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29 February 2012

EVENT: Blog for International Women's Day

Get ready feministas! 

The online event will run on March 8, 2012.
This year, Gender Across Borders and CARE will host the Third Annual Blog for International Women’s Day, a day where bloggers, writers, and humanitarian organizations are asked to write about the International Women’s Day theme on March 8. This year’s theme is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” and they are asking bloggers to address one or both of the following points:
  • How can we, as a culture and as members of the global community, involve, educate, and inspire girls in a positive way?
  • Describe a particular organization, person, group or moment in history that helped to inspire a positive future and impact the minds and aspirations for girls.
Throughout the day of March 8, they will have an ongoing live blog of what you have to say about “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” at GenderAcrossBorders.com. They will also feature articles from staff writers about issues that girls around the world face today. Click over to add your blog to the long & growing list of bloggers taking part!

20 February 2012

CFP: Performing Motherhood

Demeter Press
is seeking submissions for an edited collection
Performing Motherhood
Co-editors: Amber Kinser, Kryn Freehling-Burton and Terri Hawkes
Submission Deadline For Abstracts: June 15, 2012

Scholarly and lay observers alike have long recognized the relationship between everyday life and performance. Some hold to a sharp split between that which is authentic, true, or real, on one hand, and that which is contrivance, façade, or "mere" performance on the other. Others indicate that any lines separating "performance" from "life" are indistinguishable or not useful, that all of life is performance, that human interaction of any sort is a text to be read in a variety of ways, that social meaning and identity are in fact performatively constituted.

Judith Butler and others have directed attention to performativity and the way it can contest and disrupt accepted meanings, truths, and values. In the performing arts, artists have questioned, theorized, embodied, represented, and troubled social meanings and subjectivities, and have deployed performance in the service of resistance and change. Performance ethnographers and biographical/autobiographical researcher-performers have explored performance dimensions of identity, culture, ritual, and ceremony, as well as the ways in which research findings can be represented through performance, taking research beyond traditional scholarly venues to reach lay audiences and shed prismatic light for academic audiences.

Performing Motherhood places these ideas center stage in maternal studies. 

In exploring the relationship between performance and the maternal, contributions to this anthology will pay particular attention to how mothers effectively exercise agency in personal and/or familial identity, and/or to how particular performances can affirm or activate maternal choices, grounded as they are in given social locations.

We seek the following in particular: 1) essays that are empirically and theoretically grounded that explore/complicate everyday life performances of the maternal; 2) creative performance texts that explore maternal agency; and 3) theoretical or research-based examinations of broad scale maternal performance, from community or global activism to the 'performing arts'.

Questions to consider include but are not limited to:
  • How do women and families enact/perform mothering in ways inconsistent with widely accepted norms (whether general social norms or assumed "feminist" or "progressive" norms) and how do they make that work for them, personally and socially?
  • How is maternal identity performatively constituted for the multiplicity of ways that people mother beyond biological ties?
  • What are some of the micropractices/performances that mothers engage in, or orchestrate in their families, that allow them to live self-determined lives? How does mundane practice/performance complicate and shape individual, familial, and social meaning.
  • In what ways do particular ritual or theatrical or activist performances suggest or embody affirmations of motherwork, maternal agency, or marginalized maternal voices, and what might these performances teach broader audiences?
  • How do performing arts practitioners who are also mothers negotiate multiple identities?
Submission Guidelines 
Abstracts should be about 300 words, and should identify the theoretical grounding for the essay or piece. Please also include a brief biography (50 words) and identify citizenship. 
Complete manuscripts not exceeding 15 pages (3750 words) will be due March 1st, 2013 and should be formatted according to MLA guidelines.

Editor responses will go out early summer of 2013 with final revisions due early fall.
The book is to have 50 percent Canadian content, so Canadian 
contributors are especially encouraged to submit.

Send abstracts to: kinsera@etsu.edu
Acceptance is contingent and will depend upon strength and fit of the final essay or piece.
Demeter Press
140 Holland St. West, PO 13022
Bradford, ON L3Z 2Y5 Tel: (905) 775-9089

Disclosure: I am getting a complementary membership to MIRCI and subscription to the journal in return for posting these updates. It is, however, something I would have agreed to do for free because I think their work is so wonderful.

19 February 2012

EVENT: YWCA to “Rock Away Racism”

Rock Away Racism 
Thursday, Feb. 23
6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Hard Rock Hotel
230 N. Michigan Ave.

