Friday, May 30, 2008
First, an interesting article by Paul Nyhan in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, reporting that the gap between the demands of work and home in 2008 remains wide, far wider for those sitting on the bottom and in the middle of the wage scale, according to Virginia Rutter, a senior fellow with Council on Contemporary Families. They have less money for child care and often face meager benefits at work.
In another twist, older moms are more likely to keep working after having children than younger moms, according to an analysis of federal data by former Bureau of Labor Statistics economist Charlotte Yee. In 2004, 67 percent of moms age 30 to 44 were in the labor force after having their first child, compared with 56 percent of moms in the 20 to 24 age range.
And finally, a propos of this weekend's grand opening of Sex and the City, a Slate article reports that one of the three married mommies innocently trailing their little tyke is cheating. Wowza. The data comes from a new "Sex and the American Mom" survey conducted by Cookie magazine and AOL Body and apparently filled in by 30,000 women. Researchers, does this data ring true?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
To learn more about Elaine and her oevre--which includes the groundbreaking book Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era--click here.
Dear Friends (and friends of friends…),
The Pill is often considered one of the most important innovations of the twentieth century. As I investigate this claim for a new book—set for release on the 50th anniversary of the Pill’s FDA approval (Basic Books, 2010)—I’m looking to include the voices and stories of real people. I hope yours will be one of them. I’m eager to hear from men as well as women, of all ages and backgrounds.
Have you or any of your partners taken the Pill? Why or why not? How did it work for you—physically, emotionally, and ethically? How has it compared with other contraceptive methods you or your partners have used?
· What has been the impact of the Pill on your sex life, relationships, political or social attitudes, and beliefs about the medical or pharmaceutical establishments?
· Do you have opinions about public policies related to access, availability, approval or limitations on the development and distribution of the Pill and related contraceptive products (the patch, the “morning after pill,” long-term injections, etc.).
· Anything else you think I should know?
Send me your most richly detailed answers to any and all of these questions (and don’t forget to include your age, gender, where you live, occupation, ethnic/religious/racial background, sexual orientation, marital status, political party affiliation, or any other biographical info you think is important). If you would like to participate in my study but would prefer to respond to a questionnaire, please let me know and I will happily send you one.
I’m interested in hearing from men and women who have used the Pill and those who have not, those who used it briefly or a long time ago, or who use it now. I am also eager to hear from people who work in fields that relate to the use and availability of the Pill (such as medicine, public health, social work, education, etc.). You will remain anonymous. I will use your contact information only to respond to you directly and to let you know when the book will be available for purchase (at a discount to contributors!).
And just one more thing. I not only want to hear your voice, but the voices of those you love, teach, preach to, learn from, and work with.
Please pass this request on! The more responses I receive, and the greater the diversity of respondents, the more the book will reflect the wide range of experiences and attitudes that have shaped the Pill’s history over the last half century. I hope to hear from you. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks very much! Elaine Tyler May
...But I'm curious. What do others think? Rhetorical question perhaps, but is this why folks turn to midwives? Do they use different language over there?
In the popular realm:
Check out this clever response to the blogger takeover of prime old media real estate by my gal Alissa Quart over at CJR. "Take back the word count," cries Q.
And this one, by Salon's Rebecca Traister, which urges, "So rather than being troubled by the fact that Gould -- or Bushnell, or Bradshaw, or whoever -- has the spotlight, why not question why so few other versions of femininity are allowed to share it?"
What she said.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
So here's a little shout out to my writers' group, which is named Matilda, after the cat at the Algonquin Hotel, which is where we had our first meeting. And a shout out, too, to the Invisible Institute, my other writers group, which has been meeting now for 4 years. Yes, I am in two of these groups. Because writing groups keep me going, and this girl just can't get enough.
And while I'm at it, a shout out to all the writers groups and communities out there that keep us writers going. Writing is SO much better when not tried alone.
Young Women's Ethical Leadership Retreat (NY)
June 6-8, 2008
June Dinner Seminar (NYC)
June 18, 2008
Young Women's Ethical Leadership Retreat (CA)
June 13-15, 2008
June Dinner Seminar
June 18, 2008
Raise Your Voices: An Intensive Non-Fiction Writing Retreat for Women (NY)
July 11-13, 2008 - Hey - I'm teaching at this one! Join me there?!
Young Women's Ethical Leadership Retreat (NY)
August 8-10, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The discussion guide is available for download at GoLeft.org, where visitors also find blog posts tackling the day's progressive issues and how they relate to current goings-on in the world of pop culture. I like the flavor of their news page and wonder if it's possible to get it yet as a feed. Hmm.
