Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

30 May 2009

Catching up!

I dunno why my blog broke this week. Sorry for being unreadable for a few days...well design-wise anyway. But it looks like things are back to normal. Leave a comment, tweet or email if you ever see the blog all wonky. Honestly I don't check the blog every day. Especially this past week when I was out with a migraine for two days. That's what happens when I plan to write like a mofo on Thursday night...migraine.

It's been awhile since I posted my AWEARNESS posts, so here they are:


I have another Sotomayor post ready for next week, I'm sure I'll be writing about her more. Sadly the sexist and racist attacks are keeping me too busy to actually read about her mad judge skills. Thankfully there are others out there working on this issues.

28 May 2009

Under construction

Somehow my template is all whack, but I don't have time to fix it at the moment. Sorry if some of the text is unreadable. But hopefully tonight I can get it back looking as spiffy as it was before.

xoxo,
me

27 May 2009

Feminist Parenting: Patriotism

Patriotism. This could be a bigger issue than when to tell the kid how babies are made. At least with that, there are books with diagrams and science to fall back on. But patriotism...ay!

This issue came to light a few weeks ago as she was practicing for her spring concert. "A-M-E-R-I-C-A! I love America!" over and over for the weekend. I have to admit it was cute, but I asked her why she loved America. "Mom, it's just the song!"

Oh, hell no!

"You know why I love America? Because it's one of the few places where anyone can stand up for what they believe in and make things change." And on I went with the obligatory Stanton, King, Obama and Huerta talk. Seriously, her history teachers will either love me or hate me.

As a baseball fan I know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner. I sing it EVERY single time I hear it. Or at least I try to...Ya know sometimes the song just needs to be sung not interpreted. Anywho, so I feel like I'm a pretty patriotic person. I just want my daughter to know why we love this country, not a blind love.

It's ironic that some people who most loudly wave their patriotism scoff at those of us who dare to protest or question why things are the way they are. And my patriotism is grounded in that change, questioning and protest.

I know feminist parents who don't want their kids to even say the Pledge until they are old enough to truly understand it. I'm not at that stage, but rather I want her to question the things she's told "just are." Well at least from people who aren't her parents.

25 May 2009

Book Review: Men and Feminism by Shira Tarrant

Disclaimer: Shira & I write for Girl w/Pen but we're not great friends. We just write for the same blog. That said, that's how she came to know me to pass my name to her publicist who offered me a free copy of the book to review. Which I replied with a YES! in record time. And now our review...

First off, when you see the cover of the book you'll notice that this book is part of the Seal Press Studies series. But DO NOT FREAK OUT! While this book can easily be in a Gender & Women's Studies course syllabus, I also believe this is an excellent book for anyone to pick up in order to know more about how men have fit into the feminist movement.

What's that? You don't think that men have been a part of the feminist movement? Oh how mistaken you are! But it's not your fault that you believe that, first of all, our history classes don't teach women's history and when we take it upon ourselves we do focus on the accomplishments of kick ass women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Dolores Huerta. In fact men have been supportive of the movement all along, not as many as we would want, but that's where Tarrant really gets into the question of men & feminism.

Tarrant goes thru the history of the (mostly American) women's movement and reveals the men behind the amazing women, but also reveals some of their contradictions including how their public voice did not match their private lives or how men used motherhood as a way to push for women's rights.

But I felt that the gem of this book was how Tarrant wrestled with trans and gay issues within the context of feminism and masculinity. She showed us how the fear of being labeled a sissy keeps even the most feminist of men silent thus complacent in continuing our sexist and homophobic society. She walks us thru how ignoring or being ignorant of trans-issues keeps us focused on the false binary of boy-girl, masculine-feminine and thus keeping all of us in gendered boxes. As close friends know, I believe my feminism can connect almost any issue and Tarrant does a brilliant job at showing us how we must pay attention to the plight of boys and men under patriarchy in order to bring out a more just world. I wish I had had this book a few years ago when I was trying to create a men's issues committee for a feminist org I use to work with. I was shot down loudly and quickly.

Tarrant also has a great chapter on male privilege. It's an easy read in terms of vocabulary, althou it might be hard for anyone to totally grasp. Essentially Tarrant says "Great, you're a great guy. You might love a feminist woman, never hit her and even support her work. But unless you are taking progressive steps to call out others on their sexism there's still work to be done." It's not finger-pointing or male-bashing at all. Rather it's a straight forward call to action for all the "I'm not a feminist but..." men in our lives who really need to walk all that talk.

This would be an excellent present for a feminist dad/husband in training. It's 150 pages of the feminist manliness. If you're a nrrd like me, it's great summer reading too. Get your copy from an indie bookstore or Powells.com.

