Feminism, Politics

BI-PARTISAN BILL RE-OPENS DRIVE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT

No human rights, without women’s rights.

Thank you NJ Senator Lautenberg!!

United 4 Equality (U4E)

human rights FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Washington, DC – MAY 09, 2013

CONTACT: Carolyn Cook, Founder/CEO, United 4 Equality, LLC
ccook@united4equality.com / 202-309-1963
For more information: http://www.united4equality.com

WASHINGTON, DC—Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Mark Kirk )R-IL) today introduce legislation to remove the Congressionally-imposed deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The bill will be introduced today, May 09, 2013 to coincide with Mother’s Day celebrations across the country. The Equal Rights Amendment has been ratified by 35 of the 38 states necessary to become part of the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women equal treatment by federal and state laws and in the courts.

The original amendment debuted in 1923 in the US Congress without a time limit, introduced by Susan B. Anthony’s nephew, Daniel Anthony and Senator Curtis, both Republicans, as the “Lucretia Mott Amendment” after the woman who started the women’s suffrage movement. The amendment was introduced in every session of…

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et al, Feminism

Drunk with Satisfaction, #FemFuture

I’ve had the desire to create change [work] for the greater good since I was a child. While in college, this need exploded. Boston has that effect on young impressionable students.  It’s a hot-bed of intellectual, liberal politics. I volunteered for political campaigns, for women’s organizations, environmental campaigns, Rosie’s Place and AIDS Action Committee. My greater good has taken many forms, most of which have been reflected at least once in this blog. It’s  women’s empowerment, environmentalism, health/wellness all rolled into one. It’s why I self describe as a tree-hugging, feminist yogini.

My father used to tell me I was born to work for nothing be a volunteer and “you can’t pay student loans working for nothing.” But to me, working for something always meant more than a paycheck.  Ultimately, it’s the reason I went to law school. I thought I could simply skip out on the “work for free, pay your dues” part of the feminist or environmental movements out there and jump right into a management paid position. Oh how naive I was. There is no such thing as skipping out on the work-for-free rung of the non-profit/social movement ladder. It’s imbedded in the hierarchy of social movement.

For what seems like the majority of my adult life I dreamed of creating an organization.  One dedicated to women’s empowerment, to educating and inspiring and transforming lives of women so they could in turn transform their communities.  My contribution to the world.  That dream is how I connected with my former business partner. We gave it a name, The Odonata Project.  And for one brief moment, it almost came to life.  Sadly, it was set aside due to finances. {You can’t work for free, Terra}  Reality dictates that you have to pay the bills before you can change the world. It’s self preservation. So while the dream now has a name, it still sleeps.

Odonata, the order of the dragonfly, representing transformation

Every so often I stumble upon a woman’s organization that I was not previously familiar with doing the work I think The Odonata Project is destine to do.  I dig a little deeper into their website, connect with their mission and values and realize this one is a little different. It’s not The Odonata Project with another name. {My dream still has hope} I join their mailing list and send them a $10 contribution. Over the years, I have joined too many mailing lists to count and contributed hundreds of dollars to missions centered somewhere in women’s empowerment.  All of them doing the same thing, just a little differently.  All of them struggling. Scraping, begging, fundraising for the dollars for next year’s budget. Dreaming of what they could do if they really had the money.

Last week I read #FemFuture: Online Revolution.  As I read it, I fell a little more in love with Vanessa and Courtney (co-editors of Feministing.com) and the #FemFuture movement.   I am starting to get the idea that the Universe is gently coaxing me into the intersection of feminism and digital media.  While I want to blather on about the awesomesauce that is the #Femfuture report, feminism, digital media and my path, I’ll do it another day. Right now, I really need to highlight the the gem found on page 21: Debating the Non-Profit Model. And of course, they cited a recent Tedx Talk (everything brilliant is run through TedX these days). It’s an awesome talk, only 18 minutes long. Take a break and watch it!:

