Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

21 June 2009

Sunday at NOW 2009

This isn't a live blogged post.

The election is over and Terry O'Neill is the next President of NOW.

Terry was a VP when I was on the board. I respected her leadership style and her as a feminist. I am excited to see what she brings to our organization in this time of change. I say that not as a diss to her or her slate. I say that because we can all see around us that things are changing. We need to continue to move forward in order to get anything done.

The Sarah Palin supporters swung this election. The election was certainly close enough - less than 10 votes separated the two slates. Then again, if Latifa's supporters had been able to bring just a handful of additional supporters, we'd have an entirely different picture to discuss. The Palin people out organized us, plain and simple.

There are things I won't say here. I know far too many people are reading this and that this is my professional blog not just a personal blog. But I will say that I feel like Chicken Little in some respects. If only...

I haven't seen Latifa this morning, but I did see Janice. She looks good.

Someone asked me how long it would take to implement the internet changes that were promised from both sides. Terry's slate promised a site where every chapter could be hosted on the NOW website - something that sounds like an idea that was floated years ago and was quickly squashed - and I think that sounds like at least one year to be launched.

Some have asked why Palin supporters weren't allowed to speak during the plenary yesterday. Plain and simple, during a plenary isn't a time to vent anyone's grievances. There is a way to do that. Interrupting an invited guest's talk is not the place nor is it a way to gain respect from people who you might win over. The disrespect was overwhelming to people who were somewhat sympathetic.

One of the grievances I heard about was how to address the inclusion of pro-life feminists in NOW. *big ass sigh* If pro-life feminists want to be in NOW, I welcome them. Yes, I welcome them. I welcome them and say, "Join NOW. Join us in our fight to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Join us in pushing for single-payer health insurance so that women don't worry that even if they wanted to be a mom, they couldn't afford to take their baby to well-baby appointments or the immunizations. Join us in winning paid family leave so women can recover from birth and bond with their newborns. Join us crafting a system where college students can be moms and students with affordable infant care on campus. Join us on making choice a real choice. You don't have to escort at clinics, you just need to help us make everything else better."

As a student of feminist history I can't help but think of all the other times when the movement was at a cross-roads, especially when it was pitted as an "old regime versus new generation" battle. We go thru these periods, we battle each other and even with all our bruises, we end up going forward anyway. Our battles may set us back a few years and cost us valuable time, but I also feel that debate is necessary for a healthy movement.

The 2009 election report is as follows:

* 404 total ballots
* 72 ballots not used (meaning ballots printed but not used)
* 1 ballot voided
* 203 votes needed to elect slate
* 198 for NOW is the Times slate
* 206 for Feminist Leadership NOW slate


Now that the results are in, I need to sneak out of here and pack up to head home and celebrate Father's Day with the family.

Thanks to everyone who followed my reports, tweets and even Facebook updates. I'll get around to following people back on Twitter this week. If there are additional questions about this weekend, don't hesitate to ask.

Round-up of my live-blogging from the weekend:

Live blog: 2009 NOW Natl Conference - Plenary V

Live blog: 2009 NOW Natl Conference - Political Institute

Live blog: 2009 NOW Natl Conference - Candidate Speeches

Live blog: 2009 NOW Natl Conference - Friday Plenary II

18 comments:

Thanks for the coverage and insight!

Reading you entry today is so very interesting. Frankly, 24 hours ago, I thought it would be me posting a difficult blog trying to deal with the Latifa slate winning.
What fascinates me is ~
1)I view the winning slate as the true slate of change
2)I do not want or welcome anti-choice women in NOW
3) The winning slate brings more hope for new technology (in Matson)
4)I have been very close to the Palin thing - publicly demonstrated against her (see my youtube channel oninewithzoe) and formally grieved her supporters - I do not see any Palin (or puma) ties to either slate.
But we are both feminists, teaching any and all about advancing women.
Thank you for your blog, your openness, your feminism. I hope to follow you and know you more.
Zoe Nicholson
http://onlinewithzoe.com

Thanks for posting this. I've been searching the Net like crazy for any and all info relating to the conference/election.

I am not sure how to react, really, and would really appreciate an analysis of the whole situation.

I saw very little difference between the slates - and was personal motivated to support (although I could not attend this year) the winning slate.

That said, I am hearing through some reports that this conference had a lot of drama, and that the winning slate engaged in "negative" campaigning. Any thoughts on that?

Will the results unify or divide NOW as a movement? In the end, with all the fighting that I am already beginning to hear about, it looks like it's Barack vs. Hillary round II.

As a friend said, however, this was a "win-win" situation for NOW, regardles of who got elected. If that's the case, then why so much unhappiness after this election?

