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Showing posts from February, 2010

"Mini-Marketeers" Need Media Literacy, Not Junk Food

This was originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog. It was just a matter of time until marketers got their hands on their real desired recruits -- kids. In some social media circles, there's no need to woo mom bloggers with free samples of the latest snack chip, instead kids are doing it on their own: In some cases children as young as seven have been offered the chance to become "mini-marketeers" to plug brands by casually dropping them into postings and conversations on social networking sites. They can earn the equivalent of £25 a week for their online banter -- sometimes promoting things that they may not even like. Among the products being pushed are soft drinks, including Sprite and Dr Pepper, Cheestrings and a Barbie-themed MP3 player. Record labels are also using the marketing technique to promote performers such as Lady Gaga. In a time when First Lady Michelle Obama is campaigning to help our children get healthier, this targeting of kids should make us si

Is there love after abortion?

Over two years ago , way before I started writing for Girl w/Pen, Alison Piepmeier wowed me with an essay about getting an abortion and how her decision made with her husband was a love story : ...the story I most want to tell—and one I have never heard—is of abortion as an intimate part of a couple’s life together.  Our abortion was a love story. I’d worried that Walter and I were rejecting a gift from the universe.  What I discovered, though, was that when we stripped away the distractions of everyday life so that we could make this difficult decision together, it bound us together as surely as if our choice had been different—and as it turns out, that was the gift. Every once in awhile their story returns to me. I often don't know why it stumbles into my brain and says, "Hey! Ponder me!" but it does. This morning it returned to me yelling, "Why?!" I was half-listening to WBEZ's 848 and some story about a man running away from his life. Original, I kn

Don't call me a Supermom

Life's been pretty good the last few years in terms of accolades, but with each accolade, I get asked "How do you do it all?" or get called a Supermom. Answers? I don't. I'm not. If I did it all, I wouldn't miss important networking events. This is the area where I really shortchange myself. I know I should be going to more networking things to get to know y'all, but when I spend 1-2 nights out doing activist stuff, I just can't bring myself to take another night to grab a drink. Not that I don't love ya, ok? If I did it all, I'd spend 15 minutes a day on the elliptical keeping myself not in shape, but healthier than I currently am. I really should be. I'm 35. I'm my mother's daughter and she was about 38-39 when she was told she was diabetic. Supermom doesn't need sleep. I do, Supermom has it all "up here." I have an electronic calendar and if something's not in there, it ain't getting done. Super

The Right Birth Control Method is Just a Click Away

No matter our age, many women have questions about which birth control method to use. We might have started on the pill in our 20s, but considered switching to a non-hormonal method. We may have different needs now than we did when we first considered birth control, or we may be looking into our options for the first time. But how do we figure it out without spending all day at WebMD ? Well Planned Parenthood has a widget for that!

Women Olympians Face Unique Challenges

This was originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog.  The only Winter Olympics event in which women cannot compete is ski jumping . Why? Apparently it's because women are "too fragile," along with an outdated system of rules that allow the International Olympic Committee to keep "American Lindsey Van, who holds the world record for the single longest jump by anyone, male or female" from competing for a gold medal. When the IOC tries to explain that women can't compete because there aren't enough women jumping , the conversation circles around to, How can we increase interest and participation if women's ski jumping isn't allowed at the Olympics? On the ice, at least, we continue to see a few women hockey teams rule. After Canada whipped Slovakia 18-0 , buzz started that perhaps women's hockey wasn't up to snuff, that maybe the sport is too lopsided. We've heard this type of talk surrounding women's Oympic events before - about

I'm in the Bitch "Old" issue

Not old as in an old issue! The new issue's theme is "old."  On page 11 you'll find a short an interview I did with Rana Husseini , whose memoir, Murder in the Name of Honor [ indie or Powells ], about her leadership to bring awareness to so-called honor killings in her homeland of Jordan and around the world. We chat about how Western feminists should handle these crimes in the USA and other countries. I also asked her how Western feminists can support her work better. If you're not a subscriber (become one today!), head on out to your local bookstore and grab a copy! Also don't miss my friend, Keidra 's review of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture on page 60!

A Chicago Teacher Finds His Parents in Haiti - Now What?

This was originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog.  A short note from a friend asked for my attention over the weekend. Her son's preschool teacher returned to his homeland of Haiti to search for his parents. He found them, but that is just the first part of what appears to be a long journey through immigration bureaucracy. Jean-Paul Coffy is currently with his parents at a hospital and somehow was able to get their passports reissued, but now he is awaiting judgment from the American government as to whether or not he can bring them to his adopted hometown of Chicago : ...he had an appointment scheduled for Thursday with the United States Consulate in Santo Domingo to apply for temporary visas to take them to Chicago. Another possibility would be humanitarian parole, a special temporary immigration category that is rarely granted. His case will be particularly difficult, immigration experts say, because Mr. Coffy, while a legal resident with a green

Translating the F-Word:Defining Feminism in a Multicultural Society

Come on out and discuss feminism with us! This panel discussion will examine feminism through the lens of race, class, gender, and sexuality, discussing both their work and their personal experiences. Panelist will include: Siobhan Brooks, Postdoctoral Fellow of Gender Studies at Lawrence University. Courtney Martin, award-winning author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters.