Friday, May 23, 2008
I'm taking off for the weekend soon and before I go, I wanted to leave you with the new video from the Women's Media Center. Do check it out. It's well done. I particularly like the creepy music and the sassy quotes interlaid with the medley of media clips.
Says Carol Jenkins,
"As our new video shows, the media's sexism is not specific to a candidate or campaign. But the presence of a woman, front and center on the national political stage, has sent shockwaves through a media grappling with ongoing problems of diversity. Hillary Clinton's campaign has cast a spotlight on the institutionalized sexism that The Women's Media Center was founded in 2005 to combat, providing us with a unique moment to examine ourselves and the media we consume."
Here's word on the book from Publisher's Weekly:
We've all seen it--the tiny T-shirts with sexually suggestive slogans, the four-year-old gyrating to a Britney Spears song, the young boy shooting prostitutes in his video game--and...Durham has had enough. In her debut book, she argues that the media--from advertisements to Seventeen magazine--are circulating damaging myths that distort, undermine and restrict girls' sexual progress. Durham, who describes herself as "pro-girl" and "pro-media," does more than criticize profit-driven media, recognizing as part of the problem Americans' contradictory willingness to view sexualized ad images but not to talk about sex. Chapters expose five media myths: that by flaunting her "hotness" a little girl is acting powerfully; that Barbie has the ideal body; that children--especially little girls--are sexy; that violence against women is sexy; and that girls must learn what boys want, but not vice versa. After debunking each myth, Durham offers practical suggestions for overcoming these falsehoods, including sample questions for parents and children. In a well-written and well-researched book, she exposes a troubling phenomenon and calls readers to action.May this book--and its message--travel far and wide. For Salon's review, click here.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
In 1992, you may recall, the AAUW released a landmark report on how girls are shortchanged in the classroom, causing a national debate over gender equity. Then came the Christina Hoff Sommers of the world, arguing that efforts to help girls have come at boys' expense. Echoing research released two years ago by the American Council on Education and other groups, the new report says that while girls have for years graduated from high school and college at a higher rate than boys, the largest disparities in educational achievement are not between boys and girls, but between those of different races, ethnicities and income levels.
The AAUW report looks at many indicators of educational achievement, including dropout and disciplinary rates. It analyzes data from SAT and ACT college entrance exams and the National Assessment of Education Progress, known as the nation's report card, as well as federal statistics about college attendance, earned degrees and other measures of achievement. Researchers concluded that:
-- A literacy gap in favor of girls is not new, nor is it increasing. Over the past three decades, the reading gap favoring girls on NAEP has narrowed or stayed the same. Nine-year-old boys scored higher than ever on the reading assessment in 2004; scores for 13- and 17-year-old boys were higher or not much different from scores in the 1970s. A gender gap still exists favoring boys in math, especially among 17-year-olds on the NAEP.
-- The percentages of students scoring at higher levels of proficiency on the NAEP are rising for both boys and girls.
-- Students from lower-income families -- families with incomes of $37,000 or less -- are less likely to be proficient in math and reading. Gender differences vary significantly by race and ethnicity.
-- There is virtually no gap between boys and girls entering college immediately after high school.
AAUW's study does show female students outperforming male students in some measures. Women have earned 57 percent of bachelor's degrees since 1982 and outperformed boys on high school grade-point averages. In 2005, male students had a GPA of 2.86 and girls, 3.09.
From 1978 to 2004, among students age 13 and 17, white males scored higher on average than white females on 10 of 18 tests. For Hispanic students, 13- and 17-year-old males outscored females on three of the 18 tests. There was no gap among African American girls and boys.
Check out coverage in the Washington Post as well (No Crisis For Boys In Schools, Study Says: Academic Success Linked to Income).
Yes, boys are in trouble. But up with girls does not mean down with boys. Copy that? Let's hope this new study might put that silly argument to rest.
Traveling around, I've observed that far too often, otherwise visionary female thinkers can overlook an essential aspect of their work: getting it online and building a virtual community around it. Sometimes the obstacles are generational. Other times, it’s a matter of Technology Overwhelm. But getting more of you to embrace the digital tools that will help you think in public is a mission I feel passionately about. (You can read more about my philosophy and approach at the New York Times, the Women's Media Center, and in On Campus with Women.)
And so, the consulting team over here at GWP has decided to get concrete by offering some online platform consulting. Here's the deal: In tailored individual or small group sessions, Girl w/ Pen Consulting demystifies the elements that go into creating a successful individual or organizational presence online. The ideal client for this kind of coaching is a thought leader, author, advocate, philanthropist, or social entrepreneur who is ready to migrate her real-world activities online, expand her reach, connect more directly with a broader audience, and is hungry for hands-on training. Sessions can take place one-on-one or in small groups, depending on clients' needs.