Christine - You are most welcome

Zoe - Re #2. The woman inquiring about anti-choice women in NOW was not supporting Latifa's slate as she was clearly trying to get under Kim's skin. I do think that Erin's background brings more hope for technology. ironically they didn't mention internet voting, which they were more poised to discuss. Did they mention that in their literature?

Marc - I heard many people say the same thing - not much difference in the slates. That's why so much attention was paid to the age/race differences. There was this hope, for many supporting Latifa, that if she had won, young women, esp young women of color, would see that as a signal that NOW and we can't delude ourselves to think that NOW isn't representative of the entire feminist community to many, is ready to tackle young feminist and women of color feminist/womanist issues.

ALL: Someone twittered (perhaps Zoe?) that NOW will be returning to the org it once was or was meant to be. That doesn't signal change, instead it is returning backwards. That said, I am hopeful that with two young feminists who do get technology in leadership, we can move forward in a progressive manner.

As a co-chair of a committee, I'm excited to work with Erin. That said, i will miss working with Melody. She was a ball of energy.

I'm glad you posted your thoughts on the election. I agree with you on everything but allowing anti-choicers in NOW if they are not willing to support the pro-choice work and actions we do.

After day 3 I finally got the whole back story from my state members after they talked to Kim Gandy about the Palin suppoters and the issues with California's president, or should I say kinda president, and her associations with Palin.

I was really surprised about the negative tactics that were used in a NOW election. That was my first time at the convention. Is it always like that?

By the way, good job on your workshop, the booklet on blogging was helpful.

I was however dissapointed by the other media workshop I went to where one of the speakers kept referring to certain women (Brittney Spears, etc.) as "slut" on 3 occasions and "skanky" 2 other times. I was very happy that another women called her on it and told her to stop.

I'm still debating whether to stay with NOW or not. I didn't feel very welcomed by some of the older women (some of the ladies from MD, TX, DC and OR) who kept talking down to me because I'm under 25 and said they were fed up with hearing about "young feminist."

You're wrong.Palin supporters didn't win the NOW election for Terry O'Neill and her team. Hillary supporters did.

If you could get Gov. Palin to join NOW that would send shock waves through the country. The Pro-Life women and many others would pour in to NOW. We are as strong as our numbers. Men are destroying our country and it is time for women to lead starting with the 2010 elections at all levels.

Gov. Palin is a strong free spirited woman and whether you love or hate her when Gov. Palin speaks people will tune to listen.

We will never agree on everything but we must work together to advance what we do agree on.

I'm going to have to disagree with there being little or no difference between the slates! Both my mother and I had not made a final decision on who to vote for until after we heard their speeches. There was a HUGE difference that we both felt became apparent in those speeches. Latifa was a very strong speaker, and I felt she was stronger than Terry; HOWEVER, Terry's entire team was far stronger than Latifa's. They gave very specific answers with specific sets of actions & plans, and were very qualified in numerous ways; in their experience with NOW, in their careers with what they could bring to the table (e.g. viral marketing, fund raising, consulting, etc.), and how much they had clearly thought out their platform & objectives. Latifa's running mates, however, were very vague, less passionate in their speeches, and didn't seem to have thought out their objectives as clearly as Terry's. They did have strong career backgrounds, but did not seem to have as specific skills as Terry's team that would benefit the specific needs of NOW.

I thought Latifa was awesome, but Terry's entire slate was simply stronger! I believe this choice is a good one. I know Bonnie & Erin very well, and now know Allendra. They are simply amazing, I can't express how much i look up to them.

I was there when the drama over Palin supporters took place, and I was embarrassed that feminists would interrupt & be so disrespectful to their sisters; however, I don't know the specifics of the accusations or what really happened. All I can say is that is was a handful of women; that's it. And one of those women came back and apologized to Kim & the entire organization for her misconduct.

I hope that the young feminists who were for Latifa do not stop being members over this election. There are two amazing young feminists on the winning slate, and there were several young feminist workshops during the conference. This is because...THERE WERE YOUNG FEMINISTS IN NOW! If all the young feminists leave, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy; it won't be seen as a young feminist-friendly organization without them. I also believe in this organization very very strongly. I am a young feminist myself, and I understand first hand how this is a grassroots organization and if you want change, you bring the change. If you want more young feminists or more interracial feminists at the forefront of NOW, then young feminists and colored women need to join! We are an organization of individuals, and it is only those individuals that have brought change to the organization.

To the commentor JeanA: Have you not read the bylaws of NOW? To join the organization it clearly states that one must agree and adhere to the beliefs and actions of the NOW organization. That means they have to support reproductive rights, minority rights, gay and lesbian rights, disabled rights, etc.