Crossposted at Feminist Review

22 May 2009

Feminist | Mom

I do not intend to dive back into the mania that surrounded Nona's article in the Nation, but I feel like Michael Corleone when I read shots like Julie Pippert's Guardian's article:

This most recent debate among feminists began with a naive assertion by Nona Willis Aronowitz that mothers who write blogs are disconnected from feminists. Nonsense, I said, in a lengthy comment, citing both MOMocrats and WomenCount. Both cover issues of interest to women, and have begun working to influence political decision making.

What is naive is to keep saying the same thing over and over and expect the problem to go away. "Now, Veronica," you're saying, "You keep saying the same thing over and over." Yes, but I want the problem to be resolved not tucked under the rug.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the people to have sent me emails about this issue. They say things like "I too feel alone in finding feminist mom friends!" online and off.

First, if you're online, do check out MOMocrats and find each of those writers personal blogs. They are feminists and moms. The fact that Nona failed to mention them in the article continues to be beaten into the earth.

I was asked by Julie and others why I didn't mention MOMocrats when I talked with Nona. And I replied with:: I have no idea if I did or did not. I'm fairly certain that I mentioned PunditMom because I love her stuff and I want to see her get more play. I'm sure I mentioned NOW's Mothers & Caregivers Economic Rights committee because I'm the co-chair. Why am I not certain about MOMocrats? Well honestly cause I'm not one of them. Why would I spend valuable time talking with a journalist writing for the Nation talking about a group that I'm not involved with? Now really...I wanted to see the NOW committee get more play. Mostly because I do hear from moms and others that feminists in general and NOW specifically don't work on mom issues. Oh really? is my response.

Now is there a divide? A disconnect? A whatchamacallit between mom bloggers and feminist bloggers? I still say yes.

That does not mean that there aren't feminist bloggers who support mom issues OR that mom bloggers aren't feminist. What that means is that we aren't connecting enough to really galvanize our power to get stuff done.

And this is coming from someone who has been blogging since late 2000 (I really hate to throw that around like this, but I feel like I have to) and has loved since almost their inception Feministe (started by a single former teenage mom) and Bitch PhD (feminist mom extraordinaire).

There are also a TON of moms of color who are so feminist/womanist/political that they don't embrace the mom blogger label because they feel it isn't strong enough for them. This list is not to signify that they personally feel that way, but I see them as missing in the mom(my) blog is feminist discussion Culture Kitchen, Mamita Mala and flip flopping joy. They are three women who are far more radical in so many ways and whom I learn from in different ways (even if they don't always appreciate me as a student).

This is another example of what I mean by a disconnect.

This is why I was FLOORED with joy when Momsrising took the brave step to send out alerts on the issue of immigration. While I love Momsrising and love to work with them, they do work on some fairly tame issues. Yes, in the grand scheme of things, I think paid sick days is such a tame issue it boggles my mind why it's not a freakin' given.

And really maybe that's the issue here. Me.

Maybe I wish the mom blogosphere isn't aggressive enough and that the feminist blogosphere doesn't respect enough.

Or maybe I've been around so damn long that I don't recognize the evolution.

Maybe I surround myself with too many different characters.

Or maybe I'm flat wrong. But I know I'm not because some of you have told me otherwise.

As long as I keep hearing from you that I'm on to something, I'm going to ride this horse until it's dead. Althou I do hope I can gracefully dismount and let the critter go graze into the sunset.

20 May 2009

Book Review: You'd Be So Pretty If... by Dara Chadwick

When I was pregnant I dreamed about having a daughter. And I kinda freaked. How could I possibly raise a strong women-child in this body obsessed world when most days I loathe my body? How long could I fake it so she doesn't pick up on my body hate? Well the Goddess did send me a woman-child who not only looks JUST like me but her favorite thing to do with me is to squeeze my belly fat. OK she likes to do that with everyone, but she also adds in "Mommy's the squishiest!"

You'd Be So Pretty If...Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies - Even When We Don't Love Our Own by Dara Chadwick tackles just this issue. This was a painful book to read but I loved it. I'm also mailing my copy to Amy. She was over when I got the copy and looked at me, "I want that!"

This was one pseudo-academic book that really used the personal memoir aspect perfectly. Chadwick grounds her book in exploring how women learn to criticize our bodies from media, but especially from our own moms. Chadwick's mom had a saying, "If you think you're fat, you probably are." By the end of the book Chadwick reinterrprets that saying to mean that we are in control of how we feel about our body.

The journey thou is hard, but one that I believe all moms of daughters should take. There's a chapter in there for dads and brothers as well. Chadwick starts us off with the idea that as moms we create a "body image blueprint" for our grrls. "As mothers, how we feel about and relate to our own bodies - and the conscious or unconscious expression of that relationship - creates a "body image blueprint" for our daughters (pg 8)." It's pretty obvious once we start to think about it, isn't it? Stop and think about what you learned about your body from your mom.