Judge Resigns Over Bias Against Domestic Violence Survivors

This was originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog.  It's sometimes hard to tell non-advocates how biased the judicial system can be towards women. And some days all you need to do is watch a video. It takes a lot to get a judge removed from the bench, so I applaud the advocates in Houston, Texas for a job well done. Advocates were able to gather enough evidence of Judge Reagan Helm being biased during domestic violence cases that he has stepped down. You really need to watch the video of the Houston ABC News network to see for yourself how biased he was (unfortunately I was not able to embed it here). Here are some key quotes from the former judge: In a case involving a man who was about to be deployed to Iraq and accused of beating his girlfriend, the motion says Judge Helm indicated the country needed men like him to fight for their country and asked the prosecutor if she wanted him here attacking women or fighting the enemy abroad. In another case,

Feminist Parenting: Courageous

Courageous. That word was on the kid's spelling list last week. Even if the teacher called the entire list bonus words, she worked hard to learn all ten words including this one that stumps me once in awhile. I won't find out until Friday if she spelled them all correctly, but she worked hard, could spell them for us and felt great afterward. That's all I can ask of her for bonus words. Part of asking kids in first grade (even if they are doing second grade work) to spell a big word like that is that we have to define it for them. I can't remember exactly how I defined it for her, but I'm sure I said something about doing something even thou you are afraid. On Friday I took her out to Vertical Endeavors and she did this: We rock climbed for about three hours and had a blast. At first she was scared of going too far up and definitely of sitting back to glide down. If you've followed the tales of my kid, you know she's not a fearful one. But standing a

Gender Roles to Rainbows: A Mother's Love

RH Reality Check asked me to write a short something for Valentine's Day about love and raising the kid. Here it is! I have loved my daughter all my life. It's corny but it's true. Growing up I knew I would be a mom, somehow. I knew one day I'd be responsible for another human being that goes beyond my wildest dreams. While most women day dream about cute dresses and those adorable ruffle-bottomed tights, I dreamt of teaching her to keep score at a baseball game and to hopefully avoid the pitfalls that continue to consume me. Six and a half years ago I had my little girl. She's as girly as they come, yet as rough and tumble too. My daughter has already gone head to head with classmates who spout strict gender roles. While it breaks my heart to see her struggle, I love talking to her as a human being about what people expect of others, how we believe things in our home and how to react to difference. Again, she's six, so I have no idea how far our talks

Book Review: Girl Power by Marisa Meltzer

I am totally unqualified to review this book as I totally missed the Riot Grrrl moment. On the other hand, I totally dove into the Lilith Fair moment, so I think that I could write the rebuttal or sequel to Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music by Marisa Meltzer , as Meltzer says she never attended Lilith Fair. But I don't hold that against her. Girl Power is a quick read. In fact I dare say that it's a must have on your summer 2010 reading list. It's not fluffy, but at only 145 pages, it delves thru the 1990s women's music scene quickly and in fairly accessible language. In other words, Meltzer doesn't compare Avril to Courtney by using uber-academic jargon. Because of that, I'd also say that this would make an awesome book group selection. I can only imagine the music throw downs at the Women & Children First Feminist book group. As someone who missed the Riot Grrrl moment, I really appreciated reading about how it came about, got popular and

Why Can't We Walk Away from Our Mortgages?

This was originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog. There is a reported rise in people simply walking away from their mortgages . To me, that's pretty darn scary. And what's more, considering that the Obama-backed refinancing program isn't all it's chalked up to be, I can picture more people doing this. And why shouldn't they? Businesses do it without much repercussion. Well, the big stick in this picture is our credit history. Walk away from your mortgage and who knows what the future has for you? The credit risk is high and akin to smashing a mirror on purpose -- back out of a mortgage and get yourself seven years of bad credit. There's also the theory that by walking away from your dream home that is underwater, you start to sink your neighbor's dream as well. That's a lot of guilt to manage. On a recent NPR segment, a caller named Bill said he thought that paying one's mortgage was the morally correct thing to do. Brent White, law profess

I am getting an Impact Award!

The Chicago Foundation for Women is marking their 25th anniversary by awarding 25 women and men of Chicago Impact Awards for working hard to make the area better for women and girls. OK, that's how I sum up the award. That's because that's one of my goals...To make Chicago a better place for women and girls. There is program to honor all 25 of us in March and I can't wait to meet the other awardees: Gaylon Alcaraz :: Tracy Baim :: Marca Bristo :: Salome Chasnoff Fay Clayton :: Joyce Coffee :: Terry Cosgrove :: Patricia Crowley, OSB Dr. Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH :: Samir Goswami :: Joan M. Hall :: Anne Ladky Sharmili Majmudar :: Soo Ji Min :: Brenda Myers-Powell :: Maria S. Pesqueira Wendy Pollack :: Diane Primo :: Hedy M. Ratner :: Daphnee Rene Janice Rodgers :: Sheli Z. Rosenberg :: Ruth M. Rothstein :: Jane M. Saks The ones in bold are ones whom I have worked with before, including one of my mentors, thus I am even more honored to be sharing a moment with th

