore), and Susan Jacoby (author of The Age of American Unreason).

The March 26 simulcast is being produced by Progressive Media Agency, a Portland, OR, based firm led by Adam Klugman and Enrique Arias.

2] Fundraiser: Top Girls at Live Bait Theatre

The Chicago Books to Women in Prison Project is having a fundraiser at Live Bait Theatre. They have about 20 tickets left for each night on Sat, March 15 (8p) and Sun, March 16 (7p). Tickets are sliding scale: $15-$25. Bring a date!

To buy a ticket (or two) please email them at chicagobwp@hotmail.com with your name, night preference, and donation level. You can pay via personal check or paypal, and your tickets will be waiting for you at the theatre.

Who We Are
Chicago Books to Women in Prison is a volunteer collective working to distribute books free of charge to women in prison nationwide. We are dedicated to offering women behind bars the opportunity for self-empowerment, education, and entertainment that reading provides.

What We Do
Incarcerated women send us their requests for books directly. We attempt to furnish the requested materials from our stock of donated books. We send three books in each package. We also furnish books directly to prison libraries.

I love this organization and have donated a few books to them (hey, I horde books) and donated...especially when they hold a book sale! I tell ya, it's a disease. Want to know more about them? Check out their website!

3] Historical and Social Perspectives: Childbirth in the U.S.
Presentation, Discussion and Book-Signing

In honor of:
Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth

Monday, April 7, 2008
4:30-6:30 pm >>NOTE TIME CHANGE

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
University of Illinois at Chicago
800 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL

Keynote Speakers:
Judy Norsigian, Co-author and Executive Director of Our Bodies Ourselves
&
Carrie Klima, CNM, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, UIC College of Nursing

Please join us in welcoming the newest book from the creators of Our Bodies, Ourselves, as we explore the history of health care for pregnant women in the United States, beginning with midwives and dramatic change that happened with physicians taking over pregnancy and childbirth, and the movement over the last 30 years to take back some of the control for women over their birthing experience.

I guarantee that I'll be at this event. Please do come and say hi! It should be wonderful. One, I always love hearing Judy speak and two, any event at Hull House is awesome. I love, love, love knowing that I'm sitting where Jane Addams and others sat.

4] LIBRARY THING LOCAL

Ok, so this isn't an event itself, but a fabUlous addition to one of my favorite book sites, LibraryThing.com. You can now put in a city name or zip code and you get all the bookstore events that others have submitted. You can even note your favorite bookstores (I think only if you have a LibraryThing account). Even better? There's a RSS feed for events. I think this is what heaven looks like.

Technorati tags: events, chicago, Our Bodies Ourselves, Chicago Books to Women in Prison, First Freedom First

11 March 2008

If I'm run over by a bicyclist, you know why

Chicago is a bicyclers' city. We have miles of bike paths and our mayor is an avid cyclist. He also has an idea of making Chicago like Paris with bikes for rent all over the place. I like that idea. I live on the far north side of the city and work close to the Loop. I also need to drop off the kid each morning and I'm not doing that in a bike every day in the morning and evening. But I would love to have access to a bike to get around my work neighborhood without having to bring my home bike into the office.

BUT...

The latest idea from the City Council is to crack down on drivers. Why? Because bicyclists have been killed and hurt by reckless cars. OK? I can get down with that. But the increase in wanting to protect riders comes after a rider went through a RED light and a SUV struck him and killed him. Apparently driving on a green is bad in the bicyclist world. Seriously, I saw bicyclists on TV say something like "You can't always believe everyone will obey the law." Um, that's what the rules of the road is all about. Yes, I don't hit the gas the millisecond the light turns green...I've seen too many cars run red lights for me to know better. But if my light is green and the law says that a bicyclist needs to stop on red, then I'm assuming it's ok to drive.

The article linked above says that the City Council wants to target bicyclists too, but so far that hasn't happened. Instead us drivers are targeted. I wonder if I hit a bicyclist who weaves in and out of traffic lanes if that is all my fault or not.