Hosted by the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s Future Leaders Council

The concert event is focused on celebrating Chicago’s diversity through music and will feature a variety of artists, including Endiskize, Jeff Goodwin & Jamiah ‘On Fire’ & The Red Machine & DJ Madrid. Katrina Lynn of Savvy Talk radio will be the hostess of the event.

Through Rock Away Racism, the YWCA honors Black History Month and those who worked toward racial and social justice, while also spotlighting an issue that continues to impact our society today. “As an organization committed to the elimination of racism, the YWCA works to raise awareness through many vehicles,” said Christine Bork, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago CEO. “Music has historically been used to overcome or respond to prejudice and intolerance, and helps us recognize our similarities and appreciate our differences.”

General admission for the event is $35.00 (VIP admission is also available). To purchase tickets or for more information about Rock Away Racism, please visit www.ywcachicago.org.

15 February 2012

Tweet & Rally against attacks on women's health in Illinois

Attention Illinois readers!

Did you know that Illinois Republicans think that women are livestock? That must be the only reason why they continue to submit bills impacting women's health to the Agriculture Committee.

Want to learn more?

Hands Off Women’s Health Twitter Chat

Lorie Chaiten, ACLU of Illinois, Director of Reproductive Rights, is hosting a twitter chat on Thursday, February 16th from 1-2 pm discussing the Health and Human Services Plan B decision, the Mississippi personhood amendment, the Komen/Planned Parenthood controversy, the birth control coverage compromise, the attacks on reproductive health care here in Illinois and everything in between. Please follow the hashtag #HOWH (Hands Off Women’s Health) and join in the discussion.

Women Are Still Not Livestock Rally and Lobby Day

Yet again, extremists are trying to close down access to reproductive health care under the guise of protecting women’s health – by ramming measures though the Agriculture Committee (a noted authority on the subject).

Please join Illinois Reproductive Rights Activists next week on Tuesday the 21st for a rally and lobby day in opposition to treating women like livestock. The t-shirts are will be even more awesome this year, and you will definitely want to get one.

Things will get started at 10:30 am in Springfield, and transportation is available. 
Please RSVP: http://action.aclu.org/cows2012.

Can't wait until next week? TAKE ACTION NOW:

Today, HB 4085, the so-called Ultrasound Opportunity Act, was sent to the Agriculture Committee. It could be heard during their Tuesday, February 21 hearing scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

Like last year’s bill, HB 4085 would require that prior to an abortion, the provider must offer the woman to have and view an ultrasound. The woman’s decision must be recorded in her medical record and reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The bill contains some vague and non-medical terminology that would be problematic for physicians who try to comply with its requirements. Unlike last year’s version, HB 4085 has no waiting period between the ultrasound and the abortion.

Write/call you state representative and tell him/her to “vote NO on HB 4085”.
Contact information for House members is available at: http://www.ilga.gov/house/default.asp

Next...pass this on! 

14 February 2012

Valentine's Day Book Review: Outdated by Samhita Mukhopadhyay

Viva la Feminista welcomes Keidra Chaney of The Learned Fangirl for this Guest Post: 

I don’t read dating books. I do date, but I’ve been single more often than not throughout most of my adult life, and I’ve never fit into mainstream “three dates and you’re in a relationship” dating culture. More to the point, the “He’s just not that into you” advice behind most dating literature just makes my flesh crawl. Despite my aversion to dating books (or probably because of it) I was excited to read Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining your Love Life (Seal Press, 2011) when it was first announced, because even though I don’t read dating books, I totally want dating advice.

As a single, dating feminist, there’s not a whole lot of literature out there that speaks to me: even the more ostensibly progressive dating books out there don’t really push hard against gender essentialist, “Mars Vs. Venus” ideas of what it takes to enjoy “normal” romantic relationships. Many feminist books on gender, relationships and sexuality don’t always acknowledge the pursuit of romantic relationships and falling in love as a very real and valid desire for progressive women, some of whom want to figure out how to navigate the murky waters of the dating world just like everyone else .