In today’s crowded marketplace of ideas, an “online platform” is no longer an add-on. It’s a necessity, both virtual and real. Ready to join me?! For more info about how this coaching works, please feel free to email me at email@example.com and I'll tell you more.
She Just Might Be President Someday
5/18/08 - NY Times: A specific composite of Madam President is suggested by political strategists and talent scouts, politicians and those who study women in politics. It is based as much on the lessons of the Clinton candidacy as on the enduring truths of politics and the number and variety of women who dot the leadership landscape.
5/16/08 - Washington Post: At some point along the way, Hillary Clinton became "poor Hillary" and it stuck.
5/21/08 - International Herald Tribune: Carmé Chacón, who began leave Tuesday after giving birth to a boy, became an instant symbol of the Socialist government's commitment to gender parity in Spain, a traditionally macho society whose new equality laws are among the most progressive in Europe.
Sierra Leone: Can Women Make a Difference in the Local Government?
5/20/08 - AllAfrica.com: As the July 5 Sierra Leone local council elections are drawing nearer, a low turn out of women to contest the elections has been observed.
First Aussie Female Bishop 'A Milestone'
5/21/08 - Sydney Morning Herald: The consecration of Australia's first woman Bishop in Perth on Thursday has been hailed as a major step in overcoming discrimination against women.
This national study of employers with 50 or more employees is the largest and most comprehensive study of the programs, policies, and benefits designed to respond to the changing workforce. The report includes this interesting tidbit related to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): 22% of employers offer more than the 12 weeks of mandated maternity leave, yet 18 to 21% of all employers surveyed appear to be out of compliance with FMLA.
For more, you can download the report at www.familiesandwork.org.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
An Inter-gender, Intra-generational Conversation
Taking my view that it’s better to dialogue than snipe to the streets, I found someone even younger than me (age 24) to talk about Hillary’s candidacy. That person? My brother, Andrew, who’s 17 and one of the only Hillary supporters in his high school. As an Obama fan myself, I think it’s possible both to be a feminist and to not support this particular female candidate. But after speaking with Andrew about his classmates’ take on a woman president, I almost wanted to switch teams.
Kristen: So let’s cut to the chase: why don’t your classmates think Hillary should be prez?
Andrew: Well, a lot of them joke about her not having masculine characteristics and say her crying on TV proves she couldn’t run a country. They joke that she should be making sandwiches for the men instead.
K: Do girls in your class object to this sort of thing?
A: Well, they don’t say girls should just make sandwiches, but some don’t think a woman can run the country. They think it’s all about perception and that a woman leader wouldn’t be respected, especially when dealing with leaders of other countries where women are second-class citizens.
K: But what are they taught in history? Don’t they know about England’s Margaret Thatcher, or Israel’s Golda Meir, or Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, who led a Muslim country?
A: They never talk about other women leaders. They just say women are generally too weak. But the guys are more vocal and use a lot of Family Guy jokes to put Hillary down.
K: Family Guy? But isn’t Peter (the husband) a complete idiot in the show and Lois (the wife) the smart one who always gets him out of scrapes and drunken stupors?
A: Yeah, but they ignore that and just think it’s funny that Peter always puts Lois down for standing up for women.
K: I feel like in my day, which was not so many days ago, girls were being told that they could be the first female president, and Murphy Brown was a high-powered news anchor, and Jessie Spano was class president and calling A.C. Slater a chauvinistic pig… What’s changed?
A: We learn in history about the 1950s “cult of domesticity” and it seems like nothing has changed. In business class we were trying to determine projected earnings and some of the kids said women would make less than men. When our teacher asked why, they said it was because the girls would have to stop working to stay home with the kids.
K: Do you think they assume this because their moms are stay-at-home?
A: Maybe, but it’s also TV shows, where you primarily see women home making dinner. Even in Arrested Development, which is an awesome show, all the women do is spend money while men solve the problems. And Laguna Beach is really bad: you have a lot of stuck-up girls, who don’t work, spending their husbands’ or fathers’ money. So the girls get into this idea and then guys think girls are weak because all they want is handbags.
K: So, why do you support Hillary?
A: I do like Obama and they share many of the same viewpoints, but for me it’s like picking out a car; sometimes one car just feels better than the other. Also, I think she’s a better public speaker, and her views on women’s rights are more progressive.
K: Would you consider yourself a feminist?