That said, I do admit to not always looking before I turn, but I feel like I do it 99% of the time. If I hit someone because I wasn't looking, fine, arrest me, fine me. But if I hit someone because they run a red light, stop sign, or ride in front of me while I'm driving, I don't think so. There needs to be a balance to responsibility on the road. When I'm riding my bike, I don't dart into traffic and usually do stop at reds and stop signs. I know if I hit a car, I'm probably going to lose.

Technorati tags: cycling

Ms. Magazine investigates the attack on affirmative action

I've often joked that I'm in the wrong line of work. As an educated Latina from a working poor background who intellectually "gets" her oppositions stances, I really should have sold out years ago to become a right-wing pundit. In the legacy of Phyllis Schafly and every Latina who speaks in favor of the Minute Men (we have one in the Chicago area), I would be a star and I assume fairly rich by now. The current issue of Ms. Magazine profiles the identity sell-out we should all be educated on - Ward Connerly.

Who is Ward Connerly? If you don't know his name, you know his work. He ended affirmative action in California, Washington, and most recently Michigan. He did it with a smile, lies, damn lies. Wrapped in the blanket of equal rights, he peddles voter initiatives across the country, from state to state, like a Johnny Appleseed planting scapegoats as he goes. A successful African-American man, Connerly began his crusade to end affirmative action with the backing of some much more successful and wealthier white men from the construction business. Yes, the war against affirmative action began because white-owned construction businesses didn't feel they were getting enough contracts and/or were upset that they couldn't give all their business to their buddies and HAD to seek out a woman- or minority-owned business.

Ms. crack researchers give us some great stats on what happened in California before and after Prop 209 passed in government construction contracts:

Data collected by Morris and her colleagues about the effects of Proposition 209 shows clearly that women- and minority-owned firms in California have now been shut out of the “right” contractor networks. In the six years before Proposition 209 passed, those firms received 22 percent of all construction contracts awarded by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), one of the largest sources of public contracts in the state. In the six years after, contracts to women- and minority-owned firms were cut in half, resulting in an estimated loss of $1.4 billion. Having hit an all-time high of 27.7 percent of Caltrans contracts in 1994, women- and minority-owned businesses dropped to just 8.2 percent of those contracts in 2002.

Let's get one thing straight - Connerly's mission is not about fairness, but greed. Pure and simple.

This November's election is not just monumental in the fact that we could elect the first Black man or white woman to the Presidency, but in five states anti-affirmative action initiatives are on ballots. Dubbed "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights", November 4th may bring an end to affirmative action in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska & Oklahoma.

I've been lucky enough to hear presentations from various groups, especially a group of researchers in Michigan, who did a lot of great work to oppose other anti-affirmative action initiatives. Some have failed, some have won, and some are just getting ready for their local fights. The key factor to winning these stealth attacks - and they really are stealthy, not just stupid/ignorant people are falling for Connerly's deceptive language - is the white woman's vote.

"In Michigan...an exit poll showed that 59 percent of white women voted for the CRI, while 82 percent of women of color voted against it."

Are white women tired of people of color getting into college? Winning government contracts? IMO, they aren't. They were duped. And from one presentation I saw in the last year, I believe that white women didn't even turn out to vote that election.

I've heard a few people, who know what they are talking about, say that Connerly can't come to Illinois. Why? Our ballot initiatives are non-binding. Whether or not Connerly can set up shop in Illinois or not, I do urge you to head over to your local (hopefully independent) book store and pick up a copy of the winter issue of Ms. magazine. There's a whole lot more in the issue than just Connerly, but I'll get to that in another post.

Technorati tags: Ms. magazine, feminism, affirmative action

10 March 2008

The thing about mommy blogging...

is that after you get to know other mommy bloggers, you are bound to find someone who has experienced more of motherhood than you have. Who can talk you down from that ledge when you think you have proof that you're the worst mom in the world. Who can honestly say, "I don't blame you."

I still think us mommy bloggers are fighting for a good reputation. But honestly some days, we're no different than other "support" blogs out there (cancer, diabetes, divorce, etc.).

I'll write more when I have time and energy. Until then, you know who you are. Thanks.