I learned that it was something that had to be controlled, reigned in and would eventually fail you. I remember my mom weighing her food. I can now see that my mom used "fatness" for talking me into covering up more of my body. I look at pics of myself back in middle and high school and think, "Seriously? I thought I was fat?!" When in fact she was trying to hide my very developed body.

And I love that Chadwick included "the talk" in her book. She links our developing bodies to our sexuality or perceived sexuality because grrls bodies are going thru puberty, evolving to our eventual woman form and with that adding weight.

Chadwick writes a lot about how we interact with our daughters. Not just how we comment on their body, or how we comment on our own, but also how we accept or decline compliments in front of them or from them. Chadwick quotes professionals that say we shouldn't use the word fat in front of kids. A few months ago I would had been all "Hell yeah!" but Dawn's recent musings on our fat tummies has me rethinking that stance. I'm trying to get my mind wrapped around how to allow the use of the word fat, teach the kid not to use it for others - at least in a negative sense - and all that.

The issue of media education comes up and as board member of WIMN, I totally agree that we need to teach all kids how to see thru media. But even those of us with all the media savvy still fall prey to media messages. I know all the photos are photoshopped, but I'm still pissed when I can't get my hair to look "just like hers!" I also think that Chadwick takes her daughter's very privileged experience of seeing behind the scenes of a magazine as too representative of how all girls could be and thus minimizes the harmful effects of our photoshopped world.

I also have to add that I felt Chadwick minimized her own eating disorder. I can sense that she is still coming to terms with it and I get that. At one point she says she flirted with an eating disorder, later admits to losing thirty pounts in high school from an eating disorder and near the end dismisses her eating disorder past as an "adolescent mentality." From all the things I've read on eating disorders, it is a mentality, but not just for adolescents. And she does mention this, I was just floored by the wording.

Despite the slight issues I had with the book, I can't say enough how I hope that every mom out there reads this book. You might even find a way to love your body more, forgive your mom for how she programmed you or just know that you really are impacting your daughter with jokes about your body. Chadwick also gives you some good points on how to talk to the men in your lives (Dads & brothers) on how their boy behavior is not going over as "just a joke" to your 13-year-old daughter and to cut it the fuck out.

Oh and Amy, I want my copy back when you're done.

Grab a copy for yourself at an indie bookstore or Powells.com.

Disclaimer: I received this book for review after I requested it from the publisher.

18 May 2009

Netroots Nation – The morning after

Saturday night I sat on a panel with Greg Palast, Rick Perlstein and Ed Yohnka. Matt Filipowicz organized and moderated the panel. It was one hell of a time.

First let me address the issue of me being the only woman and only person of color on the panel. I'm not bringing it up here nor did I bring it up at the panel because I want to beat this horse to death. I do it because I got emails and tweets from friends who still can't believe that panels are produced like this. When I was asked to be on the panel, I did ask who else would be on. I also suggested rather firmly that Matt look for another woman or at least a person of color, man or woman. He told me that he had a few other women and people of color in mind, but those he asked couldn't attend. I racked my own brain to think of others, but I was the fourth person and well, at that point the panel was pretty full. And after Saturday night I can say that the stage was full!

Matt did talk about organizing more panels and we would work hard to make future panels more diverse and with that hopefully the audience would also be more diverse. I noticed around 7:15 that there were three (obvious) people of color in the house – my husband, an Asian American woman and me. I did notice a few more Asian-American men and an African-American woman come in after I was up on the stage. Still the audience was far too white for a full conversation about how to push a progressive agenda not to mention far too white for the neighborhood the panel was being held in.

Now for the content…Ah, the content. Greg Palast (Correction) Rick requested that Matt introduce us WWE style and Matt did a hell of a job at it. It was the best intro I've ever had and honestly can't imagine that anyone can really top it. My husband did record it, so it'll be up soon. I was introduced first so I ended up at the far left of the stage (appropriate, eh?) but this also ended up meaning that I was the last person to speak. I found that this played in my favor because I was able to adjust my remarks to what the three dudes had just said. And they did hang a few pitches for me.

Palast talked about how we have a Jekell & Hyde president in Obama and that progressives were trying to figure out which one we elected and which one shows up each day. In the end we shouldn't care which one shows up, we need to pressure both to work on progressive issues and ideas. Ed & I spoke well on the fact that we shouldn't have been surprised about Obama. He was pretty truthful in how he stood on issues and how he worked. Ed thinks Obama is much more conservative than I do, but hey Ed knows him. I relayed my story of interviewing Obama at the IL NOW PAC meeting in fall of 2003. I'll never forget that it was fall 2003 because I was breastfeeding my newborn and had to make sure I had pumped at the right time so I wouldn't miss Obama's interview. Despite being a lactivist and breastfeeding in public, I had decided that this meeting was too important for me to be distracted by a squirmy newborn. Hey, they do squirm. I could tell that Obama was a great politician by the way he didn't answer many questions, but gave great responses.