A: Well…I’m not much into protesting, and I do think Family Guy’s funny, but I guess I take it more seriously than others. Even if shows portray women in a certain light, we shouldn’t take that as the way it is in real life. Oh yeah, did I tell you how my “Bush’s last days” sticker got keyed off my car? And my Hillary sticker would have, but I pasted it on the inside of the window.
I think a few conclusions can be drawn from our convo. First, high school history curricula must be augmented with a critical supply of celebratory women’s history. The National History Women’s Project is a good place to start, but this must be implemented on an expansive basis—and not just during Women’s History Month. Second, role models are some of the most important factors influencing girls’ perceptions of their future selves—and we need better ones. Third, we need to continue the conversation. I hate to draw conclusions from afar. (I’m infuriated whenever writers condemn today’s college hookup culture without seeming to have ever spoken with the many women I knew who engaged with it on their own terms.) It’s vital to talk with young people so as to better understand the cultural and social factors that influence placid acceptance of patriarchy and misogyny in their generation. Oh, and finally, my brother’s kind of awesome, even if he does compare choosing a president to picking a car.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The young found media types I spoke with tend to focus more on invention than destruction. They were, for the most part, unflaggingly upbeat. Jessica Valenti, for instance, the twenty-nine-year-old founder and editor in chief of the popular feminist blog Feministing, which aggregates news items ranging from feminist responses to the presidential campaign to condom manufacturers’ responses to a new study of young women and STDs. The news hits are all interspersed with tart, partisan, intelligent, and sometimes raw commentary and opinion. Whatever Feministing is—blog, think tank, digest, “women’s” pages, feminist magazine—it’s a fine example of the new media as an improvement over the old. Unlike the “Hers” sections of yore—women’s magazines, or even Ms. Magazine—Feministing is not shaped by the fear of being offensive or “unrelatable” for “the average female reader.” In this way, like some other feminist blogs, it is head and shoulders above almost any writing on women’s issues in mainstream media. “I don’t see a lot of nostalgia from young feminists for the time when things were a lot worse,” said Valenti, who is tall with black Veronica bangs, and speaks a decibel or two louder than you do. “I studied journalism a bit but I didn’t find my voice until I had a completely open forum in the blogs.”
Like Valenti, my younger journalist friends and colleagues imagine a kaleidoscopic future where the hoarier codes of journalism are put to rest: goodbye inverted pyramid, hello a nearly reckless immediacy; goodbye measured commentary, hello pungent or radical or vulgar commentary. Yet beyond style, the new reality is that there is no clear, long-term career plan for Found Media-ites—or even for most of the rest of us. We’re in the sort of moment in history that some people will say they were glad to witness, but only twenty years hence.
Read the full article here.
One of the site's creators, Elise Mac Adams, published a book in February called Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone in Between. I don't think there's a rule Marco and I aren't in some way breaking, but hey. Of greater interest, there's an interesting reading list posted over there. Thought I'd share highlights, with some additions of my own:
Marriage, A History by Stephanie Coontz
A History of the Wife by Marilyn Yalom
Wifework: What Marriage Really Means For Women by Susan Maushart
Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families Under the Law by Nancy Polikoff
Here Comes the Bride: Women, Weddings, and the Marriage Mystique by Jaclyn Geller
In spite of it all, I'm still game. Other titles readers would recommend? I'm taking suggestions!
JUNE 7 (time TBD)
Kimmel Center / New York University
Sponsored by the National Council for Research on Women, this session will take place during the Council's annual conference this year (June 5-7).
In this 3-hour intensive, I'll lead participants through the basics of blogging—both logistical and philosophical. Participants will leave with a sense of the ways in which blogging is changing the media landscape—especially for women!—and tools for starting one for your organization or improving one that’s already off the ground. Topics will include: young feminism and activism online, the momosphere, possibilities for personal voice, and how to publicize events and publications through blogs.
There is no separate registration required for the workshop. To register for the conference, click here. Questions? Please don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Shameless self-promotion alert begins]
"I had just started my own blog when I attended Deborah's workshop. Deborah opened my eyes to the vast world of feminist bloggers and got me excited about the number and kinds of people I could reach. She also exposed me to options – and vocabulary – that I just didn't have. Blog carnivals? Springwidgets? A feminist bloggers conference? Who knew? Not me! Not until Deborah's workshop, packed with inspiration and instruction."
- Nancy D. Polikoff, Professor of Law, Washington College of Law, American University
[Shamelessness alert ends]
Monday, May 19, 2008
Offering a fresher take, there's a great post over at the NYTimes blog Shifting Careers called "Diversity at Work: More than Just Numbers" in which Marci Alboher interviews Natalie Holder-Winfield, an employment lawyer turned diversity consultant and author of Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce. The book, says Marci, is "a well-researched and eye-opening account of why minority employees flee workplaces even when employers have so-called diversity programs in place."