This resonates with me so deeply. It’s a really interesting piece to my puzzle (for which I am perpetually putting together). Before I left LBG, I was hell bent on making it a social enterprise. I was obsessed with the business models of Toms Shoes and Sevenly. I didn’t (and don’t) believe that business should only be there to make a profit (or simply pay back investors). There has to be a bigger picture.  {I’m a very bad capitalist, I know} We have a duty to give back to our community or to a cause that effects us in distinct, tangible ways. That belief is why I am so married to my NPO dream. It’s why LBG eventually (in hindsight) proved to be so very dissatisfying. Producing tees seemed trivial. To truly thrive, I need to make change. Before I stepped down,  I created a charitable program and forged relationships with three major women’s organizations to cross promote and fund-raise for their cause(s). It put a purpose behind just producing tees for me. (Unfortunately, The program wasn’t a priority for my business partner and since I left the program has not come to fruition).

My satisfaction requires the purpose.

In our culture, the idea that an NPO can make money or that a private corporation should {be required to} give  a certain amount away back is a little earth shattering. Dan Pallotta explained it perfectly in his talk (above) it’s the remnants of our puritan, Calvinist ways. I agree with Dan, we need to get the hell over it.  I am so grateful that I read every word in the #FemFuture Online Revolution white paper and found the tidbit on the NPO model and Dan Pallotta’s Ted Talk.   It has fired me up about my “non-profit” dream, or the evolution of whatever it may become again. Perhaps The Odonata Project  is the name for #FemFuture’s proposition of a strategic plan for the coalition of the feminist movement.

Planning, conspiring, mind-mapping, jamming on ideas to make something great these are the things that make me drunk with satisfaction.

Feminism

Happy Equal Pay Day

Are YOU making an equal amount to your male counterpart in your place of employment? I know I am not.  I have greater academic credentials and I am licensed.  Sadly, I also have boobs.

This gap was unknown to me when I was hired.  You best believe I am going to bring it up next month during my review!

The Lily Leadbetter Act is awesome and important – it gives us the right to file equal-pay lawsuits, but it’s not enough. It shouldn’t take a lawsuit for a woman to receive equal pay. How about we just do it right the first time around?  Equal pay for Equal work – it’s not rocket science.

“Each year, National Equal Pay Day reflects how far into the current year women must work to match what men earned in the previous year.” – US Department of Labor

Awesome infographic from Nerdwallet:

Spirit Airlines' Passenger Usage Fee
Via: NerdWallet

Now, get off your unequal ass (with me) and lets do something about that pay gap!!

Feminism

You’ve Been F-Bombed…

People have been dropping a lot of bombs lately. My inspirational Girl Friday, Taraleigh drops Kindness + Joy Bombs. Danielle drops bad ass Truth Bombs. All these amazing, be better warm, fuzzy, kick-your-life-up-a-notch-bombs.

F-Bomb

And lately, I’ve just been dropping f-bombs.

Can you tell my yoga practice is on the decline? </3

I grew up in a household where the only reason a person swore was because “they didn’t have an adequate vocabulary to articulate their thoughts and feelings.” The irony? I’ve always had a potty mouth. The first time I dropped the f-bomb to my mom I was 8 years old. I very swiftly ate a bar of Ivory soap. I have never heard her say so much as shit. The dirtiest she’s ever gone was son of a biscuit. I have no clue where it came from.

My Pop has a bit of a loose vocabulary, now. But he didn’t when I was a kid and it’s definitely not as strong as mine. I really have no idea where it came from or what the catalyst was for my f-bomb prowess. Perhaps I was a sailor in a former life? Or maybe just saying the word fuck makes me feel powerful? The thing about the word fuck is that it’s decidedly not feminine and certainly not “ladylike.”

Fuck is gender biased.

And because of that, I am going to continue to use it appropriately (in my own subjective opinion). I don’t drop the f-bomb in every post. Just like I don’t drop it in every conversation and certainly not in front of my mother, my in laws, or in any professional setting. There is a time and a place. For me, it’s usually when I’m really pissed off about something. Apparently in the last few updates I’ve been pissed off.

If dropping the f-bomb in my posts offends you, let me know. I can’t promise I’ll stop using it, but I like to know how sensitive my readers are.

Advocacy, Feminism

So you’re tired of hearing about “rape culture”?

