Global Feminist Dream Day…

So for those of you who don’t know I am attending the Feminist Intensive for faculty and staff in NYC hosted by Amy Richards and Jen Baumgardener…3 days of intense exposure to what feminist activism looks like right now…there are pictures and details and stories which I will post soon — but for now this was our schedule today.

9:00 AM         Orientation Breakfast with Jennifer and Amy at Equality Now
11 AM             Equality Now with Yasmeen Hassan
Yasmeen Hassan is the global director of Equality Now. Before joining the organization, Ms. Hassan was with the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women where she worked on the implementation of CEDAW and the Secretary-General’s study on violence against women. She has been involved in women’s rights since very early in her career, authoring the first study of domestic violence in Pakistan, which ultimately became Pakistan’s submission to the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995. She has written several papers and opinion editorials on the situation of women which have been published in the Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune. Ms. Hassan holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School where she studied Islamic law and women’s rights. She practiced corporate law at David Polk & Wardwell from 1995 to 2003 and clerked on the D.C. Court of Appeals from 1994 to 1995.
Equality Now works for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls around the world. Working with grassroots women’s and human rights organizations and individual activists since 1992, Equality Now documents violence and discrimination against women and mobilizes international action to support efforts to stop these abuses.
**We will travel together to our next meeting.
1 to 2:30                    Lunch with Joanne Sandler @ her home
Joanne Sandler is an independent consultant focused on women’s human rights and organizational change strategies. She is a Senior Associate of Gender@Work, an international collaborative that strengthens organizations to build cultures of equality and social justice. Between 2001-2010 she served as Executive Director at UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and helped establish UN Women in 2010. Joanne played a key role in establishing numerous initiatives including grant making funds, such as the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women and the Fund for Gender Equality; and innovative pilot programs, including Safe Cities for Women and Girls, Gender-Responsive Planning and Budgeting, and UN Women’s flagship publication,Progress of the World’s Women. Joanne has also served on boards of numerous organizations, including Breakthrough, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), and Women Make Movies. She was recently appointed to the Global Civil Society Advisory Group of UN Women.
3 PM               Women’s World Banking with Jane Sloane, Vice President of Development
Jane Sloane has held executive positions for seven marquee social sector organizations including World Vision, Marie Stopes International, International Women’s Development Agency, Austrade, World Vision, Sydney Media Centre for the Sydney Olympic Games and the Social Entrepreneurs Network. Among other citations, she has received a Churchill Fellowship to improve Humanitarian Emergency Response Models for Australia and the region after the Asian tsunami, an Australian Government Endeavour Professional Award focused on increasing Pacific women’s political participation, and is one of the original 75 Australian climate change presenters trained by Al Gore. Ms. Sloane holds a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Sydney and a BA (Hons) History from the University of Adelaide and is currently undertaking a doctorate in Public Health.
Women’s World Banking is a non-profit, microfinance institution, consisting of 39 financial organizations in 27 countries, providing low-income women access to financial services and information. WWB helps microfinance institutions move away from a strictly credit-led approach toward providing a broader array of financial products and service, including savings and insurance to help the poor build comprehensive financial safety nets.
6:30 PM         Dinner at Aurora with Robin Morgan and Irshad Manji
Irshad Manji is a New York Times bestselling author, professor of leadership and advocate of liberal reform within Islam. Irshad directs New York University’s Moral Courage Project, which teaches people worldwide to challenge political correctness, intellectual conformity and self-censorship. As a faithful Muslim, she emphasizes Islam’s own tradition of “ijtihad,” or independent thinking. The Jakarta Post in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, identifies Irshad as one of three women making a positive difference in Islam today. Her latest book, Allah, Liberty and Love, is sparking fierce debate internationally.
Robin Morgan is an award-winning poet, novelist, political theorist, feminist activist,and best-selling author, who has published more than 20 books, including the now-classic anthologies Sisterhood Is Powerful, Sisterhood Is Global, and Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women’s Anthology for A New Millennium. A founder of contemporary US feminism, she has been a leader in the international women’s movement for 25 years. She has traveled–as organizer, lecturer, journalist–across Europe, to Australia, Brazil, the Caribbean, Central America, China, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, Pacific Island nations, the Philippines, and South Africa; she has twice spent months in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, West Bank, and Gaza, reporting on the conditions of women. In 1990, as Ms. Editor-in-Chief, she re-launched the magazine as an international, award-winning, ad-free bimonthly. Recently, she co-founded The Women’s Media Center.
a day to remember…
more soon.