Palast essentially blamed Ashley Dupree for NY Governor Spitzer's failure to hold Wall Street accountable because the news of Dupree & Spitzer came out the day before he was going to file a lawsuit or bill. I didn't catch exactly what Spitzer was going to do because my mind had a bit of a WTF moment. Did Palast really blame Dupree and let Spitzer and his wandering penis off the hook? So when it was my turn, I mentioned this. I framed it in a wider discussion that feminists have been having about how Palin and Hillary were portrayed. That the sexist remarks turn off women, feminist or not. I could see the women in the audience nod along. I'm seriously surprised I didn't a few "Amens" from the crowd.

There was also a good amount of discussion about how we need to think and organize locally. Ed made a brilliant point that while we are engaging on a national debate over torture, Chicago is at the start of the John Birge trial and that Mayor Daley has never been held accountable for his role as states attorney. I reinforced that thought by pointing out that Chicagoans keep voting Daley in despite the corruption and that the wide outrage over the parking meters is a not just a dollar short and a day late, but millions short and a decade late.

It was a great discussion and I hope that my point about pushing ourselves to see the interconnectiveness of all our issues is essential was received well. While Palast is correct that we must focus on the economic recovery of this country, we can't push women or gay rights aside. They are connected. Our entitlement to pensions promised is just as important to our entitlement to paid sick days. Not just to us as individuals, but to us as workers and to our economy. Paid sick days, parental leave and health care must be administered by the government, federal or state, as to not burden companies and provide equal access. Health care is weighing down companies including the auto companies. If we removed that burden, perhaps they would be in a better place to recover. And we'd be a healthier country.

Unfortunately my husband had a migraine hit him with a vengeance just as we were wrapping up. So just as I got my post-panel-recovery beer, he told me he needed to go home. I had just enough time to say hi to a few of the women including someone who came all the way from Wisconsin. Please comment my northern reader! I wish I could have stayed to chat, but I needed to take care of my sweetie. Thanks to all who spent their Saturday night with us. Hope we can get together again soon.

17 May 2009

Fem 2.0 tweetchat

It's over.

Since I participate fairly regularly, I immediately noticed who wasn't on. I'm trying not to take it personally, I really am. But being told that I'm trying to force a rift where there isn't one, that I offended people by voicing an issue I have felt since before I was a mom and that by making sacrifices...well I feel pretty beaten up.

I don't know how many times I have to repeat this.

I tried to bring in mom issues to feminist conversations and I got a lot of blank stares.

I tried to bring feminist issues to mom conversations and I get silence or even thrown out.

Thanks to the few people who have sent me "Me too!" tweets, emails & comments. Because I feel very alone on this issue right now. I am questioning whether or not I'm not imagining all of this. But I know I'm not. And that must mean that others are lucky enough to have a circle of mom friends who are also feminists. I love my non-feminist mom friends thou. We connect on other levels and sometimes they whisper encouragement. When I became a mom I knew I would make sacrifices. The first one was to horde my vacation time for maternity leave. That meant I didn't visit my sick mom until it was too late. Call me selfish...I do. The next was declining an internship because it would have meant giving birth, moving & starting internship all within a month. I get up at 4 am to catch a 7 am flight so I can be at home one extra night for my daughter instead of flying in early so I get a good night's sleep. I can't do it all. It looks like I do some days, but believe me, I don't...not even close.

Don't worry about me...I'll be ok. All it will take is one look I get in certain circles when I try to bring my full life into conversation and I'll be snapped back into my divided world.

Adoption is a feminist issue

Within the debate over the "Raising the Baby Question" article and my response to said article was a question of why I would throw in adoption to the conversation. It's pretty simple and quite complicated, but I hope you'll stay with me on this. To do this, I am going to use as simple of terms as possible – in other words, I will use birth mom, adoptive mom and giving up a baby:

  1. 1. Women are at the center of adoption. I know it seems pretty obvious, but I think we overlook this point by focusing on the baby and its need for a good home, which isn't a bad thing. But we need to remember that a woman is giving up her child and feminists are most likely the only group of people who can look out for her. There are too many agencies that are focused on the money aspect. Adoptive parents are focused on their needs. That's why I absolutely love the Shaker who wrote a moving piece on being a birth mom. Of course there are wonderful feminist agencies and adoptive parents out there, but on the whole from someone peering into the adoptive process I feel that the birth moms get the short stick.
  2. 2. Economics are at play no matter how feminist we are in the adoption process. Throughout the anti-choice debate a lot of focus goes towards talking women out of abortion and giving up the baby for adoption as it were simple. But implied in this line of thought is "I know you don't have the money to keep her, so love her by giving her to someone who does have the money." This is why I say that economic justice is essentially linked to reproductive justice. Without women being able to say, "OK, I'm pregnant, there is a child care center in my workplace and I get 3 months paid maternity leave, but you know I am just not ready to be a mom." there is no real choice.
  3. 3. And yes there is the class difference that is prevalent in many adoptive relationships. It takes a lot of freaking money to adopt a child in this world. Domestic or international, there is money exchanged. To ignore this is naive. It doesn't mean that there is baby selling, but we must acknowledge the class differences at play.
  4. 4. E.J. Graff has made a splash in the adoptive parent community with her series of essays on international adoption and baby selling. Many are denouncing her work as undocumented and reactionary. I see it as forcing us to face a possible consequence of adoption. I have friends who have adopted and who want to adopt. I've thought about it myself. If people like E.J. Graff pressure governments to craft laws and regulations that can ensure adoptive parents that they are baby stealers, then I think it's a good thing. I read though Dawn's posts about her adoptive mom guilt. I can only imagine that it might be heightened if one was to adopt from a country like Guatemala or India where baby stealing is alleged if not proven in a handful of cases. I want adoptive families to start off with hope not doubt.

But essentially adoption is an issue that feminists must know about inside and out. It's the option that people throw out when discussing abortion. We can't dismiss its importance. It is important to frame choice as a decision to carry a pregnancy to term or not. The next choice if abortion is not an option is whether a woman has to make is whether to parent or not. Anti's can talk until they are blue in the face about the dangers of post-abortion depression, despite the fact that studies show that most women are relieved post-abortion or if there is any mental health issues, they were present before she became pregnant. We must talk about the impact of adoption on women, good and bad. We have to be vigilant that we never return to the days when unmarried teens are forced to give up their wanted children.

If there is one group of people who have the power, will and ethics to ensure a fair, safe and loving adoptive process, it would be feminists.

14 May 2009

About that Nation article on moms, feminism & blogging....

Nona & I talked over the phone for a good 45 minutes about this article. I knew immediately that she got the issue as I was communicating it. Her prompt was simple - why aren't young feminists connected to mother issues and vice versa?

As someone who has been a feminist activist in some form or another since high school, was a member of NOW and vice-president of a local chapter when I had my daughter, she knew I had keen insight. I was 28, so I was still considered a young feminist. My first National NOW board meeting had me towing my newborn along with me. I breastfed the kid as I sat next to Ellie Smeal.

But I've also been in conversations with fellow feminists before & after I became a mom about the flip side of hospital mergers: birthing choice and reproductive technology. But those issues fell flat. When I tried to explain that CHOICE is more than choosing NOT to be a mom, but to choose to BE a mom, it didn't register as well as I wanted. Ditto for adoption. And this is why I told Nona that I think the pressure to BE a mom is so great on some young women that they don't want to work on mothering issues.

As I have said at Fem2.0 and WAM! I still believe that the popular/mainstream/big mommy blogging sites are apolitical. My sisters over at MOMocrats are taking offense to the article. I can see why. But I want to say that I think that Nona was speaking to the mom blogs we see in the corporate media. The Oprah Show moms & the like. I haven't read through all of them. I had my fill of them on Oprah.

But even if all of them were political uberfeminists, corporate media isn't showcasing them as such. Forbes.com showcased mom blogs for Mother's Day and not one blog they chose was described as a political blog.

Nielsen listed the top 50 power mom blogs [pdf link!] and categorized them and guess which category was missing? Political/activist. Their piece on connection with power moms does actually use the word "political" in a graphic of what moms are talking about. And feminism was either not heard or was looked for in the mom blogosphere conversation.

Are there political/feminist moms blogging? Hell yes! Is corporate media paying attention? Nope.

We're still riding the fumes of Mother's Day coupled with the concern over swine flu, so mothering issues like paid sick days were hot in the past few weeks. But without a public health crisis, paid sick days wouldn't have made more than a blip in media. In a few weeks mothering issues will be forgotten.

Does that mean I think that orgs like Moms Rising aren't doing a good job? Oh hell no.

Do I think that orgs like NOW aren't doing a good job with mothering issues? Considering that I'm the co-chair of the Mothers & Caregivers Economic Rights committee, oh hell no! What I do think is that given sending a TV crew to film a NOW rally on abortion versus a NOW discussion on post-partum depression, corporate media will always go with abortion. I've been in both situations.

And the media is what is pushing what issues are deemed "feminist" issues. Young women get their info from blogs and TV. What is discussed more often than not? Abortion, birth control and maybe lesbian rights. Those are hot button issues. They get play. BTW, I truly believe that if the media actually highlighted feminists working FOR mothers, that we'll win it all.