If someone disagrees with others having the right to choose to have an abortion and is not helping to try to solidify state and national laws to keep those rights, then they can't join NOW.

Palin doesn't just personally believe that abortion is wrong, she has actively tried to stop the access to abortions and charges women to pay for their own rape kit, and believes in only abstinence only education. This is not what NOW wants.

It's one thing if a women personally doesn't agree with abortion and would choose to not have it done in any circumstance, but still believes and fights for the right for women to have access and full health information to get an abortion on a state and national level. This is why Palin and her cohorts shouldn't be welcomed.

Just because someone is female doesn't mean NOW should support them. There are female chauvinists out there and females that want to stop women from having full rights, for example, the quiver movement.

To commentor Mfadeley: I had a different experience than you at the convention. When I would bump into Terry or Bonnie, my questions weren't really answered. I don't know if they just didn't have a specific they could give me or if they just didn't want to deal with me due to my age. Erin was nice, didn't get to ask a question to Allendra. I saw Latifa and Janice multiple times and they were always polite and answered a question without trying to walk away. Latifa's team was very proactive talking to people. One of their volunteers or campaign helpers was out there answereing questions, I think his name was Das.

What really affected some of the people from my state to vote for Latifa was when Terry started talking about how she would raise money for NOW at a grassroots way, bottom up. Then completely contridicted herself by saying when she was membership vice-president, she would take out loans. And they would try to earn money back to pay off those loans and then take out yet another loan. In this economy I don't want to have to worry about NOW going into debt cause they can't pay back a loan. If Terry was able to work and raise money from grassroots way, then she wouldn't have to keep taking out loans, she would have been able to raise money by getting new members to join. Since that didn't happen, loans were taken out. It was worrisome to some of us that this might happen again, especially if she does what she promised about giving each chapter funds for websites.

And there were quite a few Palin supporters there, I can give specific names and chapters of the ones that were vocal about it.

I just didn't feel very welcomed and wanted by some of the people at the convention. I looked around the room and there were more younger people than I thought there would be, yet still only a few minorities. I joined NOW because I believe in a lot of their work, but it doesn't feel that inclusive of minorities or women from around the world. When a women pointblank tells me she doesn't want to hear about young feminists, me basically, it is dissuading to hear that mine or others opinions aren't valid because we weren't there at the begining of the movement and our generation doesn't know how to do anything.

I'm still deciding whether to remain in the group. I think I might wait a little so I can calm down and make a clear decision.

Amber, I completely understand how our experiences could have been just the opposite. I wasn't going on personal experiences with the slate members, however, because I've known Terry's slate personally for several years. I wanted to hear what they had to say at the microphone, so I could try to make a decision aside from my personal feelings about the individuals. My experience with Latifa was one in which she brushed me aside when I was introduced to her, and then later she thought she had never met me. But, I still think she is an awesome feminist, because I believe personal feelings about a person should not persuade what is good for the organization based on their skills & ability (and other important traits; passion, plans, etc...) I really hope you don't decide to leave, because like I said, this is an organization of individuals. You can make the changes that you see need to be done. There will always be those individuals that are more ignorant than others, or don't believe in doing things the way others do; we are, after all, feminists, which by definition means we are independent thinkers (or should be) and are very very passionate; so personal feelings are hard to put aside. But I believe, more than anything, that each individual in this organization has the power to improve it. I have seen it happen.

I really want you to stay Amber, even though I don't know you personally. Please think about how your contribution in NOW can change that 'outsider' factor perhaps many minority women feel. Now I wish I would have met you, as I'm sure I could have introduced you to several of the most amazing, welcoming individuals there. I can't express enough how I feel your contribution to NOW has meaning, and what you can bring to the table could be a lot. Don't let a few individuals make or break the entire organization for you.

On another note, I also 100% agree with your sentiments on female chauvinists and NOW's mission & bylaws. I heard nothing about Palin supporters except what was said on the floor, and on the floor they said they were not supporters but wanted NOW to stand up against the sexism toward Palin; that sentiment I do agree with. Sexism is wrong against any woman, even if she is chauvinist herself. However, that doesn't mean there's not more to it that I didn't hear, just that I didn't hear it. I also understand that the one individual in CA that WAS a supporter was booted out.

If I ever come across such a supporter, I will be very upset indeed; not sure what I could do about it, though, in a grassroots organization. I understand it took them almost 1 year to boot the one person out in CA.