Fabulous Feminist Moms – because let’s face it, I’m still fuming.

The other night I noted that slamming women who choose to be stay-at-home moms is one of my pet peeves because this completely overlooks the real issues women face, i.e. being understood and understanding ourselves as valuable, capable and empowered and having access to the resources to be free to make choices. Culturally, Western thinking frames childcare as womanly or domestic work and therefore undervalues the complexity and necessity of this kind of work. (In the comments to my last rant on this topic – a good buddy of mine, Jeff Nall pointed out that Val Plumwood does a great job of detailing the fault in this type of thinking – noting that “the core features of patriarchy, including the devaluation of “domestic” duties … wants to take out lifeboats for elite women to join elite men, leaving behind the rest.”

We can’t draw lines in the sand – we can’t say she’s a republican or a christian or a stay at home mom, so she’s not a feminist. Feminism isn’t about what you think or do – it’s about the freedom and access to think and act as you desire. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of perusing Jennifer Baumgardner’s new book F ’em!: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls and the sentiments in the first few pages of this book crystallize these ideas. Baumgardner explains:

“Feminism is the full political, social and economic equality of all people…Feminism is also a movement to make sure that all people have access to enough information and resources (money, social support) to make authentic decisions about their lives. Thus, it’s not the decision one make so much as the ability to make a decision that indicates whether feminism has arrive in your life” (10).

One of the most outspoken activist/feminist minds I know, Kristen Goss is a stay-at-home mom. I am also well acquainted with some stay at home dads – who are rockin’ the world – one politically conscious child at a time. As far as I’m concerned, child care is job – a choice – often feminist choice – one which often require sacrifice and hard work for both parents – that is if one is lucky enough to be co-parenting. (No judgement here – just noting that a child is a lot of work for one person.)

Today – in a flagrant attempt to appease my own anger at those that dismiss stay at home mom’s as un-feminist, I am providing you with links to my five favorite feminist/mom bloggers. There are others but these five bring to mind Bell Hooks sentiments that Feminism is for Everyone:

1. The Feminist Breeder

2. The Radical House wife

3. Blue Milk

4. Stay at Home Feminist Mom

5. The Mamafesto

We need to support feminist parents people – because arguably they have a much greater chance of raising kids with feminist values!

Inform me – who’s your favorite feminist mom blogger?

Vagina, Vagina, Vagina!!! And Vagina Some More!

Last bit tonight, I promise. But as I imagine many of you know women’s rights are under attack and tonight the issue at hand is that the Republicans in the Michigan state legislature feel that  saying the word vagina is inappropriate – and in light of this they have banned two female state representatives. If I lived in Michigan I would be marching in front of the capitol building with some seriously fun vaginal picket signs. Alas – Michigan you are so far. Instead I will  mention this craziness to all I see and sport a Vagina pin – Thank you Zazzle.

For your reading pleasure  Jezebel  has published  response to this lunacy entitled, 25 Republican-Approved Ways to Say ‘Vagina’ Without Offending Political Pussies,” which I imagine will make you both cringe and giggle – but either way I think you should read it because while I am still I’m gonna say vagina and all the other terms that describe my body – such as vulva, clitoris, fallopian tubes, period and whatever else you can think of whenever I see fit – in the classroom, legislature, hallway, bedroom and/or supermarket – I will henceforth endearingly refer to my vagina as the lovely and illustrious Ms. Kant from now on.

Tell me Ladies – how will you respond to this throwback into the dark ages?