Based on interviews with professionals from various backgrounds, Holder-Winfield seeks to provide managers, employees, and students with advice for navigating the overlay issues of cultural and generational diversity. The book looks great, but from a "making it pop" perspective, I kind of wish it had a catchier title. This one would be hard. I'm coming up dry. Which is probably why they went with the title they did?!
Read excerpts from the interview here.
Reaching the Next Generation
One of the most interesting things, in my humble opinion, about the next generation is the way that it approaches altruism. Long gone are the days when writing a check or signing a petition were action enough for the socially conscious individual. And also long gone are the strict bifurcation between nonprofit and corporate, do gooder and go getter, giver and saver.
Through a variety of technological innovations like Facebook Causes and You Tube appeals, young people have changed the landscape on “doing good.” And it’s not just a technological shift, but a whole new paradigm that has been born thanks to the kids of the 80s and 90s.
Organizations like Drinking Liberally have spawned a whole new, very fun way of approaching public awareness and political community. And one of my favorite new sites is All Day Buffet, which calls itself “a social action brand for the cool kids.” It seems that everyone is striving to put the fun back in fundraising.
Including myself. Check out the piece I wrote for The American Prospect about my own little contribution called the Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy.
And keep this in mind if you are trying to inspire young people to get involved in a cause. We like to feel engaged, but not drained. We like to kill many birds with one stone.
We like to get a little tipsy.
Friday, May 16, 2008
As Thelma, the housewife turned renegade, says to her friend in “Thelma & Louise” as the two women flee the law through the American West, “Something’s crossed over in me.”I know it's over. I imagine she knows it's over. But I admit, I'm truly enjoying that glee in her eyes. That woman is one tough cookie, and I mean that in only the best of ways.
Senator Clinton might well say the same. In the final stretch of the primary season, she seems to have stepped across an unstated gender divide, transforming herself from referee to contender.
What’s more, she seems to have taken to her new role with a Thelma-like relish. We are witnessing a female competitor delighting in the undomesticated fray. Her new no-holds-barred pugnacity and gleeful perseverance have revamped her image in the eyes of begrudging white male voters, who previously saw her as the sanctioning “sivilizer,” a political Aunt Polly whose goody-goody directives made them want to head for the hills.
Culture = Democrats included.
I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven't publicly uttered a word of outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York. Among those holding their tongues are hundreds of Democrats for whom Clinton has campaigned and raised millions of dollars. Don Imus endured more public ire from the political class when he insulted the Rutgers University women's basketball team.Depressing indeed.
The thing I love about corporate panels is that they start and finish on time. They are impeccably moderated. They serve food. This one delivered on all fronts, and went a step beyond. Every audience member was given a remote control devise by which to cast votes, enabling the moderator to poll us in real time and post the results on a big screen up front. It was cooler than Oprah, I swear.
There were some interesting results from the audience poll: 75% of the women in the crowd described themselves as "ambitious." 94% of the men in attendance said the word "ambitious", when used to describe someone, carried a positive connotation, but only 57% of the women agreed.
Women's ambition is certainly a hot-button issue these days. Everyone agrees that we should be much further along in terms of our representation at the top tiers of corporate and political leadership than we are. How are ambitions born? What impedes then? What can companies do to help women nurture and realize theirs? Panelists--psychiatrist and author Anna Fels, the White House Project's Marie Wilson, entrepreneurship scholar Myra Hart, law partner Marsha Simms, and economist Lise Vesterlund--sounded off on these issues, and more.
Some memorable quips:
Moderator Jennifer Allyn: "We've been talking about critical mass since the 1970s. There has to be more than 16% [the percent of women in Congress] before women can stop being seen as the 'only' and constitute more of a critical mass."
Marie Wilson: "Anytime you have only one woman in a top position, all you see is their gender--hair, hemlines, and husbands." "You cannot be what you cannot see. So we have to make the women who are in leadership more visible."
Myra Hart: "Research shows that women straight out of Harvard Business School land the same kinds of jobs at the same compensation of men. But 5 years later, women's career paths indicate a change. Much of it may be self-selection, but some of it is not."
Lisa Vesterlund: "Research shows it's not that women are under-confident about their ability to compete and win. It's than men are actually over-confident about theirs."
And my personal favorite:
Marie Wilson: "In the last 6 months of media coverage, Hillary Clinton's ambition has been described as 'unquenchable.' John McCain's ambition hasn't been mentioned at all."