Just read it…and don’t stop talking. The conversation must go on until the problem is resolved.

Rethink the Rant

TRIGGER WARNING:

The following includes descriptions, photos, and video that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence.
Please be advised. 

Someone asked me today, “What is ‘rape culture’ anyway? I’m tired of hearing about it.”

Yeah, I hear ya. I’m tired of talking about it. But I’m going to keep talking about it because people like you keep asking that question.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, no one says, “Stop.”

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, they can’t get anyone to come forward.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and adults are informed of it, but no consequences are doled out because the boys “said nothing happened.”

Rape culture is when a group…

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Advocacy, Feminism

Thoughts on Stubenville

Yesterday, the verdict for the Stubenville rape case came out.  I was shocked and disappointed in the 1 & 2 year sentences the rapists received. Today I am physically nauseated. I can’t wrap my brain around the reaction and create full sentences. I am stupefied. I am disgusted by the rape culture that our society embraces. I am disturbed by the slut shaming and the twisted way the media has created victims out of criminals.  It makes me want to crumple into a ball and cry. To just give up and surrender defeat.

I am dazed and confused in the overwhelm. When confronted with this type of  overwhelm; at the vastness of the problem to you act or lay down in defeat? Do you lick your wounds in the corner and try not to make a sound? Do you pretend it never happened, smile and embrace the fact that tomorrow is a new day?  Do you keep it to yourself?  (Do these questions sound all too familiar????????)

In grappling with these questions I’m moving from overwhelm and sorrow to anger.  I am pissed off.   I want to jump up, punch the rape apologists in the face and give a hearty FUCK YOU  to the media outlets (CNN, ABC, NBC and USA Today…and especially Fox News for outing the victim).

We can’t give up.  We can’t let overwhelm feed apathy. We have to continue.  We have to fight. To change one mind at a time.  We have to BE the change.

Advocacy, Feminism, Inspiration

Fired Up for Women

VAWA Passes

Today the Violence Against Women Act passed.  286 to 138. The 138 that voted against it were all Republicans. Remind me again how any woman can be a member of this party in its current form?  Come on Republicans! Take back your party from the right wing nut jobs. They are ruining it for you!

Yes, I am a liberal. Yes, I am a feminist. Yes, I am a Green Party member. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a intelligent, sane, fiscally conservative Republican. It doesn’t mean I refused to work with those on the other side to come up with something better than the status quo. I know that ideas can’t operate in a vacuum.  We learn more and make greater progress when someone is questioning our beliefs and ideology. It forces us to be concise, understand our position from the inside and out and view things from a different perspective.  Surround yourself with the same thoughts and nothing new will arise. Creativity and innovation require diversity. In order for any innovation evolution to actually occur, the people in opposite corners can’t be irrational wackjobs!! When we are so pigeon holed into our own beliefs we can’t see the sunlight, we are actually moving backwards, not fowards. This is today’s political deadlock.

Last night I watched Makers. Loved it. Loved every second of it.  I want to watch documentaries like that every single day. I couldn’t love Gloria Steinem and Hilary Clinton any more than I already do. It was interesting to be reminded that the Religious Right was birthed from the feminist movement. I always forget the connection. Phyllis Schlafly makes me so bitter.  Watching the movie reminded me so much of my college days. Working for Planned Parenthood, volunteering for NOW, feeling fired up, feeling strong, feeling like a bad ass chick. All. The. Time.

But right now I feel an immense sense of disappointment and failure. I was so very active in college. And then I did nothing. I started writing checks and buying memberships. I turned into a passive activist. I am the youth of the 90s that ended up taking things for granted.  I got complacent.  At the same time, part of me feels a little bit betrayed. I’m a member of this weird Third Wave feminist generation. As a daughter of the 70s I had the opportunity to go to college, I even played sports in college.  I reaped the benefits of their blood, sweat and tears. I was taught I could have it all.  My education is rich, my career path diverse and now, here I am thinking about family when it in fact may be too late. tick tock tick tock. You just may have spent too much time basking in your independence to actually start a family. Would I take it all back and give up liberation? Never. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

And the pendulum swings again.