Samhita Mukhopadhyay, editor for popular blog Feministing, acknowledges all of this in Outdated, framing the book is her own personal relationship history (the book starts with Mukhopadhyay nursing the wounds of a bad break-up) and moving on to her own survey of the relationship self-help aisle of the local bookstore. Through nine chapters, she offers a pointed critique what she calls the “romantic industrial complex,” those persistent myths that seem to define contemporary dating culture: women are longing for a Prince Charming or thwarting intimacy due to their own independence; men are commitment-phobes or ignored “nice guys; single people – but women in particular—in general are sad sacks until partnered.

Mukhopadhyay challenges the idea of partnered co-habitation as the desired goal for straight/ gay/queer romantic relationships and presents the notion that relationships and love can be happily pursued outside of such traditionalist, heteronormative definitions. And sometimes, even while you are having that very conversation with your feminist girlfriends at the local bar after your most recent bad OKCupid encounter, it’s nice to have that affirmed by someone in book form.

It’s also nice to have such serious cultural critique presented in such an accessible way, without falling into feminist scholar shorthand, or coming off too glib or chatty. At the same time, she doesn’t offer any easy answers, either. Mukhopadhyay acknowledges that the love is messy and complicated, especially when one is navigating the gray area between the personal and political. As such, to call Outdated a “dating advice book for feminists” would not quite be accurate but it is a well-presented introduction to a conversation that many single, dating feminists (at least the ones that I know) have been having amongst ourselves for some time now, Outdated opens this conversation up to a broader audience, and definitely a breath of fresh air for the “dating lit” scene.

Grab some chocolate, glass of wine and a copy at Powells or Indiebooks for anytime reading.

Disclaimer:  I requested this book for review. Thankfully Keidra was able to pinch hit for me. 

* Book links are affiliate links. If you buy your book here I could make a very small amount of money that goes towards this blog by helping me purchase books for school. Thanks! 

13 February 2012

CFP: Matroreform and Motherlines Conference

Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement  (MIRCI) 

October 18-20, 2013, Toronto, ON, Canada

Matroreform, a feminist term coined by Canadian psychologist Dr. Gina Wong, is a psychological, spiritual, cognitive, and emotional reformation of mothering at an intra- and interpersonal level; is a process by which mothers reproduce a new way of mothering apart from her motherline; and it represents an holistic, sociocultural revolution of motherhood at a global level. As a transformative maternal practice of claiming motherhood power, this progressive movement to mothering includes new and empowering motherhood ethos, ideologies, rules, views, and practices apart from one's motherline and apart from dominant and normative discourses of the sacrificial and good mother. Adrienne Rich describes matrophobia as the result of a daughterhood fraught with witnessing the self-sacrificing, capitulating, and self-denial of the mother who is trapped in the oppressive bonds of conventional motherhood. These daughters attempt to extricate themselves from anything remotely close to their mother, which often includes a fear of becoming mothers themselves. Instead, through a process of matroreform, these daughters become mothers and instigate mothering practices and ideas that are right for them; thereby entering new possibilities of what it means to mother. Motherlines: Award-winning poet, author, and Jungian analyst Naomi Ruth Lowinsky notes that our mothers are the first world we know, the source of our lives and stories, and embody the mysteries of origin that tie us to the great web of kin and generation. Motherlines acknowledge the embodied experiences and knowledge/s of mother/child relationships and the responsibilities, challenges, and labour involved in motherwork.Motherline stories contain invaluable lessons and memories of mothering, as well as support for mothers.

This conference will examine the experiences and counter-experiences of matroreform and motherlines that are enduring, severed, or threadbare. We will explore the feminist, political, social/cultural, economic, historical, religious, spiritual, and psychological dimensions of these topics. We welcome submissions from scholars, academics, students, artists, mothers, daughters, and others with experience and knowledge in the areas of matroreform and motherlines. Narratives of experiences as well as cross-cultural and comparative works are encouraged. We also encourage a variety of submissions including scholarly papers from all disciplines, creative submissions, and reflective pieces such as poetry, narratives, artwork, and performance art. 

