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!!

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.