For more on women's leadership, consider joining me at the Council's annual conference this year, titled "Hitting the Ground Running: Research, Activism, and Leadership for a New Era," on June 5-7 at NYU. To register, contact Jessyca Dudley at email@example.com, 212/785-7335, x205 or visit www.ncrw.org.
Writers at Writopia Lab (pictured) have been arduously developing short stories, memoirs, op-eds, scripts, and poetry over the past six months under the tutelage of journalist Rebecca Segall and her team. They'll be sharing them on Sunday, May 18th, from noon to 3:00pm. There will be a tent set up in case of rain. The youngest writers (ages 9-13) will read from noon to 1:30pm; the teens will read from 1:30-3:00pm. Folks can come and go as they wish.
This summer, I'm excited to be teaching a class for Writopia Lab. More about that, and more, in the e-newsletter I'll be sending next week!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The leading labor-rights organization, the AFL-CIO, and its community partner, Working America, are collecting data online for their Ask a Working Woman survey between now and June 20. The survey is a chance for working women to tell decision-makers what it's like to be a working woman in America in election years. It's open to all. They want to hear what working women need – health care, pension benefits, flex time? – to make the crazy juggling act that is working womanhood easier.
Findings will be announced to decision makers and released in nationwide media in order to highlight and help improve the status of the working mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, nieces, you get the picture. In 2006, more than 22,000 working American women took the survey. I hope in 2008 they get even more.
There's more background information about the survey available on the AFL-CIO News Blog.
There's a Bloggers Unite for Human Rights challenge going on today and so here I am, still wordless, carrying unspeakable grief in my heart all the while knowing it's nothing compared to what the victims of the cyclone and the earthquake are feeling on the other side of the world.
Amnesty International has posted links to a number of their campaigns--ways to get involved in human rights and aid efforts around the globe. And here is a link to the Red Cross' donate page.
But here's my lingering question for this day, and I know I have much to learn from others on this front: When devastation is so emotionally overwhelming that your impulse is to turn away, what can you do in that moment, really do, to stay human and not just let yourself turn away?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I just got an email from a coordinator at Current TV, where they just released a compelling video that profiles "Ducky Doolittle" as she travels across the country teaching people about sexual empowerment. So I'm sitting here at Starbucks (yes, evil Starbucks) and I open the link for the video and before I know it Ducky is shouting "THIS IS THE CLITORIS!" through my computer, for all of Starbucks to hear. Hehe. I guess that's kind of the point--and I'm all for it. But still, I'm left here at Starbucks kinda wanting to crawl under my chair.
A true post about it coming before week's end, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a little good fortune: I realized once on the subway that I already own the two amazing books that were included in the giveaway package. So I'd like to offer them as giveaways to the first two people who email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with their snail mail addresses. Please specify your choice. The books are:
1. Anna Fels, Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women's Changing Lives
2. Marie Wilson, Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World (with a new afterword)
And an aside: I just did a quick Google image search using the word "ambition" and all the pictures that came up featured guess who...men! Except for this one above. Hmmm.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
NPR host Renee Montagne reports on "The Mother's Index," which compares the well-being of mothers and children in 146 countries.
Broadsheet sounds off on some pop culture mom-ranking.
MotherTalk blog tours Choosing You: Deciding to Have a Baby on My Own and The Working Woman's Pregnancy Book.
And PunditMom smartly rants on the media branding of families, from the perspective of an adoptive mother.
Feministing weighs in here, and Katha Pollitt weighs in at The Nation. (Thanks, Va, for that heads up the other day. Oy.)
Monday, May 12, 2008
In "When Chick Flicks Get Knocked Up," Alissa questions the happy ending substitute of baby love and emphasizes their conservative bent. She also notes that these "embryo pics" invert film themes of yore:
The prenatal pics don’t mean to irk their viewers, of course: they are simply are a corny replacement for the serrated romantic comedies of the 1940s, in which sparkling, independent female protagonists, sporting sharply tailored suits and sharper repartee, wound up getting their comeuppance in the form of a rake who could finally domesticate them. In fertility movies, the rake taming all female powerhouses is an infant. Worse, embryo pics have inverted another film theme. Women who once chose an unusual life path picked child-free independence—liberated Klutes or unmarried women. Now, conceiving of an infant without marriage or even love is the filmic symbol of independence. In this way, these films recast the "pro-choice" narrative of feminists' personal and political past as a different, less politically dangerous sort of pro-choice story—a woman's right to choose from a smorgasbord of late fertility options. Once, in the recent age of “Murphy Brown” having a baby as a single woman was the most rebellious and politically radical thing our heroine could ever do. Now becoming a single mom onscreen makes a film heroine more conventional.Thoughts?!