I've read the web letters and I take part of the "blame" for exclusions in Nona's piece. But as I said at the beginning, I focused on young feminism and what I felt were "typical" mommy blogs. We did talk about my work with NOW and my own blogging. I can't recall if we touched on all the concerns people have brought up, but we covered a lot. I did enjoy remembering the early days of Feministe, pre-and-early-Jill, when it was run by a single mom who entered motherhood as a teenager. Lauren rocked my socks off with her feminist take on single teenage motherhood.

That said, I still stand by the premise that there is a disconnect between the more popular feminist blogs and the more popular mom blogs. Every now and then there is a connection. And those blogs like PunditMom, who is a dear friend, are not getting the play they deserve. If anyone deserved to be listed in a Top 50 feminist or mom blog list, she does. And that is just my point.

If the connections are to be made, we need to reach out both ways. Young feminist blogs need to link to mom blogs more often and vice versa. As Nona writes over at Feministing's community site:

I know that young women and feminists care about these issues. My article (and Feministing) proves that. I also know that there are feminist/political moms out there. Still, parenting organizations who are under the media’s feminist radar but instituting real change need to align themselves with younger feminist blogs and organizations that get more face time. And vice versa. They should be linking each other, Twittering each other, and inviting each other to conferences. There needs to be groups like the MOMocrats that includes and speaks to non-moms, too. Young women need to not only comment on, but be engaged with these issues—and connect them to issues of abortion and birth control. It’s always hard to take action on issues that don’t directly affect you, but childless young feminists need to secure their futures.

I hope that this controversy ignites the connections I've been hoping for since I started blogging. The Dawns and PunditMoms of the blogosphere need to be recognized alongside the Jessicas and Jills. None are more awesome than the other. Each have their audience. But together? OMFG, together we would totally have world domination...with PunditMom in charge, of course.

This post is cross-posted at WIMN's Voices and Fem2.0.

13 May 2009

This and that...

The weekend was jam packed, so I'm just now getting around to a round up of my Awearness posts and a few more media hits:

AWEARNESS

Kim Moldofsky quoted me in her piece" Invite Diversity To Your Brand's Blogger Retreat" on diversity & marketing to mom bloggers:

"VivaLaFeminista.com founder Veronica Arreola thinks the lack of outreach to women of color is a subtle form of racism. "When people are asked to think of a typical American family, the one that comes to mind is a white family, not a black, Hispanic or multiracial one," says Arreola, a Latina mom. "Perhaps having the Obama family in the White House will help reshape perceptions," she adds."

Nona quoted me in "Raising the Baby Question" on moms, feminists & blogs:

Arreola, a 34-year-old mother who writes the blog Viva la Feminista, is a rare exception, a woman who has a strong blogger presence as a feminist and mother. She was one of the first in her group of feminist activist friends to have kids, a fact that immediately put her in "some other camp," she admits.

The web letters section has a good debate going, but I'm going to write up my thoughts separately.

I didn't post my full contribution to these articles so pl
ease do read the full articles. They are great.

10 May 2009

My Mother's Day

Six years ago I was six months pregnant and marked Mother's Day by graduating with my masters degree and then jumping on a plane to see my dying mother. Since then I've "hated" Mother's Day. Cause seriously how do you celebrate a day when your own mom isn't around? Especially each one I mark with my daughter is one more that I don't have with my own.

This weekend that all changed.

My adorable and loving daughter went crazy for Mother's Day. She not only decorated a flower pot at school and made the requisite hand print card, but she also asked her daddy to go out for flowers. She picked out two cards for me at the store - one from her and one from the doxie that said "Mom...It's mother's day. Hot dog!" That totally cracked her up.

It wasn't the things that she gave me but rather how she presented them to me...with total joy and pride. It's hard to explain or describe, but I haven't felt that wave of love for motherhood in some time.

What I think I felt today was that turn I've needed to make for six years. Not so much to "get over" my mom's death as I've been told, but more of a moving on moment. And it feels fabulous.

09 May 2009

Why diversity matters

I can't remember who said it but I agree: Why should women, especially feminists, give a damn that newspapers & magazines are failing?

Should we mourn Time, the magazine that sounded feminism's death knell too many times for me to recall? Should I subscribe to the NYTimes so I can get the latest opt-out or mommy wars crap story on my front step? Should I strategize how to save the Chicago Tribune who cut a ghettoized but fab Women News section?

Women are underrepresented on the op-ed pages. Our stories are not being told in the paper unless it fits in the Style section. Forget about quality women of color stories unless it's about whatever sweater Michelle Obama is wearing today.

And yet panel after panel on how to save old media is chock full of white dudes.

Now my obligatory 'I love white dudes' statement: I learned so much about politics from Bob Fertik, a white dude. He was the bleeding edge of new media & politics. He brought me into this online politics stuff.

But most white dudes simply cannot or don't want to see why it really makes a difference between having a panel of all white dudes & having 2 people of color &/or women on board.