Technorati tags: mommy bloggers

National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers

Every year on March 10, reproductive justice advocates say a simple thank you to abortion providers. Here is my list of thank yous for all of them.

Thank you...
  • For making choice possible
  • For helping women take control of their lives
  • For providing health care
  • For teaching others
  • For helping women take their lives back
  • For saving women's lives
You can say thank you with a simple phone call, drop your local clinic or health center an email, send them flowers, or just say thank you the next time you go see your OB/GYN. You do know if your doctor performs abortions, right? You can also sign this petition supporting providers.

The National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers was initiated in 1996 and co-sponsored by many national organizations and individuals, as a way to help stop the isolation and create a positive climate for abortion providers across the country. March 10th is the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. David Gunn, the first provider murdered by an anti-abortion extremist. It is a day to remember and honor Dr. Gunn and others who have and continue to put their lives on the line daily to make choice possible. Without abortion providers, there can be no "choice." And without choice women cannot be free to live and plan their lives! (source)

Technorati tags: abortion, feminist, abortion providers

09 March 2008

I'm addicted

As if I needed to have this officially diagnosed.

90%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

A Clinton supporter & an Obama supporter walk into a bar...

This Democratic primary has given the nation a chance to focus on a few issues and drill down to see what is really at the heart of them. Is it the two wars we are fighting? No. Is it paid family leave? No. It is whether or not Obama is black enough, if Latin@s would vote for a black man, if Millennials would vote for a motherly figure, and front row seats to the feminist cat fight.

I believe that the media is focusing on the feminist infighting as yet another way to put a nail in the feminist coffin. I'm starting to think that feminism is like Dracula. You slay it, bury it, and it still keeps on ticking! Now that we are in March and our candidate is not picked AND the Clinton campaign is turning ugly, we are seeing more and more discussion about women's role in this race.

Young feminist of the moment, Jessica Valenti writes at The Nation that we shouldn't ignore this intergenerational infighting:

No matter what Clinton's fate, feminist election tensions will start to fade--but we shouldn't let them, no matter how many calls for solidarity are issued by movement leaders. Instead of the group hug approach, let's focus on tangible goals: fostering youth leadership, working from the margins in and using intersectionality as our lens--instead of just a talking point. Let's use this moment, when our politics and emotions are raw, to push for a better, more forward-looking feminism.


The problem I see in her "let's talk it out" approach to the infighting is that this country is at a perilous time. Back in 1992 after Bill Clinton was elected the membership in feminist organizations plummeted. Reproductive rights coalitions around the country folded. We had a feminist in the White House! We were safe was the thought. IF Obama or Clinton occupy the White House next January, I fear that by focusing on what is wrong with feminism will lead us astray from reconnecting with the nation as a whole to reintroduce feminism and why we need to spend the first year or two of the next administration repealing many laws.

Now as a third waver (I'm too old for the Obamania and too young to be a Hillerista) who is kinda middle management in the feminist industrial complex, I know all too well the feeling of being ignored by elder stateswomen, of being waved aside in meetings due to a lack of experience. But I also have seen how my views have not just evolved with experience, but been proven wrong with reality. A complete and total revolution will not happen, it takes painstakingly slow baby steps to change this country.

And you know what? Obama subscribes to that theory more than anyone else I've ever seen in politics.

I am goddess damn lucky that I am in a leadership program that was created by second wavers to nurture us whippersnappers. I have not one, but two formal mentors of very experienced women in Chicago who want to help me take the next step. I have many informal mentors who can tell me tales of the ERA marches, leaving friends at a bus stop so a Jane can pick them up for an abortion, and still tell me honestly how to get there from here.

I was raised a Catholic. We didn't go to church on a regular basis and I was allowed to drop out of CCD classes, but we were Catholic. By the time I was a teenager I knew I wasn't really a Catholic thou. During undergrad, I took a women's studies course led by a religious scholar. She asked me point blank why I left that fight (birth control, women as priests, etc.). I often come back to that question when I find myself banging my head on the wall of feminism. My answer is that for Catholicism, there wasn't anything there that I loved enough for me to stay and fight for. Now feminism...that's something that I'll go down fighting for any day.