Friday, May 9, 2008
The party was hosted by Gloria Steinem and in attendance were trailblazing women like Suzanne Braun Levine, Alix Cates Shulman, Joanne Edgar, Mia Herndon, and Amy's longtime writing partner Jennifer Baumgardner, who beamed in the back as Amy was properly celebrated. I promise to share thoughts about Amy's book Opting In: Having a Child without Losing Yourself which is why we were all there, of course, in another post very soon. But first let me just share that Gloria introduced Amy as "the smartest person I know." If that isn't a compliment, I don't know what is.
You, as a supporter of Hillary Clinton, and the supporters of Obama are doing something special for the Democratic Party. You are helping to break the 'glass ceiling' that has kept the preserve of the 'most powerful politician in the world' for white men only. You are helping to at least change the Democratic Party!
In a democracy, we all have a vote (age and citizenship restrictions aside). Some people don't bother to vote - and in my view have no reason to complain if they don't like the government they get.
Some vote, but kind of think that it ends there.
Others, like you, commit to a candidate. By going out and persuading, cajoling, converting peoples ideas etc., you end up with more than one vote! Each one you persuade is an extra vote -- and they in turn might persuade someone too, perhaps a neighbour, a relative or a spouse.
You will see bitterness and nastiness in replies at the Guardian and elsewhere - that's almost the nature of the internet.
Whenever I was doorknocking for a candidate and had the door slammed in my face, I would always remember those people who I managed to bring around to my candidate. The glass half full --- as opposed to half empty ;-) Personal success for me was the number of extra votes I helped bring in.
I see from your blogs and website that you are a writer, speaker and consultant. Use those skills to go out and make sure that the 'glass ceiling' for President is smashed completely. Help open doors for women and people of colour .... because once they are open, more will follow them.
(A white male by the way.)
I vowed way back in 1992 that, no matter where I lived in the world (at the time I thought I'd be living in Asia or Europe), if HRC decided to run for president, I'd drop everything and return to the US just to help out in her campaign.
As it turned out, I'm in Colorado and have devoted some of my weekly columns for the local paper on her campaign and credentials, not to mention donated some hard-earned cash to her campaign. However, as far as putting my life on hold to volunteer my heart out...er, let's just say that that hasn't happened yet.
I suck at fundraising (my own family turned down a request to donate $25 each to an awareness walk for a disease that I have), can't stand the telephone, and literally break out in hives when I have to do any kind of public speaking. I can barely make it to my next door neighbor's house without shaking in my shoes. In other words, I'm not the kind of campaign activist you want on your team. And yeah, I feel like I let HRC down, too.
I would love to see HRC win, but while I remain the eternal optimist, the numbers are not looking good. However, I appreciate the McCaskill quote you referenced in your article. Hillary's a big girl, she can handle her own campaign and will step down from it when she's good and ready. At this time I still think she's the best candidate and always will, and apparently millions of others feel the same way. If nothing else, I appreciate that HRC seems to understand the loyalty and passion her supporters feel for her and the responsibility that entails. To retreat now -- even if that would seem to be the logical choice -- would be an awful blow to those who worked so hard on her behalf.
I think that, for her as well as for myself and countless others, this election is about more than just a call for "change." What bothered me about the 2004 election (and why I didn't vote for Kerry but for Nader instead) is because I felt that the Democratic theme seemed to be, "It's better than the alternative." There didn't seem to be a really strong push to field a worthy candidate, just a half-assed attempt to throw any warm body into the ring as an alternative to Bush.
Now, though, not only do we have two strong candidates, but they're both non-traditional ones. Now that we have an election worth bothering about, it's actually become personal, far more than any election I've ever witnessed in my lifetime (I'm 36). Suddenly, I'm seeing my hero, a woman I've admired for 16 years, whose life and accomplishments I've followed for just as long, on the verge of literally becoming the leader of the freakin' world.
For that reason alone, I think that even if you've worked in politics in the past, I can only imagine that losing now would be even more difficult simply because we had a chance to make history...and failed. This isn't about a Democrat winning anymore, but a woman actually winning the White House, something a lot of us didn't think we'd see for decades.
By the way, I would be very surprised if Obama extended the olive branch and offered Clinton the VP-ship, and even more so if Clinton accepted it. Maybe I'm just projecting my own profound disappointment, but I can't imagine that happening after the exhausting bitterness of the last few months. And quite frankly, that would hurt like hell.