Is the third wave of feminism over? Or are we simply evolving into someone, something new? There is so much work to do. The Women’s Liberation movement was just the beginning. If you think the fight is over, you’re wrong. We’re far from equal. I am employed at a public university with one of the best Women’s Studies departments in the country. We have a world  renowned Institute for Women’s Leadership (I actually got the opportunity to interview the Director last week- great stuff). Yet, I just found out that the male counterpart in my office makes 10K more than I do. We do the same exact job. This isn’t a big secret. We’re State employees, our salaries are posted on line to the public. It never crossed my mind when I accepted my job that I could possibly be anything less than equal. If you dig deeper it gets worse, the disparity in upper management, the tenured vs. non tenured professors…it’s shocking. The irony is a tough pill to swallow. The  Institute for Women’s Leadership has received private and federal grants to research women in leadership and gender workplace issues. Too bad they’re not contacting their own HR department.

There is so much more to do, locally, nationally and globally. It’s overwhelming, but when women gather together, there is no doubt we will change the world.  I am so inspired by the youth of today. They’re not lazy or passive. They have a big task to build upon what my mothers and third wave couldn’t finish. I love the explosion of feminist pride in social media (Twitter Youth Feminist Army, #Thankafeminist, unpacking the f word and so many more!).  All this women’s energy has helped me to get clear about a number of things in my life right now; my research direction, my commitment to volunteering with Phi Sigma Sigma and a commitment to stop being a passive activist.  It’s time to get fired up again.

Advocacy, Feminism

Top 5 Celebrity Chicks that Rock My World

Women don’t give enough props to other women. I crush on girls all. the. time. It’s got nothing to do with sexuality, get your small minds out of the gutter. It’s everything to do with seeing attractive qualities in another. Sometimes they are qualities I wish I had. Sometimes I just think, wow, girl you are fierce!  This is just my celebrity list. One day I might get to my internet pseudo-celebrity list, just not today.

So in no particular order….

Ashley Judd

JUDD 2014

I don’t care what you say, this woman is EXCEPTIONAL. I first fell in love with Ashley Judd, not as a starlet, but for her political activism.  It was love at first sight when I heard her speak at the March for Women’s Lives in 2004. She blew me away then and I think she’s still a stunning example of a feminist activist. I certainly hope she runs for Senate in Kentucky in 2014. I would move there just to vote for her!

Jenny McCarthy

Jenny McCarthy

My crush on Jennie goes back to MTV’s first dating programming, Singled Out with Chris Hardwick. I loved how a blonde could have such sharp whit and humor. Yes, she was a playboy bunny, but even playing the part of bimbo co-host she was intelligent and hysterical.  I love her even more for her heart felt activism. Regardless of the vaccination debate, Jenny put awareness for autism-spectrum children on the map. She’s goofy, she’s gorgeous, she’s determined and she’s a fierce momma bear.

Rachel Maddow

I want to be besties with Rachel Maddow SO BADLY

My husband is a financial advisor. He’s got the news on 24/7. Every night I would come home to Rachel. As background noise, it drove me crazy. When I actually started listening to her she catapulted up the girl crush list. She’s liberal, she’s gay and she’s unapologetic for her beliefs. She’s an outspoken feminist.  She’s not simply a TV personality on MSNBC. The woman is SMART. She has a Ph.D in Philosophy from Oxford. Oh and she’s a dog lover.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda – circe 1950-60 something.

When I was a kid, I remember my father hating her. He was a Viet Nam Vet, and used to call her GI Jane. I never got it.  I just knew she was the lady on my mom’s exercise videos. When I grew up, went to college and got more than a high school history lesson on the Viet Nam war, I understood it….but I didn’t agree with it.  Her activist resume is extensive and I just love her because she’s an opinionated, mouthy broad with class. (Confession: I own a VHS copy of Barbarella).

Tina Fey

Ms Bossypants.

She had me at SNL with her humor. She kept me with her book, Bossypants.  From one bossypants to another, I got it. I have so much respect for a woman who does more than make it in a seriously male dominated industry.