Most fail to see their own privileges. They fail to see the head start they had by having mom & dad pay for college, give them an allowance after college or even help with landing a job. For too many of us women & people of color we lack those networks to tap into. That is privilege.
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That is why a diverse panel is needed when discussing any issue. For the most part white dudes have a similar story & thus have similar ideas. If we are going to find new & innovative solutions to saving old media we need more of us at the table.

I know it's hard to find new people for panels. Believe me I know. It's hard but I've found the conversations to be better with different voices.

But don't expect us to do all the work either. I'm sure you must know another [fill in the blank].

Bottomline: If you want us to fight we need to be heard as well.

06 May 2009

EVENTS: Upcoming chances to hear me speak

Goodness that title is so full of myself! haha! Honestly, I do love to see friendly faces in the crowds when I speak and I love, love, love meeting my online friends in person. So here is a run down of where you can catch me in action in the next few months:

1] Netroots Nation Chicago
Pushing a Progressive Agenda in the Obama Administration
Saturday, May 16, 8 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.)
No Exit Cafe, 6970 North Glenwood, Chicago

With a Democratic president, House and Senate, we have a historic opportunity for progressive change. But how do liberals and progressives make sure their voice is heard? This panel will discuss constructive ways of pushing a progressive agenda and holding our elected officials' feet to the fire. Panelists include:

Veronica Arreola, Viva La Feminista
Greg Palast, BBC, author of Armed Madhouse
Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland, Before The Storm
Matthew Filipowicz, Huffington Post, Headzup.tv
Ed Yohnka, ACLU-IL, Director of Communications And Public Policy

Admission is free. Dinner and drinks available for purchase. A Drinking Liberally cocktail hour to follow the event. Click here to RSVP for the event.

2]IGNITING CHANGE: ACTIVATING ALLIANCES FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
National Council for Research on Women Annual Conference

Thursday, June 11
CUNY Graduate Center, New York
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016

11:00-12:30

Breakout Groups
3. Science, Environment and Technology

Veronica Arreola; Chris Cuomo, University of Georgia, Institute of Women's Studies; Xuan Nguyen, Women's Environment and Development Organization; Allannah Thomas, Helicon Inc.; Soon-Young Yoon, NGO Committee on the Status of Women

Full conference information

Hosted by The Graduate Center of the City University of New York,
The Center for the Study of Women and Society

3] Mujeres Del Cambio: Women Of Change
A Platica Hosted by Chicago Foundation for Women's Latina Leadership Council

6-9 p.m.
Friday, June 12, 2009
National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W. 19th St.
Chicago

Online ticket sales and more information coming soon!

About Mujeres del Cambio: Women of Change
Latinas in Chicago represent the next wave of leadership. Their emergence in politics, the arts, education, media and beyond is setting the pace for an inclusive social change agenda. Join the Chicago Foundation for Women's Latina Leadership Council as they host a "platica"--community conversation--with dynamic women that are paving new paths for Latina empowerment. The Latina Leadership Council will also be unveiling the new name of their fund to honor feminist and social activist Maria Mangual. Grants from the fund will benefit programs for Latina women and girls in the Chicagoland area. This will be an evening of inspiration, networking and music. Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Participants

* Neli Vazquez-Rowland, CEO of Be! Products, Inc. and co-founder of A Safe Haven
* Anita Alvarez, Cook County State's Attorney
* Aurora Aguilar, senior producer of 848, Chicago Public Radio
* Veronica Arreola
* Moderated by Catalina Maria Johnson, host and producer of "Beat Latino"

Accessibility information TBA. For more information, contact Marisol Ybarra at (312) 577-2836 or mybarra@cfw.org.

4] 2009 National NOW Conference
I am still finalizing 1-2 workshops where I will be speaking and/or moderating. Once I get details, I'll post it.

June 19-21
Indianapolis, IN
at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites

5] Blogher 2009
Leadership: What is "Pro-Woman" in a Post-Palin World?
Friday, July 24th
2:45-4:00 PM Break-Out Session #3

2008 was a volatile year for women in the public eye. Not just for those women, but for all women as we watched them in action and the reaction to them. BlogHer.com featured substantive, weighty and (mostly) civil conversations that dug up ongoing questions that dog all of us that consider ourselves “Pro-Woman”:
  • How do we address the rift between many women of color and the perception of the mainstream feminist movement?
  • Can pro-choice and pro-life women find common “pro-woman” ground?
  • If we believe that women are true thought leaders and change agents for the world and that women’s leadership is more important than ever in turbulent times, how do we reconcile this with the fact that women certainly do not all agree?!
  • What does it mean to be “pro-woman” when woman are anything but a monolithic bloc who think…or vote the same?

  • Join the conversation to answer all these questions and more, and hear what conservative libertarian blogger Emily Zanotti, liberal feminist blogger Veronica Arreola, Republican activist Princella D. Smith and liberal civil rights activist Joan Garry have to say about being Pro-Woman in today's world.