I met Kimberley up at the Woodhull house last year and was quite taken by her calm--and her style. A few years back she came out with a book, called guess what, Hip Tranquil Chick: A Guide to Life On and Off the Yoga Mat. She's also created an impressive hip and tranquil empire -- the Tranquil Space Yoga studio in Washington DC, the Tranquil Space Foundation (which assists young girls with finding their inner voice), podcasts, a blog, a column, charity soirees, and a clothing line. Her website, as Marci reminds me in comments this week, is an excellent example of "platform" and pulls everything together well.
You know, I'm always interested in what authors write in books when they're asked to sign them. I've seen "With lots of feminist love," " "In sisterhood, uninterrupted" (guess who), and "Blessings." Kimberley signed the copy she sent me, "Keep shining." But my favorite thing of all about the Shine Girl is this: She describes herself as "a self-diagnosed bibliophile whose heart begins to race when she enters a bookstore," and "a teacher, designer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur, with a master's degree in women's studies."
If you're jonesing for a taste of some of this hip tranquilty, or some tips for a mindfully extravagant life, you can catch Kimberley teaching a week long yoga course at the Omega Institute on June 1-5.
So what's the moral of the story here. Let's see. When one retreat closes, another one opens? Hmm. There's another Woodhull nonfiction writers retreat I'll be teaching at 0n July 11-13, too.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Sitting at a table of leaders from various organizations, I was struck once again by the ubiquity of a problem within the organizational structure at many small nonprofits. There are entry-level jobs and director-level jobs, and not much in between. Hence, for many young people who enter small nonprofits, there is nowhere, really, to grow.
I worked at a small, national nonprofit fresh out of college. I was a research assistant. I loved my job and was mentored well. Following the path of many who work the nonprofit circuit, I went back to graduate school for a PhD, thinking I'd like to teach. Once I realized I didn't (want to teach college, that is), I returned to the same nonprofit, by then under new leadership, as a Project Director. And again, I loved my job. But in the end, and to my surprise, I found myself facing the same dilemma as my younger colleagues: nowhere, really, to grow.
As Courtney, Gloria, Kristal, and I also do regularly at our WomenGirlsLadies events, Woodhull's gifted facilitator Karla asked us to think of one thing we'd like to share with our elder--or younger--colleagues about the kinds of generationally-tinged struggles we sometimes face. So here's what I offered, in the context of that safe space:
To my elders in women's organizations:
1. Have a succession plan in the works for the executive director, and start grooming.
2. Make room for us. Some organizations seem to have distinct limits in terms of voices of leadership. If there is room for more, those of us who end up leaving may instead decide to stay, and help the organization grow.
3. Try to operate from a psychology of abundance, rather than one of scarcity. Your staff are not your competition, but allies.
Whew -- pretty feisty for so early in the morning, huh? I just got back from trying a spinning class for the first time in years, which must be giving me the chutzpah to speak my mind.
Gratitude to Woodhull, and again to In Good Company, for a very rich event. Woodhull is running an Intergenerational Leader Retreat up in Ancramdale on May 16-18. Note: I won't be there, but I urge folks to check it out.
DS: What made you decide to start a blog?
JZ: I’ve been writing forever, but my work has generally been buried in my journals. Recently I read The Artist's Way which suggested that the way to unleash your creativity is to commit to writing every day and I am trying to do that. Most of the time what I write about is people I’ve met with, or opportunities I’ve heard about, or what is going on in the markets, so I thought, why not share it? I’m also very interested in writing a book, and want to get myself out there as a writer. The blog is a place to start.
DS: I see you started by blogging about the markets—why start there?
JZ: What’s going on in the credit markets is unprecedented. As an ex-mortgage trader and an investor, I’ve been following the markets with great interest and I feel compelled to write about what’s happening. Given my experience, I feel I have a credible voice and want to share what I think, like I used to do with my clients.
DS: Tell us something about the blog’s name, “Purse Pundit.”
JZ: I love the whole idea of a purse as a symbol for the economic power of women and I believe that positive change will happen when women really start to use that power. Money is a tool that we have to shape the world that we live in—by how we invest it, by how we spend it, by how we give it away.
DS: Your tagline is “Musings on Money, Markets, and Changing the World.” Do these things really go together?
JZ: My goal with this blog is to expand the dialogue that women are engaging in about money, and inspiring them to use their money in smart and meaningful ways. Women account for more than 50% of all stock ownership in the U.S and we do most of the consumer spending. By 2010, women will account for half of the private wealth in the country, or about $14 trillion. There’s a lot of power in our collective purses.
After doing this Q&A with Jacki, I went and bought a new purse. For more musings from PP, visit www.pursepundit.blogspot.com. You can also now find Jacki blogging over at 85 Broads and Huffington Post.