Honorable mentions go to:
Jada Pinket Smith
Julia Stiles
Janeane Garafolo
Geena Davis
Reese Witherspoon
Hilary Swank

My list seems to make it apparent, I like the funny, feminist ladies!

Who do you celebrity girl crush on?

Feminism, Inspiration

Cosmic Sisterhood

Kris Carr posted a great blog update Sorry. No. Thank You… this morning.  She hit the nail on the head. Women can often be afraid of their power. Afraid of their unique identity and afraid of simply being themselves. So often we try to act smaller than who we are or what we feel. We do this by apologizing for pretty much everything. And every time we apologize we lose a little of our power.  She summed it up by saying: When I get clear on the why’s behind my sorry’s, no’s and thank you’s, I get clear on who and what needs to be embraced or released. I make room for more living and less second-guessing, more truth and less explaining, more relief and less regret.

V-Rings by Beth Kaya Design
V-Rings by Beth Kaya Design

She had no idea how timely this article was.

It’s like Saturday’s fully moon was some sort of cosmic sisterhood when  just before midnight we reached our hands together committing ourselves to our own brand of unique and our own form of power, tied together through sisterhood and the artistic wire wrappings of Beth Kaya Designs.

Do you need something a little less cryptic?

Saturday evening I hit the turnpike north and headed to Jersey City to meet up with a few less than 20 amazing women that traveled from all over the East Coast and New England. Simply to get together, to be in the presence of other women.

Women connect on different levels. I connect to these particular women, my Vibe Tribe Ladies, through our intense love of live music, festivals (Gathering of the Vibes, in particular), and the jam band scene. We’re from all over the US and often only catch up in person on lot or the dance floor (usually with a gaggle of other friends and our respective significant others). I am lucky to have shared some pretty great life experiences with these ladies.

When you find women you authentically connect with, surround yourself with their energy as often as possible!  <~~ TWEET IT!

A few years ago, we decided to have a Gathering of the Vaginas. Ladies Only.  No live music. No significant others. No distractions. Just Ladies, dinner and cocktails.  A slumber party for 20-40 somethings. We have since turned it into a semi-annual event.  I hosted one the first year I moved to Jersey. I will never forget the look on Stephen’s face when he walked in around 8pm to deliver another bottle of tequila. We had only been dating for a few months. I think one of my friends was actually wearing an Instead Soft Cup on her head.  Needless to say, he dropped the tequila and ran.

Connecting the dots back to Kris Carr, on Saturday night. The living room was filled with laughter and oddly enough, echos of “I’m Sorry.”  We laughed about it and the conversation evolved and we came to the same conclusion as Kris. We use the words “I’m Sorry” too often.  As women, we need to let go of guilt or the need to be anything less than we actually are.  Say I’m sorry when it is required, but stop apologizing for being who you are.

I am not sorry for my feelings.
I am not sorry for my thought process.
I am not sorry for  the changes I make in my life.
I am not sorry for life evolving and for friendships shifting.
I am definitely NOT sorry for the the woman I have become.

And for that night, we made a decision. Anytime the words “I’m sorry” were uttered without true reason, you had to drink. You would be shocked to learn how many drinks were consumed.

*The picture above is actually a picture taken on Saturday night.
Advocacy, Environmentalism, Feminism

Scanning, Dabbling and Changing the World…

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is more for my own brain dumping edification than for your entertainment. 

Since early college, I wanted to work in/run a non-profit organization. I majored in political communication/campaign management an minored in women’s studies with that intent. I fell in love with Marian Wright Eddleman, Gloria Steinem and Sarah Weddington.  I volunteered  for various women’s groups, political candidates and environmental organizations. I continued volunteering after college while supporting myself by waitressing. And I kept having recurring conversations with my parents that always ended with “you have to get a real job”  “you can’t work for nothing” “you can’t volunteer forever”

So I stopped my volunteer work and went to law school. I think my intention was to skip the trenches (unpaid) and jump to the executive (paid) levels in the non-profit/campaign world. I thought that the letters after my name would get me there (rather than the paying the time + dues + dirty work). Of course, I was wrong. Accordingly, I have never been able to actually land a job with a NPO or campaign that I actually believe in and have passion for.