    05 May 2009

    Book Review: Eat First - You Don't Know What They'll Give You: The Adventures of an Immigrant Family & Their Feminist Daughter, Sonia Pressman Fuentes

    Normally the books I get pitches for are new and about to come out. Today I present you with a book that is now ten years old, but is better than most memoirs at your local big box bookstore.


    Eat First - You Don't Know What They'll Give You: The Adventures of an Immigrant Family & Their Feminist Daughter by Sonia Pressman Fuentes is actually more of a family memoir than a personal memoir. Most notably, Sonia is one the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW). As a small child, she fled Nazi Germany with her parents and older brother and settled in New York. We not only learn the trials of growing up in a new culture, but also the back story of her parents' marriage, which may explain why Sonia has such a hard time with her own relationships.

    When I meet "famous" people, I try to remember that they are just human beings like me. They just did extraordinary things or perhaps just in the right place at the right time. While I may fawn over someone like Sonia, it's comforting to know her human side. But she certainly did some extraordinary things!

    That said, the memoir jumps around time. One page you are reading about someone's death and the next chapter opens with a story about that person. There are a lot of very short stories, more like anecdotes about various people in her life. So while I felt the structure was not of the usual memoir, it read nicely. It does start off a bit slow with her parents' background, but once I realized how central they are to her life and thus the entire memoir it was an easier read for me. I can be quite an impatient reader.

    This book is part women's history, part Jewish history, part memoir and part a study in family relationships.

    It's a must read for those interested in the origins of the largest feminist group in the USA as well as a simple story of a little Jewish girl who moves to the USA and grows up to be quite the giant slayer.

    You can get a copy for yourself at an indie bookstore or Powells.com.

    Disclosure: Sonia wrote to me and asked me to read her book for review. In exchange I have a new view of NOW and an autographed copy of her memoir.

    04 May 2009

    Monday wrap-up

    Good morning peeps!

    Grab a cuppa something and catch up on my latest AWEARNESS posts:


    And I was also quoted in a piece on Michelle Obama...but it's in French. I ran it thru Google Translate & Babel Fish, but ya know, it didn't quite make sense. But hey, I think I still came off good and supportive of the FLOTUS.

    Just for the record, that media hit came from either a Google search or Twitter. I suspect Twitter. Social media for the win baby!

    Lastly, it's wedding anniversary countdown week! On Friday we will celebrate TEN years of wedded bliss thanks to the lovely dude who married us is Las Vegas.

    03 May 2009

    EVENT: Netroots Nation Chicago


    Come see me!! Afterward you can buy me a drink too.

    Netroots Nation Chicago
    Pushing a Progressive Agenda in the Obama Administration
    Saturday, May 16, 8 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.)
    No Exit Cafe, 6970 North Glenwood, Chicago

    With a Democratic president, House and Senate, we have a historic opportunity for progressive change. But how do liberals and progressives make sure their voice is heard? This panel will discuss constructive ways of pushing a progressive agenda and holding our elected officials' feet to the fire. Panelists include:

    Veronica Arreola, Viva La Feminista

    Greg Palast, BBC, author of Armed Madhouse
    Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland, Before The Storm
    Matthew Filipowicz, Huffington Post, Headzup.tv
    Ed Yohnka, ACLU-IL, Director of Communications And Public Policy

    Admission is free. Dinner and drinks available for purchase. A Drinking Liberally cocktail hour to follow the event. Click here to RSVP for the event.

    01 May 2009

    Letter to the Editor

    I'm posting a letter to the editor that I sent a week & a half ago and was never printed.

    Kudos to Naperville Police & Female Bar Employee

    Kudos to the Naperville Police and the alert "female employee of the bar" who saved a woman from a rape. Shame on Bill Bird for framing this story as a desperate man looking for love. This was a planned rape and if not for the bravery of the employee, the phony 911 call would have turned into a real one...But from the targeted woman. Men may think that it is ok to take home a drunk woman and have sex with her, but unless you get a clear "Yes, I want to have sex with you." it's called rape. Got it? You need consent for sex, without consent, it is rape. No matter how much a woman has been drinking, what she is wearing or how desperate you are. It's rape.

    The article that I was responding to:

    Headline: Man wants date ... dials 911

    Some men go to extraordinary lengths to be with women.

    James A. Rush was so smitten with a woman he met last week in a Naperville bar that he called in a phony 911 report of gunfire on the city's far northwest side, according to a written Naperville police report.

    Rush, 33, now faces trial on a charge of placing a false 911 call. The three-page police report indicated he did so in the hope officers who were checking on the welfare of a drunken woman would race off to investigate the "gunshots," giving Rush the opportunity to take the woman home.

    Read the rest of the story.