I don't believe that fighting the good fight for inclusion happens outside large organizations like NOW (where I have been a member & leader since 2000) nor do I believe it only happens inside them. It happens on all sides, inside, outside, with them, without them, in the blogosphere as well as in board meetings.

Valenti knows that Clinton supporters are harassed by sexist Obama supporters:

We know that Clinton supporters are taking heat from sexists--whether at home, at work or from pundits who relish talking about Clinton's "shrill" voice or whatever thinly veiled misogyny of the day is on cable news. We don't want to provide the backlash more fodder. We also know how hard our feminist foremothers fought to be here and how important the moment is--and we want to be a part of it. I certainly do. But not at the expense of what I believe is best for women, and not just because a movement that assumes it knows what's best for me tells me to.
But it's not just sexism that Clinton supporters face. This one faces something Valenti & Marcotte won't experience ethnic peer pressure. Yes, this Latina has felt the peer pressure to join her Black sisters and brothers in supporting a fellow person of color for our country's leader. I've also felt the generational peer pressure too. It comes out as pointing out how incredibly uncool I am to be supporting Clinton.

At the end of the day thou, I just want to get a Democrat in the White House. Without that, we can't move forward and make offensive moves like equal marriage, affordable birth control on college campuses, and nominating feminist judges around the country.

Courtney E. Martin & Deborah Siegel hit it right on the nose with this statement:

Okay, ladies. You've expressed yourselves. Now cease fire. Time to agree to disagree. The idea that all young female Obamaites are anti-feminist and all older Hillaryistas are old school plays into the worst kind of lazy black-and-white thinking. Feminist history has taught us that social change is as complex as the humans who try to enact it.
This debate over Hillary & Barack shouldn't be as complex as some are making it out to be. Heck, the issues are complex enough. The work is going to be hard enough!

So as silly as it sounds, let's embrace the group hug mentality AND continue to debate and strategize on how to mentor tomorrow's leaders. Let's work together to help women who think that they aren't political realize that everything is political. Your child's education, your pay check, why you have to drive an extra 15 minutes to an ER because you know your HMO will fight you over the payment if you go to the one across the street...In that vein we should grab the feminist next to us, no matter if they are a Obama or Clinton supporter, and walk down to the coffee shop or pub. Sit down with our drink of choice, maybe some fried cheese sticks and make a plan. How the hell are we going to make this country whole again? How are we going to disagree and still have each other's backs?

Martin & Siegel sum it up like this:

The personal is still political, the political is personal, and we're bound to feel passionately about two such historic candidates. But the question of whether you can be a feminist and still support Obama has about as much integrity as the question of whether you can be a feminist and wear lipstick. Those who ask it play into the divide-and-conquer model that real feminism tries to renounce.

Women are bound to disagree. Feminism itself remains one of the most dynamic movements -- the most debated, fought over, fought for, blamed and reclaimed -- of the past 40 years, in part because so much is at stake. Thoughtful conflict is clarifying. Genuine progress is born of debate -- the kind we are experiencing at kitchen tables, in coffee shops and in classrooms nationwide. How nice it would be if the media highlighted some of these passionate discussions. Can women disagree over candidates during primary season, just as men do, and still find common ground when it's time to elect our next Democratic president? Yes, we can. Yes, we will. Day One starts now.

We can be fed up with the media's treatment of Clinton and still vote for Obama. We can be inspired by Obama's promise and still vote for Clinton. And when it's time to do battle with John McCain, we must be fiercely committed to throwing our weight behind either Democratic leader. So enough with the catfight. Eyes on the prize, people. We've got a much bigger battle ahead.

We can do it all, ladies. But we can't do it without each other.

Technorati tags: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, feminism, intergenerational, Courtney E. Martin, Deborah Siegel

08 March 2008

Happy International Women's Day!

And to celebrate, I shall blog about boys & men.