Topics may include but are not restricted to:
Mothering daughters, daughtering, motherhood and oppression, sacrificial mothering, the 'good' mother, empowered mothering, feminist mothering, queer and transgendered mothering, academic mothering, historical accounts, narratives of different mothering; disordered eating, self-esteem and confidence issues, sexual-interference; reproducing mothering, enacting mothering in bold ways, interplay of religion and economic impact of matroreform; attachment, adopting and fostering impact on motherlines, research methods to study matroreform and motherlines, mothering bodies, embodiment, and material site of maternal power and oppression; cross-cultural perspectives and experiences of matroreform/motherlines, bi-cultural identity and motherlines; social media and technology influence on matroreform; mothering in the Information Age; mothering over 40; sexual interference; gender socialization; sociocultural influences; interdisciplinary perspectives on matroreform and motherlines; matroreform and mental health, depression and postpartum depression (debate intergenerational and motherline transmission), medicalization and pathologizing mother's distress; contextualizing mother's suffering; patriarchy and male-based assumptions of women's experiences; mother-blame; counselling strategies and approaches in working to strengthen motherlines and matroreform; ways to counter mainstream ethos of mothering and motherhood. 

Keynote Speakers TBA

If you are interested in being considered as a presenter, please send a 
250 word abstract and a 50-word bio by March 15th, 2013 to 

Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI)
140 Holland St. West, PO Box 13022
Bradford, ON, L3Z 2Y5 (tel) 905-775-5215

Disclosure: I am getting a complementary membership to MIRCI and subscription to the journal in return for posting these updates. It is, however, something I would have agreed to do for free because I think their work is so wonderful.

11 February 2012

Occupy the Pews

The past week's brouhaha over religiously affiliated entities having to provide their women employees with birth control was infuriating to watch. I agree with the original stance of the White House that churches and houses of worship are exempt. But religiously affiliated hospitals and universities are different. Especially hospitals.

According to Religion & Ethics Weekly, "Catholic hospitals have become the largest nonprofit health care provider in the US, with over 600 hospitals. This year, one in six patients will be cared for in a Catholic hospital." For those of us living in large cities, we have a choice as to which hospital to use. But families who live in rural America have little, if no choice. I believe that even suburban families are also impacted.

But during the past week's "debate" over birth control, Anthony Picarello, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops general counsel finally revealed to the world their ultimate goal - no birth control. I know, I know, some of us knew this already, but it was great to hear it from their mouths and not just feminists piecing it together from other statements. His desire for even a Taco Bell owner to refuse birth control to employees based is just the ultimate.

This Sunday a letter from Chicago's Cardinal Francis George was to be read. I'm not sure if it still will be, but I suspect there will still be some sort of lecture from the pulpit about the evil of birth control as the Church is not happy with the "accommodation" the White House issued yesterday.

The last time I was at Catholic services, I'm pretty sure it was for a funeral. I grew up Catholic, but my mom made it crystal clear that we didn't go to services because of she didn't agree that "they" could tell her what to do about birth control.

But I am asking feminists who do go to Catholic services, Catholic women who use birth control and go to church on Sundays to stand up to the men in power.

Here's where Occupy the Pews comes in:

1) Go to Church as you normally do (Or if it's been awhile, consider attending)

2) When the offering basket comes around, feel free to still donate to the Church, but include a note with your donation telling the Church that you, a donating and supporting member of the Church uses birth control. Attach your name if you are so bold or not if you want anonymity. Just tell them that the women and men sitting in their pews, loves and respects the Lord, but believes in birth control as well.

3) When the lecture happens walk out. This will tell your priest that you do not agree.

These are simple and respectful ways to protest the Church leaders wanting to tell you what to do with your body. Not only that, as the statistic shows, the Catholic Church through their acquisition of hospitals is increasingly telling families of different faiths what to do with their bodies. How's that religious liberty, eh?

The Church moved pretty darn fast to protest women having access to birth control. Imagine if they moved that fast when dealing with priests who rape and abuse children?

My rule would be if a religious entity is doing religious work, their rules. But once they enter into providing services for the masses (hospitals, health care, adoptions) then they need to abide by secular law. If they don't like it, don't do it. Recently a Catholic adoption agency changed to a Christian adoption agency in order to adhere to an anti-discrimination law and retain its lucrative state contracts. So yeah, a compromise can be lived with.

And when should you Occupy the Pews? EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY that you go to Church. A Twitter friend told me that the last time there was a lecture on abortion, she walked right out. I truly believe this statement should come from those of us raised Catholic and especially from those who still regularly attend services, send children to Catholic schools and are connected to the Church.