Erica Watson Surfs into NYC on a New Wave of Black Comedy

This was originally posted on the AWEARNESS blog Erica Watson is fat and she isn't afraid to tell you either. In fact, her one-woman show is called "Fat Bitch" and if you attend you'll learn a lot more than just how big she is. You'll learn about her 21st birthday party with a major stripper fail and how she thinks that being a cute fat chick is just too much pressure. "People are always telling me that if I just lost weight, I'd be sooo much prettier." I could see the eye roll from a dozen rows back when I saw the show in November. Watson and other "new wave" black comics don't "relentlessly rip audience members who sit too close to the stage" the way one might see comedians do on Comedy Central. Now don't read that wrong: if you do sit close to Watson, she just might put you on the spot to ask if you like to date fatties. Her destruction of our fat/size-obsessed society is the foundation for the show, but she g

Cohen Watch

Scott Lee Cohen's tune seems to be changing . The media is digging more into his story and painting an uglier picture. Early on Friday he was sticking to his stance that the people of Illinois had voted for him and he was staying. On Twitter a bunch of people were saying the same thing. Warning that if we let the party nudge someone off the ticket for being unsavory or unlikeable, well then democracy would start down that slippery slope of ethics into a place where party bosses would hand pick candidates. What the hell do people think already happens? Cohen represents not a victory for independent candidates winning out against the machine or party, but rather another prime example that if you blanket the airwaves and stuff enough propaganda into our mailboxes, your name sticks out on election day. While many a people are in a huff over Mark Brown being an accomplice to Cohen's shenanigans by not reminding us that he had domestic violence in his past, it should be more

Just what Illinois politics needed: Scott Lee Cohen

Blago. Burris. Stroger. We thought we had finally turned a corner Tuesday night. Even with the weight of Alexi's family's bank saga, we at least were moving away from embarrassing politicians. We cheered the defeat of Todd Stroger and wished Toni Preckwinkle all the luck of a field of four-leaf clovers, cause she's gonna need it to clean up the mess of Cook County. Then we woke up on Thursday to news that 212,902, er, 212, 901 voters didn't do a good Google search of their candidate. Scott Lee Cohen admits to choking his ex-wife and violence against his ex-girlfriend. He didn't fess up after someone dug it up either. He TOLD us...a year ago. Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times , details how he and the rest of the media brushed aside Cohen's admission of domestic violence: Let the record reflect that on the very day last March that Scott Lee Cohen announced his campaign for lieutenant governor of Illinois, he voluntarily disclosed he had once been arrested in

Want to adopt a Haitian orphan? WAIT!

This post was written right after American missionaries were arrested and originally posted on the AWEARNESS blog.   I admit that my husband and I had "the talk." The "Can we adopt a child from Haiti?" talk. Of course it was out of sheer love for the children who need help, but we quickly snapped back to reality: Now is not the time to get in line for a child. Apparently some people think otherwise. Ten Americans were arrested over the weekend for child trafficking out of Haiti. Of course they say they were just trying to help by scooping up children and taking them across the border to an orphanage, but hey, I think that is the definition of child trafficking. I get it. I also want to jump on a plane and bring a bunch of kids home with me. I want to clothe them, feed them and love them. But I know that they are Haitian and Haiti is their home. I also know that people have been displaced. Children were at school when the earthquake hi

Sean James and Al Joyner respond to the Tebow Super Bowl ad

Warning...Feministas, grab a tissue before you watch this amazing and beautiful video. Welcome to my new Laughing Liberally friends. This is the video Matt & I talked about last night. From Planned Parenthood: Matt asked me what dudes can do to help in the fight and I said, be aware and then I talked about this video. Men, be aware of how your actions impact our lives. Of your privilege that allows you to not worry about being raped when you walk around a corner to get to your car after a fun night with friends. How you have to decide if you'll ask for a friend to talk with you, if you'll go it alone or if you will call your partner who is waiting for you and he virtually walks you to your car. How ads like the Focus on the Family one is really telling women around the country that "Why, we don't trust you to make your own decision, oh no." Just be aware. I'll add in that you need to stand up next to us, stand up against the hate, stand with

TODAY: Fem 2.0 Radio on Latinas & Family

VI. Work/Life and Latino Families :  How Are Latino Families Changing as Latinas Bring Home the Bacon?   Monday, February 1, 1:00 PM EST, here Host: Veronica Arreola Ana Roca Castro, Founder, Latinos in Social Media Catherine Singley, Economic and Employment Policy Analyst, National Council of La Raza Marisa TreviƱo, Publisher, The Great Recession has impacted every family and Latino families are no different. Or has it been different? Join in the conversation as four Latinas from policy, punditry and community organizing discuss the impact of the recession on Latino families. What does a Latino worker look like? What are the contributions of Latino workers to the economy?  Can the government do more to encourage job creation? As more Latinas take on more jobs, who is caring for their children? How are Latino families changing to make room for Latinas who brings home the bacon?