Update: On Military Moms Who Were Photographed Breastfeeding

If you remember – a couple of weeks ago I mentioned the two military moms who were photographed breastfeeding their children. Today a friend in the Airforce forwarded me a link to this article: “Woman Behind Military Breast Feeding Photo Fired from her Job“.  Crappy world strikes again. Boo.

Raising children is a Job. And it should be legally recognized as such…

Once again I find myself in the position of defending stay at home feminist moms. Tonight, I’m tossing around this issue because I’ve just had the unfortunate experience of reading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s article in The Atlantic entitled “1 Percent Wives Are Helping to Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible”.

Okay – just to be clear, I find Wurtzel’s brand of pithy offensive and bitterly righteous. For example, I offer up this gem: “When I meet a woman who I know is a graduate of, say, Princeton — one who has read The Second Sex and therefore ought to know better — but is still a full-time wife, I feel betrayed.” Gag. So, if I were say a graduate of Valencia Community College – but had still read Beauvoir – would I be as offensive to Wurtzel? Are only the 1% her issue because there are others who choose wife and mother.

Wurtzel argues that “there really is only one kind of equality — it precedes all the emotional hullabaloo — and it’s economic. If you can’t pay your own rent, you are not an adult. You are a dependent.” Honestly, I think there are more women who think this way than I would like to admit – but I would argue that this completely misses the issue at hand.

Culturally we worship money and power and look down our noses at compassion and care — this framework allows jobs that were traditionally categorized as masculine – doctors, lawyers, politicians, bankers etc. – to be viewed as more prestigious than jobs that were and are still often fulfilled by women – elementary education, child care, nursing, secretarial work and of course mothering. In other words – men – and women enacting roles that were traditionally held by men are seen as more empowered.

This of course leaves stay at home moms sitting on their couches, eating bonbons and doing nothing of importance, which is ridiculous. Raising/rearing children is valuable and needed. The issue is not that women shouldn’t choose to stay home, if they so desire, but rather that the culture does not recognize the value in this endeavor – and reward or respond financially. At Rollins College in Winter Park, FL (my alma mater) I once heard Gloria Steinem say that perhaps the best way to deal with this issue was to work within the system and offer a tax benefit/deduction of some kind for women who choose to take on the challenge of staying home to raise their children – sounds like an awesome solution to me.

I know this is one of my favorite rants – but feminism is about choice and social justice for all people. ARGH!

P.S. Thank You, Mom. You’re fabulous and I treasure the fact that you poured your heart and soul into raising me.

Have you Heard about Feminist Frequency?

Anna Curran – the founder of and a very good friend of mine, for like ever, mentioned a feminist kickstarter phenomena to me – Tropes vs. Women in video games. No need to contribute your pennies – Anita Sarkeesian – the project’s creator has more that reached her goal – raising $120,000+ (She was hoping to raise $6000 – yeah kickstarter!!)

It’s also worth mentioning that Sarkeesian’s website is an invaluable resource for feminist educators and thinkers – and really anyone who wants to think critically about representations of gender in the media.

The Education of Shelby Knox – Better Late Then Never…

The Education of Shelby Knox  (2005) is a must see. The film documents the  activism of teenager Shelby Knox’s and her fight for the right to comprehensive sex education for teenagers and for  basic civil rights for all people no matter their sexual orientation is inspirational. Knox’s struggle is of particular interest because of her conservative christian/ republican upbringing in Lubbock, TX.

Proving that you are never to young to speak up and speak out, Knox shines as a genuine critical-thinker who examines the moral framework of her upbringing and finds it lacking – noting that her god is a forgiving and loving god. Knox’s determination and endless pursuit of social justice reminds viewers why we need voices and activism.

In all honesty – I am late in the game on this one. I should have seen it six years ago, but it is still worth watching. For those of you who have Netflix – the film is available through instant watch or you can buy it on Amazon. And if you don’t know – Shelby is still out there fighting her fight. You can find her blog at and her twitter handle is @ShelbyKnox.