As I said, I was raised Catholic, but didn't attend services on a regular basis. But I still have an affinity to parts of the Church. When I was in Mexico, I made it a point to visit the Basilica of Guadalupe. It's the church for the Mexican Virgin Mary. I made it a point because my in-laws asked me to "visit and just take a picture." But I believe in the positive images of the Virgin, especially a brown Virgin. When I walked into the square I was overcome with energy. I believe it was the energy of all of those around me. The love and peace was awesome. Then I walked into the old Basilica, I almost cried. I held onto my goddess necklace in prayer. Then I saw this:

The peace and love was gone. Why do they do this? According to polling done in the USA by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, "a strong majority of Latino registered voters - 74 percent - agrees  that a woman has a right to make her own personal, private decisions about abortion without politicians interfering." A display like this just offends those who believe in a woman's right to decide her own fate. Thankfully the goddess and the Virgin (some would say she's one in the same) restored the peace in my heart, but it wasn't the same.

If you do Occupy the Pews, please report back!

06 February 2012

CFP: Criminalized Mothers: Criminalizing Motherhood

Demeter Press
is seeking submissions for an edited collection
Criminalized Mothers: Criminalizing Motherhood
Co-editors: Joanne Minaker and Bryan Hogeveen  
Submission Deadline for Abstracts:June 1, 2012 
Alongside the dissemination of toxic neoliberal policies that benefit the richest segments of society, the conditions in which criminalized women mother have eroded. While the affluent savor the fruits of investment into new markets and unfettered movement of capital around the globe, the poor and marginalized find themselves subject to increasing levels of surveillance and social control strategies intended to monitor their movements and intrusively govern their conduct. In the same instant, residues of the welfare state that initially undergirded the well-being of the impoverished and marginalized crumble under the weight of a state that appears unwilling to offer any meaningful assistance. In this ethos of gross income disparities and the vilification of the most marginalized segments of society the criminal justice state manages the excess and punishes the impoverished. Males continue to constitute the vast majority of individuals dealt with by the criminal justice state. Women, especially poor and racialized females, are nevertheless the fastest growing prison population worldwide. Whether through prison, house arrest, probation or restorative justice many marginalized women and girls find themselves subjected to state sponsored controls. Many of these women and girls are mothers. We collectively know very little about the conditions and contexts under which these women care for their children. This collection examines the challenges, difficulties and successes of criminalized mothers. It will highlight innovative programs and enterprising projects that seek to carve out welcome and hospitable spaces for these women. In particular, it seeks to give a voice to marginalized women who are too often silent and silenced by systems of control. The editors seek article length contributions from scholars and practitioners from all disciplines, including (but not limited to) criminology, sociology, social legal studies, education, political science, philosophy, criminal justice studies, geography and anthropology. We are equally interested in auto-ethnographic accounts that detail the frustrations and triumphs of mothers who have experienced criminal justice interventions. Artwork, poetry and short stories are also welcome.    

Articles may examine (but are not limited to) the following topics:
Probation and mothering; mothering on house arrest; restorative justice and motherhood; mothering in the context of domestic violence; prison mother/child programs; mothering while incarcerated; criminal justice policies and motherhood; the criminalization of poverty and motherhood; addictions and mothering; mothering sex workers; criminalized girls and mothering; programs for young female offenders and their children; motherhood and risk; surveillance and mothering; ethnography; mothering on parole; racialized mothers; child welfare; foster mothering; immigrant mothers; tensions between rights and needs of children and mothers.
Submission Guidelines

Please submit 250 word abstracts and a 50 word biography and citizenship.
Deadline for abstracts: June 1, 2012. Completed chapters are due June 1, 2013
Please send submissions and inquiries directly to Joanne Minaker 
(minakerj@macewan.ca) and Bryan Hogeveen (hogeveen@ualberta.ca

Disclosure: I am getting a complementary membership to MIRCI and subscription to the journal in return for posting these updates. It is, however, something I would have agreed to do for free because I think their work is so wonderful.

02 February 2012

I'm back!

Well you'd know that if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, but hey, I'm back here!

I'm still digesting what I heard on the trip. There's a lifetime to digest. A big chunky soup of feminism, violence against women, poverty, foreign policy, privilege, language, love, pain, bravery, history, bureaucracy and tears.

Photo by Judy Rand
I did want to quickly post to say hi to everyone. And to post this fab pic of the delegation on our way to Guerrero to hear from the women of Guerrero. We started out super early, thus me wearing my glasses. A classmate asked me if I went on my trip by myself. I said, "Yes, but soon gained a bunch of sisters." After what we experienced, we are certainly bonded to each other forever.

Here are the posts that I wrote while on the delegation:


This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

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