This is a phenomenal time to be a feminist, it really is. So much of what we have fought for in the last 150 years is finally blooming. No matter which candidate you stand behind, you have to stop and smile at how feminism has made it happen. The Council on Contemporary Families released a briefing paper a few days ago with an update on how men are faring in relation to their daily chores. While we are not at parity, they are doing a larger share than ever before (althou, I might suspect that when families were on farms, things were pretty 50/50). Thank you feminism. Hidden in the chore pieces is this tidbit:

The most dramatic increase in men's contributions has been to child care. Between 1965 and 2003, men tripled the amount of time they spent in child care (Bianchi, Robinson and Milkie 2005; Fisher et al 2006). Fathers in two-parent households now spend more time with co-resident children than at any time since large-scale longitudinally comparable data were collected (Coltrane 2004; Pleck and Masciadrelli 2003). In this period, women also increased their time spent in childcare and interaction with children, doubling it over the period from 1965 to 2003. This mutual increase in child care appears to be related to higher standards for both mothers and fathers about spending time with children.

So there ya go...stop feeling guilty about the time you spend with your kids because on average us moms and them dads are spending more time with the kids then before (again, that farm family probably spent way too much time together!). Thank you feminism.

Sometimes it is really hard to show people how feminism is not just about women. Yes, its basic premise is to bring parity. equity, equality, whatever word you want to use between the sexes. But what it really is doing and why the ultra-conservatives are in a tizzy is that feminism is breaking down gender roles. Yes, boys can still be boys and girls can still be girly. But those boxes are no longer sealed shut. I think we all know a girl out there who jumps in mud puddles with her pretty dress on, of course with stylish rain boots on her feet. I know moms who are very protective of their sensitive sons. Oh, they rumble with the best of them, but still have a very public and soft heart. I worry about them too. Will feminism help unseal boys' gender role boxes before they get called sissies or even worse, learn to suppress that gentle part of their soul?

A lot has been written on how Hillary Clinton is running like a man. Being tough on national defense and not showing much emotion. That is how the second wave of feminists/women of the 60s grew up. That was their personal defense mechanism. Compare that to Barack Obama who is the epitome of what us gals have been wanting in a man. Strong yet sensitive. We know he can kick some ass if needed, but can still curl up with us to watch a chick flick and not roll his eyes. Marie Wilson notes this:

I hope Obama's rise is accompanied by a new movement on the part of male leaders to ameliorate their leadership -- and that we can learn, as a nation, to truly accept women leading alongside them.

If Barack is our candidate for the White House and gosh darn it, he better win, I do hope that one of the things he ushers in is a new model for masculinity. Here's hoping that we won't see photo ops of him hunting, chopping down trees, at a Monster Truck show, or anything else stereotypically manly if its not something that he already likes to do. Here's hoping that the partnership that is his marriage brings this nation further along in household egalitarianism that the Clinton marriage started 15 years before them (of course without any intern situations).

No matter who wins, Barack or Hillary, if they win the White House, we all win. Feminism wins.

Technorati tags: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, feminism, gemder roles, Marie Wilson, masculinity, Council on Contemporary Families

06 March 2008

Women's History Month

I'm a bad feminist, especially considering that I hold two minors in women's studies, for not having blogged about Women's History Month yet. Let's just say that the first week of March has been so full of work related work that I can't believe that today is the 6th.

I was also at a professional development conference all day today and a mentoring program dinner tonight and I'm pooped! So forgive me my readers...and now that I have this baby on Feedburner, I know I really do have some readers now. Well at least on peep's RSS readers...Tonight I am sending you off to read what the fabu women of Womenstake have to say about Women's History Month. I promise, I'll write my own ode to this estrogen filled month soon. Well at least before April.

The Women Who Came Before Us

by the National Women’s Law Center Staff

March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, the staff here at the National Women’s Law Center have been thinking about a few of the women who inspired us to become the people we are today.

Almost 110 years ago, Susan B. Anthony sent a letter asking for support for the cause of women’s suffrage. She wrote, “With these dollars, we can push the work still further ‘till all women inside the home, as well as outside, shall be free to do as their consciences dictate, rather than as custom demands.” Her tenacity, and those words, have inspired me for many years. — Marcia Greenberger, NWLC Co-President

READ THE REST.

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Oh and I still have Boca Burgers to Give-a-way!
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