I have dabbled in all the little things I believe in or want to advocate for without actually fully committing to that profession.

I went to law school because I thought it would open the door to work in Non-profits.  I got an LLM in environmental law, because I  wanted to work in environmental advocacy. I got certified as a yoga instructor because I believe in and want to advocate for the balance of body + mind + spirit. I got certified as a holistic health coach because I believe in and want to advocate for natural, whole foods and a healthy lifestyle in balance with nature and the earth’s cycles. I got certified as a birth doula because I believe in and want to advocate for a woman’s choice for natural birth without unnecessary medical intervention. I trained in Mayan Abdominal Massage because I think every woman should intimately know (and be able to take charge of) how her body works.

I never really wanted to be a lawyer. I never wanted to teach yoga (though I love doing so). I never wanted to be a health coach.  I never really wanted to be a doula, I never wanted to give abdominal massages.  I just wanted to learn. I just wanted to have the knowledge to be able to credibly advocate by/for/about these things.

There is a (ridiculous) saying – those who can’t do, teach. I think the saying should be those who are afraid to do, continue to learn.  I am stuck in a perpetual cycle of learning. Am I afraid of doing?

There has to be a bit of fear in there somewhere… The fear of not being able to find the job that satiates me, not being able to make a living at that job, not being able to make a difference.  The common denominator to those fears, is insecurity, it’s the fear of not being good enough. Not being flexible enough, peaceful enough, healthy enough, strong enough, inspirational enough, articulate enough, just not enough.

My own perception of competition terrifies me.  There are millions of yoga teachers, health coaches, business coaches, life coaches out there. There are 1000s of non-profit organizations designed to save the environment, empower women and fight for healthy options. The idea of having to be as good as any one of them terrifies me.  What will make me unique? What will make what I do special? Stand out? Make a difference without taking away from something or someone else?

I’ve read the Fire Starter Sessions, I’ve read A Course In Miracles, I’ve gone through B-school, I’ve Dream Mapped, I’ve Surrenderd. I am well versed in the laws of attraction and abundance and theoretically understand that there is plenty for everyone and the right “clients” are out there for me. But I still can’t seem to move past the fear of not being as good as XYZ. I’ve been a passive participant in all of it, without truly taking action.

Part of the problem is understanding my big crazy dream, inside and out.  I can’t narrow it down. I can’t pick just one thing.  It’s so large and vast.  I think the common thread in all of it is advocacy on one level or another for the diverse things I am passionate about.

  • I want to create an advocacy think-tank that serves non-profit, heart centered or purpose driven organizations. I want to design + create their campaigns, their branding, and their message.
  • I want to run a non-profit organization that DOES GOOD and that SERVES. But what good things and what service, I don’t know.
  • I physically want to create things using my hands. Dig in the dirt. Recycle, re-purpose, build.

What does all of this mean? How does it all come together? Where is the clarity?

I bring all of this up because as a graduate student, working toward my Ph.D, I need to make a choice. I need to hone in on a research topic. A subject. A field to become an expert in.  I have had meetings with professors in the Political Science, Digital Media, Communications and Public Policy departments.  I am somewhere between ecofeminism, the rhetoric of advocacy, branding for non-profits and campaigns and environmental communication. How do I pull it all together?  I want to smash the fluffy-bunny-wiccan-men-hating paradigm attached to the ecofeminist movement, to write a revised manifesto for MODERN Ecofeminism.  I want to understand the rhetoric that makes a campaign successful and tell PETA, “you’re doing it wrong.” I want to be the person that designs the words to tell the world “economic growth isn’t compatible with environmental protection, but here’s how we can do better. This is how we fix it.”  I want to start a movement that’s bigger than a Facebook group or a Google + Community that is true high-risk activism.  I want to scream at the online generation that Social Networks are making us apathetic.  CLICKING LIKE isn’t going to change the world. You have to get up off your ass to do that!  I want to be the David that slays Monsanto.

I want to put it in my mouth, chew on it and come up with a thesis statement.