Roni -
I didn't see where you told people that you wrote this blog while wearing the bright orange t-shirt of the Time is NOW Team. I understand your anger at losing a very tight race but I think it is good feminist practice to tell your bias before you blog a message.
I think perhaps you should also have spoke about what it was like to scream a rude question at one of the candidates from the floor interrupting the chair.
Please -- tell the whole story next time.

feminist123 - I was very clear in an earlier post that I was voting for Latifa. I think it's pretty darn clear from what I wrote. I never presented myself as a neutral party in this blogging. Just about everyone who has linked to this site knows I voted for Latifa's slate.

As for me shouting at a candidate, Bonnie, it was for her to answer the question of how much money she has raised for IL NOW. Considering she made it clear that she thought corporate money was tainted, it would be great to hear how much she's raised from the grassroots.

Bonnie has raised well over 2 million dollars.

I am sure that others who you said interrupted felt they has a valid reason too. The fact is your screaming is not what is expected in a feminist setting.

feminist123...I suspect we know each other. If Bonnie didn't have the exact number she should have said so. But ducking the question entirely is poor debate 101. Especially after the applause Sonia received after saying she raised $1M. I'd love to see that financial report at the IL NOW State Conference when I'm sure I'll see you.

As for the outburst, I was joined by many other members who just wanted an answer to the question. I have never said I was perfect. AND my outburst was in the context of a debate/speech/Q&A where members were to learn more about the candidates. I wasn't interrupting Bonnie's speech in a plenary.

18% of Hillary supporters did not support Obama in the general election. That's because there was so much cheating and thuggery in the caucuses-Many of those people were NOW members--even Presidents of chapters or states. THEY ARE NOT PRO-LIFE. that was Kim Gandy spin. Latifa has been earning $170,000 year with no college degree to lose 40% of the members and over a $1m. in revenues--that's consistent 10% drop over 4 years (not the recession). During the same period, feminist groups are popping up all over--AND RAISING LOTS OF MONEY! Why not NOW? As I said in an earlier post--the speakers (including me) rose on a "point of personal privilege" before the speakers were announced. Gandy PURPOSELY did not call on us--because we were rising to address Latifa's claim that "outsiders and enemies" were spreading lies. They were NOW's IRS audited financials--available online. Gandy then screamed at us & turned off our mikes--not allowing us to defend ourselves. It was like a Banana Republic--not a conference run on Robert's Rules. Look at the NOW financials at www.guidestar.org--decide for yourself!!!!!

mfadeley said...

I also understand that the one individual in CA that WAS a supporter was booted out.

If you're referring to Shelley Mandell, the president of Los Angeles NOW who endorsed Sarah Palin in the 2008 Presidential election, you understand incorrectly.

Mandell did, indeed, endorse Sarah Palin (and, by extension, John McCain). YouTube is a useful resource in research of this sort:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=shelly+mandell&aq=f

Afterward, several NOW chapters in California filed a grievance against her in response.

The Thursday before national conference, those same chapters held a press conference in which they accepted Mandell's apology, dropped their grievance, and endorsed the Feminist Leadership NOW slate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KH_zUSKIcI4

These three events were clearly linked in their minds.

Mandell was not "booted out," nor will she be. Quite the contrary, the same chapters who were so incensed about her poor judgment and violation of NOW policy have now welcomed her back into the NOW fold with open arms, despite her publicly endorsing a political platform that is anti-choice, anti-progressive, anti-woman and racist.

One wonders why.

Sorry that I received incorrect information about Mandell, then. I'll have to follow up about that.

It still doesn't change my reasons for voting for FLN, and it still doesn't make my views of NOW any different. You can't control individuals; as long as you want to keep NOW as a grassroots organization, you will continue to get individuals that do not agree with you, or the next person. That's just one of the downsides of a grassroots organization, quite frankly.

Additionally, from everything I've heard and seen, the Palin supporters are a small handful of women and do not represent NOW. Nor do they represent FLN.

I do think that if one is a NOW member, they should fully support NOW's missions & goals, which would make a Palin supporter at odds with being a NOW member.

I am, however, tiring quickly of this subject. We are spending entirely too much time and energy discussing a small group of individuals which is, it seems, making them more important than they are. Additionally, all this back & forth is just creating yet another reason for divisiveness between NOW members (on top of a million other reasons several NOW members are intent on finding). Why would we make this the topic du jour and bring this much attention to it? It only brings attention to a divide in NOW, and makes us appear weaker.

I personally want everyone to get over themselves and get to work on the important things, you know, like feminism. Together. Instead of worrying about what every other individual in the organization is doing, the way we don't want them to be doing it. If we keep our vision ahead of us, to the clear goals NOW has set forth, instead of to the side, paying attention to what everyone else is doing, we'd probably be getting a lot more done.

Which means i need to get off this blog and start doing some things of my own. Ciao.